Metro will reduce transit service starting Monday to help its workforce stay safe while it begins even more stringent disinfecting of its railcars and buses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The transit agency said Friday that it is moving into its third phase of its Pandemic Flu Plan, the highest level of response that includes increased disinfecting of cars and buses and ordering all administrative employees to work from home. The frequency of rail service will decrease on weekdays, and Metrobus will operate on a Saturday schedule Monday through Friday.
“This action is taken to maximize social distancing, a required mitigation to slow the spread of the disease,” Metro said in a statement.
Service is being reduced “to help protect employees and customers, and recognizing that many of Metro’s frontline employees are faced with tough choices as they balance work with their family priorities, including caring for children who are home from area schools."
Metrorail’s schedule will shift beginning Monday to:
* Monday-Saturday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line throughout the day.
* Sunday: Trains will operate every 15 minutes on each line.
Metrorail’s opening and closing times during the week will remain the same, Metro said. Metrobus’s weekend schedules will not change.
“The service reduction also allows for additional disinfecting of railcars and buses, including the use of electrostatic fogging on a weekly basis across Metro’s fleet of 1,200 railcars and 1,500 buses,” Metro said. “The electrostatic process addresses inaccessible surfaces in the vehicle, such as air ducts and compartments.”
Metro said it is suspending its Rush Hour Promise guarantee until regular service is restored. The guarantee gives commuters credits if their peak-hour rail rides were delayed by 10 minutes or more.
MetroAccess service will continue to operate during the same hours as rail and bus services, Metro said.
“Metro continues to emphasize that customers must not use MetroAccess to travel to health-care appointments if they are showing signs of illness for the safety of our employees and other passengers,” Metro said. “If you are ill, call your health-care provider and make transportation arrangements that do not involve public transportation. In addition, the MetroAccess Eligibility Center is closed until further notice.”
Metro is banning visitors and nonessential personnel from its Rail Operations Control Center while it spreads out workers in the center between two locations, “allowing downtime for disinfecting keyboards, headsets, microphones, screens and other critical equipment in the control center.”
Additionally, Metro has suspended all public meetings at Metro headquarters and is not permitting visitors at any of its administrative offices.