As the entire nation grapples with the widespread threat of COVID-19, local transit operators are tasked with taking extra precautions.
Here in the DMV, as many residents stay inside amid quarantine recommendations, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Pandemic Task Force has escalated its response to Phase 3, which is the highest level of response during a public health emergency. In addition to increasing cleaning procedures, adding essential supplies like hand sanitizer and gloves to front-line employees and implementing mandatory telework for most job functions, WMATA recently announced a further reduction in service levels and hours, effective Wednesday, March 18.
“To be clear, Metro intends to be there to provide service for essential trips in our community—as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a press release. “If everyone does their part and stays home whenever possible, Metro will be there for hospital staff and other heroes who need us at this unprecedented moment in our lives.”
While the cherry blossoms are expected to be in full bloom this week, Metro’s Task Force is urging the public to avoid traveling to the Tidal Basin, as it limits transit capacity for doctors, nurses and essential governmental functions. Metro announced on Thursday, March 19 that it would close the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery Stations, effective at 5 p.m. to discourage the use of Metro to visit the cherry blossoms.
On its Twitter platform, Metro has been complimenting local riders for avoiding trains and buses, promoting only essential travel across the region. As of March 17, Metro’s ridership dropped 79% from the same day in 2019, which they applauded with a, “Keep it going!”
As updates surrounding the novel coronavirus continue to develop every day, WMATA may change its current procedures, which we will note here.
Below, find detailed notes on Metro’s new schedule, and other steps the organization has taken to protect the community.
- Trains will operate every 20 minutes on all lines except Red Line.
- Red Line trains will operate every 15 minutes.
- Stations serviced by multiple lines will see trains arrive every 7-10 minutes.
- Hours include weekdays from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., as well as 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Metro buses will operate on a Sunday schedule.
- All public restroom access across the system is closed.