Metro’s service on all subway lines serving Capitol Hill will be disrupted in the months ahead as the transit system launches a “military operation” to make the commuter lines safer and more reliable.
The longest shutdown will come on the Red Line, when trains will not travel from NoMa-Gallaudet U to Fort Totten stations from Oct. 9 to Nov. 2; buses will be available to move commuters from one stop to another.
In addition, train traffic will slow down when Metro puts in place single tracking on the Blue, Orange, Yellow and Silver Lines from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6, affecting stations from Eastern Market to Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road.
Across the system, late-night weekend service on the Metro will stop at midnight beginning June 3 and stations region wide could be shut down for as long as a month, under a safety upgrade plan unveiled by General Manager Paul Wiedefeld last week.
Passengers can also expect 16 different stations served by five of Metro’s six rail lines to be either closed or offer limited service at various times. Passengers could wait for trains for up to 20 minutes, and track work during rush hour can also be expected.
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The May 6 announcement was made as the transit system, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, came under fire from federal investigators last week who cited a lack of proper safety precautions following a smoke incident in January 2015 that killed a commuter.
It also came the morning after yet another smoke incident prompted the shut down of two Metro stops on Capitol Hill. Both were the latest in a string of mechanical, operational or managerial shortcomings that have plagued the nation’s second-busiest subway system in recent years.
Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said in a joint statement that constituents are growing tired of daily delays and safety issues.
“The plan may not be welcome news for the hundreds of thousands of area residents whose daily commutes will be disrupted, but a bold and serious approach to improving Metro safety is necessary after years of neglected maintenance,” the statement read.
Wiedefeld acknowledged the plan would cause serious disruptions to daily commuters but said it would consolidate three years of work into one.
“We haven’t given ourselves the amount of time we need to get the job done correctly,” Wiedefeld said.
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Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans, who once warned that the entire Metro system could be shut down for six months, vowed to increase ridership and said the disruption was the only way to fix a “crisis situation.”
“When we make the system again reliable and safe, people will come back to it,” Evans said.
The complete work schedule, which will be made final by May 16, disrupts service on all six Metro rail lines at some point. The work will also result in wait times up to 20 minutes.
During shutdowns, the transit system will provide 40 to 50 buses that commuters can use in place of trains. Rush hour fares will stay the same.
Wiedefeld said the “massive undertaking” was comparable to a “military operation.”
The maintenance plans include upgrades to tracks and cables and improved third rails and ventilation.