Purple Line FAQs
What is the Purple Line?
The Purple Line is an above ground light rail line that will extend from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Silver Spring and Bethesda in Montgomery County. Five of the 21 stations will be located directly on or around the UMD campus. With direct connections to Metrorail, Amtrak, and MARC, the Purple Line will provide more accessible and reliable transportation for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The Purple Line is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in fall 2026.
Light rail is an electric passenger railway system that employs single cars or short trains. The trains are powered by a system of overhead electric wires. Tracks can be embedded in roadways, enabling light rail trains to share the roadway with vehicles and pedestrians.
The WMATA Metro system is powered by an electrified third rail and must operate in an exclusive right-of-way separated from cars and pedestrians. The Metro operates heavier, longer trains.
The Purple Line will dramatically improve the way students, faculty, staff and visitors access campus. Offering the UMD community easy access to the surrounding region like never before, the Purple Line will link our community to Metro, Amtrak, MARC and neighboring counties, improving commutes, opening up new opportunities for internships, and giving easier access to nearby amenities. The Purple Line will also play a role in the university’s Greater College Park initiative to cultivate a vibrant college town. The Purple Line will vastly reduce the number of vehicles operated on campus helping us to achieve our aggressive sustainability goals.
The Purple Line will offer more direct access to campus from locations across D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County and vice versa. With free rides for students, faculty and staff among the five stations on or around the UMD campus, access across campus will greatly improve, offering a new way to get to and from meetings, classes and more. For those who live in surrounding communities that connect to the Purple Line, you will have a new way to get to campus, lessening the impact of driving and parking on a daily basis. In addition, the Purple Line will open doors for students exploring internships and career opportunities throughout Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, reducing the need for a car to get across the region.
Five of the 21 stations will be located directly on or around the UMD campus. Students, faculty and staff of the university will be able to ride the Purple Line for free among those five stations, giving our community fast, efficient access across campus.
No, the project is a state project fully funded by the state of Maryland and the U.S. federal government.
The construction of the Purple Line will require some adjustments to parking assignments and bus routes on and around campus. The UMD Department of Transportation Services has already begun implementing a comprehensive plan to facilitate a smooth transition by providing alternative methods of transportation to campus and consistent communication on any changes. Any changes to an individual's parking assignment or standard bus route will be communicated in advance. In addition, with the Purple Line’s direct access to campus from the surrounding region, we expect that this will reduce the need for many members of our community to drive and park on campus on a daily basis.
During the construction of the Purple Line, there will be some temporary road closures and adjustments made to traffic patterns. The university will provide updates about traffic impacts on campus as they become available. All changes and adjustments will be communicated in advance and alternate plans and suggested routes will be put in place. For the most up to date construction information, visit the Purple Line site and sign up for updates.
For the most up to date construction information, visit http://www.purplelinemd.com. You may sign up for text and email updates at https://mtamarylandalerts.com/purpleline/, and select “College Park/M Square.”
The safety of our community is a top priority. Our campus has a robust safety and security plan (including cameras and frequent patrols) which will be enhanced with the addition of the Purple Line. The plan will include measures such as a maximum speed limit for Purple Line trains of 15 mph through campus and designated pedestrian crossing locations.
The University of Maryland’s M is a treasured landmark on our campus, and a defining marker for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors to campus. In preparation for the Purple Line, which will offer the UMD community easy access to the surrounding region like never before, our beloved M found a new home just across the street from where it previously stood.
The new landscaped M is in a place of prominence as visitors arrive and we welcome Terps home to campus. In its new location, the M provides safer access for iconic photos, no longer requiring people to walk across a busy traffic circle to capture memories.
The university is deeply committed to a maintaining a sustainable, green campus. We will be working in close coordination with the Purple Line to ensure that new trees will be planted for every tree that is removed during construction. Within one year of the Purple Line’s opening, our goal is to plant more trees on campus than those removed during construction. Our tree planting program will be adjusted as needed to ensure this is the case. We have worked with the Purple Line design team to identify trees near the alignment that may successfully remain, as well as trees that are good candidates for successful relocation on campus.
The Purple Line stations will look similar to large bus shelters. As part of the Purple Line Art-in-Transit Program, each station will include art. Information on the art at each station, including conceptual renderings, can be found on the official Purple Line Art-in-Transit website.
Renderings of the exterior and interior of the light rail vehicles are shown below.
Light rail vehicle exterior renderings (Courtesy MDOT MTA and PLTP)
The trains are 140 feet long (about the length of 3.5 buses), and are articulated in 4 places to facilitate turns. The vehicles have a capacity of 430 passengers, and will have designated locations for bicycles on board.
Based on the current schedule, the light rail vehicles would run every 7.5 minutes during rush hour, every 10 minutes during mid-day hours, and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours (e.g., early morning and late night).
Currently, the trains are scheduled to run from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and Sunday. These times are when the first or last trains leave the stations at the ends of the line (the New Carrollton and Bethesda stations) so the time when the first and last trains arrive on campus will be somewhat later. Additional details will be available closer to the beginning of Purple Line operations.