WTF?!? Metro Closing for 29 Hours Starting at Midnight

by Prince Of Petworth March 15, 2016 at 4:13 pm 150 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Rob Cannon


DCPS will be OPEN tomorrow, March 16. We are working with Metro to add additional bus service. Tardies and absences will be excused.”

Official word from WMATA:

All Metrorail service will be suspended Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections

Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, with support from the Authority’s Board of Directors, today announced the full closure of the Metrorail system on Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections of the system’s third-rail power cables following an early morning tunnel fire yesterday.

The inspections of approximately 600 “jumper cables” will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system. At the conclusion of the inspection process, there may be a need for additional rail service outages. Any further service impacts will be announced to the public as soon as they are known.

“While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately,” Wiedefeld said. “When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause.”

The Metrorail system will close at its normal time tonight (midnight) and remain closed until 5 a.m. Thursday. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday.

The unprecedented action follows an early morning electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station yesterday. There were no injuries; however, service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day.

“The investigation into yesterday’s cable fire at McPherson Square is ongoing,” Wiedefeld said. “As a preliminary matter, the conditions appear disturbingly similar to those in the L’Enfant incident of a year ago, and our focus is squarely on mitigating any risk of a fire elsewhere on the system.”

Metrobus and MetroAccess service will continue to operate on a regular schedule. Alternate service options throughout the region will be extremely limited, and severe crowding is expected on buses. The public is advised to make alternate travel arrangements as early as possible.”

Well this is a new one. NBC Washington reports:

“The entire D.C. Metro system will shut down for 24 hours starting at midnight and lasting for the entire day Wednesday for an emergency investigation, two sources tell News4.”

Washington Post reports:

“The entire Metro system will shut down for at least 29 hours starting at midnight tonight for safety checks of electric cables, three Metro officials said.”

Any guesses on Uber surge pricing tomorrow?

  • Bruce

    Metro management should go take a field trip to Europe and see how a proper system functions.
    And anyone who bitches about the closing should vote for more public transportation subsidies (like those properly functioning systems across the pond).

    • BigPuddin

      They could just go to NY.

      • Bruce

        NY is neither modern nor efficient. They didn’t stop using metal tokens until a decade ago and the signal system dates from the 1930’s.

        • BigPuddin

          You didn’t say anything about modern or efficient, just properly functioning, which in this case I took to mean working.

          • OP Anon

            Ever heard of “weekend shuttle bus?”
            The bane of every outer borough resident’s existence. NYC subway is consistent in the touristy/wealthy areas. Get out of those environs and you’ll see that it’s a shitshow most of the time.

          • BigPuddin

            I grew up in NY. The train system is nowhere near as much of a shit show as it is in DC.

    • BettyinFH

      They should stop by Mother Russia when out that way to see how proper escalator maintenance can keep them going smoothly for ages!

      • Thought

        And Shanghai is opening like 4 new subway lines this year alone. Not stations. Lines.
        And we still don’t have a line to our airport.

        • BigPuddin

          Buildings literally fall over in Shanghai. Not sure we want to use Shanghai as our measure of success.

  • This can’t be real, right?

    • anonymous

      yep, did a mental check first to see if it was April 1st already.

  • Grant Circle

    It’ll be cheaper to charter a helicopter than to take an Uber.

  • Derek

    Surge 1200.5X tomorrow at 7:30am.

  • domrep

    Uber and traffic will be a shit show tomorrow.


    This is madness. The city will come to a screeching halt. What is OPM going to do? This is straight crazy.

    • Kingman Park

      This isn’t madness. THIS. IS. METRO!!!!

  • JS

    It’s going to look like Fury Road out there tomorrow morning.

  • LedroitTigah

    OPM status update in 5,4,3….

    • Derek

      Yup – pretty much guaranteed.

    • MVT

      Dan where is the list of metro closing happy hour specials?

    • OP Anon

      My agency already sent an emergency blast email at 4:10 to all staff saying we should be prepared to telework, pending a final declaration from OPM.

  • neighbor

    I just came here for the schadenfreude. Everyone should buy a bike.

    • CHGal

      Yes, if the thousands who take the metro are all of a sudden on the streets, there won’t be any issues.

