Fairfax County

Getting Around During Metro's SafeTrack Repairs; Surge 2 Means Shutdowns on Blue, Orange, Silver Lines

"You need to have a game plan, and you need to come up with it now," said Metro's general manager

What to Know

  • Metrorail will be completely shut down for 16 straight days along four stations on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.
  • Service also will be shut down between two stations in Northern Virginia.
  • Shuttle buses will not be able to handle the volume of riders trains carry, Metro said.

The first of Metro's 15 "safety surges" ended Thursday -- but the trouble is just beginning for some commuters.

Starting Saturday, Metrorail service will be shut down for 16 straight days in a segment of the Orange, Blue and Silver lines in D.C.; two stations will be closed, and another two will have travel only in one direction. In addition, service also will be eliminated between two stations in Northern Virginia.

Officials are warning commuters to make alternate transportation plans immediately for the second of Metro's "safety surges." Commuters are asked to work from home if they can.

"Unlike the first surge, this is a complete rail shutdown" in the affected area, Metro's General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said. 

The Orange, Blue and Silver lines will be shut down from Eastern Market to Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road. The Potomac Avenue and Stadium-Armory stations will be closed. Wiedefeld said the shutdown will happen in a difficult area in which to work, because the normally busy stretch of track is along an elevated structure that stretches across the Anacostia River.

"No trains in any direction, any time, not rush hour, not weekends, any time," Wiedefeld said. "So please, please keep that in mind."

Shuttle buses will replace trains in that area, but Metro officials said they may be extremely crowded and will not be able to handle the volume of riders that area of the Orange, Blue and Silver lines normally accommodates.

"You need to have a game plan, and you need to come up with it now," Wiedefeld said earlier in the week.

In Northern Virginia, there will be no train or bus service between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn on the Blue Line. Metro says commuters should travel via L'Enfant Plaza instead.

Riders should expect significantly longer wait times at and outside of multiple stations, WMATA has said. The affected stations are:

  • Benning Road
  • Cheverly
  • Stadium-Armory (station closed for rail travel)
  • Deanwood
  • Potomac Avenue (station closed for rail travel)
  • Largo Town Center
  • Eastern Market
  • Morgan Boulevard
  • Minnesota Avenue
  • New Carrollton
  • Capitol Heights
  • Landover

Train frequency will change as well:

  • Orange Line trains will run every 10 minutes outside the shutdown zone with all 8-car trains
  • Silver Line trains will run every 10 minutes outside the shutdown zone with a mix of 6- and 8-car trains
  • Blue Line trains will run every 12 minutes between Franconia and Arlington Cemetery only
  • Yellow Rush+ trains will run all day; riders should use the Yellow Line for service between Virginia and D.C.
  • After 10 p.m., Blue Line service will stop; riders should use the Yellow Line instead. All other trains will run every 20 minutes.
  • On the Blue Line, no rail or bus service will be provided between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn during peak hours; riders should travel through L'Enfant Plaza instead
  • Shuttle bus service will replace trains from Eastern Market to Minnesota Avenue/Benning Road, running every 5-10 minutes (shuttle buses will stop only at the Metrorail stations)

Here are some other ways you can get around Safetrack:

Metrobus Enhances Service

WMATA is encouraging riders to try to use buses as much as possible. To find a bus-only trip, use WMATA's online trip planner and choose the "bus only" option. See Metrobus timetables here.

Metro said extra service is being added on the T18 route between New Carrollton and Rhode Island Avenue and on the 97 route between Capitol Heights and Union Station at rush hour. Additionally, X9 buses will run from Minnesota Avenue to Metro Center all day.

Regular Metrobus fares are $1.75, and 85 cents for seniors and people with disabilities. Express bus fares and airport express routes cost more. Bus-to-bus transfers are free if you're using your SmarTrip card.

Other Ways to Avoid Metrorail

In addition to taking the bus, here are more options for getting around without Metrorail:

Biking: The Washington Area Biking Association (@WABA) previously tweeted this Google map of D.C.-area trails, bike lanes and bike-friendly roads. Find information on Prince George's County bike trails here. If you need to tune up your biking skills, check out WABA's classes on learning to ride and urban cycling online here. Need to rent a bike? Capital Bikeshare stations are located throughout the area; you can see rates or sign up here.

Car2Go or Zipcar: Get a short-term rental car from Car2Go or Zipcar.

Carpooling/Slugging: Drivers can use the I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes for free with three people in the car (but you'll need an Express Lanes E-ZPass Flex transponder). VDOT also recommends checking out Slug-Lines.com if you're interested in slugging ("casual" carpooling to meet HOV requirements).

Circulator: D.C.'s Circulator buses run every 10 minutes during these hours; most routes start at 7 a.m. on weekdays, although some start at 6 a.m. In addition, D.C. Muriel Bowser said the District is considering extending the Circulator's service hours. See the current schedule here, and click or tap the name of any of the bus routes to see exact pickup spots.

Driving: Drivers should expect increased traffic and are encourageed to carpool or travel outside of peak periods if possible. If you must drive, leave yourself plenty of extra time to get around. In addition, D.C. has expanded parking restrictions during SafeTrack (find details here), and will have more traffic control officers on the streets.

Lyft and/or Uber: You might want to download a ride-hailing app like Lyft or Uber if you haven't already. Find the Lyft app here for either iPhone or Android, and the Uber app on iTunes here or on Google Play here. Lyft said it will offer Metro riders discounted rides throughout SafeTrack's phases; see discount zones and info here. Uber says UberPOOL, in which passengers share cars, will be available across the entire D.C. area through the year of SafeTrack.

MARC Train: Commuters traveling to or from Maryland should consider the MARC train, which has several lines running through the Maryland suburbs, including New Carrollton, to D.C.'s Union Station.

Additional regional buses: Check the schedules for Arlington County's ART bus, Alexandria's DASH bus or Prince George's County's The Bus.

Streetcar: The new D.C. Streetcar system runs from Union Station along H Street NE. Fares are currently free. Streetcars run about every 10-15 minutes. Learn more on how to ride here, or see the system map here.

Taxi: You can, of course, hail a cab on the street, but you can also order one online or by phone. DC.gov has a list of District taxi companies online here. Arlington County has seven authorized taxi companies; find them here. In Prince George's County, several cab companies are authorized to operate; contact info for the county's dispatch service is online here.

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