Yellow Line (Washington Metro)

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Yellow Line
Yellow Line train arriving at the King Street–Old Town station in July 2007
LocaleFairfax County, Alexandria, and Arlington, VA
Washington, D.C.
TypeRapid transit
SystemWashington Metro
Rolling stock2000-series, 3000-series, 6000-series, 7000-series
OpenedApril 30, 1983; 40 years ago (April 30, 1983)[1]
Number of tracks2
CharacterAt-grade, elevated, and underground
Track gauge4 ft 8+14 in (1,429 mm)
ElectrificationThird rail750 V DC
Route map

Mount Vernon Square
Gallery Place
to Downtown Largo
to New Carrollton
L'Enfant Plaza
Up arrow via Rosslyn
Pentagon City
Crystal City |
National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Potomac Yard
Braddock Road
King Street–Old Town |
Eisenhower Avenue
Disabled access
All stations are accessible
The WMATA system map shows the Yellow Line running from Huntington to Mount Vernon Square.

The Yellow Line is a rapid transit line of the Washington Metro system that runs between Huntington in Virginia and Mount Vernon Square in Washington, D.C. It consists of 13 stations in Fairfax County, Alexandria County, and Arlington County in Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.[note 1][3][4][5][6] It is the shortest line in the system, and since its truncation to Mount Vernon Square, it is the only line that does not enter Maryland.

The Yellow Line shares track with the Blue Line between King Street–Old Town and Pentagon and the Green Line between L'Enfant Plaza and Mount Vernon Square. It has only two stations that are not shared by any other lines (Huntington and Eisenhower Avenue) and only two sections of track that are not shared by any other lines – the section south of King Street–Old Town and the section between Pentagon and L'Enfant Plaza, crossing the Potomac River.


Planning for Metro began with the Mass Transportation Survey in 1955, which attempted to forecast freeway and mass transit systems sufficient to meet the region's needs projected for 1980.[7] In 1959, the study's final report included two rapid transit lines that anticipated downtown Washington subways.[8] Because the plan called for extensive freeway construction within the District of Columbia, alarmed residents lobbied for federal legislation creating a regional transportation agency with a moratorium on freeway construction through July 1, 1962.[9] The new agency, the National Capital Transportation Administration, issued a 1962 Transportation in the National Capital Region report, which did not include the route that became the Yellow Line.[10] A central route under 7th Street in downtown was only added in 1967 primarily to serve the "inner city".[11] In March 1968, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) board approved its 98-mile (158 km) Adopted Regional System (ARS), which included the Yellow Line from Franconia and Backlick Road (in Springfield) to Greenbelt.[12]

While a cut-and-fill tunnel for Yellow Line was built under 7th Street and U Street, street traffic and pedestrian access were difficult.[13] The result was the loss of the traditional retail businesses along the route. The downtown segment of the line was originally projected to open in September 1977.[14] Obtaining approval of the District of Columbia and Prince Georges' County of the exact alignment of the Yellow Line north of U Street delayed construction. Originally, the ARS called for the line to be placed in the median strip of the planned North Central Freeway,.[14] Still, after that road was canceled, the route of the replacement subway tunnel became controversial, resulting in years of expensive delays.[15]

Service on the Yellow Line began on April 30, 1983, adding Archives to the system and linking the two already-built stations of Pentagon and Gallery Place with a bridge across the Potomac River. It was extended beyond National Airport by four stations to Huntington on December 17, 1983, the first station outside the Capital Beltway.[1] When the Green Line link to U Street opened on May 11, 1991, it acted as an extension of the Yellow Line until the southern Green Line branch was completed.[1][13] When Green Line service began, the Yellow Line was truncated at Mount Vernon Square, where a pocket track exists to relay trains.[1]

The Yellow Line was initially planned to follow a slightly different route in Virginia. The plan would have sent Yellow Line trains to Franconia–Springfield, with Blue Line trains serving Huntington. This was changed due to a shortage of rail cars at the time of the completion of the line to Huntington. Because fewer rail cars were required to operate Yellow Line service than would be required to run Blue Line service out to Huntington, the line designations were switched due to the Yellow Line's shorter route. From 1999 to 2008, the Yellow Line operated to Franconia–Springfield on July 4, as part of Metro's special service pattern on that day.[16]

