WASHINGTON — Metro now closes at midnight on weekends, rather than 3 a.m., for the foreseeable future, and Metro’s general manager said Wednesday that there are no plans to offer additional backup options for riders who had relied on the late-night service.
“No. The current bus system we have out there … deals with it five days of the week so I think it can deal with it for seven days,” Paul Wiedefeld said.
While some bus routes do include service after midnight, many routes either do not run at all or run shorter distances. The late-night routes do not cover the entire area served by the rail system, and many stop well before 3 a.m.
Some riders do have options for an hour or two after midnight, such as the 38B for those who need to get from the Farragut area along the Orange Line to Ballston, or the J2 for Maryland riders who need to get between Montgomery Mall, Medical Center, Bethesda and Silver Spring.
“We close down every night except Friday and Saturday … Thursday nights are very busy in the region as well, and people do adjust,” Wiedefeld said after meeting with regional leaders at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The midnight shutdowns are meant to give Metro maintenance staff hundreds of additional hours to work on stations and tracks. They also will save Metro the costs of operating the service.
Ridership has fallen significantly across the system, including after midnight, when track work has reduced trains to once every 20 to 30 minutes on a regular basis even as riders pay peak fares.
Wiedefeld said Metro now carries about 2,500 riders per hour between midnight and 3 a.m. on weekends, mostly in the early part of that period.
“Think of the tens of thousands of people we move during peak period that, in effect, get impacted by not having those hours available to the track — I just think it makes a lot of sense,” he said of the weekend shutdown.
The midnight closings are slated to last for at least a year, but Metro’s board of directors could make them permanent.
In addition to the early closings on weekends, Metro said it will not open early or stay open late for any events such as races or playoff games.
WTOP is tracking Metro’s 24/7 work through March 2017 with guides to help riders find alternatives during each work zone, some of which will last weeks.