Metro weekend work to affect four lines — again

A Metro train pulls into the McPherson Square station. This weekend, four stations on the Orange Line will be shut for track work. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post).

It’s getting difficult to come up with a version of this headline that will help Metro riders distinguish one weekend from another. If Metro isn’t working on four lines, it’s working on five lines.

Many riders expressed their frustration with this during Monday’s online discussion. One asked for more information about what is getting done during the hours of disruption, so I included a bit more below about what Metro’s goals are in each upcoming work zone.

All these weekend projects are scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. Friday and continue through the rail system’s midnight closing on Sunday.

Orange Line

Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Vienna and Ballston. The Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations will be closed. In the work zone, crews will be testing switches and signals for the eventual connection with the Silver Line.

Throughout the weekend, trains will operate on their regular schedule between Ballston and New Carrollton. The shuttle buses will operate on an express route, stopping only at Vienna and Ballston, and on a local route, making all stops.

Taking the express all the way probably will add about 25 minutes to the regular travel time. Taking the local all the way would add about 40 minutes.

Red Line

Trains will share a track between Grosvenor and Twinbrook, and between Rhode Island Avenue and Takoma. The platforms are being rebuilt in these zones. At some stations, the platforms are slowly starting to look much better, but the replacement of the old tiles with the new, more durable ones is taking a long time.

During the weekend, trains will be scheduled to leave the ends of the line at Shady Grove and Glenmont every 28 minutes. Between Grosvenor and NoMa-Gallaudet, more trains will be in service during the daytime. So in that middle section of the line, trains should arrive at platforms about every 10 minutes.

Blue and Yellow lines

Trains will share a track between Braddock Road and Pentagon City. They will be scheduled to operate every 30 minutes. During the daytime, more Yellow Line trains will be in service between Pentagon City and Mount Vernon Square stations. So in that zone, trains should reach platforms about every 15 to 20 minutes.

The Yellow Line trains will be in service only between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square. On weekends, they normally would continue north to Greenbelt. A rider needing to continue north this weekend will need to switch to a Green Line train.

Crews will be working on various projects, including repairs on the track ties and insulators.

Disruptions continue

What I said about all this in the online chat:

The weekend rebuilding program is going to continue for about four more years at an intense pace, though the areas of concentration are likely to shift around.

It’s awfully disruptive. On the other hand, I haven’t heard of a good alternative — like how Metro would make all the repairs everyone says they want without disrupting the late night and weekend service.

Now, I wouldn’t ride a train on a weekend unless I absolutely had to. It’s much easier getting most places by car, bus or foot. (Many would add by Capital Bikeshare.)

I do see Metro trying, slowly, to reduce the effects of the disruptions on riders and to get them the information they need to use the system on weekends despite the disruptions.

The alerts are better. The disruption information now gets incorporated into Trip Planner. The splitting of lines usually means that Metro can operate regular weekend schedules on the parts of the line that remain open. The single-tracking schedule now appears to be designed so that the extra wait time is on the platforms rather than aboard stopped rail cars.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Robert Thomson | May 6, 2013