One of hundreds of signs that were reworded from just "National Airport"

In 1998, Congress changed the name of the Washington National Airport station to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, with the law specifying that no money be spent to implement the name change. As a result, WMATA did not change the name of the National Airport station (which never included the full name of the airport). In response to repeated inquiries from Republican congressmen that the station be renamed, WMATA stated that stations are renamed only at the request of the local jurisdiction. Because Democrats controlled both Arlington County and the District of Columbia, the name change was blocked. Finally, in 2001, Congress made changing the station's name a condition of further federal funding.[17][18][19][20]

In May 2018, Metro announced an extensive renovation of platforms at twenty stations across the system. To accommodate these platform reconstructions, the Blue and Yellow Lines south of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport would be closed from May 25 to September 8, 2019, in the longest line closure in Metro's history.[21][22] As a result, all Yellow and Blue line services terminated at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport during the closure.[23]

From March 26, 2020, until June 28, 2020, trains were bypassing Eisenhower Avenue, Archives, Mount Vernon Square, and College Park–University of Maryland stations due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.[24][25] All stations were reopened beginning on June 28, 2020.[26]

Between February 13 and May 13, 2021, additional Yellow Line trains began operating between Mount Vernon Square and Franconia–Springfield at all times, replacing the Blue Line due to it being suspended because of platform reconstruction at Arlington Cemetery and Addison Road.[27]

Between May 29 and September 6, 2021, all Yellow Line trains terminated at Mount Vernon Square due to the platform improvement project, which closed stations north of Fort Totten. Shuttle buses were provided to the closed stations while Green Line service replaced service between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten.[28]

On June 15, 2022, WMATA announced that all Yellow Line trains will be suspended from September 10, 2022, to May 7, 2023, to tie in the completion of Potomac Yard station and to rehab the 14th Street Bridge the Yellow Line operates over. Service will be replaced by additional Green Line trains, as well as Blue Line trains that will operate between Huntington and New Carrollton stations.[29] On April 4, 2023, WMATA announced they will re-open the Yellow Line on May 7, 2023.[30] The Yellow Line reopened on May 7, 2023, with its northeastern terminus cut back from Greenbelt to Mount Vernon Square.[31]

On November 16, 1995, WMATA and the developer of the Potomac Yard area of Alexandria, Virginia, signed an agreement to construct a new station between Braddock Road and National Airport that the developer will finance.[32] The Federal Transit Administration, in cooperation with WMATA, the National Park Service and The City of Alexandria government, completed an environmental impact statement for the project in June 2016.[33] The station opened on May 19, 2023.[34]


Yellow Line train arriving at Greenbelt, the former terminus of the line, in August 2022

In 2006, Metro board member Jim Graham and D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams proposed re-extending Yellow Line service to Fort Totten or even to Greenbelt. Their proposal did not involve constructing any new track because either extension would run along the same route as the existing Green Line, thus relieving crowding on that line and would require fewer switches to maintain making operations easier. Suburban members of the board initially resisted the proposal. Through a compromise that also increased service on the Red Line, on April 20, 2006, the WMATA board approved a Yellow Line extension to the Fort Totten station during off-peak hours. An 18-month pilot program began on December 31, 2006, at a cost of $5.75 million to the District of Columbia.[35][36] On June 26, 2008, due to the success of the 18-month trial, the Yellow Line was permanently extended to operate up to the Fort Totten Metro Station at all other times other than during weekday rush hour/peak commuter periods.[2] As part of the Rush Plus initiative trial, additional Yellow Line trains began running between Greenbelt and Franconia-Springfield starting June 18, 2012; these trains were discontinued on June 25, 2017, due to budget cuts.[37] From May 25, 2019, to September 10, 2022, the Yellow Line returned to Greenbelt, this time serving the station at all hours.[38] On May 7, 2023, Yellow Line trains were shortened to Mount Vernon Square at all times being replaced by additional Green Line trains.[30]


