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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All Metro riders will soon be able to double-tap on Instagram and scroll through Twitter while waiting for a train underground.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority plans to bring free public Wi-Fi to all underground stations by the end of 2018, The Hill reported Tuesday.

The installation will begin in the summer of 2017 and 60 percent of stations will have Wi-Fi by the end of 2017, according to The Hill. The remaining stations will be outfitted with the service in 2018.

Paul Wiedefeld, general manager and CEO for WMATA, said in a statement that the decision for Wi-Fi updates came from “positive rider feedback” after Wi-Fi access was added at six stations – Union Station, Judiciary Square, Gallery Place, Metro Center, Archives and L’Enfant Plaza. This test program began in August, DCist reported.

WMATA has also aimed to install 200 miles of radio cables to improve emergency radio communication and wireless technology in February after calls from Congress and the Federal Transit Administration for increased safety measures.

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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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Metro suspended service after a man assaulted a Metro Transit Police Department officer and then jumped onto the tracks Friday evening. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Metro suspended service Friday evening after a man assaulted a Metro Transit Police Department officer and then jumped onto the tracks. Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

A man assaulted a Metro Transit Police Department officer at the Foggy Bottom Metro station Friday evening, a Metro spokesman said.

After assaulting the officer at around 6:30 p.m., the man jumped onto the Metro tracks, causing officials to suspend service in the area, Metro spokesman Richard Jordan said.

Metropolitan Police Department officers “went after” the man on the tracks and took him into custody, Jordan said.

Metro officials resumed train service in the area at 7 p.m. after inspecting the tracks, Jordan said.

Ellie Smith contributed reporting.

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Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 11:56 a.m.

WMATA officer arrested for aiding ISIS

A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officer was arrested Wednesday for providing material support to ISIS, CNN reported Wednesday.

Nicholas Young was arrested by the FBI “following more than a year of investigation,” according to the CNN. This is the first case of a U.S. police officer being arrested and charged with aiding ISIS.

Officials have said there is “no evidence of any threat to the D.C. Metro system,” according to CNN.

Young, 36, of Fairfax Va., was arrested Wednesday morning at the Metropolitan Police Headquarters in D.C. “and his employment was terminated,” according to The Washington Post.

“Young, at the request of an undercover federal agent, sent codes for mobile messaging cards that Young believed would be used by Islamic State fighters overseas to communicate, according to an indictment filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va.,” The Post reported.

Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik said in a statement reported by The Post that “the investigation into Young began years ago when his office went to the FBI with concerns.” Young has been monitored by the FBI since 2010.

Young is set to appear in court later Wednesday.

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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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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 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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