Image by Elvert Barnes licensed under Creative Commons.

New Metrorail and Metrobus schedules go into effect this Sunday, June 25. The system will also charge higher fares and reduce its overall operating hours. All of this is part of an effort by WMATA to balance what customers want with what it can afford and what it needs to perform maintenance on.

Last October, WMATA began hinting that major service changes would be needed to help close a $290 million budget gap. The initial proposal was to slash rail service across all time periods and to cut many bus routes, while also hiking fares across the board. Metro even considered closing 20 low-ridership stations during off-peak hours (midday, evening, and weekends).

Public response to these initial ideas was, unsurprisingly, negative. Metro says it received more than 30,000 responses from customers over the past year regarding the proposed changes. Board Chairman Jack Evans even threatened back in 2016 to veto the proposal’s fare hikes, though he eventually relented.

The final plans approved in March drop some of the harsher cuts. All Metrorail stations will stay open during normal operating hours, off-peak train service won't be scaled back to every 15 minutes (currently every 12 minutes), and some bus routes that had been proposed for elimination will keep running. Still, a lot of cuts are about to go into effect.

Metro made a brief video to tell riders about the changes. Below it, I've outlined things in a little more detail.

New Metrorail operating hours

Previous Hours (before SafeTrack) Current Hours (with SafeTrack reductions) New Hours (starting June 25)
Mon - Thu 5 am - 12 am 5 am - 12 am 5 am - 11:30 pm
Fri 5 am - 3 am 5 am - 12 am 5 am - 1 am
Sat 7 am - 3 am 7 am - 12 am 7 am - 1 am
Sun 7 am - 12 am 7 am - 12 am 8 am-11 pm

Higher fares for bus and rail

Metrorail trips increase by 10 cents during peak hours and by 25 cents during off-peak hours. Metrobus fares will increase to $2.00 for regular routes and $4.25 for express routes (both 25 cent increases), and fares for the 5A and B30 airport routes will go up by 50 cents to $7.50. The maximum MetroAccess fare will remain $6.50.

New rush hour schedules

Current Frequencies New Frequencies (starting June 25)
Red 6 min 8 min
Blue 12 min 8 min
Orange 6 min 8 min
Silver 6 min 8 min
Green 6 min 8 min
Yellow 6 min 8 min

Additional trains will continue to operate on the Red line between Grosvenor and Silver Spring during rush hour, resulting in service every four minutes between those stations (it's currently every three minutes). Yellow Rush Plus service to Greenbelt will be discontinued entirely, and Yellow Line trains will operate to Mount Vernon Square during peak hours and to Fort Totten all other times; this means passengers between Shaw and Greenbelt may see up to 50% fewer trains at their stations.

Off peak train schedules will remain unchanged, with all lines operating at 12 minute intervals.

New bus schedules

Some Metrobus routes will see expanded coverage to help offset cuts to late-night Metrorail service, while others will operate on shortened or modified routes.

Trips will be added to these routes to provide more late night or early weekend service. Image by WMATA.

At least 10 routes will be eliminated completely: the J5, P17, W19, 2T, 7X, 13Y, 15L, 17A, 17F, and 28X. In addition, the B30 will be discontinued on weekends. The full list of Metrobus changes can be found here.