Are You Ready For Metro Mayhem?

by Prince Of Petworth June 3, 2016 at 10:00 am 40 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend


Beginning Friday, June 3, the Metrorail system will close at midnight every night to allow for the implementation of SafeTrack, an expanded track work plan to improve Metrorail safety and restore service reliability.”

For those who are affected by the first SafeTrack – how will you alter your commute? For those staying out late night – what mode will you use to get home now?

From the Mayor’s Office:

“Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the District’s strategy to mitigate the impact of ‘SafeTrack’, WMATA’s year-long emergency repair program. The Bowser administration’s plan includes expanded rush hour parking restrictions, retiming traffic signals, deployment of additional traffic control officers and discounted fares on Capital Bikeshare.

SafeTrack begins on the Orange and Silver lines in Virginia on June 4. The first major repairs within the District will occur from June 18 to July 3, when Metro will experience full closures on the Orange, Blue and Silver Lines between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue/Benning Road stations. Metro stations in the District will also be impacted in August and again in October.

“At some point during the next year, it is likely that every commuter to and from Washington, DC—whether by rail, bus, or car—will, unfortunately, be affected by SafeTrack repairs. I am committed to making the yearlong repairs to MetroRail as painless as possible for all commuters and DC residents,” said Mayor Bowser. As such, my administration has developed a mitigation strategy and will soon implement a number of tactics designed to ease traffic flow and promote safe and affordable alternative modes of travel. As these tactics are deployed, and for the duration of SafeTrack, I urge District residents and commuters to learn more about how the repairs will affect their travel by visiting safetrack.godcgo.com.”

The District’s plan also includes the formation of a citywide Traffic Operations and Control Center, increased Roadway Operations Patrol staffing during rush hours, and expanded use of variable message boards to alert motorists to Safetrack changes. DDOT will provide additional staging areas for taxi cabs and carpooling. The District is also exploring expanded hours for the DC Circulator and enhanced capacity at Capital Bikeshare locations impacted by the SafeTrack operations. Capital Bikeshare has created a new $2 per trip fare to provide an additional transit option for commuters. More information on commuter impacts and alternatives is available at safetrack.godcgo.com. This site will remain active for the entire SafeTrack process to provide residents with up-to-date transportation resources.”

  • Marsha

    In july sometime, they’re shutting down both braddock and reagan (metro) so i got to figure out if there is a bus to get me past those two stations. (I live near king street metro)

    the wmata website says they will have buses at braddock, so I wonder if i need to walk to braddock every morning. that will be a pain, but that may be my only option…

    It’s going to get interesting! HA

    • nevermindtheend

      Keep in mind shuttle buses can only handle a tiny fraction of the people displaced from their normal train ride.

    • womp

      I’m on this segment daily too. Yellow/Blue lines south of Pentagon City are affected two consequetive weeks – the first week, no trains between Braddock Rd. and Reagan National; the second week, no trains between Reagan National and Pentagon City (bypassing Crystal City). My understanding is that trains will run to the “out of service zone,” bus service will shuttle people through the zone, and train service will resume on the other side of the zone.
      For example, July 5 – July 11 you can take yellow/blue train from King Street to Braddock Rd, catch a shuttle bus to Reagan National, and take a yellow/blue train north from Reagan National. For July 12 – July 18, you can take yellow/blue train from King Street to Reagan National, catch a shuttle bus to Pentagon City, and take a yellow/blue train north from Pentagon City.
      However, what nevermindtheend says is very true. The ST plan indicates shuttles will be running with increased frequency, but they obviously do not have the capacity that trains do. AND the trains on the ends of the “out of service” zones will run with at least 50% LESS frequency.

      • Jill

        The Metroway buses run between Pentagon City and Braddock Road (stopping at the Crystal City stop and a few other points along the way) and they’re quite good. That would be a good option for anyone going that route unless they need to go to National.

    • It’s just me

      Can you take VRE?

  • Accountering

    Yup! Going to keep biking to work. I don’t think this will affect me in any way.

    • CHGal

      Other than the additional bike and car traffic on the roads. Everyone will be effected at some point.

