Metro News Release

For immediate release: December 24, 2009

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Metro prepares for freezing rain on Christmas morning
Metrobus, MetroAccess may be impacted by icy road conditions

For the second consecutive weekend, Metro is preparing for inclement weather. Last week a blizzard hit the area and tomorrow freezing rain is in the forecast for Christmas morning. Metrobus and MetroAccess service are likely to be impacted by the ice and freezing rain more so than Metrorail service.

Metrobus and MetroAccess are only as reliable as the road conditions allow. Customers may want to take advantage of the next bus prediction technology to get an idea when the next bus will be arriving by logging onto Metro’s web site or calling 202-637-7000 and saying, “next bus.” Buses are expected to be moving slowly on the roads and are likely to be behind schedule.

It is possible that some neighborhoods may see buses and paratransit vehicles detour around streets that are extremely icy. MetroAccess passengers with scheduled rides can call (301) 562-5360 for a status update on their ride.

Based on the forecast, Metro employees have already started to stage equipment and personnel to prepare for freezing rain and ice.

Starting at 10 p.m. tonight, Thursday, December 24, Metro will have de-icer trains operating on the above ground portions of track and will continue to run those trains throughout the night to help keep the electrified third rail free of ice. The third rail must be ice-free to allow the flow of electricity from the electrified rail to transfer to the train to keep the train powered.

Ice-fighting equipment and supplies are on hand and being staged throughout the rail system to treat station entrances, parking lots, walkways and station platforms.

“We will continue to monitor the weather conditions closely and deploy our resources to allow us to continue to provide safe service. Our employees will continue ice removal throughout Christmas day as necessary,” Metro General Manager John Catoe said.

Metro also is using “heater tape,” which has been installed on sections of track with significant grades/inclines and in critical areas in the rail yards. The heater tape is a cable clipped onto the electrified third rail that is turned on when temperatures dip below the freezing mark. It helps keep the third rail warm enough to prevent ice from forming.

Metro’s 106-miles of track includes 50.5 miles underground and 55.5 miles above ground.

News release issued at 3:27 pm, December 24, 2009.

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