Metro’s longest-ever line segment shutdown begins Saturday, affecting six Blue and Yellow line stations south of Reagan National Airport.
For the next 15 weeks, trains will not serve the Braddock Road, King Street-Old Town, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street or Franconia-Springfield stations. That means thousands of commuters will have to find an alternative way to reach their destination.
The shutdown is the first phase of a three-year platform reconstruction project and will continue through Sept. 8.
Commuters in Northern Virginia who normally use the six stations have several options for getting around during the shutdown. Free shuttles available at each of the shuttered stations will connect riders to the Metro system; other transit alternatives include Bikeshare and buses.
If your travels take you in or out of National Airport, add extra time and have a plan to avoid delays in the rail system. Yellow and Blue line trains will run between the airport and Washington. And Metro will run all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt starting Saturday, to provide more reliable service between the airport, downtown D.C. and points north during the shutdown.
“There’s still time to make a plan,” Alexandria Transportation Director Yon Lambert said. “It is going to take longer, and people need to be prepared to add 30 minutes to their normal commute. They also are going to have to have a little bit of patience this summer."
You can click here to use a special Metro trip planner to explore available options, such as bus-only trips, to bypass the construction. More buses will be available to handle higher demand along the route of the closed stations.
Alexandria is changing the HOV rules on Washington Street, which runs parallel to Route 1 and is one of the key north-south commuter routes, to accommodate more bus traffic during the shutdown. The city is also expanding HOV hours to 6 to 10 a.m. in the morning and to 3 to 7 p.m. for the evening rush and increasing the HOV-2 requirement to HOV-3.
If your employer allows it, try telework and avoid the chaos altogether. Federal agencies have been urged to allow more telework and alternative work schedules for their employees during the shutdown.
If you want to continue with your regular commute during the shutdown using the free shuttles, you should expect crowded buses. The Metro platforms at the airport and other Yellow and Blue line stations in Northern Virginia will be busier than usual.
Following are details on some of the options.
Metro and some of the local bus systems are providing shuttle service between stations and are adding extra service to several routes to accommodate more riders.
Shuttle buses. Free shuttles from the six affected stations will take riders to Crystal City and Pentagon stations, where you can connect to Metro and continue your trip. If you start your trip at the end of the lines — Franconia-Springfield and Huntington, you will have the option to take an express shuttle to the Metro. Other shuttle options will make stops between stations. Weekday travelers can also take a free shuttle from Landmark Mall to the Pentagon Metro station.
Check the shuttle service schedules, because not all the shuttles will stop at the airport. Blue Line shuttles will stop at National, but if you’re traveling from Huntington, Eisenhower and Braddock stations, you will need to transfer to a shuttle at King Street to get to the airport.
Shuttle buses will run every five minutes during peak hours on most routes and every 10 to 12 minutes midday and evenings. More details about the shuttle routes can be found here. Metro will offer free parking at Huntington, Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations during the platform reconstruction project.
Metroway. The bus rapid transit service runs between Braddock Road and Pentagon City and costs $2.
Metrobus. Trips are being added on various routes serving the areas affected by the shutdown. Among the Metrobus options are: the 8Z (Quaker Lane-Pentagon Station), 10A (Huntington-Pentagon), 10E (Hunting Point-Pentagon Station), 11Y (Mount Vernon/Hunting Point-Potomac Park) and 21A (Landmark-Pentagon) bus lines. The fare is $2.
DASH and King Street Trolley. The Alexandria bus system will provide free shuttles and extra weekday trips on routes AT3 and AT4, which operate between Alexandria and the Pentagon Metro station. Fares on DASH are $1.75. The free King Street Trolley will extend operating hours to better match the water taxi schedules.
Fairfax Connector. The county bus service will run additional express buses on routes 393 and 394 from Springfield to Pentagon. (Weekdays only.)
Virginia Railway Express is probably a good choice for affected Metro lines that parallel VRE’s Fredericksburg line in Virginia. Many affected commuters on the Blue Line can board a VRE train at the Franconia-Springfield station. Yellow Line riders who typically board at Huntington or Eisenhower Avenue Metro stations can board a VRE train at the Alexandria station to bypass the segment closures.
Trains operate during the rush hour and typically run north in the morning and south in the evening. A separate VRE fare ticket will be needed.
For those whose destination is Rosslyn or Courthouse Road, you can ride VRE to Crystal City station and take a bus to Rosslyn. If your destination is the Pentagon, you can ride either VRE line to Crystal City station and catch a bus to Pentagon. VRE serves Crystal City, L’Enfant Plaza and Union Station.
In previous shutdowns many Metro commuters switched to cycling to avoid the service disruptions. If you want to bike to work, you have options.
Capital Bikeshare provides a flat rate of $2 for every single trip under 30 minutes. The red bikes are available at Crystal City, Pentagon City, Braddock Road and King Street stations, as well as many other locations in South Arlington and Alexandria. Capital Bikeshare is offering half-price monthly memberships through the shutdown: For $14 a month, you can take unlimited 30-minute rides.
Biking on your own. The Mount Vernon Trail connects with the 14th Street and Memorial bridges and is a convenient route from Old Town and South Arlington to the District.
Taxis and shared rides
Slugging. Commuters who want to try slugging — one of Washington’s oldest commuting traditions, will have access to at least three slug lines in the affected areas during the shutdown. The slug lines will operate 7 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday from the Franconia-Springfield Metro Kiss & Ride, the Van Dorn Street Metro station Kiss & Ride, and at Landmark Mall, near the Kiss & Ride area. Return lines in the afternoon will run from 4 to 5 p.m. picking up from L’Enfant, 14th Street and Madison Avenue, and 19th and F streets.
For those new to slugging — it is an informal system where people queue up and wait to be picked up by a driver headed their way.
Water taxi. The Potomac Riverboat Company is adding morning trips from Old Town Alexandria to the Wharf in D.C. The company is offering a 50 percent discount on round trips during the shutdown. That’s a $10 round-trip weekday fare for the 30-minute ride.
Other options. Alexandria officials also say commuters can also try various carpool and vanpool services and apps including Enterprise, OmniMatch and Waze Carpool to coordinate a ride. Other options include Uberpool and Lyft shared rides. If you are adventurous, electric scooter services are available in parts of Alexandria, Arlington and the District.