WEEKDAY SCHEDULE ANNOUNCEMENT: Limited service for essential trips only; public urged to stay home; use Metro only if no other options available
Metro today announced expected rail and bus service levels for the week of Monday, March 23, through Friday, March 27. Transit service remains significantly scaled back to protect the health and safety of Metro employees, customers and the public as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to disrupt all aspects of life in the region.
“Metro will do everything we can to protect the everyday heroes who are driving buses, running trains, monitoring stations and helping people with disabilities. Our frontline colleagues make a choice each day to leave their homes at a time of great anxiety and uncertainty. They do it out of a sense of duty – and to support this community. In turn, I ask the community to support them by staying home,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld.
Metro has been asking the public to limit their use of Metro to essential travel only for nine days. Starting tomorrow, it will be even more imperative that the public follow this guidance.
“We all need to think of transit service as a limited resource because, right now, it is. If you are boarding a bus when you could walk, that increases the likelihood of the bus reaching capacity and having to bypass a stop where a nurse might be heading in to start a shift,” Wiedefeld said.
- Trains will operate every 20 minutes on all lines except Red Line.
- Red Line trains will operate every 15 minutes.
- Stations serviced by multiple lines will see trains arrive every 7-10 minutes. For example, Rosslyn, served by the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, will have train service to DC about every 7 minutes.
- Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations will remain closed until further notice to keep non-essential cherry blossom travel off the rail system at this time of national emergency.
- Buses will run on a modified Sunday schedule. Supplemental trips will not operate; however, some routes that provide weekday-only service to essential federal workplaces have been added to the schedule.
- Visit wmata.com for a list of routes that are – and are not – operating this week.
- Responding to a request from union leadership, beginning Tuesday, all Metrobus customers will enter and exit the bus using the REAR doors only, except customers who require use of a wheelchair ramp, which remains available at the front door. Metro is also temporarily suspending fare collection on Metrobus, because all farebox and SmarTrip equipment is located at the front door. Metro reserves the ability to discontinue this policy at any time.
- All subscription trips remain canceled. Please limit all travel to only the most essential.
Since moving to an “essential travel only” message on March 13, Metro ridership has declined with each successive commuting day as citizens following the guidance to stay home and practice social distancing to flatten the curve (rate of community spread). Rail ridership on Friday was down more than 86 percent and bus down 65 percent.
Unfortunately, too many people continue to use Metrobus, where capacity is extremely limited and additional service reductions are expected. Metro wants to provide bus service for essential trips in the region, but if continued usage for non-essential trips becomes a public health concern, Metro may consider discontinuing all bus service. Simply put: public health concerns take priority over individual transportation needs.
Metro has taken unprecedented steps in response to the public health emergency for the safety of employees, customers and the general public. Under the direction of its Pandemic Task Force, Metro has reduced service levels and hours; closed the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations to discourage non-essential cherry blossom trips; stepped up cleaning of all high-touch surfaces on buses, trains and in stations; and given bus operators discretion to bypass bus stops if their vehicle is too crowded to maintain safe social distancing.
Metro continues to prioritize the health and safety of frontline employees by closing restrooms to the public at all 91 stations; relieving station managers of certain duties outside the kiosk to reduce risk of exposure; modifying absence policies allowing employees to take leave for certain COVID-19 concerns; and providing employees with direct access to professional medical staff through an email and phone hotline.
Metro’s Pandemic Response Plan remains at Phase 3, the highest response level, and will remain there until the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides. Metro may make emergency service reductions at any time if necessary to protect employees and riders.
The next anticipated service change is expected to be the strategic closure of selected Metrorail stations and entrances to save critical cleaning supplies. Each station entrance is equipped with at least one escalator (most with multiple escalators), and unless closed, require cleaning in accordance with Metro’s pandemic response standards.