Ride On suspended fare collection on Monday. Service was scaled back starting Wednesday and was expected to be reduced by 50 percent beginning Thursday.
Amtrak downsized service to Washington by about 60 percent Monday as fewer people were traveling by train in the Northeast Corridor. Metro reduced train and bus frequencies and other systems were assessing service cuts or operational changes this week.
Concern over the spread of the virus is hitting ridership on transit systems across the region and the country. Trains and buses are carrying far fewer passengers than a week ago, and the use of transit may be further reduced as local and federal agencies, along with private employers, encourage workers to telework and commuters to avoid public transportation.
Riders are encouraged to follow the transit agencies’ social media accounts for updates on service changes. Here’s what we know about operations this week.
Starting Monday, service between Washington and Boston was reduced by more than half. About 40 percent of Amtrak trains are operating. Amtrak said its Northeast Regional and Acela services will operate among Boston, New York and Washington and its Northeast Regional service to Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and other states will operate with reduced frequency.
Other services also may be impacted, Amtrak said. The Café service is suspended on some trains operating between D.C. and New York.
Travelers with reservations on trains being modified will be contacted and accommodated on trains with similar departure times on other days. Amtrak is waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30. To change reservations, log in to your account or go to Modify Trip on Amtrak.com.
Metro moved into the third phase of its pandemic plan Friday, reducing service and disinfecting cars and buses more often.
- Starting Wednesday, trains will run every 15 minutes on all lines, at all times. The rail system will close at 11 p.m. daily and open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Officials said the shift will also provide workers time to more thoroughly clean and disinfect vehicles.
- Metrobus is operating on a Sunday schedule, but with a few additional routes.
- MetroAccess service continues to operate during the same hours as rail and bus services. Metro is asking MetroAccess customers to avoid using the service for doctor visits if they have symptoms of the coronavirus.
Maryland trains and buses
The Maryland Transit Administration reduced service Tuesday on all three MARC lines.
Citing “sharply reduced ridership as a result of increased teleworking,” the MTA said MARC began operating on the “R” schedule Tuesday, a limited service plan that is usually implemented during severe weather. That means MARC is operating less than 50 percent of its regular service.
The Penn and Brunswick lines will have a few more supplemental trains in addition to the scheduled “R” trains. The “R” schedules can be found here.
State transportation officials had said they wanted service to continue as normally as possible. In a message to riders, the MTA said it was evaluating conditions and service needs.
“If it becomes necessary, we will adjust service based on guidance and recommendations from the Maryland Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Kevin Quinn, chief of the Maryland Transit Administration. “We recognize the essential nature of MDOT MTA services, and will do our utmost to get you where you need to go, to keep our vehicles and facilities clean and safe, and to keep you informed of any changes that could affect you.”
Virginia Railway Express
VRE shifted to a reduced service schedule starting Tuesday. The commuter train system is running an “S” schedule on its two lines, Fredericksburg and Manassas.
Ridership has dropped significantly in recent days, VRE said, citing an increasing number of area businesses and government agencies that are encouraging or mandating telework. The decline warrants a reduction in service until further notice, the agency said.
The “S” schedule means the number of trains in service will go from 16 to eight — four inbound each morning and four outbound each afternoon. Officials said VRE continues to monitor the situation and will adjust schedules as needed.
Montgomery Ride On
In addition to offering free rides, officials are asking riders to board and exit through the rear doors. Passengers with wheelchairs or others who need assistance may use the lift located at the front doors, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation said.
The changes are meant to create distance between bus operators and passengers. Buses are undergoing increased daily sanitizing.
The reduced schedules on Ride On and Ride On Extra bus routes will be in effect until further notice, the Montgomery Department of Transportation said. Officials say service coverage will be maintained to provide residents with transportation to food and other services and jobs.
The system’s Flex Bus service in Rockville and the Wheaton-Glenmont areas was suspended earlier this week.
The District Department of Transportation, which has most of its staff working from home through March 31, said it is maintaining mostly normal operations of the city’s bus system and other transportation options.
D.C. Circulator rides are free, but the six-route system is suspending its National Mall route during the coronavirus emergency. The route serves Washington monuments, museums and the Tidal Basin where the cherry trees are in bloom.
Passengers can board the bus through the rear door. The all-door entry policy will enable better social distancing practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said. Riders with wheelchairs can still use the front door to board using the lift.
The D.C. Streetcar is operating regular schedules, as is Capital Bikeshare.
Other transportation programs, such as TransportDC, VetsRide and Senior Med Express, managed by the Department of For-Hire Vehicles, continue to operate. Those services are critical for seniors and people with disabilities.
Even though traffic is lighter in the District, DDOT will continue reversible lane operations during rush hour, officials said. Construction work also is expected to advance in the city’s public space.
Drivers should continue to respect parking restrictions even if they see fewer vehicles on the road. The Department of Public Works said officers are out and ticketing for parking violations, with the exception of restrictions due to street sweeping, which is suspended. Towing and booting services also are operational.