Photo by ElvertBarnes on Flickr.
This article was posted as an April Fool’s joke.
Metro will suspend all service on the Red Line for the next 8 months to allow repair crews to finish work on the line more quickly. Shuttle buses will replace trains between Shady Grove and Glenmont.
According to Metro spokesman Stan Dessel, Metro is tired of the constant weekend track work. “Frankly, we’re just as sick of the slow trickle of repairs as the customers are. We decided it would simply be faster to just fix everything at once,” Dessel said.
Dessel said customers should also consider alternative commuting methods, like driving. Customers who drive or take the shuttle buses should expect to add an additional 60-120 minutes to their travel time.
Riders from Shady Grove can also drive to Vienna and take the Orange Line.
Governors Bob McDonnell and Martin O’Malley announced plans to spend $10 billion to build a new freeway across the Potomac River in order to accommodate the Metro riders, but added that funding is too scarce to contribute more to speed up the Metro repairs. “We think this is the best way to use our state transportation dollars to help commuters,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Proaughton.
In addition, MARC will add new service on the Brunswick Line. CSX announced that it would allow MARC to run more trains and actually tell its dispatchers to give priority to passenger trains on the line, as opposed to previous times when they claimed to have done so but dispatchers did not actually follow through.
Metro is launching a new public relations campaign around the closure, called “Red Line: Deal With It.” Customers will see construction walls at Red Line station entrances with slogans like, “8 Months Isn’t So Bad, Is It?” and “No More Delays. No More Red Line.”
Organizers of large national events are also being informed. A national tea party convention has already modified its website to inform attendees driving to the region from points north on I-95 to take the Beltway to Vienna instead of driving to Glenmont or using any other station.
Metro will suspend all work on other lines, including Silver Line construction, in order to complete the work in 8 months. “We hope that by the time the Red Line reopens, we’ll only have to single-track twice a month,” said WMATA CEO Richard Snarles.
Dessel said Metro is working with Mayor Gray to hire thousands of unemployed District residents to help with the 24-hour repairs. The program is part of a new employment program called “One City, One Line.”
A social media component of the program, called “Metro Fast Forward,” will equip track workers with helmet video cameras and editing software so that they can produce videos of the work in real time.
This concept has actually been in the works for over a year. Previous WMATA spokesperson Lisa Dystone planned not to tell riders about the closure, arguing that nobody would notice. However, Michael Perkins noticed an obscure footnote in a WMATA Board presentation and encouraged officials to mount a larger campaign to inform riders.
Some have already criticized Metro’s plan. The critical blog DeCrapify DC Metro said 8 months is far longer than needed to finish the work. Another blog and popular Twitter account, WTF WMATA, wrote that customers deserve better treatment and vowed to hold Metro accountable.
How will you adjust to the Red Line closing? Let us know in the comments.