News and Analysis



Parts of Metro’s blue, orange and silver lines will be closed Super Bowl weekend, according to a WMATA release Wednesday.

Metro will close six downtown D.C. stations on those lines Feb. 4 and 5 to perform maintenance and install cell phone and radio infrastructure, according to the release.

All stations between the Eastern Market and Foggy Bottom stations will be shut down, but the Eastern Market and Foggy Bottom stations themselves will remain open, according to the release. Metro will operate shuttle buses to replace trains.

The Foggy Bottom and Farragut West Metro stations will also be closed this upcoming weekend, according to the release. Buses will replace Metro service between the Rosslyn and McPherson Square stations.

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Metro will close four in-person sales offices this month, the agency announced Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority will close four in-person sales offices on Nov. 15, the agency announced Tuesday.

The sales offices at Metro Center, Pentagon, Anacostia and Northern Bus Garage will close. The agency cited a nearly $300 million budget gap at WMATA as the reason for the closures.

“The move is part of a series of internal actions Metro is taking to reduce expenses and minimize the impact of possible fare increases and service reductions next year,” according to the release.

Each of those offices handle fewer than 200 transactions a day, according to the release. Metro estimates that 0.03 percent of Metro riders will be affected by the change since the overwhelming majority of riders pay through fare vending machines, online or through retail stores like CVS.

The sales office at Metro’s headquarters at 600 Fifth Street NW will remain open during business hours, according to the release.

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Trains on the blue, orange and silver lines are delayed by 20 to 40 minutes, and the delays will continue through Tuesday night, according to a WMATA release.

Defective rail fasteners near the Smithsonian Metro station are causing single tracking for the orange and blue line trains between the Smithsonian and Federal Center stations, according to the release.

“Customers on these lines may experience significantly longer waits and crowding on platforms and trains,” according to the release.

Silver line trains will run only between Ballston and Wiehle-Reston East to reduce congestion, according to the release. WMATA officials encourage commuters to use Metrobus 38B as an alternative to the orange line between D.C. and Arlington stations, and to use the yellow line instead of the blue when traveling to stations in Virginia south of the Pentagon.

WMATA will extend single tracking to the McPherson Square station after rush hour to repair rail ties.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016 7:32 a.m.

American University to debut Metro discount


Metro will offer discounted rides to American University students beginning next fall. Hatchet File Photo.

American University will become the first college in the District to offer discounted Metro rides for its students, officials announced Tuesday.

Under the plan, all full-time undergraduate, graduate and law students at AU will receive a special Metro card called a U-Pass starting this school year, enabling unlimited rides on Metrorail and Metrobus for roughly $1 per day during the school year, according to a news release from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

AU students will pay for the discount through a student benefits fee, the release stated.

“This is an important partnership that enables Metro to better serve the region’s universities, build ridership in the near term and encourage the next generation to become public transit users,” Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld said in the release.

WMATA proposed a similar discount for GW students that could have started as soon as this fall. Student leaders spoked with WMATA and University officials throughout last academic year and in a referendum during last spring’s Student Association elections, 73.5 percent of students voted in approval of a proposal that would have offered discounted rides for a tuition fee.

In April University officials opted not to adopt the proposal, saying it wasn’t “feasible or fair” to charge students who don’t use public transportation the Metro fee. Officials said they would continue working with WMATA to come up with a proposal for students who frequently ride Metro.

WMATA first suggested the proposal to colleges across the District last fall as a way to boost declining ridership and encourage area college students to use Metro.

Tuesday’s release said AU’s discount was a pilot program and would be reevaluated at the end of the school year.

“Metro expects the pilot to attract other colleges and universities in the region that have expressed interest,” the release said.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016 10:07 a.m.

Metro officials discuss SafeTrack plans

Metro General Manager, Paul Wiedefeld, right, and Metro Board of Directors Chair Jack Evans, left, held a press conference to address Metro's year-long repair plan Monday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Metro General Manager, Paul Wiedefeld, right, and Metro Board of Directors Chair Jack Evans, left, held a press conference to address Metro’s year-long repair plan Monday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Catherine Moran

Two top Metro officials stressed the importance of Metro’s year-long repair plan and encouraged commuters to continue using alternative forms of transportation at a press conference at the Foggy Bottom Metro Station Tuesday.

Jack Evans, the chair of Metro’s board of directors, and Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the repair plan, called SafeTrack, is vital for Metro to continue. For the next year, all of the Metro lines will have planned outages and single tracking to address safety recommendations.

“It is an essential component of fixing up the system,” Evans said. “Our system is broken.”

Metro Spokesman Dan Stessel said at times during the 15 planned surges, the Foggy Bottom Metro Station will experience no Blue line service and that the Orange and Silver lines will operate less frequently.

SafeTrack began three days ago with single tracking from the Ballston to East Falls Church stations. Wiedefeld said that maintenance includes rebuilding the catwalks, cleaning out the drainage, and looking at the power cables.

Wiedefeld said that the 26 percent fewer morning riders today at stations west of Ballston Station compared to May 16 helped keep the Metro running as smoothly as possible.

“Whatever you did today, do it tomorrow,” Evans said about the ridership.

Wiedefeld attributed the lower ridership numbers to people commuting earlier in the morning on the Metro or finding alternative routes. Bus ridership was higher and traffic patterns changed Monday, he said.

Both Evans and Wiedefeld acknowledged the “level of inconvenience” to Metro riders, but said the planned single tracking and outages are necessary to cut three years worth of work on the Metro down to one.

