As the region prepares for tomorrow’s snowstorm, major transportation modes are already announcing they’ll be fully shut down through Sunday. Metro is even stopping most of its buses as early as Friday morning.
Earlier this afternoon, WMATA announced plans to close Metrorail Friday at 11 pm through Sunday night. Metrobus will start Friday on a severe snow plan, which means very few routes run, and then close it entirely through Sunday.
Local bus system around the region have announced various closures. MARC has announced it will curtail service Friday, and suspend it at least through Saturday. As of when we published this post, VRE has not yet announced its plans.
In addition to these public transit closures, Car2Go informed its Arlington and DC members this afternoon that it will also suspend service starting at 9pm tonight, indefinitely through the storm.
All of which is to say, good luck getting around for the next few days if you don’t own a car.
Is this wise, or an overreaction?
“This is not a storm that anyone should take lightly, and I would urge all residents to plan to get to a safe place before the storm arrives Friday afternoon,” said WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld at this afternoon’s announcement.
“The actions we are taking today are all in the interest of our customers’ and employees’ safety, and will help us return to service once the storm passes and the snow is cleared.”
These closures will almost certainly leave a significant number of area residents with severely limited transportation options during the storm. Having the system closed will discourage unnecessary travel. But it will also make necessary travel happen on other modes, which may expose fewer people to more risk. For the subset of car-free people who work critical services such as hospitals, it will mean long and harrowing cab rides, possibly with very expensive fares.
Some workplaces will still be open Friday morning, and many residents who use the bus will have no way to get to them. Metro’s press release says this “helps to ensure that customers and employees are not stranded once the storm begins,” but many people don’t have that choice or were already planning to use the bus and get home before the snow.
While most area residents who use Metro no doubt agree it should operate as much service as is possible during the storm, Metro does face constraints and deserves credit for recognizing them.
“Given the amount of snow forecast,” points out contributor Matt Johnson, “Metro will need to park its trains underground to avoid having them stranded in rail yards or damaged by the snow. Historically, Metro moves as many railcars as possible from all over the system and parks them in the tunnels between Glenmont and Forest Glen. This is why service on that section is not covered in the snow plan. With the forecast of this magnitude, they may be parking railcars in other areas.
“This weekend’s storm is forecast to be in the top five winter storms in recorded history for DC. ‘Severe’ snow plan bus routes will not be able to operate in this storm.”
Are these reactions extreme? How will these closures impact your weekend? Tell us in the comments.