Concern, frustration following Metrorail shutdowns


If getting around town via Metrorail was not already a nightmare, it is about to become one.

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans announced on March 30 that technical issues that have long plagued the Washington public transit system have reached the point where certain lines may have to close for up to six months.

“People will go crazy,” Evans said. “But there are going to be hard decisions that have to be made in order to get this fixed.”

On Wed., March 16, Metro suspended all rail service for emergency track inspections, increasing congestion in a region USA Today ranked as having the worst traffic in the nation.

Senior Joe Sukinik expressed concern on an extended Metro shutdown, citing increased road traffic as an immediate consequence.

“It is better to fix Metro in segments so that everyone’s lives are not thrown off at once,” Sukinik said. “Do you know how much traffic there’s going to be?”

In an attempt to minimize concerns following Evans’ announcement, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld later clarified the comments.

“I don’t see anything that would require anything near a six month shutdown,” Wiedefeld said. “If we had more time in the evening hours, that would help tremendously.”

Senior Sonja Neve, a regular rider of the Red Line into Washington, expressed frustration at the rail system as a whole.

“On weekends I have to wait forever for a train to come,” Neve said. “Every single weekend they’ve been single tracking.”

The Red Line, which passes through the Walter Johnson cluster, has already been worked on and is unlikely to be shut down, Evans said.

Metro also requested an additional $1 billion in funding in an attempt to rectify the system’s deficiencies which include unsafe electric cables and broken escalators.