Photo by nevermindtheend on Flickr.

This morning, a bomb threat caused Metro to close its Rockville and Shady Grove stations during the morning rush. Many riders were delayed or stranded while Metro worked to recover.

These unexpected closures are, luckily, few and far in between. But by learning all your options, you can be prepared for them.

Metro was able to establish shuttle bus service relatively quickly, but hastily set up bus bridges are often disorganized, hard to find, and slow. Your best option may be to take a regularly scheduled bus service.

If your station were to be unexpectedly closed, would you know which bus would get you around the closure? If you’re a regular transit rider, you might want to have that piece of information handy.

Let’s take Rockville, for example. With that section of the Red Line closed, riders had several options to get around the closure.

Perhaps the best alternative would be Ride On route 46, which would take riders as far as Medical Center. Route 46 runs on Rockville Pike, parallel to the Red Line. It runs every 15 minutes, and covers the distance from Rockville to Twinbrook, the next open station on the Red Line, in only 10 minutes.

The “Q” Metrobuses are another alternative. They run every 10-15 minutes during rush hour between Rockville and Wheaton along Veirs Mill Road.

Rockville also has a stop on MARC’s Brunswick Line. Since this closure happened during the morning rush, riders had the chance to board the last few inbound trains of the day. These commuter trains take riders to Silver Spring and Union Station.

Riders who knew about these regularly scheduled buses/trains may have been able to get around the closure even before Metro’s bus bridge was set up. Knowing your alternatives can save you lots of time and frustration.

If you haven’t done so already, take the time today to find alternate transit options to/from your home and work stations. You never know when something could cause a closure. If you know your choices, you don’t have to be at the mercy of crowded bus bridges and overburdened station managers.


Photo by strangelibrarian on Flickr.

Your Plan B might be as simple as walking a few blocks to a nearby station. Or perhaps it could involve Capital Bikeshare. In many cases, you will likely need to have a bus route in mind as an alternate. If so, on your way home tonight, stop by the station manager’s kiosk and pick up a bus schedule for your backup route or print if off of Metro’s website.

It would be great if Metro could get some alternate routes out via twitter and email during these closures, though their communications department is likely pretty busy during unforeseen closures. So don’t wait. Be proactive and find your Plan B today.

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Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master’s in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.