News & Politics

Metro GM Hints at Weekend Shutdowns

Medical Center Metro Station. Photograph by Flickr user Josh.

The Metro-riding public is still waiting for the troubled transit agency’s general manager, Paul Wiedefeld, to release his the “long-range maintenance plan” he promised on March 31. But during an interview Monday on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, Wiedefeld hinted that the plan could include curtailed operating hours.

“I do not see any very large closures, we may have to close a station or two or weekend-type closures,” Wiedefeld said when asked if Metro will need to take measures as or even more drastic than the one-day shutdown last month for emergency electrical inspections.

Wiedefeld has previously suggested that handfuls of stations could have to close and that Metro would run buses as a replacement, but shutting down parts or all of the system on weekends would be a bigger step. With so much maintenance required on both Metro’s fleet and tracks, fewer hours of passenger service could make it easier for crews to get the work done.

And while some customers would surely find ways to be aggrieved, Wiedefeld also suggested Metro riders have already figured out workarounds of their own, pointing to the spikes in business Uber and Lyft experienced when the entire rail network closed on March 16. Uber reported a 50 percent increase in drivers compared to a typical Wednesday, and a record day on the shared-ride UberPool service, which it expanded to the entire Washington metropolitan area.

But Wiedefeld again walked back a recent off-the-cuff remark made by Metro Chairman Jack Evans that entire lines could have to close for as long as six months. That statement, which both Evans and Wiedefeld have tried to retract, caused Metro more consternation when Republican members of Congress grilled them on Metro’s condition.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.