      • samanda_bynes

        IT’S CALLED car dodgin’ swerve swerve

        • Sydney P

          Nope. More like “take the lane,” but go around cars waiting at lights. Want me to stop at intersections? With pleasure: a full stop, at the head of the line.

          • bruno

            Have walked to work for 26 years. Traffic? Metro? What?

          • Anon X

            Make everyone else’s commute more difficult because you have an agenda and a chip on your shoulder. Got it. Grow up!

    • AnotherBdaleResident

      Not everyone can hack it on a bike. I can’t. Thankfully I’m only 2 miles from work – so walking is fine (though, that obviously is not going to work for some/many as well).

    • Irving Streete

      We’ll be back for reverse schadenfreude next time it sleets. :)

  • JS

    Also, I can’t help but wonder if the new GM is applying a modified Washington Monument Syndrome strategy here in an attempt to get WMATA’s constituent jurisdictions to up funding levels.

    • tom

      Yeah, this seems like a bit of a stunt. Why not wait until Saturday and if it were an absolute emergency why not close transit immediately?

      • ***

        Peak Cherry Blossom bloom is this weekend, so closing on Saturday would be a pretty big problem. And obviously if they close immediately, everyone would now be stranded at work… and I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to have a work slumber-party.

      • T

        I’m guessing they don’t want to shut down during an upcoming weekend because cherry blossoms (and associated hordes of tourists) are almost here.

    • DC Denizen

      I was wondering this myself. Disastrous, or brilliant strategy to remind the region what traffic would look like without Metro. I remember when the Red Line between Silver Spring and Brookland was closed after the accident there, and that was carmeggedon in Downtown Silver Spring. That being said, fix Metro already!!!!!

      • JoDa

        I drove a friend home to Silver Spring that night, at around 9 PM. Even that late, the drive was terrible.

    • Hill Denizen

      They couldn’t wait one day to let people, and jurisdictions, at least plan a little better?

  • Clueless

    If this ends up being true… GODSPEED, DC.

    • Anonymous

      Uh, definitely true.

      • Clueless

        Guess I’ll lace up my sneaks and walk it out tomorrow.

  • Metro must be in urgent need of repairs if they’re not waiting until the weekend or doing this in phases overnight. Gives me a lot of concern about my ride home tonight.

    • AdmsMgn

      +1 My thoughts exactly!

    • Pixie

      Ha, I was thinking the same thing. Things must be really, really bad for them to do this.

    • anon

      Well, it is peak bloom, so the numbers on the weekend might actually be worse than during the week for once (though I don’t know for sure).

    • stacksp

      Full scale inspection at all nodes given recent fires etc according to NBC 4. They must know that their is an open and present danger on the system and want to identify it before it has catastrophic effects and takes lives.

  • 16thSter

    Why is there nothing on wmata.com!!!

    • anon

      …because it just crashed

      • JoDa

        But they were lickety-split on increasing their resources. Not only is it back up, but it’s the fastest website I’ve loaded today (our internet connection at work kind of blows)!

    • anon

      I heard on the radio that there will be a press conference at 4:30

    • John

      I just checked; the site already crashed

    • swootang

      Aaaand wmata.com just crashed.

  • lemeow


  • LP

    at least they are not stranding us all at work today…

  • Anon

    Wow. That’s racist.

    • Anonymous


      • Anon

        Because the “job program” is not limited to one race, nor are the levels of metro’s continued incompetence. To imply at all of metro’s problems stem from the employment of one race is, in fact, racist.

        • stacksp

          and ignorant.

        • transplanted


        • anon


          and especially racist when you mention burning things to the ground. Careful, your white robe might get dirty.

        • Anonymouse

          Maybe, although, if WMATA only hired white people without regard to actual skills or experience then it would probably be in a similar situation.

  • domrep

    Would the feds really call for a closure tomorrow?

    • swootang

      I’d imagine option for unscheduled leave/unscheduled telework.

      • MRD

        It’s too late for a lot of feds to prepare for that. At my agency, a lot of people are already out the door by 4:00.
        Which is why I’m wondering what was so urgent that they couldn’t at least provide more advance warning.

        • stacksp

          Too late to stay home?

          • AnotherBdaleResident

            Too late to bring the things needed to stay home.

