What I learned in 3 months of obsessively tracking my WMATA trips

A few months ago, I was curious how long it would take me to ride in the same Metro car. Turns out, the answer was about a week.

I’ve since continued to log each and every Metro trip, and after three months of doing so, I have a few observations.

First, some overall stats: in that time, I’ve taken 220 unlinked trips, riding in 195 different railcars. I’ve taken the same car for two trips 23 times. The most rides for a single car is 3 – I’ve somehow managed to ride in car 3245 three times.

Assuming the sequential numbering of cars is consistent with their actual time in service, the oldest car I’ve ridden is the oldest one still in service: 2000. The newest car I’ve ridden is 7438 (WMATA’s recently hinted that cars up to 7456 have been delivered).

All together, in three months I’ve ridden about 16% of the fleet.

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For the actual rides, about ⅓ have been on the newer 7000 series, ⅓ on the combined fleet of 2000 and 3000 series cars, and the remainder split among the 5000 and 6000 series.

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Some observations:

WMATA’s fleet isn’t evenly distributed across the system, nor are my trips.

My trips are concentrated along my regular commuting route, which mostly sticks to the DC trunk line shared by the Orange, Blue, and Silver line trains.

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Among just my trips on OR/SV/BL, however, the distribution of trains isn’t exactly even (even if that’s what the schedule suggests). The death of the Blue Line has been greatly exaggerated!

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Since these are my most heavily used lines, it helps to show how the trains are unevenly distributed through the system. I seldom rode in older, 2000 series trains on the Orange line, despite lots of those trains on the Blue line.

I’d hypothesize that the 2000-series are based in a particular rail yard (probably the Alexandria yard). Likewise, the relative lack of 6000 series trains on OR/SV/BL is probably because the 6000 series are based out of Greenbelt (it’s a small sample, but 4 out of 7 Green Line trips were on 6000 cars; the remainder were on 7000 series trains).

I still have a long way to go to catch Matt Johnson.

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