People walked to Reagan National Airport and waited in hourslong lines for Metro bridge bus service as the rain, the holiday weekend and the closure of two Metro stations contributed to a nightmare Friday evening commute.
The National Airport and Crystal City stations along the Blue and Yellow lines are closed through Monday, with shuttle buses replacing trains between Pentagon City and Braddock, but riders shared photos of huge crowds waiting to get on those buses.
More Metro buses were added Saturday morning, with some bypassing Crystal City to serve the airport more quickly. The worst traffic had subsided, but travelers should continue to budget extra time to get to and from the airport.
WMATA apologized in a statement, saying the mix of traffic and weather caused shuttles to be delayed as the backups rippled through Arlington.
“Traffic is terrible, and you know it’s really bad when they’re talking on the radio and the news shows up,” said one man trying to pick his brother up at the airport.
“I’m probably going to tell him to take a cab and go the other way,” he said.
Riders didn't move much faster once they got on the buses or in cabs as major gridlock affected Crystal City and the George Washington Parkway at National Airport. The airport pointed to the Metro closures as the cause of the gridlock there.
At the airport, people sprinted from cars to the terminals and gates to get to their flights on time.
Some travelers decided to walk to the airport, with people dragging their luggage on the GW Parkway.
“We had to wait for the elevator,” said Elizabeth McDowell, who decided to walk to the airport from a Metro station, pushing a baby in a stroller. “They weren’t letting people up the escalators unless you were getting on the shuttle buses. So they were trying to manage that, but I don’t think this system was working that well. So I tried to get an Uber. It was like $70. And I have to catch a flight in an hour and 20 minutes, so I just started hoofing it, hoping to catch a taxi. I haven’t caught one yet.”
"I know you’ve got a lot of work going on, @Reagan_Airport, but this is a madhouse," said Twitter user @CGsquiggles.
He said he was told by Metro employees that the wait to ride a shuttle out of the airport would be more than two hours.
"I’m a patient person, but this is ridiculous. Maybe some rope & stanchion to create an actual line. #wmata," said Twitter user @aej_dc.
"Finally got to National Airport and It. Is. Chaos. Good luck getting a ride out in under two hours. Will shortly be coming back to all this. #wmata," said Twitter user @MSalt69.
Traffic finally started to ease about 8 p.m. Metro tweeted an update about the same time.
"Our operations team is currently monitoring the shuttle crowding between Pentagon City and Braddock Road, including National Airport," Metro said in the tweet. "The mix of traffic and weather are impacting our ability to continuously move our shuttles."
Workers are installing new concrete grout pads beneath the rails, which means trains can't move over the tracks, WMATA says.
Metro says the work was rescheduled from Nov. 2 through Nov. 5 to reduce the impact on commuters. They chose the holiday weekend for the four-day project so only one commuting day would be affected.
Metro released a list of alternate bus and rail routes that may be more convenient for those traveling to Crystal City or Reagan National Airport.
Note that regional lines will observe alternate schedules for Veterans Day. Check your local bus lines before traveling.
The following information is courtesy of WMATA:
Metroway - Braddock Rd - Crystal City - Pentagon City
10A - Huntington - Braddock Rd - Old Town - Pentagon
10B - Hunting Point - Braddock Rd - Ballston
11Y - Mt. Vernon - Old Town - Farragut Sq
23A - Crystal City - Tysons Corner
23B - Crystal City - Ballston
Route 393, 394, 395 - Springfield - Pentagon (via Saratoga Park & Ride)
Route 494 - Lorton - Springfield - Tysons
Route 495 - Burke Centre - Tysons
Route 599 - Pentagon - Crystal City Express
AT2- Lincolnia -Braddock Rd - Old Town Alexandria
AT3 - Braddock Rd - Pentagon
AT4 - Braddock Rd - Pentagon
AT5 - Eisenhower Ave Metro (weekend only) - Braddock Rd - Old Town Alexandria - Van Dorn St.
Arlington Transit (ART)
ART 43 - Crystal City - Ballston
Dale City - Downtown Washington
Dale City - Pentagon/Rosslyn
Dale City - Navy Yard
Lake Ridge - Downtown Washington
Lake Ridge - Pentagon/Crystal City
Woodbridge - Tysons Corner
Fredericksburg Line - Commuter rail service between Spotsylvania and Union Station, connecting Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City, King St. (Alexandria) to L'Enfant Plaza and Union Station in Downtown DC.
Manassas Line - Commuter rail service between Broad Run/Manassas and Union Station, connecting King St (Alexandria) and Crystal City to L'Enfant Plaza and Union Station in Downtown DC.