Lack of bus in­for­ma­tion upsets tran­sit ad­vo­cates

Metro fails to give shut­down al­ter­na­tives

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY JU­LIA AIREY

Metro Gen­eral Man­ager Paul Wiede­feld up­dated re­gional lead­ers on tran­sit sys­tem projects Wed­nes­day, but con­spic­u­ously did not men­tion Metro’s plan for how riders will get around when cer­tain sub­way sta­tions soon shut down for re­pairs.

Metro plans to close the Rhode Is­land Av­enueBrent­wood and the Brook­land-CUA sta­tions from July 21 to Sept. 3 for re­pairs, with no Red Line trains run­ning be­tween the Fort Totten and NoMa–Gal­laudet U sta­tions for 45 days. The re­pair plan was an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary.

Ed Gar­nett, an Ad­vi­sory Neigh­bor­hood Com­mis­sioner for Ward 5, said he’s “frus­trated” by wait­ing for de­tails on trans­porta­tion al­ter­na­tives. For the past three months, he has di­rected let­ter-writ­ing cam­paigns and pe­ti­tions to Metro and the District De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DDOT) ask­ing for bus-only lanes and other al­ter­na­tives dur­ing the sta­tion clo­sures.

“We’re now es­sen­tially a month away, and I haven’t per­son­ally seen the de­tails about the shut­tle or the bus lane,” Mr. Gar­nett told The Wash­ing­ton Times dur­ing a phone call on Wed­nes­day. “This isn’t some high-tech so­lu­tion. We don’t need to wait for a street­car or spend bil­lions ex­tend­ing the Metro.”

Mr. Wiede­feld, who up­dated the Metropoli­tan Wash­ing­ton Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments on Wed­nes­day, told The Times that Metro is “work­ing with DDOT right now on the Rhode Is­land [Av­enue] clo­sure, so that’s one area where we may see [a bus lane].”

“I’m happy they’re con­sid­er­ing it,” Mr. Gar­nett said. “I would love to see the de­tails.”

DDOT did not re­spond to re­quests for in­for­ma­tion.

D.C. Coun­cilmem­ber Kenyan R. McDuffie, Ward 5 Demo­crat, wrote last month to Metro to re­quest ded­i­cated bus lanes, as well as ex­pand the G9 bus ser­vice’s hours dur­ing the shut­down.

Mr. Wiede­feld replied two weeks later that Metro does plan to ex­tend G9’s hours and that he had “pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions” with DDOT about ded­i­cated bus lanes. “We hope to fi­nal­ize those plans in the near fu­ture,” he said in his May 18th let­ter.

Mr. McDuffie told The Times in an email on Wed­nes­day: “In talk­ing with Ward 5 res­i­dents and small busi­ness own­ers, we all rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of safety to the Metro­Rail sys­tem, and we want it fixed. How­ever, [Metro] also has an obli­ga­tion to mit­i­gate dis­rup­tions to res­i­dents and com­mu­ni­cate their plans clearly and quickly to the im­pacted com­mu­ni­ties.”

In the mean­time, the tran­sit agency ap­pears to be eye­ing other modes of tran­sit to re­place Metro­rail ser­vice as the agency em­barks on its $400 mil­lion, three-year plan to re­pair and re­build 20 sta­tion plat­forms.

“I want to be cre­ative,” Mr. Wiede­feld told re­porters, say­ing that buses and private part­ner­ships with rideshar­ing com­pa­nies like Lyft and Uber are all on the table.

“This is time for us to look at some dif­fer­ent boat op­tions,” he added, re­fer­ring to a pro­posal for a fast com­muter ferry be­tween Vir­ginia and the District.


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