Metro eyes next phase of reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic

FILE – In this March 31, 2020, file photo, a man walks past Metro’s Federal Center Southwest station, closed due to reduced ridership in response to the coronavirus, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Metro service appears set to ramp up later this summer. Metro is currently operating at about 35% of normal peak service, with plans to jump to 70 to 80% levels in its next reopening phase.

Speaking at Metro’s Board of Directors meeting Thursday, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said that the next phase could now start between mid-August and mid-September. A time frame of August to October had previously been given.

Wiedefeld said they expect to be able to give more specifics next month “as we gather more information, particularly on school openings and employer openings, and not only that they’re opening but how many people they anticipate coming to work.”

This month, Metro is reopening its trains’ first and last rail cars, when possible, to allow for better social distancing among riders. Those cars had been closed to protect workers.

Metro has been dealing with a sharp downturn in ridership during the pandemic. In April, rail ridership dropped 94% compared to the previous year, while bus ridership dropped 84%, Metro said.

But Metro leaders said that in May, more Metrorail customers ventured out to see friends or family using the system, although work trips remained little changed.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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