“There is no way around it,” Evans said.

Riders may not see the results after the year, but that if all goes well, the Metro will be “safer and more reliable,” Evans said.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016 4:37 p.m.

WMATA releases final safety maintenance plan

WMATA released a final safety maintenance plan, according to a release Tuesday.

The plan includes 15 “safety surges,” which involve single tracking or complete shutdowns of portions of the Metro tracks, as well as reduced Metro hours and extra maintenance on weekends, according to the release. Starting June 3, the Metro will close every week night at midnight, rather than its normal 3 a.m. closing time on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Safety comes first, and I want to remind the region that SafeTrack is not just about the 15 maintenance surges,” Paul Wiedefeld, Metro General Manager and CEO said in the release.

Wiedefeld added that there will be not be early morning or late night service when it conflicts with track work.

The first “safety surge” begins on June 4 lasting 13 days, and will involve continuous single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston stations with reduced service at all orange and silver line stations. None of the surges will directly impact the Foggy Bottom Metro station, according to the release.

WMATA will have 40 buses “dedicated to providing alternative service,” and will have additional eight-car trains on lines that are under repair. According to the plan, the last “safety surge” will be completed March 2017.

The release recommended that riders “use alternate travel modes” and “travel outside rush-hour periods.”

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Metro officials announced a plan for safety fixes to the system. Hatchet File Photo.

The Metro will now close at midnight on weekends for track work as part of an expanded work plan, WMATA’s top official announced Friday.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld released a year-long SafeTrack plan Friday morning that will condense three years of planned safety work into one year.

The plan includes 15 safety surges over the next year, which will repair tracks to reach Federal Transit Administration and National Transportation Safety Board suggestions. The plan shows that there will be reduced service on certain parts of the blue, orange and silver lines between Aug. 20 and September 6, with trains coming through the Foggy Bottom station between 10 and 12 minutes.

WMATA will close parts of Metro lines for up to a month at a time, Wiedefeld said. He said in a statement that workers will work on implementing safety fixes after midnight every day starting June 3. He added that workers will also add single tracking at some stations and work on the lines starting 8 p.m. on weekdays.

Wiedefeld also put a moratorium on early openings and late closings for the Metro.

“This plan is going to take some sacrifice from all of us,” Wiedefeld said. “But it is clear that the current approach is not working, more aggressive action is necessary.”

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Thursday, April 14, 2016 4:52 p.m.

Passengers safely evacuated from stuck Metro train

A Metro train broke down in a tunnel near Rosslyn station Thursday afternoon, according to FOX 5. All 100 to 200 passengers were safely evacuated onto the Rosslyn platform.

Sherri Ly, a Metro spokesperson, said the incident happened shortly after 2 p.m. and the train was stuck for about an hour.

“It appears to be some sort of mechanical difficulty,” she said.

Metro safety has come under intense scrutiny since a Metro car filled with smoke at L’Enfant Plaza last year. One woman died and more than 30 passengers were treated at GW Hospital after the incident.

Last month, Metro officials shut down the entire system for nearly 30 hours to inspect cables after an electric cable fire. Metro lost $2 million in revenue in the closure.

Robin Eberhardt contributed reporting.

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Metro officials announced they would not shut down lines for months to make repairs. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Liz Provencher.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority will not close an entire line for repairs, the top Metro official said Tuesday.

Metro General Paul Wiedefeld said the repairs needed to improve the Metro can be done by temporarily shutting down sections of the tracks, The Washington Post reported. The repairs can also be made during the overnight hours when the Metro is closed.

Last week Jack Evans, the chair of WMATA’s Board of Directors, said that the board considered closing an entire line for as long as six months to deal with repairs. Evans, who is also a D.C. Council member representing Foggy Bottom, specifically mentioned closing the blue line for an extended period twice during a meeting with The Washington Post.

Wiedefeld is now retracting that claim, saying that the repairs can be done in a shorter time frame than six months and can be done most efficiently by closing lines in sections, rather than closing an entire line for a longer amount of time.

“I don’t see any need for a long closure of any part of the system,” Wiedefeld said.

A Metro official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to the Washington Post, said officials have considered three possible repair plans. One plan has sections of a line shut down for a couple weeks at a time. Another would have a line shut down for several weeks but on weekends only. The third plan requires more trains single-tracking in the early morning and late at night.

An official plan for repairing the Metro system will be announced in the next few weeks, Wiedefeld said.

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Metro could shut down an entire line for six months to complete repairs. Hatchet File Photo.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority could shut down an entire line for maintenance for six months, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Jack Evans, the chair of WMATA’s board of directors, said shutting down the system for nights and weekends is not enough to complete the needed repairs. He said that at most, WMATA would shut down segments of the rail for extended periods of time for the repairs, The Post reported.

Evans, who is the Foggy Bottom Council member, did not say which line WMATA was will be definitively shut down for the period. He mentioned the blue line, where the Foggy Bottom Metro station is located, as a candidate twice.

“People will go crazy. But there are going to be hard decisions that have to be made in order to get this fixed,” Evans told The Washington Post. “The system right now, in order to do the maintenance that needs to be done, cannot be done on three hours a night and on weekends. It just can’t.”

The Metro closed for almost 30 hours on March 16 to check the cables after a fire in the system that week, costing WMATA $2 million.

Evans said that Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld will make the final call on which line will be shut down.

At the same meeting, Wiedefeld said “I’m keeping all my options open” about fixing the Metro, The Post reported.

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