Track work will disrupt Metro rides this weekend
Starting tonight, Metro will close the Blue and Orange lines between Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza. Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza will still have Blue and Orange Line trains, but Federal Triangle and Smithsonian will be closed. They'll reopen on Tuesday morning.
All riders should keep in mind that the last train on all lines will depart 20 minutes earlier than usual throughout the weekend.
Like all line closures, Metro will be providing free shuttle bus service around the closure. These buses typically can't handle the number of passengers that exit the stations in large clumps as trains are offloaded. So passengers generally are forced to wait for a bus they can fit on.
This delay and being forced to exit the system and wait on a street corner in the elements is a major, though necessary, hassle.
Metro could reduce demand for shuttles by letting riders know how close Federal Triangle is to Metro Center and Archives and how close Smithsonian is to L'Enfant Plaza. They've done this in the past for major events, by encouraging riders not to change lines, and instead walk from the nearest station.
For those continuing longer distances, since each separate section of the Blue and Orange Lines connects to other Metro lines, many riders may well choose to avoid the shuttle buses and simply take the Green/Yellow and Red lines around the closure.
Unfortunately, the Green, Yellow, and Red lines will be operating typical weekend frequencies. The Red Line will be the most frequent, despite 2 different work projects on either end of the line. Red trains will be coming through Metro Center every 7-8 minutes, but the more frequent service will only be between Grosvenor and New York Avenue.
This means passengers will risk a long wait at 2 transfer stations if they attempt to take Metro around the work zone. If Metro could run a few more trains, they could make this easier, though that would also cost money they don't really have.
Running more frequent Red Line service at least between Farragut North and New York Avenue could virtually eliminate the wait for passengers transferring at Metro Center and Gallery Place. And wait times on the Green and Yellow lines between L'Enfant and Gallery Place could be alleviated by adding special Blue Line trains from Franconia-Springfield to Mount Vernon Square. Or as a cheaper option, just running shuttle trains from Pentagon City to Mount Vernon Square.
While beefing up Metro service on the unaffected lines would make getting around the closure easier, it would probably not completely eliminate the need for shuttles. Some passengers may want or need direct service to Federal Triangle or Smithsonian.
Metro officials did not respond to our inquiry about beefing up rail service as an alternative or plans to communicate about nearby stations.
If you have to travel around this closure, a choice between the bus shuttle and a hop on the Red and Green lines is likely to be a crapshoot.
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