Metro News Release

For immediate release: December 21, 2009

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Metrorail, Metrobus back in business for Monday
MetroAccess service limited

All 86 Metrorail stations will be open and ready to move customers on Monday morning (December 21), two days after a record-setting snowfall forced trains into underground-only mode from 1 p.m. Saturday throughout the day on Sunday. Metrobus service will also be back on the area’s streets providing significantly improved service from the skeletal service available on Sunday. MetroAccess will be operating limited service from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for individuals whose trips are associated with life-sustaining medical needs such as chemotherapy and dialysis.

“I want to thank our customers for their understanding as we used Sunday to recover from more than a foot of snowfall and layer of ice that blanketed our tracks, trains, platforms, escalators, station entrances, parking lots, sidewalks, rail yards, bus garages, bus routes and bus loops,” said Metro General Manager John Catoe. “The good news is that our trains, buses and paratransit service are all back in business.”

Metro employees and contractors labored from Friday night through the wee hours of Monday morning fighting the ice and unprecedented amounts of heavy snowfall. “Digging out 106 miles of tracks, our rail yards, our bus garages and our vehicles was an uphill battle from the start. I thank all of our employees who brought us through to be able return service to the region,” Catoe said.

Monday’s Metrobus service will be significantly improved, but is likely to be running somewhat behind schedule. All but two bus routes will be operating in the District of Columbia. Buses are not yet able to maneuver in the neighborhoods served by Metrobus routes 60 and G2 in Washington. In Northern Virginia, six routes remain restricted from Metrobus service due to snow and ice—they are routes 1, 3, 7, 8, 23 and the 24T. Metrobuses will stick to snow emergency routes in Maryland to start the day. Bus service operations managers will monitor all of these areas with an eye toward returning service to those lines when road conditions improve and it is deemed safe for buses to drive along those streets.

Bus officials continue to stay in touch with the local departments of transportation to let officials in the local jurisdictions know where some of the biggest challenges exist for providing bus service in hopes that those areas can be cleared of snow and treated for icy conditions to allow for safe bus passage.

Bus riders are advised to be extra cautious when boarding and alighting buses as most bus stops are blocked by mounds of snow. The piles of snow can sometimes cause people to slip and fall under a bus.

MetroAccess service for Monday will operate only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for customers whose trips are associated with life-sustaining medical needs such as chemotherapy and dialysis. If MetroAccess customer trips do not fall in that category, their trips were cancelled automatically. Paratransit customers also received an automated call if their trips were cancelled. MetroAccess officials will be monitoring road conditions constantly with an eye toward expanding service levels when conditions improve.

Metrorail service will return to all stations—regardless if those stations are situated above ground or below the surface. Six-car trains will be the norm on Monday as demand for service is not expected to be as high as a typical Monday due to the large volume of governmental agencies, area schools, businesses and other organizations that have already announced that they will be closed to start the work-week.

The Federal government is closed today, and Federal employees typically account for about 40 percent of rush hour riders, so a lighter than usual ridership day is expected.

De-icing equipment will continue to be in use aboard trains that are also carrying passengers today.

There is no indication that staffing will be an issue for Metro on Monday as many employees were asked to report to work early and have done so. Road conditions thwarted the efforts of many Metro employees who had difficulty reporting to work on Sunday and in some instances, supervisors in SUVs drove to the homes of employees to pick them up and take them to their worksites.

Customers can expect to see hundreds of Metro employees and contractors on the job today as they continue to clear the rails of ice and snow and to clear platforms, sidewalks, parking facilities and pathways to rail stations. In addition to the tracks, employees and contractors have been focusing on clearing the entrance areas of stations, including shoveling snow off of exposed escalators, many of which were halted yesterday due to packed ice and snow in the equipment.

Customers can expect to see piles of snow on outdoor platforms. Surface parking facilities also are piled with snow, consuming approximately 15 percent of the spaces where vehicles usually park. The top level of parking decks are expected to have large snow piles on them as well. The clearing of snow from the parking lots will continue throughout the day and later tonight contractors will begin to haul away those piles.

Customers are advised to be on the lookout for “black ice” on paved surfaces, which is often difficult to spot.

How to get Updates on Winter Weather Conditions

There are a variety of ways for customers to stay informed about Metro service levels. Metro constantly updates local news media of Metro service changes. Information is also available on Metro’s home page at www.metroopensdoors.com. Customers can also subscribe to e-Alerts and receive up-to-date service disruption information on Metrorail and MetroAccess. Due to the high volume of calls, waits for a customer service agent at Metro’s Customer Service call center were lengthy on Sunday and may continue to be longer than usual today.

 


Media contact for this news release: Lisa Farbstein at 202-962-1051.
For all other inquiries, please call customer service at 202-637-7000.

News release issued at 4:03 am, December 21, 2009.


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