It’s been two months since Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld first floated his proposal to permanently cut late-night service and give Metro track workers more time to perform repairs.
Now, Metro is presenting a couple other options — but they all involve painful cuts to nighttime service and, in one case, Sunday morning service.
In documents released this week in advance of Thursday’s meeting of the Metro board, agency staff posed three different scenarios for cutting service on the rail system.
In Scenario A, weekday hours would remain unchanged, whereas the system would shut down at midnight on Friday and Saturday (the current closing time during SafeTrack). Under this option, Sunday would see the biggest change: Service would end at 10 p.m., a prospect that’s caused significant concern among D.C. residents and sports fans who rely on Metro to travel home from night games.
Under Scenario B, Metro would only make small cuts to Sunday service, closing the system at at 11:30 p.m. — a half-hour early — on weeknights to provide workers with more track time. And under scenario C, some of Metro’s weekend night service would remain — the system would close at 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays — but would require a late opening on Sunday mornings.
Here are the options explained in a chart:
“The scenarios were developed to provide an additional 8 hours of track access each week to conduct safety-critical work,” Metro staff wrote in the proposal, “while also looking to minimize the number of riders impacted and the overall reduction in annual ridership.”
Staff also noted that ridership is down 43 percent Sundays after 10 p.m., with about 8,000 riders using the system during that two-hour period to midnight.
They added that they are considering “potential mitigation strategies” for the service cuts, including late-night bus service.
Metro plans to open the public comment period for late-night service on Oct. 1; it’s planning to hold a public hearing the week of Oct. 17. The board is expected to make a final decision Dec. 15.