      • dcgator

        Ya, as a Bikesharer, it’s going to affect me in having a tougher time finding bikes in the morning…It will not really affect my evening plans, as I usually stay in an area I can reasonably get to via walking, biking, or a quick cab trip.

      • Accountering

        Meh, from Shaw to Farragut is pretty crowded the entire way either way. Bike traffic is not traffic IMO, an extra 10 bikes in even one block makes little difference, I take a bike lane the majority of the way, and the parts on Rhode Island I just take the lane. I suppose to say no affect is disingenuous, but I don’t see how this could possibly have more than a 30 second addition to my 12 minute bike ride to and from work.

        • CHGal

          I think the addition of bikers who aren’t used to biking in rush hour is going to be a hassle.

          • textdoc

            And probably more drivers who aren’t used to driving with cyclists around.

  • PetWoodPark

    This will be painful, but I’m actually really glad Metro is finally taking on the repairs and safety problems it neglected for years.

  • Pixie

    I’m lucky that Safetrack doesn’t really affect my commute until the late summer/fall. I’m curious to see just how bad things will be with this first round. My plan was to just bikeshare to a different metro station when the time comes… but if things are real bad I might have to take a very long, slow bus ride all the way downtown.

    • jumpingjack

      I’m in the same boat (coming from Takoma). But I’m going to drive. I’m not comfortable riding a bike in traffic, especially in October when it’ll be dark. I’m going to try to organize some sort of carpool with neighbors to minimize the pain.

    • chellefisshh

      I commute from Takoma down to McPherson Square. Depending on departure time and location downtown, I’ve found that the 63 buses are actually not that much slower than the metro. Getting on near the start of the line in Takoma usually means that I can get a seat, too. Of course, when a gazillion extra people are on the buses due to the metro closure, all bets are off, but a girl can hope, right?

  • Anne

    What a weak response from the city and the Mayor. Why no new dedicated bus lines using dedicated lanes? How about HOV-2 over the bridges? Or change traffic directions on underused multilane one-way streets at rush hour? Ban delivery trucks during rush hour? So many options – and $2 bike share is the best they come up with?!? And even though they think more bikes is the answer, they don’t even provide bikers any more bike lanes.

    • Accountering

      I did hear she put together a blue ribbon commission to study how to proceed, so that’s something! I can’t wait to vote against this lady in 2018.

      • canadianexile

        I’ve been voting against her every chance I’ve had, but it doesn’t seem to help. Someone who accomplished nothing as a council member was not going to be an effective mayor.

        This is a chance for the city to do a bunch of things that it should do anyway. Like Anne says, dedicated bike lanes… HOV on 14th St bridge … and yes, bike lanes!

        I walk or bike to work 95% of the time anyway. Maybe my 15-minute bike ride will get a few minutes slower, which isn’t the end of the world. It’s more a question of safety – the extra cars added to the roads are going to make things worse for pedestrians and cyclists.

        • Patricia

          Haha accomplished nothing as a council member? You’re funny. Do you even live in Ward 4? She accomplished a lot as a council member, and as an informed native Washingntonian who has always lived in Ward 4, I can say that. She’s a crap mayor, that’s for sure, but she was a great council member. That’s one of the reasons she was elected. And in comparison to the new council member, Brandon or whatever his name is, she was gold. You shouldn’t spew out “facts” you know nothing of.

  • Leeran

    I’m thinking this is going to be more of a mess than some people realize. I’ve heard a fair amount of friends dismiss it as not “that bad”.

    It doesn’t seem like people realize that there will be huge slowdowns through, say, the downtown O/B/S core for significant periods, even if it’s a not a section that’s totally shut down. Those 10 to 12-minute headways during rush hour will be something….

    • eggs


  • skj84

    Thankfully this weekend I can get rides with my sister and won’t have to metro. I bus to work so at least the Blue/Orange/Silver shut downs later this month won’t affect my commute. I haven’t really given much thought to how I’ll get around otherwise. I’ll get there, when I get there I guess.