          • JinDC

            Too late to plan for working from home (bringing files, work laptop if you are required to borrow one, ect). Not everyone is authorized telework unfortunately.

          • stacksp

            valid point(s)

        • Anonymous

          As bad as the shutdown will affect everyone’s commute, I’d much rather everything shut down so that Metro can check the cables than hope that the Monday debacle is an isolated incident.

  • womp

    LOL they instigated a DDoS of their own website.
    it has not been a good week for WMATA.

  • stacksp

    Is the job program that you speak of restricted solely to one race? Is it not available to anyone that applies?

  • ParkViewneighbor

    Thanks for the update. Would have been nice to have more than a few hours to prep

  • anon

    Dan, please remove this comment.

    • ugh

      Dan please censor opinions that are not like mine. DO IT NOW MY GENERATION DEMANDS IT. lol

      • anon

        No, not because I disagree, but because the comment alludes to lynching and burning.

    • Anonymous

      Why? If Metro in fact has a race-based affirmative action hiring program, why is that not subject to debate?

    • DCMau5

      people like you legitimize Trump

      familiarize yourself w the 1st amendment pal

      • Anonymous

        Lol, people like you make Trump supporters look dense. First Amendment has zero applicability here – familiarize yourself with it.

      • anon

        Maybe you should better familiarize yourself with the 1st amendment, because it doesn’t apply here.

      • Anonymouse

        ^ DC’s lone Trump supporter, everyone!

  • MRD

    What kind of problems do they have requiring a total shutdown…that can be fixed in 24 hours?!

    • womp

      report doesn’t say they will be fixing anything; it says “investigation” (i.e., let’s see what the hell else is wrong since Monday was obviously a big problem)

    • LittleBluePenguin

      I would like to know that as well!

    • OP Anon

      During the Monday debacle, two trains nearly collided in a head-on collision at the Clarendon station. It hasn’t picked up much news traction, but can be found in the transit Twitter’verse and on Reddit. There’s obviously some major issues with the communication systems and the electrical wiring. At this point, Weidefeld is probably just praying that everyone gets home today with all limbs.

  • cwjCP

    If they’re closing for 24 hours to go through and fire all the incompetent management/staff, I’m all for it.

  • jrodgers

    One could imagine they found something pretty bad after the cable fire yesterday. If something were to happen between that discovery and before track work that would be hypothetically scheduled for weekend, one could just imagine the liability Metro would face.

    • jrodgers

      Errr… sorry… doing too much “imagining” right now apparently.

  • Derek

    Now where will all the unruly teenagers pestering riders do all day? Why don’t they think about the children!

  • Tract44

    Still can’t tell if this is a hoax/trolling by disgruntled metro employees.

  • MVT

    Press conference is late just like the trains…..

  • eva

    Stuff like this is why, for me, the question “do you feel safe on metro” has absolutely zero to do with other passengers. I have avoided metro rail like the plague since the 2009 red line accident. And I’m happier, healthier and richer as a result.

  • That Man A

    The City cant even accommodate all the cars that would be on the road if everyone who usually takes the train in had to drive… wouldn’t be room for all of those vehicles

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know if this is an issue with personnel as much as budgeting. We’ve got some serious infrastructure problems across the board, including bridges and roads, because governments don’t like tucking away money for future replacements. Years of deferred maintenance has broadsided Metro, leading to budget woes and fare increases. We’re paying for poor management in the 1990s at this point.

    • Evan Tupac Grooter

      Yet metro hasn’t actually spent all of its capital budget in years because of mismanagement.

  • education

    actually the extent of the racism in metro’s hiring and overall HR practices is well documented and abhorrent. if you don’t know what TiredOfTheSameExcuses is complaining about your should educate yourself before commenting further.

    • Kingman Park

      Ideologies > Education

  • Jim

    Anyone up for some pure speculation? Let’s do it.

    I would bet that in the investigation into Monday’s cable fire, WMATA discovered some sort of design flaw in their electrical connections so catastrophic that they need to immediately make sure that the other ones won’t fail as well. The danger of the situation walks a tight rope; it must be pretty darn bad to shut down Metro tomorrow, but not quite bad enough to shut it down immediately.

    Now let’s see how wrong I turn out to be. I just hope this isn’t just the new GM letting the area know that there is a new sheriff in town.

