WMATA to improve congestion at Union Station, Gallery Place

(WJLA) - We’ve all seen the social media pictures of packed rush hour platforms. If there is any kind of delay, Gallery Place fills right up.

As these pictures show, it is one of two stations what WMATA say is nearing capacity. The other – the system’s busiest – is Union Station.

"It's shoulder-to-shoulder, bumping into people, breathing on people, it gets pretty compact," says rider Julie Harrison.

"Just going up and down the escalators gets to be a problem," adds Laura Moore.

As part of WMATA’s rebuilding effort, the Transit Agency is set to begin addressing the capacity problems at the two stations:

“It clearly needs improvement in circulation, so that people can move around more easily," says Richard Sarles, WMATA General Manager.

Rider Joe Pearson hopes that means Union Station will be seeing more elevators and escalators:

“Another way up and out, there's only one escalator and elevator up, so that gets pretty crowded."

It will cost tens of millions of dollars, but Metro says the changes need to happen. Proposals include extending the mezzanine level, which should allow for additional ways off the platform.

And at Gallery Place, ideas include extending the mezzanine level, adding a fourth entrance, and building a tunnel for pedestrians to get around the station’s choke point where transferring passengers often get backed up.

Metro may also construct a walkway connecting Gallery Place with Metro Center.

Otherwise, all stations will begin seeing eight-car trains during rush periods by 2025.

The Metro board budget committee approved $1.8 million to begin the design phase of this multi-year project at the two stations.