Some transit services in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are making significant changes to their schedules and have stepped up cleaning efforts in response to the new coronavirus.
Major Metro service cuts
Metro will reduce service for the upcoming week, March 30 – April 5, as ridership declines 92% compared to this point last year.
Trains will now run every 15 minutes on the Red Line and every 20 minutes on all other lines. Weekday hours are still 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.
On March 26, Metro decided to close more than a dozen stations for an indefinite period . The Smithsonian and Arlington National cemetery stations were already closed the previous week.
Trains will pass through the stations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia without stopping, but trains will serve the stations that are open. Find out which stations are closed.
Metro also made some service changes in its weekend service. Trains will now operate every 30 minutes on all lines, and the hours remain 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29, Metro will operate a core network of 26 “lifeline” bus routes, as well as having twice-hourly rail service for essential travel needs. Find out which buses routes are running.
Metro is making the changes due to staffing shortages amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, Metro said it is running all eight-car trains — the maximum possible length — “to help maintain social distancing between customers.”
Metrobuses are running on a Sunday schedule with no supplemental routes. Bus drivers will have the authority to bypass bus stops to “maintain safe social distancing aboard buses,” Metro said.
MetroBuses are also taking additional action to enhance safety for its drivers by implementing rear-door boarding across the entire system.
Bus riders are asked to enter and exit the bus using the rear door at all times, except anyone needing the ADA boarding ramp, or anyone requesting the bus to “kneel” to ease their boarding.
Metro is waiving fare payment for Metrobus customers at this time.
Metro’s pandemic task force has urged the public to not take Metro to get to the cherry blossoms in order to keep Metro’s limited capacity available for essential travel, which it cited as travel by doctors, nurses, essential government personnel and others.
“Metro reserves the right to close stations near the Tidal Basin at any time to reduce the use of Metro for tourist trips,” the transit agency said in a statement.
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Other train service
- Virginia Railway Express: Starting March 17, VRE is cutting back to an S schedule indefinitely due to the coronavirus-related drop in ridership.
- Maryland MARC: MARC trains are operating on an “R” schedule starting March 17. MaRC encourages riders to only use the service for essential trips, such as trips to work, to the doctor and to the grocery store, among others. Only trains with an “R” under the train number will operate, with the following additional service:
- Penn Line: Train 403 (4:45 a.m. departure from Penn Station) will operate. Train 502 (6:10 a.m. departure from Washington) will operate and will make all stops. Train 453 (9:37 p.m. departure from Penn Station) will operate. Train 452 (10:55 p.m. departure from Washington) will operate.
- Brunswick Line: Train 872 (5 a.m. departure from Martinsburg) will operate and will make all stops, except Monocacy and Frederick. Train 875 (4:25 p.m. departure from Washington) will continue west of Brunswick to Harpers Ferry, Duffields and Martinsburg. Train 877 (4:55 p.m. departure from Washington) will operate.
- In addition, ticket offices at Odenton and Frederick will be closed until further notice, but the waiting room and ticket machine will be accessible at Odenton. Ticket counter sales at Baltimore Penn, BWI, New Carrollton and Washington Union Stations can no longer accept cash. You can use the MARC machines to buy tickets or buy mobile tickets.
- Amtrak: Northeast Corridor services are operating at about 40% of their typical weekday schedule. Northeast Regional and Acela lines will still operate between Boston, New York, and D.C., but with some reductions in frequencies for certain markets. Nonstop Acela service between D.C. and New York is canceled through late May.
- DC Circulator: Late-night service has been temporarily suspended through the end of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s declared public emergency in effect through April 24. Service is suspended on the National Mall Route. The District Department of Transportation is also suspending fares on all Circulator routes and giving riders the option of getting on the bus through the rear door to encourage social distancing.
- MTA Maryland Commuter Bus: Operating on an “S” schedule only. For Metro Subway in Baltimore, Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule on weekdays. The entrance to the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center from Johns Hopkins station is closed until further notice. See all MTA transit changes here.
- A number of commuter bus routes will be suspended indefinitely starting Monday, April 6. Generally, they serve long-distance commutes such as BWI to Gaithersburg, Kent Island to Washington, D.C., Columbia to Bethesda and more. The full list is available here.
- MTA Express BusLink Service: Starting April, the MTA is temporarily discontinuing 11 routes that recently experienced an average of 82% decline in ridership. These routes include all nine peak-hour Express BusLink routes and LocalLinks 38 and 92, which primarily serve schools that are now closed.
