Major disruption on Metrorail this weekend


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Trains on the Red, Orange and Blue lines will bypass Metro Center on Saturday and Sunday. The station is closing this weekend while crews work on lighting improvements and signs for the new Silver Line.

This means riders will not have access to an important transfer station in the heart of downtown D.C., so many people will have to modify their weekend travel strategies.

Metro is going to operate free shuttle buses linking Federal Triangle (Blue/Orange lines), Metro Center (Red/Blue/Orange lines) and Gallery Place (Red/Green/Yellow lines). The three downtown stations are a few blocks apart. Some riders may find it easier to walk between them, rather than use the shuttle buses.

One other tricky element for this weekend could affect plans for late-night riders: This is the weekend we spring forward from standard to daylight saving time. At 2 a.m. Sunday, the clocks will advance to 3 a.m., and the Metrorail system will close. That means riders will need to look for their last trains of the night between 1 and 2 a.m. on Sunday.

Riders should check Metro’s online Trip Planner as of Friday afternoon to see the weekend train arrival times for their stations. Do that even if the advance announcement said trains would be operating on their “regular weekend schedules.” Checking Trip Planner should reduce your waiting time on platforms, but it’s no guarantee. I continue to hear from riders who say that weekend trains were operating off-schedule and that they sometimes have been delayed after boarding.

Here are the line by line details for this weekend.

Red Line. Regular service on Friday night, but all day Saturday and Sunday, the trains will pass through Metro Center without stopping. To transfer to the Blue or Orange lines, Red Line riders can take the free shuttle bus from Gallery Place to Federal Triangle, or they could get off the Red Line at Farragut North and walk across Farragut Square to the Farragut West station on the Blue and Orange lines. That’s a free transfer with a SmarTrip card, even though it involves exiting one station and entering another.

The Metro Center and Gallery Place stations are three blocks apart along G Street NW, so some riders probably will prefer walking to their destinations rather than boarding the shuttle at Gallery Place.

Aside from skipping the Metro Center stop, Red Line trains will operate on regular schedules all weekend. (But check Trip Planner for arrival times at stations.)

Orange Line. In addition to skipping the Metro Center stop on Saturday and Sunday, trains will share a track between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon where crews will work on track upgrades. From 10 p.m. Friday through Metrorail’s midnight closing on Sunday, the Orange Line trains are scheduled to operate 20 minutes apart all along the line.

Transferring riders can take the shuttle bus from Federal Triangle to Gallery Place or, with a SmarTrip card, use the Farragut Crossing to the Red Line. Another option for riders who need to transfer to the Green and Yellow lines is to use L’Enfant Plaza. They avoid taking the shuttle bus, plus, L’Enfant Plaza is likely to be less crowded this weekend than Gallery Place. The Washington Capitals have a 7 p.m. Saturday game at Verizon Center, above the Gallery Place station, which will add to the crowding.

Blue Line. Besides skipping Metro Center, the trains will share track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery while crews work on several track projects. Between 10 p.m. Friday and the Metrorail closing at midnight Sunday, trains are scheduled to operate every 20 minutes. They have the same transfer options as listed above for the Orange Line riders.

Yellow Line. Trains should operate in their normal weekend schedule between Huntington and Fort Totten, but check Trip Planner for the scheduled arrival times at stations.

Green Line. Trains are scheduled to operate normally this weekend, except on Saturday between College Park and Greenbelt. In that zone, workers are building the test track for the new Metrorail cars. Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, trains are scheduled to operate every 20 to 25 minutes between College Park and Greenbelt. Riders who normally would park at the big lot by the Greenbelt station might prefer to drive in to the College Park station. Or they might prefer taking the Orange Line from the New Carrollton station, rather south on the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County.

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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