A Metro rider pointed out during my online chat today that the transit authority now is making a distinction on its schedules between major track work and everything else. But that doesn’t mean the everything else part is minor.
The first weekend in August will be the next weekend for “major” track work, according to Metro’s schedule. But the other track work scheduled for this coming weekend will affect service on all lines but the Green Line.
Metro doesn’t refer to this as “minor,” and I doubt that weekend riders would consider it so. Here’s the breakdown for the work zone disruptions starting at 10 p.m. Friday and continuing through the midnight closing Sunday.
Trains will share a track between Van Ness and Friendship Heights, causing delays of about a half hour. Crews will be working on the tracks in that area. On the eastern side of the line, trains will share a track between Takoma and Forest Glen. The track-sharing will clear a work zone for train control room replacement, cable installation, tie renewal and station upgrades.
Trains will leave the ends of the line about every half hour. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, service will be more frequent between Van Ness and Fort Totten. Trains in that section should arrive about every 10 minutes.
Trains will share a track between Vienna and West Falls Church while crews work on the tracks. Every other train from New Carrollton will turn back at West Falls Church.
Trains will share a track between Stadium-Armory and Addison Road. Workers will be replacing slabs beneath the rails. Trains also will share a track between Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street, clearing a zone for track work. Trains will operate about every 24 minutes, but there will be delays through the work zones..
Trains will share a track between Braddock Road and Huntington while crews are working on the tracks.Trains will operate only up to Mount Vernon Square, rather than continuing on to Fort Totten as they normally would on weekends. They will operate about every 24 minutes, but there will be delays through the work zones.
So that’s the everything else part. The next “major” round of track work is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 6-7, and I doubt any riders would argue with the definition here.
On that weekend, free shuttle buses will replace Red Line trains between Rockville and Bethesda. Twinbrook, White Flint, Grosvenor and Medical Center will be closed.
For one day, Sunday, Aug. 7, Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations will be closed. Free shuttle buses will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Eisenhower Avenue stations via Van Dorn Street.
Here’s what the commenter said during the chat.
Minor Track Work? Metro has told us that closing stations is less disruptive than single tracking. ... Shutting down a station on the Orange line is definitely “major track work” but single tracking the Red Line from Dupont Circle to Judiciary Square through two of the most heavily used transfer stations is hardly “minor work” given the impact of the delays on passengers [this past weekend].
There were large signs in the Bethesda Station about the track closures, but not the usual “expect delays” signage that has been up for major single tracking in the past. A lot of riders were totally surprised by the delays and single tracking. Prominent signage about major single tracking delays for the Red line at the station entrance would have helped a lot. P.S. Metro deserves kudos for allowing bottled water this weekend.
My response in the chat: Agree on the bottled water. That was a smart move.
And yes, I don’t consider the single tracking minor. For years now, that’s bothered weekend travelers — especially those who need to transfer trains, adding to the overall length of their delays.
But I do think Metro’s doing a good thing by giving us a list way into the future of areas where service train service will be completely shut on weekends.
And I understand the work theory, too: Metro can cram a lot more work into a weekend if it has unlimited access to the track space. At the same time, Metro officials have been pretty happy with the success of the free shuttle buses in handling the ridership between closed stations. It’s best if the closed segment doesn’t span more than two stations. People can’t make a mistake about which shuttle to board if the shuttle is going only to one other stop.
By the way, I write up the Metro weekend delay schedule for the Dr. Gridlock blog every Friday morning.