- Ride On and Ride On extra: Beginning March 30, Ride On bus service will be reduced to an Essential Service Plan. Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation expects buses will be delayed and encourages users to check the status of their usual buses before leaving for their bus stop. Ride On follows a new reduced service plan that maintains coverage of Ride On routes so that residents can access food, essential services and essential jobs. Passengers are now required to board at the rear door of the bus. Passengers can board through the front doors if a lift is needed to accommodate a disability or stroller. During the emergency, all Ride On services will be temporarily free to all passengers. Flex service is suspended.
- The Bus: The Prince George’s County system will suspend routes 11, 12, 14, 15x, 21x, 22, 23, 25, 27, 34, 35s, 51 and 53 while running reduced service on 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 32. The routes still running will be free. Riders will only be allowed to enter using the rear doors, to limit contact with the driver. However, exceptions will be made for people with disabilities or those with strollers.
- DASH: Effective March 30, buses will operate on an enhanced Sunday schedule during weekdays and Saturdays and will suspend its King Street Trolley. AT-2X and AT-6 will both suspend service as well, with AT-2 being the alternative for AT-2X and AT-5 and AT-9 being the alternate for AT-6. Routes AT-7 and AT-8 will shuttle metro riders who typically use either the Van Dorn or Eisenhower stations, which are both currently closed, to the still-open King Street station. Dash is still eliminating fares on all buses until further notice and is switch to rear-door boarding.
- ART: Operating on a reduced schedule. ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55, 77 and 87 are running on a Saturday schedule. ART 42 and 87 will end at the Pentagon instead of Pentagon City, ART 45 will start an hour early at 6:30 a.m. and ART 43 will run every 20 minutes from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. along its weekday route. All other routes are suspended. STAR service is running as normal.
- PRTC OmniRide: Local and Metro Express services will be free to limit interactions between the driver, fare box and riders. OmniRide Express services will still have fares, but there will not be a cash option or the option to reload a SmarTrip with cash on a bus. The main lobby of the OmniRide Transit Center is also closed.
- FRED Transit‘s VRE Feeder Bus Service to operate on an “S” schedule. VQ1 and D6 will not operate.
DMV and MVA
On Friday, March 20, at 4:30 p.m., all the MDOT MVA locations closed indefinitely. All appointments after that date were canceled and all driver’s licenses are extended for 30 days after the lifting of Maryland’s state of emergency. Some services, however, can still be completed online.
All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles offices are closed to the public. The DMV typically serves about 25,000 people a day, but about 75% of transactions can be done online.
E-ZPass Virginia walk-in service centers will be closed through April 1.
The Maryland Transportation Authority moved to all-cashless tolling statewide to limit interaction between the public and toll collectors. In the lanes normally set aside for cash payment, there will be video tolling. Drivers who usually pay with cash will instead be mailed notices.
D.C. is changing reversible road rules to keep Connecticut Avenue and 16th Street Northwest in weekend mode at all times. Independence Avenue will still run with weekday lane reversals though.
One-way rush hour reversals are still taking place on Rock Creek Parkway, Canal Road and Clara Barton Parkway.
As part of these changes, the District is not going to enforce rush hour parking restrictions until further notice.
In Virginia, it’s business as usual when it comes to construction work, maintenance, HOV rules and lane closures. Virginia rest areas remain open — with extra disinfecting.
The Dulles Greenway will have no cash toll collection effective Thursday, April 2nd. Motorists traveling on the road must pay with a credit card or EZ-Pass transponder.
Parking meter rules do still apply in D.C.
D.C. and Alexandria have already halted street sweeping.
Alexandria is also waiving time restrictions for the general public in all residential parking zones as well as the rule requiring cars parked on the street to be moved every 72 hours.
Alexandria will also waive the requirements to display a valid state inspection sticker.
Weekend time restrictions and meter fees on blocks with pay stations have been suspended on weekends in Alexandria, but weekday fees and restrictions remain.
Several localities are expanding loading zones to handle increases in pickups, takeout orders and deliveries.
Montgomery county, Maryland said drivers are encouraged to follow normal rules when parking during coronavirus closures. Restricted area parking violations, disabled parking and safety-related violations will be strictly enforced.
However, parking meter enforcement has been relaxed in areas where businesses remain open for quick pickups. This includes restaurants, pharmacies and grocery stores.
Enforcement has been suspended in residential permit zones with non-metered, on-street parking.
Free temporary parking will be available at the Bonifant/Dixon Garage in Silver Spring and the Auburn/Del Ray Garage in Bethesda, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation said.
WTOP’s Max Smith contributed to this report.
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