Crossing the Potomac River from Virginia on the Yellow Line, with the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial in the background

The southern terminus of the Yellow Line is adjacent to Kings Highway (Virginia State Route 241) in Fairfax County, Virginia.[39] The line heads northeast on a bridge over Hunting Creek and the Capital Beltway to a station just south of Eisenhower Avenue, which serves several government office buildings, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The Yellow Line then merges with the Blue Line and follows the right-of-way of the RF&P Railroad through the City of Alexandria.[39] The line enters a short tunnel under U.S. Route 1. After crossing a bridge over Four Mile Run, the line enters Arlington County on an elevated structure above the National Airport parking lots.[40] At the north end of the airport, the Yellow Line enters a tunnel under 18th Street South and South Hayes Street in Crystal City.[39] The tunnel continues along the southwest face of the Pentagon which is a 2-level station to facilitate a fork with the Blue Line. After the Pentagon station, the Yellow Line emerges from its tunnel east of the Pentagon and crosses the Charles R. Fenwick Bridge over the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Potomac River, and Ohio Drive.[39] At the end of the bridge, the Yellow Line re-enters a tunnel near the Jefferson Memorial and crosses under the Washington Channel.[39] The tunnel merges with the Green Line tunnel under 7th Street Southwest just south of the L'Enfant Plaza.[39] The joint Yellow—Green Line tunnel continues north through downtown Washington under 7th Street, turns west under Florida Avenue and U Street, and then north under 14th Street Northwest.[39] The tunnel then turns toward the northeast under Park Road and New Hampshire Avenue.[39] The tunnel then bends eastward under Rock Creek Cemetery and Fort Totten Park to emerge just before entering the lower level of the Fort Totten station. Until May 2019, this was the northern terminal for Yellow Line service, with the track continuing northeast as just the Green Line to the Greenbelt terminus.[39] Between May 2019 and September 2022, the Yellow Line continued along these tracks to Greenbelt.

Internally, the Yellow Line in Virginia was called the "Huntington Route" (C) and the route through the District of Columbia and beyond to Greenbelt as the "Greenbelt Route" (E).[41] As of March 2018, all Yellow Line trains are required only to run 8-car trains.[42][43]


The following stations are along the line, from south to north.

Station Code Opened Image Other Metro
Huntington C15 December 17, 1983 Southern terminus
Eisenhower Avenue C14
King Street–Old Town C13 Amtrak Virginia Railway Express at Alexandria Union Station
Transfer station for the Blue Line (southern)
Braddock Road C12
Potomac Yard C11 May 19, 2023 Infill station
National Airport C10 July 1, 1977
Crystal City C09 Virginia Railway Express Manassas Line, Fredericksburg Line
Pentagon City C08
Pentagon C07 Transfer station for the Blue Line (northern); crosses Potomac River via Fenwick Bridge.

Built as a multi-level station due to geographic constraints, with
trains heading south towards Huntington (Yellow Line) and Franconia-Springfield (Blue Line) on the lower level, and
trains heading north towards Mount Vernon Square (Yellow Line) and Downtown Largo (Blue Line) on the upper level.

L'Enfant Plaza F03 Virginia Railway Express Manassas Line, Fredericksburg Line at L'Enfant
Transfer station for the Orange, Silver, Blue, and Green Lines.
Archives F02 April 30, 1983
Gallery Place F01 December 15, 1976 Transfer station for the Green and Red Lines.
Mount Vernon Square E01 May 11, 1991 Northern terminus, Transfer station for the Green Line to Greenbelt