    • stacksp

      That is basically what they are saying during the press conference. They are trying to avoid loss of life by inspecting the entire system end to end.

      • Jim

        Yeah, though from what Paul Wiedefeld is saying, I’m not particularly convinced of the urgency of the request. I’m thinking WMATA legal counsel drove this decision.

        • stacksp

          Quite possibly. He has just said that he is unwilling “to take a chance”

      • anon

        They are trying to avoid “another” loss of life by inspecting the entire system end to end.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know if they are going to expect all 120 miles-worth of track, but they might. There is no way that they could do this quickly between Tuesday close and Wednesday open, and whatever is up with the cable issue from yesterday is clearly a big enough deal that they don’t want to do it piecemeal over the course of several nights. The moratorium on weekend closures during the cherry blossoms also means that, barring Metro wanting to lift that, they only can do checks during the weeknights.

      • anonymous

        WaPo said they’d be checking wiring in the tunnels because yesterday’s incident was so similar to the L’Enfant tragedy. I guess above ground areas would be OK (relatively speaking) because smoke would dissipate so they don’t necessarily need to cover the entire system tomorrow.
        As for liability, same article said that the board was concerned about liability if they did the inspections over the course of a week and something happened in the meantime.

      • tigershark

        No as I understand it, its just the underground cables/connectors since this is where you have a smoke hazard. It sucks if there is a fire outdoors, but that is not as much a danger to life I’d suppose. As to whether legal counsel drove this – of course they did since WMATA just got sued in January for the L’Enfant smoke event, and with the McPherson Sq. fire just happening, they are on notice and if anything were to happen now, its beyond mere negligence, so they have to act.

        I applaud this, whether it’s Washington Monument theory or otherwise. We all like to complain when things break, because they don’t get inspected, and when they need to be inspected, we also wish to complain. I’d rather have one day of telework to ensure system reliability and safety, rather than take years off my life with the constant delays that would happen when there are 2-3 smoke events a year that totally shitcan a days commute. Give up one day now, or several days down the road to address this piecemeal seems to be the choice for WMATA. Combined with recency bias and liability concerns, its a no-brainer.

        That being said – which bars are offering #WMATADAY specials?

    • AnotherBdaleResident

      Oooh – speculation? I bet it’s gremlins.

      • JoDa

        Tumblbeasts! They mistook Metro’s power cords for a server cable.

  • J

    Shutting down the ENTIRE metro system, in the middle of a work-week? Does anyone else think that something larger is at play here, or was yesterday’s cable fire this major of a cause for alarm?

    • jenster8dc

      This. Very much this.

    • FedEmployee


  • Don’t forget to stop by the grocery store to pickup your milk, eggs, bread, ect.

    • AnotherBdaleResident

      WHEW. Thankfully I went yesterday.

    • Traveler


  • JinDC

    1) bwahaha hahaha just when I have DCstalgia, this happens
    2) will be curious how OPM handles this. I was never allowed to telework as a fed in a sensitive security position so would I be forced to take leave because I couldn’t get to the pentagon?
    3) how is metro this much of a shit show. It’s awful. It used to be state of the art now it’s not even state of the fart. It’s embarrassing. I feel really bad for the tourists who now have to figure out the alphabet in order to walk anywhere.
    4) but really, I wish you all luck. Hope you can stay home and watch pat Collins cover it.

  • Marty

    Glad I brought my laptop home today!

    • stacksp

      Have mine as well

  • M

    haha, just noticed the “happy birthday Uber” in the link address – nice one Dan!

  • eggs

    Dat URL tho.

  • kellyj

    Metrocalypse now!!

  • I Dont Get It

    I just returned from being the Paul Revere of U Street yelling “The Metro is closing,the Metro is closing” at the dry cleaners, TJs, CVS, etc.

    P.S. Why is Fox News interviewing Jim Graham??????

    • Anony

      Because Brianne is clueless?

    • womp

      lolol +1000000
      this made my day. thank you!

    • Emmaleigh504


    • Formerly ParkViewRes

      LOL, imagining this and it is PERFECT!

    • Anon

      Hahaha picturing this is great

  • DC CapHill

    Annnnnnddddddd still nothing from OPM…

  • JessH

    Just a ploy to up ridership numbers on the new street car!

