WASHINGTON - There is an alarming announcement from Metro as officials said they need 30 percent of Metro riders to find a different way to work during their second SafeTrack maintenance surge or they may struggle in shuttling passengers at shut down stations.
This warning comes one day ahead of what will be a 16-day shutdown of Metrorail that will cut off service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.
SafeTrack Surge No. 2 starts on Saturday and riders will not be able to ride trains between Eastern Market and the Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue stations. Passengers will not even be able to go into the Stadium-Armory and Potomac Avenue stations because they will be closed.
Metro’s general manager, D.C.’s mayor and the Prince George’s County Executive all came together to advise commuters in that area to not use Metro if it’s not necessary. And if you don’t have a plan, figure one out soon.
"We encourage you to share the ride and carpool, but if you are going to drive, we would ask you to think about, if you can, traveling outside of the peak periods,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“This is a major concern,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. “This is something we have not seen. I have been in this Washington area since 1978. We have not seen anything like this.”
Metro is planning bus bridges that will pick up riders at the closed stations and take them along the route the Metro trains would have traveled.
D.C. and Prince George’s County are pitching in with extra bus services. Prince George’s County shuttles will help bring people to the Green Line.
Metro said they need at least 30 percent reduction in ridership to avoid overloading the bus bridge system.
But despite promises of extra buses, extra carpools and even extra bicycle stations, many riders who use these stations told us there is a lot of concern about not being able to navigate the temporary bus bridges, especially older passengers.
"A lot of people rely solely on Metro and they are asking for them to use alternatives? They can't do the teleworking. They are not in those types of jobs, so they have to go into work,” said Carson Carr.
"Some seniors can't walk and some are in wheelchairs,” said Dorothy Douglas. “They aren't going to ride a bike, so how are you going to make this accessible for our neighbors to get where they need to go?"
Wiedefeld promised they will not only have a surge of rail workers out there fixing the Metro system, but there will be a surge of customer service staff wearing bright yellow vests to assist passengers.
Much like in Surge No. 1, if Metro discovers something isn’t working, they said they want to hear from riders and they will make a change if something else works better.