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Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 05/02/2012

Transit rider advocates ask Metro to delay weekend track work because of Nationals, Capitals games

A transit riders’ advocacy group has called on Metro to postpone this weekend’s track work disruptions, because of the heavy ridership expected for sports events.

[1 p.m. update: Metro won’t postpone the work, Dana Hedgpeth reports. “The rebuilding effort is about improving safety and reliability,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said in an e-mail. “Weekends are the only suitable windows for much of this to essential work.” He also told Hedgpeth that there are major events scheduled for many weekends when track work occurs.]

The transit authority’s maintenance program will disrupt the schedules on all lines on a weekend when attendance at Nationals Park is likely to be heavy, because the Nats are playing the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Capitals are in playoff action with the New York Rangers at Verizon Center.

The Metro disruption will be most significant on the Green Line, which directly serves both Nationals Park via Navy Yard station and Verizon Center via Gallery Place.

Tina Slater, president of the Action Committee for Transit, sent a letter Tuesday night to Metro General Manager Richard Sarles. This is the text.

Dear Mr. Sarles:

The Action Committee for Transit is deeply concerned about Metrorail’s plans for station closures and single-tracking this weekend. A high-profile baseball series and hockey playoffs, on a weekend when many tourists are in Washington, will create a high demand for transit service. With trains running only once every 24 minutes on most of the Red Line, and four stations shut on the Green Line, the system will not be able to meet the need for its services.

We ask that you postpone this weekend’s scheduled maintenance. No transportation agency in this area would inconvenience drivers in a similar way for non-emergency maintenance. Even with the current stretched budgets, highway departments go to great expense to minimize traffic delays during construction. Transit riders deserve the same consideration.

Sincerely,

Tina Slater, President,

Action Committee for Transit

Many riders have expressed concern about a track work program that virtually guarantees the transit network will be disrupted two out of every seven days for the foreseeable future. But they’ve focused their attention on particular weekends when they know of events that will draw crowds.

I’ve heard from some riders who looked far ahead and saw that on the long Labor Day weekend, Metro will replace Green Line trains with buses between Archives and Waterfront. On that Saturday and Sunday, the Nationals are home against the St. Louis Cardinals and play the Chicago Cubs Monday afternoon.

Riders also expressed alarm that on the long Columbus Day weekend, Metro plans to disrupt the Blue and Orange Lines by having buses replace trains between Stadium-Armory and Largo Town Center and between Stadium Armory and Minnesota Avenue. That Sunday, the Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field in Landover.

But first things first. Here's a look at this weekend’s track work schedule.

Metro weekend work

Track work is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. Friday and continue through the rail system’s midnight closing Sunday.

Green Line: Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Greenbelt and Fort Totten. The stations at Greenbelt, College Park, Prince George’s Plaza and West Hyattsville will be closed. Trains will operate on their normal weekend schedule between Fort Totten and Branch Avenue.

Metro now is estimating that using the shuttle bus service will add about 50 minutes to normal travel times. This should be a serious consideration for Nationals fans going to the Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday night games, or for fans heading for the Caps game Saturday night afternoon.

The disruptions coming and going will be bad enough. Friday night represents a special challenge for some fans. When they head to Navy Yard station on the Green Line, service will be normal. If they stay for nine innings, they’re likely to re-enter the Metro system after the disruptions have begun.

In other words, a fan might park at Greenbelt station and take a train to the game. But on the return trip, the fan will have to get off the train at Fort Totten and board a bus back to Greenbelt.

My guess is that unless Metro changes its plan, many more fans will be driving to Nationals Park. There’s much more off-street parking now around the stadium, but this weekend series is with the Phillies, so plenty of people will be driving down from the Philadelphia area. See our guide to Nationals Park.

Yellow Line: Because of the Green Line work, weekend Yellow Line trains will operate between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square. They normally continue north to Fort Totten on weekends.

This could be another problem for the sports fans. The Mount Vernon Square platform is likely to be very crowded with fans dumped off Yellow Line trains trying to board Green Line trains heading to Fort Totten.

Orange Line: Trains will share a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory, and between East Falls Church and West Falls Church.

Throughout the weekend, Orange Line trains are scheduled to operate every 20 minutes, but add about 10 minutes to your travel time through the work zones, Metro says.

Blue Line: As with the Orange Line, trains will share a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory. Throughout the weekend, Blue Line trains will be scheduled to operate every 20 minutes. But add 10 minutes to normal travel times through the work zones.

Red Line: Trains will share a track between Forest Glen and Takoma, and between Van Ness and Dupont Circle. Metro says that trains between Shady Grove and Glenmont will operate every 24 minutes throughout the weekend. But add 20 minutes to normal travel times to get through the work zones.

Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, extra trains will operate between Farragut North and New York Avenue. That should provide service every 12 minutes in downtown D.C.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 05/02/2012

Categories:  Metro, Events | Tags:  DC transportation, Metro, WMATA, Capitals, Nationals

 
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