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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 04:18 PM ET, 08/01/2011

Metro weekend delays, major and otherwise

A traveler’s experience on the London Underground led to a comparison with Metro’s communications about track work and delays. The comparison, offered during Monday’s online chat, led me to respond by citing the transit authority’s announcements on this weekend’s scheduled maintenance. Here’s more about that.

What the traveler said: I just returned from a trip to England and I was amazed by how much information I could gather from the London Tube’s Web site before I left. It was amazing and something that I hope WMATA can aspire to.

As you can imagine they’ve got a ton of track work going on because the system is old and they’re preparing for the Olympics next year. On the Tube main page there is a link to their track work schedule which is scheduled out for three months.

So you can look on a specific day and see what lines are affected and which stops are affected. Even more impressive — the trip planner figures the closures into the planner so you know timing and scheduling and what other lines or buses you’re going to need to deal with. I was so impressed — after 10 1/2 years of riding the Metro it is still impossible to find their track work schedule on their Web site.

You include the info on Thursday for the following weekend but it is impossible to schedule stuff any further out because you just don’t know.

DG: Yes, Metro is different, though not completely different.

First, Metro’s Trip Planner is a very big help for figuring out a transit trip across the D.C. region, but it’s based on regular schedules and does not account for either planned or unplanned maintenance, or other types of disruptions to the schedules.

Metro did recently post a schedule of big track-maintenance projects. The list goes through June 2012 and will be useful in planning weekend trips.

However, this is not a full list of weekend maintenance projects. It’s the ones that Metro considers “major.” The projects shut down rail service between several stations, and Metro bridges the gaps with free shuttle buses. In addition to those major projects, Metro conducts numerous other weekend projects that require trains to share tracks around work zones.

So far, Metro is announcing the schedules for those other projects a few days before the weekend. The agency does not refer to these other projects as “minor,” and riders certainly don’t regard them that way. Single-tracking can create delays of half an hour on some lines, and riders who must transfer from one line to another can be subject to even longer delays.

So riders need to keep in mind that while the long-term list of major projects will be helpful in planning weekend travels, it doesn’t become a full list of weekend work until a few days before the weekend in question.

Monday, for example, Metro fleshed out the list for this coming weekend.

Riders could have known by checking the advance list that trips on the Red and Blue lines might be disrupted significantly, but Monday’s advisory added more detail.

From 10 p.m. Friday through the midnight closing on Sunday, buses will replace Red Line trains between Rockville and Bethesda. The Twinbrook, White Flint, Grosvenor and Medical Center stations will be closed.

Metro will operate free shuttle buses between the Rockville and Bethesda stations. Local shuttle buses will make stops at all intermediate stations (Twinbrook, White Flint, Grosvenor and Medical Center). In addition, express shuttle buses will operate directly between Rockville and Bethesda.

Red Line service will operate normally between Bethesda and Glenmont. Trains between Shady Grove and Rockville will operate every 20 minutes. On Friday and Saturday, the last train will depart Shady Grove 45 minutes earlier than usual, at 1:58 a.m. Saturday and at 10:58 p.m. Sunday.

Riders should allow 45 minutes to get through the work zone. If they want to avoid the work-zone delays, they could instead take Metrobus J and Q routes or Ride-On buses. (Those buses aren’t free.)

That’s the most significant rail disruption advisory for people planning to attend the final weekend rounds of the Legg Mason tennis tournament, which operates a free shuttle bus service from the Van Ness station on the Red Line.

One other major disruption will occur on Sunday only: The Wilson Bridge project’s work on the Telegraph Road bridge over the tracks will require Metro to use buses to replace trains between Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield on the Blue Line.

The Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations will be closed. The bus shuttles will operate between the Franconia-Springfield and Eisenhower Avenue stations via the Van Dorn Street station. Riders traveling through the work zone should add a half-hour to their regular trip times.

All Blue Line trains will operate to and from the Huntington station. Trains will operate about every 20 minutes.

Metro added this other advisory in its announcement Monday:

From 10 p.m. Friday through closing time Sunday, Orange and Blue Line trains will share a track between Eastern Market and Stadium Armory. Workers will be replacing rail fasteners.

Throughout the weekend, Blue and Orange Line trains will leave the ends of the lines about every 20 minutes. Riders should plan on an extra 20 minutes to get through the work zone.

By  |  04:18 PM ET, 08/01/2011

Categories:  Metro

 
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