Lack of bus information upsets transit advocates
Metro fails to give shutdown alternatives
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.