Red Light For Purple Line

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A federal judge in D.C. has vacated federal approval of the Purple Line and directed further traffic studies be done that take into account declining Metro ridership and WMATA’s ongoing safety woes.

A federal judge on Wednesday vacated federal government approval of the Purple Line light-rail in a decision that could jeopardize the long-planned project set to start construction later this year.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Richard Leon wrote his decision was based solely on how declining Metro ridership and recent Metro safety issues might impact projected ridership for the Purple Line, a 16-mile light-rail that’s separate from Metrorail but that would include stations near or at several Metro stations.

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“I find that defendants’ failure to adequately consider [Metro’s] ridership and safety issues was arbitrary and capricious, and that these conditions create the ‘seriously different picture’ that warrant an SEIS,” Leon wrote. “While it is true that [Metro] is a distinct entity from MTA, which would own and operate the Purple Line, this does not provide a rational basis for defendants’ summary conclusion that a decline in ridership thereon has no effect on the Purple Line, given that the previous projections estimated over one quarter of Purple Line riders would use the [Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority] Metrorail as part of their trip.”

As a result of this decision, barring appellate court intervention, it’s highly unlikely that construction on the 16 mile light rail line will start in 2016 as planned.

One thought on “Red Light For Purple Line

  1. Ed F.

    It’s unfortunate, to say the least. Hopefully, this gets saved on appeal, so we don’t have to go through another round of hearings and litigation. That said, they should start that process, developing a Supplementary EIS that will inevitably show that Metro’s new rebuilding program can be expected to restore (and I’m just kicking around a number) at least 95% of prior ridership levels (even with shorter hours — which won’t affect the Purple Line — and Uber competition).


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