With the stations’ reopening, Metro will restart the Blue Line while the Yellow Line will operate from Huntington to Mount Vernon Square, the agency said.
The stations are among 12 that have had their worn and, in many cases, dilapidated platforms rebuilt in the past two years as part of a four-year platform repair project within Metro’s 10-year, $15.5 billion capital improvement program. The transit agency has targeted 20 stations for platform reconstruction, with Arlington Cemetery being the last station upgraded in Virginia and Addison Road being the first station with a reconstructed platform in Maryland.
The stations are coming back online as local governments lift coronavirus restrictions on face coverings and social distancing and Metro is seeing a slight uptick in rail passengers. A federal mask requirement on public transportation, however, remains in place.
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said Thursday that the 91-station rail system’s weekly ridership remains 85 percent lower than pre-pandemic rates. He said he believes customers will return in bigger numbers once they feel “comfortable.” Metro surveys have indicated that some users remain hesitant to travel because of coronavirus risks while others feel inconvenienced wearing masks on trains.
Wiedefeld said he is hopeful the station facelifts, as well as increased station cleanings, will persuade more people to return.
“That’s what we have to focus on — making them comfortable,” he said. “Our experience has been once we reopen [stations], people really do appreciate the difference.”
The new platforms feature nearly five-foot-tall digital screens where passengers can find information, electrical outlets in new stainless-steel platform shelters, wider digital signs hanging from the ceilings that inform riders of wait times, and large, round, clear bulbs filled with LED lighting that Wiedefeld said adds more light while saving energy costs.
So far, 300,000 square feet of new slip-resistant tile, which the agency said would cover Nationals Park twice, has been installed as part of the platform project. Workers have poured 8,000 tons of concrete, the weight of 187 rail cars, while they have laid 2,016 pieces of granite.
“We basically rethought the station from the ceiling down to the floor,” Wiedefeld said. “We also took advantage with obviously what’s going with the pandemic.”
The pandemic has helped expedite the project. With ridership at historic lows, Metro chose to shut down stations rather than work on one platform at a time and run trains on single tracks. The closures allowed construction crews to work day and night, without having to break down and set up down equipment.
The next four stations to undergo platform rebuilds — West Hyattsville, Prince George’s Plaza, College Park-University of Maryland and Greenbelt — are all on the Green and Yellow lines in Maryland and are scheduled to close May 29 until at least Sept. 6, Metro said.
Metro said it will provide free shuttle bus service as an alternative during the closures, picking up passengers in front of the stations and bridging them to connecting Metrorail stations and back.
The Greenbelt station is serving as a Federal Emergency Management Agency community coronavirus vaccination center. The vaccination outreach program at Greenbelt is scheduled to run through June 1 and will still be accessible until then, after Metro starts work on the station’s platforms, Metro said.
While the stations are shuttered, Metro will not run Green Line or Yellow Line rail service north of Fort Totten. Yellow Line trains will operate between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square, the agency said. Green Line trains will run between Branch Avenue and Fort Totten.
Travel alternatives, including Metrobus routes, can be found at wmata.com/platforms.