Speed Reads

Commuter Chaos

D.C. Metro could suspend rail service for up to 6 months

Washington, D.C., was pretty unhappy when the Metro commuter rail was shut down for just over 24 hours on March 16. On Wednesday, Metro's top officials warned that much bigger closures are likely coming, with entire lines closed for up to six months for repairs and upgrades. Metro board Chairman Jack Evans, who is also a D.C. Council member, and General Manager Paul Wiedefeld wanted to impress on regional stakeholders the need for more financing from the federal government and suburban counties, but most of the attention focused on the proposed delays.

"The system right now, in order to do the maintenance that needs to be done, cannot be done on three hours a night and on weekends," Evans said. "It just can't.... So in order to do repairs that are necessary, it may come to the point where we have to close the entire Blue Line for six months. People will go crazy. But there are going to be hard decisions that have to be made in order to get this fixed." The reaction from the 100 invited officials, business executives, and public transit experts was mixed, but commuters were pretty annoyed.

"Riders outside the McPherson Square station Wednesday evening described an extended shutdown as 'insane,' 'extremely inconvenient,' and 'kind of terrible'," The Washington Post reports. Wiedefeld says he will come to a decision on maintenance closures in four to six weeks.