  • ***

    Mostly concerned that this is going to add a significant amount of traffic on the roads – both individual drivers and more people relying on Uber, Lyft, etc. to get to work in the morning, which is going to biking to/from work a little more challenging then it already has become. Especially worrying will be it the influx of people driving who are not used to morning rush hour and will be a danger on the roads.

  • skaballet

    I am extremely thankful that I walk to work so this won’t affect me on a daily basis. I was considering moving, but have decided that’s a bad idea until all this is over.

    • BRP

      me too – I switched jobs a few months ago and can now walk to work (instead of taking the red line to the o/s/b line to get to my old office). I knew my quality of life would improve with my new commute, but now I am thanking all the gods that I don’t have to deal with the metro anymore. I feel so bad for everyone who still does.

  • wdc

    Why is there no talk of incentivizing carpooling? 16th Street is bumper-to-bumper single-occupant cars for miles every day. People will already be looking for alternatives as public transit goes to hell and traffic gets even worse; it’s the perfect time to change behavior.

    • Anonymous

      I like the idea, but what’s the incentive and who provides it? The benefit only accrues if lots of people do it, but no one will do it if there’s no immediate benefit. Classic catch-22. And driving is inherently a decentralized and personal activity. What’s the starting point? I also think people will wait to see how bad traffic really gets before deciding to sacrifice their own personal transportation machines.

    • anon

      What are some ways that can be incentivized beyond the incentives (reduced parking costs, reduced gas costs, reduced wear and tear) that already exist? It’s a big infrastructure lift to, say, implement (and enforce) HOV lanes on normal DC thoroughfares.

      • anon

        To say nothing of the problems you’d cause everyone else if/when nobody used those HOV lanes.

      • wdc

        Not sure what you mean by existing incentives like reduced parking cost. Does that exist? Or do you mean an informal arrangement where a rider gives a driver a couple bucks? Because that’s what I was thinking (though I am not an urban planner or behavioral specialist): a deal whereby drivers carrying passengers get a municipally-funded break on the cost at certain parking garages.

        • blue peter

          many european cities – Torino, London (I believe) come to mind – charge a fee to drive within certain areas of the city center. perhaps this could be an effective incentive in DC…i’m no urban planner, though, so might not work at all for our city…

          • textdoc

            I think D.C. was considering some kind of commuter tax for a while, but Congress shut it down.
            That’s not quite the same as a congestion charge for downtown areas, though. Does NYC have a congestion charge of that nature? I think it would be a much harder sell Stateside, as so many people here believe it’s a practically a God-given right to be able to drive anywhere and park (ideally for free or cheap) anywhere.

  • VeggieTart

    I’m glad I can get to work using two buses. And until hockey season starts up again, I hopefully won’t be using rail much.

    As for people who stay out late in DC, how about ensuring frequent bus service to help people get home? Can Metro operators who normally would work the midnight to 3 a.m. rail runs be shifted to bus runs?

    • Anonymous

      Just remember that buses will suffer knock on effects as well – more people will be riding them and more cars will be using the same roads that buses use.

      • nevermindtheend

        Agreed, Anonymous. I don’t think many people have thought through the how rail closures and reductions will trickle through the entire transportation network.

  • anon

    I’m probably going to spend a lot on Uber surge costs. But it’s fine, because I can afford it and Metro needs to get this done.

  • Jill

    I think it will actually work in my favor. A lot of the shutdowns and single tracking are occurring just beyond my home and work stations, so the trains will be emptier when I get on them. The shutdown between Pentagon City and National will impact me, but just barely. Instead of riding to Crystal City and walking 20 minutes I’ll get off at Pentagon City and take the Metroway bus (which is a lot faster anyway).

  • textdoc

    I don’t think the Metro mayhem is going to affect my commute all that much, but the midnight closure on weekends means I won’t be able to take Metro back from, say, U Street Music Hall at 2 a.m.

    • tonyr

      The 70 runs until around 3:00 a.m.

  • Pleasanter

    I feel worst about the folks who work night or late shifts who depend on Metro as their way home. I’m lucky that Safetrack will not hinder my daily commute too much – I bike or take the Green line, which isn’t going to be as affected as most lines.


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