What’s Your Favorite Suburban Metro Station?

Photo courtesy of
‘Bethesda at night’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

BeyondDC has a great post up today about the best suburban transit-oriented development (TOD) in the area.  The Washington region has some of the best examples of TOD, and places like Arlington and Bethesda have become national examples of how to create walkable, mixed-use districts in the suburbs.  BeyondDC thinks that Bethesda deserves the number one spot, with its great mix of uses and walkability.  King Street takes the number two spot, and Clarendon is third.

I’d argue that Clarendon deserves the title of the best TOD in the region– not only does it have a great variety of restaurants, offices, retail, and housing, but since it’s in the middle of the Rosslyn-Ballston Metro corridor the whole area is transit-oriented.  From Clarendon, you could easily continue walking to Courthouse or Virginia Square, but you can’t walk to any other Metro station from Bethesda, which makes it seem more isolated and car-dependent than Arlington.

What do you think?  What’s your favorite suburban Metro stop?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Shannon grew up in the greater DC area/Maryland suburbs, went to Virginia for college and grad school (go Hoos!), and settled in DC in 2006. She’s an urban planner who loves transit (why yes, that is her dressed as a Metro pylon for Halloween), cities, and all things DC. Email her at Shannon (at) WeLoveDC.com!

13 thoughts on “What’s Your Favorite Suburban Metro Station?

  1. Van Dorn St., obviously. It drops you off in an industrial wasteland right along 495. About the only things within walking distance are some town houses and a UPS depot. Just grand.

  2. Cheverly station. Most unique looking station in the system. Also, short walk to home, at least for me. Oh, and it’s in MD.

    Also, it’s Cheverly! :OP

  3. @normantown That’s Eisenhower Ave. Van Dorn really is a wasteland.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Van Dorn as that was my usual station my first year or two in DC.

  4. There’s actually a large amount of housing within a mile of Van Dorn. The trouble is that nearly all of it is in Landmark, which is just not conducive to walking anywhere at all despite its high densities.

  5. “but you can’t walk to any other Metro station from Bethesda”

    Actually, Medical Center is only about a mile away: pretty walkable. Of course, the nature of the MedCtr stop rules out any kind of TOD, unless you count the Bethesda naval hospital expansion.

    I’d also question just how important having other Metro stations in walking distance is to TOD. As long as you have a good mix of office, retail, and residential near the Metro stop, the stop itself limits any sense of isolation.

  6. I think Clarendon is right on the money. I’m a huge mass transit person and being able to walk from station to station rules. Wish we have more stations like that. may ever 2-3 blocks.

  7. @Jeff I think it’s just an issue of perception. Even half of the Medical Center to Bethesda walk would seem so much further to a pedestrian than the Clarendon to Virginia Square 1/2 mile walk. I’d agree that having other nearby stations isn’t required for good TOD, but I think that the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor makes that whole part of Arlington seem pedestrian-friendly, while Bethesda still seems to me like a walkable oasis in a county still struggling with sprawl.

  8. What’s the advantage of a place being walkable to multiple stations on the same line? I can see how having multiple lines come through an area is good, but I’m just not seeing the multiple stations on the same line being much of a positive.

  9. @Edward: It’s marginally convenient if you’re coming to or from different parts of the region. Living between Clarendon and Courthouse can make an incremental difference in either direction if you’re traveling to Tysons (you’d get on at Clarendon) or Foggy Bottom (you’d get on at Courthouse).

    It’s also more convenient if the topography is sloped. Living between U Street and Columbia Heights or between Cleveland Park and Woodley Park can make a big difference if it’s a downhill walk in both directions.

  10. Actually in my first draft I mentioned Clarendon’s connectivity as central node in the Orange line corridor. I took it out because I wanted to keep each point short.

    More critical mass is always good for urbanism. The more other urban neighborhoods are nearby, the more stuff there is to go to that doesn’t require a car. Being walkable to Ballston and Rosslyn is definitely a plus for Clarendon.

    But like I said in the post, size (ie critical mass) wasn’t the only factor. If that were all I was looking at, Silver Spring and Crystal City would rank much higher. Clarendon beats Bethesda on critical mass due to connections with other neighborhoods, but Bethesda beats Clarendon in most other categories.

  11. I wouldn’t call Clarendon to Rosslyn suburban. I think Pentagon City is more “suburban” (but very walkable neighborhood that I loved living in) than that corridor. Interesting list though. As for Van Dorn Street station, that part of the Blue Line (Pretty much all of it south of National Airport) was built along existing railroad right-of-way, so the development options were limited.