The Washington Post

Federal holidays don’t mean easier commutes

For years, one consolation of having to work on a federal holiday when others get the day off was that you would have an smoother, less crowded commute.

Not so much anymore.

Metro riders reported crowded platforms and trains on Monday, the Veterans Day holiday, as they made their way into work. The Post’s Dr. Gridlock has pointed out in the past that this isn’t a rare occurence.  In anticipation of fewer riders due to the federal holiday, Metro officials reduce the number of trains, which means less space and less frequent service for those who do have to go into the office.

“It’s less frequent service than normal,” said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel in an e-mail to The Post’s Dana Hedgpeth.

And during the government shutdown, when many commuters anticipated empty roads and a clear Beltway, that just wasn’t the case. While many think that the government is the region’s main employer, the region’s employment is really more mixed. Federal workers make up only 14.3 percent of the workforce.

Another factor: federal workers don’t necessarily drive to work. Many telecommute, carpool and take transit in higher numbers than their private sector counterparts, local commuting experts said. A recent COG commuter survey showed that 32 percent of federal workers took trains or buses compared to 13 percent of private sector employees.  Translated: they don’t take up as much room on the road as their numbers might indicate.

So the bottom line for folks on the job during a federal holiday? Time to find another silver lining. I’ll help you look.


Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.



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Dana Hedgpeth · November 11, 2013

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