Metro News Release

For immediate release: February 7, 2010

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Underground-only Metrorail and limited Metrobus service expected Monday
Metro staff continue to clear above-ground tracks

For Monday morning, Feb. 8, commuters should expect limited underground Metrorail service to start at 7 a.m., and very limited Metrobus service from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., as icy conditions on roadways and Metrorail tracks continue to be a barrier to providing safe service. MetroAccess service for Monday will be suspended for the entire day.

Metro staff continue efforts in clearing the above-ground tracks. However, continued re-icing of the electrified third rail and winds are blowing snow back onto the tracks are hampering Metro’s ability to restore service to the above ground tracks.

Fewer than two dozen Metrobus lines will be in service on Monday, Feb. 8, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. due to snowy and icy conditions that persist on the region’s roadways. Metrobuses will stick to snow emergency routes to start the day. 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, which remain slippery.

Limited service will be established tomorrow on the following bus routes in the District of Columbia: the U8 line (Minn. Ave – Capitol Heights), the 64 line (Georgia Ave-Petworth– Fort Totten), the 50 line (14th and Colorado Ave) the 70 line (Silver Spring – Archives), the S4 line (Silver Spring – Federal Triangle) the 30 line (Friendship Heights – Potomac Ave) and the A line (Southern Ave to Anacostia). In Northern Virginia, the 16 line (Pentagon – Baileys Crossroads) the 1C line (Dunn Loring), 2C line (Dunn Loring), 17 line (Braddock Road) and 28 line (Alexandria – Tysons Corner). In Maryland, the Z2 and Z8 line (Silver Spring), the Q line (Silver Spring-Shady Grove), the Y line (Silver Spring –Norbeck Road), the F1 and F2 line (Takoma – Cheverly), the J2 line (Bethesda – Silver Spring), the J7/J9 line (Bethesda – Lake Forest Mall), and the P12 line (Eastover – Addison Road).

These routes are subject to change depending on the conditions of the roads. 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.

Metro officials cautioned riders to be mindful of slippery roads, which are being used as walkways because most sidewalks remain covered with snow. “Take your time when boarding a bus, as we know that there are huge piles of snow lining the edges of streets and blocking the bus stops,” said Dave Kubicek, Metro’s Acting Deputy General Manager for Operations. “Please do not to run to catch a bus or a train as it’s not worth a fall that could cause an injury.”

Metro has 86 stations and 106-miles of track. Forty-six stations along 50.5 miles of track are located underground and 40 stations along 55.5 miles of track are above ground. All 40 above-ground stations remain closed. On Monday, trains will be servicing stations at 24- to 30-minute intervals to the underground stations as follows:

Red Line – Medical Center to Union Station and Glenmont to Forest Glen
Orange and Blue Lines – Ballston to Stadium-Armory
Green Line – Fort Totten to Congress Heights
Yellow Line – Pentagon to Crystal City

The greatest challenge facing Metro’s track department at the above-ground stations over the last 36 hours is the continuous blowing and drifting of snow and extreme ice build-up along the third rail, which provides electricity to Metrorail trains. If there is a disruption of electricity from the third rail to the train, trains will not be able to move.

Clearing the above-ground tracks is a process that takes several steps. The heavy duty diesel-powered equipment, known as prime movers, clear the majority of the snow and ice from the two-electrified tracks. Once they are finished doing their job on the service tracks, they shift their focus into the rail yards, where hundreds of trains and miles of additional tracks remain under almost two feet of snow. Dozens of railcars were stored in the underground tunnels Friday night to keep them free of snow and ice, however hundreds of railcars had to be stored in the rail yards, where they remain buried.

Once the prime movers are off the rails, trains equipped with de-icing equipment run on the tracks to ensure that the electrified third rail is clear of snow and ice. These trains apply a de-icing agent and they make several sweeps of the tracks. For that reason they are referred to as “polishers.” The next step to prepare the tracks for service is to clear the snow and ice from interlockings or switches, which allow trains to switch tracks, reverse direction or turn around. For instance, if a train becomes disabled, the trains behind the disabled train can only move around it by switching tracks at an interlocking. If the interlockings are not clear of the snow and ice, there is no way to maneuver around disabled trains. 

As stretches of track are cleared of snow and ice, and the tracks are deemed safe for moving passenger trains, Metro officials are likely to resume service to above-ground stations in phases.

Hundreds of Metrorail employees and contractors who were able to get to their worksites were working throughout the weekend and will to continue to work through Sunday night into Monday morning to clear tracks, 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 underground stations, including shoveling of snow off of exposed escalators.

Once the above ground Metrorail stations open, customers can expect to see surface parking facilities piled with snow, consuming approximately 25 percent of the spaces where vehicles usually park. The top level of parking decks are expected to have large snow piles on them as the surfaces are cleared. Parking lot clearing also will continue throughout Sunday night.

Heavy accumulation of snow on the rails on Friday, Feb. 5, forced Metrorail officials to limit train service to underground stations starting at 11 p.m. when rapidly deteriorating weather conditions impacted the safe movement of trains. Metrobus service also stopped at 9 p.m. on Friday due to unsafe road conditions.

Metrorail ridership over the weekend was extremely light. On Friday, Feb. 5, an estimated 516,399 passenger trips were recorded. On Saturday, Feb. 6, an estimated 61,392 passenger trips were recorded. Through 7 p.m., on Sunday, Feb. 7, an estimated 69,446 trips have been recorded. 

Metro started the weekend with 2,200 tons of bulk rock salt to treat Metro roadways and parking lots and 18,000, 50-pound bags of de-icer for treating sidewalks and platforms. More than 500 snow-trained employees plus contractors have been working day and night throughout the weekend to treat snowy and icy surfaces at Metrorail stations.

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. Metro’s Customer Call Center will provide recorded information. The Customer Call Center will attempt to open sometime tomorrow morning, depending on what time employees might be able to get to their offices.

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Media contact for this news release: __________________

News release issued at 8:27 pm, February 7, 2010.


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