WASHINGTON — Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld suggested in an interview that a 1 a.m. weekend closing time for the system may be better than the midnight closures that have been imposed since June.
Ahead of a public hearing on proposals that would permanently change Metro’s hours by cutting eight hours of service, Wiedefeld said “the 1 a.m. option is one I think we should really consider.”
The 1 a.m. closure Fridays and Saturdays would be in conjunction with 11:30 p.m. closings on weekdays and a schedule of 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays.
Currently, Metro’s opens at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends. While official closing time is still 3 a.m. after Friday and Saturday service, the midnight closures have been in effect every day of the week since June under Wiedefeld’s temporary action.
“If you look at the numbers, the ridership by half-hour drops pretty dramatically,” as riders head home after Friday and Saturday nights out or after work, Wiedefeld said.
Other options, open for public comment at Thursday’s hearing at Metro’s headquarters, would make more significant cuts to Sunday hours, leave 3 a.m. closings or other combinations.
Wiedefeld told members of Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board Tuesday that he still feels strongly that additional time is needed with the system closed to provide more time for scheduled work and inspections.
“We are going to do the work, we have to do the work,” he said later.
“Whereas I think we may have pushed work off, and pushed it off and pushed it off, we cannot do that because we know where that leads,” Wiedefeld said.
Opponents of the proposed service cuts argue that Metro is not efficient or effective with the track time it already has.
In one example, a federal inspector saw some 100 workers standing idle for more than two hours because of communications and other issues between the work crew leader and the troubled Rail Operations Control Center.
Wiedefeld has acknowledged Metro must be more efficient, but said it would not be enough.