Metro brings back eight-car trains

October 17, 2013

A mostly empty Blue Line Metro car arrives at the Capitol South Metro station during the two week federal government shutdown. (Photo by Marlon Correa/The Washington Post)

They’re baaccckkkk!!!

Metro used eight-car-long trains on its rail system Thursday morning, as the federal government reopened after a 16-day shutdown and thousands of workers were expected to return to their jobs.

The transit agency had cut back to six-car-long trains two weeks ago when the government shut down, because its ridership dropped 20 percent as fewer workers were using the rail system.

Metro carries 750,000 ridership trips on an average weekday but has struggled to keep its ridership up, as some abandon the system in favor of cars, bicycles or working from home. The transit agency takes in about $2 million a day in revenue from its riders.

Metro typically runs a mix of six- and eight-car trains. Most riders prefer eight-car trains, especially during rush hours, because more people can fit. Each rail car can carry roughly 120 passengers.

Of Metro’s roughly 750,000 rider trips a day, about 200,000 of them are during the rush hour. Roughly 40 percent of the rides at rush hour are federal workers.

Metro’s bus ridership remained flat during the two-week government shutdown, officials said. The transit agency was also impacted in other ways by the federal government shutdown.

Metro has a $2.7 billion operating and capital budget. In addition to rider revenue, it receives funding from the District, Maryland and Virginia. But the District government didn’t pay Metro $74 million that was due Oct. 1. The District relies on Congress to approve its budget, and it couldn’t pay some of its bills with the federal government closed.

The District also had to use about $6 million from its Circulator bus fund at Metro to help pay its portion of the transit agency’s debt service.

I'm a Washington Post reporter, working an early morning shift that deals with crime, lottery winners, traffic, you name it.
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