Impacts of Metro Shutdown


Hannah Cho, Staff Writer

SafeTrack is the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority program’s (WMATA) massive repair program that launched in June to expand maintenance time on weeknights, weekends, and midday hours, thereby significantly impacting rush hour commutes.

SafeTrack addresses U.S. Federal Transit Administration and National Transportation Safety Board safety recommendations while restoring track infrastructure to good health, and these recommendations are derived from the arcing accident at the L’Enfant Plaza station from January and some other events that indicate inadequate oversight of the rail. The 15 “Safety Surges”, as shown on WMATA’s surge schedule, will, therefore, utilize long-term track outages through regular single-tracking or line segment shutdowns. As of Sept. 25-Oct. 26, trains single-track on weekdays and are shut down on weekends, so anyone who plans to take the Metro can expect this to continue for approximately six more months. 

“Due to SafeTrack, there has been extended delays on the Orange Line since the middle of July,” said Jackson Rhymes, a construction worker at the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro Station. “Meanwhile, we’re doing our best to accelerate three years’ worth of work into approximately one year.”

Though the norm was to run every three to six minutes, trains now come precisely every 24 minutes and operate in two sections between Vienna and the West Falls Church station, which currently allows passengers to transfer between trains without having to leave a station or pay an additional fare. In addition to this, limited shuttle bus service is provided to passengers to help them get to their destination faster, for trains are often crowded during rush hour and passengers are encouraged to find alternate travel options. “The shuttle bus takes me around ten minutes to get to West Falls Church.” said Jessica Kim, a junior student at Oakton who regularly takes the metro to D.C. “That’s a twenty minute difference, assuming my waiting time for the train is 20 or so minutes.”

Furthermore, while there are currently no alerts for the Red, Silver, Blue, Yellow, and Green Lines, WMATA regularly updates its Metrorail Service Status page with updates regarding issues that may be of any inconvenience to its passengers. For instance, beginning Friday, June 3, the Red Line Metrorail has been closing at midnight every night to allow for the implementation of SafeTrack, but has just recently refused pleas to open past midnight during a Nationals playoff game.

From Oct. 24-30, the Blue Line will be single-tracking from Addison Road to Largo Town Center for radio cable installations and from Oct. 25-Nov. 22, the Red Line will be single tracking from Friendship Heights to Medical Center for rail maintenance. More lines will be affected in the months following, so Metro customers are encouraged to go to the ‘‘Planned Track Work’ site in Wmata’s page and plan their trips ahead of time.