Riders wait for a Metrobus on 16th Street near U Street in Northwest Washington. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

The plan by Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld to close Metrorail at midnight on Saturdays and Sundays for maintenance work will require a robust late-night transportation alternative.

Maintenance for Metro is critical for the region and its economy, but the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and agency partners must work together to provide convenient transportation alternatives for residents, employees and visitors during this significant maintenance overhaul.

People across the D.C. region depend on Metro as their most convenient late-night public transit option. Late-night Metro hours helped downtown become a premier nightlife destination in the region and created a nighttime economy that previously did not exist. Today, 65,000 employees in the District work in food service and hotels.

The District is expected to welcome more than 20 million visitors in 2016. Many large cities around the world complement rail service with late-night bus service. Chicago operates a network of “night owl” buses, providing 24-hour transit service across the city, and London operates an extensive late-night bus network. Developing an effective network of late-night bus routes in the region could improve transit and create more flexibility for Metro’s required track work.

Neil O. Albert, Washington

The writer is president and executive director of the DowntownDC Business Improvement District.