The best part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival isn’t the artistic displays, the massive influx of tourist spending, or even the blooming of the cherry trees themselves. (Still on track for an April 8 peak bloom, by the way.) It’s that for the next month, Metro will take a break from weekend track work, sparing riders from 20-minute waits, single-tracking, shuttle buses, and closed stations.
Metro suspends its work schedule every year during the festival to accommodate the masses of tourists who descend on Washington to gawk at the trees and clog the Mall. An estimated 1.5 million visitors attended last year’s festivities.
This year’s break from infuriating track work will take place over the next four weekends, ending on Sunday, April 13. Trains will run every six to 12 minutes on all five lines during the daytime, and more of them will have eight cars, Metro says.
A respite from all that frustrating track work sounds nice, but there’s an obvious tradeoff: Metro passengers should brace for extremely crowded trains. Ridership increases by more than 15 percent during the Cherry Blossom Festival, and weekend crowds can equal weekday rush-hour crowds when the weather is nice. This weekend’s forecast is quite temperate.
Metro will actually be making some repairs over the next month, though work will be limited to Sunday nights after 10.