D.C. Metro, America's 'Best' Subway, May Shut Down For Months
More than 829,000 people ride Metro on an average weekday...for now.
Officials announced that the Metro needs a massive overhaul that could take months.
A mere month ago, Washington, D.C.'s public transportation system, known as Metro, was rated the best in the country based on its efficiency. But that crown may be in jeopardy: yesterday, Metro officials announced that the aging subway system is in such dire need of repair that entire lines may be shut down for up to six months.
D.C.'s Metro is the country's second-largest subway system by ridership, with 271 million riders annually. It does not run 24 hours a day, and until now, most repair work has been done at night when the subway is closed, or on weekends. Officials, however, say it is not enough to address all the problems. "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. It just can’t," said Metro Board Chairman and City Council Member Jack Evans, at an invitation-only summit.. "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."
In the meeting that included high-ranking city officials, business executives and transit experts, Evans twice singled out the Blue Line, which runs from Northern Virginia to Lake Largo in Maryland and stops at popular tourist destinations like the Smithsonian museums and Foggy Bottom, but made sure to emphasize that any of the system's six lines could be subject to long-term closures. At the same meeting, officials emphasized the "dire" need for an increase in annual funding of $1 billion; adding that they expect to decide on closures within a month to six weeks.
D.C. residents were given a preview of the mayhem that unfolds without its subway, when on March 16 the entire system was closed for the day for emergency track maintenance. After the one-day shutdown led to increased congestion both on the road and in the bike lane, officials have vocally expressed concern about what it could mean for commuters if the system was even partially closed for months. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, who was reportedly not given advance warning of the one-day closure, expressed her concerns in a very Washingtonian (read: ambiguous) way: "Shutting down Metro for one workday was an inconvenience; shutting it down for months at a time will have far-reaching consequences for riders and the entire region,” said her spokesperson Michael Czin. Bowser herself called it a "Homeland Security event," likening it to a blizzard or hurricane.