  • jenster8dc

    No info on the PIDs or station announcements, at least where I am. Screw you, tourists!
    It really does scare me that this is even necessary. Makes me wonder what would’ve happened if yesterday’s fire had happened later.

  • That One Guy

    I imagine parking is going to cray cray and what happens when all of the downtown parking garages are filled?

  • I Dont Get It

    Dumbest comment I’ve heard on local TV coverage: “So far, Metro buses are not impacted by this closing.”

    WTF? If we have Metro buses in Metro tunnels we have a much bigger problem!

  • anonymous

    From ABC: “Metrobus and MetroAccess service will continue to operate on a regular schedule. Alternate service options throughout the region will be extremely limited, and severe crowding is expected on buses. ”
    Whoa. You’d think they could roll out some extra buses like they do when they temporarily close a small segment of the system. I realize they can’t provide the same level of service and duplicate all metro routes, but they must have enough data about ridership to be able to target needs and provide some express buses between some stations or additional buses on other routes.
    Under emergency management best practices this plan should be in place so it just needs to be activated, not figured out. (I know, I know, just typing “best practices” about WMATA made me laugh, too.)

    • Anon

      Not to mention buses will get stuck in the cluster f*** of traffic that will happen once everyone who normally takes metro decides to drive or uber. I normally drive, but I’m seriously considering working from home tomorrow!

  • Neutorious

    The bad news is Metro will be closed. The good news is no one will get attacked by mobs of teens.

  • Llama

    Couldn’t wait 1 more day to do this? Could’ve watched some March Madness from home. How inconsiderate.

    • kanon


  • dd

    Can’t believe DC Govt will still be open. I know a lot of people have the option to telework but a lot of people don’t. And many many people come from outside the city from places like Fairfax and Rockville. They’ll be in traffic all day if all of those people drive. Definitely feel for them tomorrow and am thankful I can walk 1.5 miles to work!

    • guest11

      District employees should live in the District.

  • Fed

    Dear OPM: If “optional telework” is your new standard alternative to “government closed,” please stop allowing individual supervisors to refuse telework-ready approvals on the basis of “I don’t like the idea of telework.”

    • FridayGirl

      YES! This! I used to be able to telework then poof… new supervisor and suddenly no telework. Lame.

  • J

    Prepare for a rough commute home in the afternoon if it starts raining, folks.

  • Felony I

    No street sweeping! Thank you baby Jesus for small favors

    DPW Suspends Residential Street Sweeping, Wednesday, March 16, Due to Metrorail Shutdown

  • SilverSpringGal

    *cackles* I mean…umm, so sorry for all the commuters coming in from VA and MD.

  • Lg

    I might be the only one completely pleased with this decision. I think that this shows that the new Metro management is prepared to make hard decisions, that are best for the system and people it serves. After years (decades) of mismanagement, especially in safety related issues. I think this is a breath of fresh air. My only wish is that they could call in everyone who can do work and do a metro work blitz during the shutdown. Let’s get other stuff done too!

    • dd

      I’m glad they made the decision to shut down for the day, I just wish other agencies would follow suit and make it an administrative/”optional” day off. I’ll be able to get to work with no issue, but half my coworkers won’t be able to so that means I’m going to have a lot of extra work to make up for them not being there (I work in a library). Allow people to take the day off if they need to, but then give the people who could come in a “free” day off somewhere down the line.

  • Anonymous

    Well as long as the Streetcar will be running there will be no worries tomorrow

    • Jen


  • navyard

    Close one lane on all highways into the district to all traffic except buses. Bikeshare is free tomorrow!

  • To everyone who was anticipating some sort of Mad Max style chaos on the roads this morning, it was probably the smoothest ride I’ve seen outside of a Thanksgiving or Christmas work week. DC has an outstanding bus system, I suggest everyone at least familiarize yourselves with the routes available to you so that you don’t freak out quite so much when you can’t take Metro. They’re trying to prevent the loss or endangerment of lives, try to complain a little less about how this screws things up for YOU.

  • Glen

    So that’s why the morning commute was busier than usual. For Uber drivers, it’d probably make financial sense to take PTO from the day job and work today. Black Friday for car-share drivers.


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