A second improvement project involves building a pedestrian tunnel to interconnect the Gallery Place station with Metro Center. A July 2005 study proposed connecting the eastern mezzanine of Metro Center with the western mezzanine of Gallery Place that are only one block apart. The proposed connection would reduce the number of passengers that use the Red Line to transfer between the Yellow Line and the Blue and Orange lines at Metro Center. As of 2011, the project remained unfunded.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peak hours are 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "WMATA History" (PDF). WMATA. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 15, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Metro Pocket Guide 50.532 (REV.3/11)" (PDF). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 2, 2010. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  3. ^ "Metrorail Timetable: Weekend" (PDF). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. May 26, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2009. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Metrorail Timetable: Weekday Evening" (PDF). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. April 14, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2009. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "How will Rush Plus affect the Yellow Line?".
  6. ^ "Metro GM recommends customer-focused improvements to service, fares in FY20 budget proposal | WMATA".
  7. ^ Schrag at p. 33-38.
  8. ^ Schrag at p. 39.
  9. ^ Schrag at p. 42.
  10. ^ Schrag at p. 55.
  11. ^ Schrag at p. 112.
  12. ^ Schrag at p. 117.
  13. ^ a b Schrag at p. 217.
  14. ^ a b Schrag at p. 214.
  15. ^ Schrag at p. 214-16.
  16. ^ The Schumin Web Transit Center. "July 4 Service". Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  17. ^ Schrag at p. 258.
  18. ^ Layton, Lyndsey (April 20, 2001). "GOP Ups Pressure on Metro". The Washington Post.
  19. ^ Layton, Lyndsey (December 1, 2001). "House Votes to Require 'Reagan' at Metro Stop". The Washington Post.
  20. ^ 2002 Transportation Appropriations Act, Public Law 107-87, section 343, Statutes at Large 115 (2001) 833.
  21. ^ "Metro wants to rebuild 20 station platforms over three years, creating SafeTrack-like disruptions". Washington Post. May 7, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  22. ^ "Metro plans 'summer shutdown' on Blue, Yellow lines next year". WTOP. May 7, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  23. ^ "Planned Metrorail Track Work | WMATA".
  24. ^ "Special Covid-19 System Map" (PDF). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 27, 2020. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  25. ^ "Metrorail stations closed due to COVID-19 pandemic". Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. March 23, 2020. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  26. ^ "Metro to reopen 15 stations, reallocate bus service to address crowding, starting Sunday | WMATA". Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  27. ^ "Metro reminds customers of upcoming closures of Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery stations for platform reconstruction beginning Saturday | WMATA". Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  28. ^ "Alternative Travel Options Summer 2021 | WMATA". Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  29. ^ "Metro announces travel alternatives for major Blue and Yellow Line construction this fall | WMATA". Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  30. ^ a b "Metro announces Yellow Line reopening date | WMATA". Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  31. ^ "Metro's Yellow Line reopens Sunday with controversial turnback". WJLA-TV. Sinclair Broadcast Group. May 7, 2023. Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  32. ^ "Metro History" (PDF). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 1, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  33. ^ "Potomac Yard Metrorail Station EIS". The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the City of Alexandria. 2016. Archived from the original on July 5, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  34. ^ Laris, Michael (May 19, 2023). "Potomac Yard Metro station, decades in the making, opens in Alexandria". Washington Post. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  35. ^ "Yellow Line to extend to Fort Totten; off-peak Red Line turn backs at Grosvenor to end" (Press release). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. April 20, 2006. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  36. ^ "Yellow Line to Fort Totten expected to be approved". Washington Examiner. April 20, 2006. Retrieved March 30, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ "Metro announces June 25 effective date for new hours, fares, schedules". WMATA. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  38. ^ "Metro to extend Yellow Line service to Greenbelt beginning May 25". WMATA. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i Metro Washington D.C. Beltway (Map) (2000–2001 ed.). American Automobile Association. 2000.
  40. ^ "Potomac Yards Metrorail Station EIS". Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  41. ^ Schrag at p. 188.
  42. ^ Smith, Max (March 23, 2018). "Metro lengthens Yellow, Green Line trains after service cuts cause crowding". WTOP. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  43. ^ Repetski, Stephen. "Metro Reasons: Where did the Yellow and Green lines' eight-car trains go?". Greater Greater Washington. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  44. ^ "Gallery Place/Chinatown – Metro Center Pedestrian Passageway" (PDF). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 6, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schrag, Zachary (2006). The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-8246-X.

External links[edit]

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