Red Line split for Presidents’ Day weekend


Replacing a track switch, like the one here at Mount Vernon Square, is one of the bigger jobs in the weekend work program. This weekend, a switch near Dupont Circle will be replaced. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Buses will replace Red Line trains through a portion of central D.C. over the long holiday weekend. The major activity, as part of Metro’s rebuilding program will be the replacement of a track switch outside the Dupont Circle station, but crews also will work on the tracks and tunnel between Metro Center and Woodley Park. The Farragut North and Dupont Circle stations will be closed.

There will be bigger gaps than normal between trains on the Orange and Blue lines, because of other work zones, but all their stations will be open.

These are the details for service on the affected lines between 10 p.m. Friday and Metro’s midnight closing on Monday.

Red Line. Buses will replace trains between Woodley Park and Metro Center. Between Shady Grove and Woodley Park, trains are scheduled to operate every 10 minutes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and at 15- to 20-minute intervals at other times. Between Glenmont and Metro Center, trains are scheduled to operate every 10 minutes all weekend.

At Gallery Place, all the Red Line trains will board from the Glenmont platform.

The free shuttle buses will operate on two routes. An express bus will travel nonstop between Woodley Park and Metro Center. That trip will take about 20 minutes. A local bus between Woodley Park and Metro Center will include stops at Dupont Circle and Farragut North. Travel between each stop will take about 10 minutes.

The last Red Line train of the night from Shady Grove to Woodley Park will leave 37 minutes earlier than normal so it can make the shuttle bus connection. On Friday and Saturday nights, the train will leave Shady Grove at 1:53 a.m. On Sunday and Monday nights, the last train will leave at 10:53 p.m.

Some riders on the east side of the region who normally would take the Red Line downtown might be better off using the Green and Yellow lines. Service on those two lines will be normal this weekend.

The “Disney on Ice” show starts Wednesday at Verizon Center and continues through Monday, so on the weekend, many ice show fans will be affected by this Red Line disruption, especially if they are traveling along the west side of the line to the Gallery Place station, which is nearest to Verizon Center. Some might be better off traveling to the east side of the line and parking at Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen or Silver Spring, to board the Red Line and then transferring at Fort Totten to the Green or Yellow lines to Gallery Place.

Orange Line. Crews will work on the tracks between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly. Trains will operate every 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the time of day. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Monday, every other train will travel between Vienna and Stadium-Armory at a frequency of every 12 minutes. Between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton, trains are scheduled to operate every 20 minutes. On Sunday, all the Orange Line trains are scheduled to operate every 20 minutes.

Blue Line. Crews will work on the tracks between Stadium-Armory and Addison Road stations. Trains are scheduled to operate every 20 minutes.

Ice show fans traveling on either the Orange or Blue lines, might normally transfer at Metro Center and take a Red Line train one stop to Gallery Place. But because of the weekend disruption on the Red Line, they may be better off just walking east from Metro Center to Verizon Center.

Metro’s strategy is to space the Orange and Blue Line trains far enough apart so that once passengers board the trains, they won’t encounter any further delays, not even when they reach the work zones where trains in both directions will take turns on the one open track. But recently, I’ve been receiving complaints from some weekend riders who say this strategy hasn’t worked for them. The operator still will tell them the train is holding to await its turn going through the single-tracking area.

Other riders complain that the weekend train schedule displayed on Metro’s online Trip Planner are unreliable. The transit authority did a good thing when it began revising the Trip Planner schedule each Friday to reflect the weekend service adjustments. In theory, a weekend rider should be able to consult Trip Planner as of midday Friday to be able to minimize the wait on a platform. And after boarding the train, there should be no further delays. It’s a big improvement over the old scheduling system — as long as the trains can actually hold to the new schedule. If not, it just means there are bigger gaps than ever between weekend trains.

Presidents’ Day service

On the Monday holiday, Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. and close at midnight. Trains will operate on a Saturday schedule, meaning that train frequencies are lower than they would be on a regular weekday. Parking at all Metro lots and garages will be free, as it is on all holidays and on weekends.

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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