Telecommute, telecommute, telecommute. That’s the words of the day as Metrorail is shutdown.
“For us to be able to handle this as a region, people have to telecommute,” said Kanti Srikanth, head of the Transportation Planning Board for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. “Clearly during the peak period, our road system does not have the capacity to handle many more vehicles. If people decide to drive we don’t have that capacity. We have to hope that a large number of people will decide to work from home.”
The federal government agencies is open Wednesday, but employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. The Greater Washington Board of Trade also urged businesses to give workers flexibility to work from home.
Bus service was being added throughout the area but many buses are already at capacity.
The Fairfax Connector, which is providing shuttle buses to the Pentagon in addition to it regular service warned riders that buses are likely to experience delays due to increased traffic congestion and crowding.
“Commuters are urged to allow extra time for their commute as traffic congestion is expected on all routes tomorrow,” the agency said.
The D.C. Department of Transportation said it is adding traffic control personnel at some key locations to help direct traffic and will monitor traffic flows throughout the day. The agency will also suspend rush hour construction when traffic is expected to be heavy, spokesman Terry Owens said.
With a very short notice of the shutdown, the region’s transportation agencies Tuesday evening were still juggling to assess whether they would be able to provide extra buses to accommodate extra riders. But many of the local bus systems don’t have the capacity to add hundreds of extra buses and hundreds of extra drivers, so they urged riders to be patient Wednesday. Many of the region’s transportation officials didn’t find out about Metro’s plans until just minutes before the announcement was made late Tuesday afternoon. Some officials said they hoped many who can would choose to telecommute and save the region from having a messy commute.
“That is the only way the region can handle something like this,” said Srikanth. “People have to telecommute or carpool, vanpool or take federal leave. But we should expect more people trying to take buses, if it is an option available to them. VRE and MARC commuter trains will be crowded. All of these are expectations.”