DC Purple Line: only “revolutionary” in the sense that Stalin was by mattsteinglass
December 5, 2008, 8:31 am
Filed under: Russia, Transportation, United States

Not sure why Ezra Klein and Brad Plumer think the DC Metro’s proposed Purple Line represents some kind of revolutionary move towards connecting suburbs to suburbs rather than the hub-and-spoke model of connecting suburbs to city centers. In fact the traditional subway model has always aspired to hub, spoke, and wheel. That’s because as you get farther away from the city center, the spokes get farther apart, and the people living in between them 1. are likely to be living too far from a station, and 2. have to travel all the way to the center and transfer in order to get to any intermediate destination, which is inefficient. Here is the proposed DC Purple Line:

I grew up right near that proposed “West Silver Spring” station, and as a teenager, I took the subway probably half as often as I might have, because I was stuck almost two miles from either the Tenleytown stop or the Silver Spring stop. Now here, for comparison, is a map of the Moscow subway system, mostly built between the 1930s and 1970s in a traditional hub-spoke-wheel model:

Note how the brown “Circle Line” accomplishes the same thing as the proposed DC Purple Line, but in a more complete fashion. Also, did you know baseball was invented in Russia?

1 Comment so far
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Haha, I also seem to recall some jokes after the fall of the Soviet Union that the DC Metro system was the last holdout of communism.

But of course the development of the London Tube and the Paris Metro also took similar directions because it makes a lot of sense no matter what your political train of thought (pun intended).

Comment by paul

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