SILVER SPRING, Md. — As Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance project winds down to its final months, workers with the rail system have launched a public-relations campaign, reaching out to riders and hoping to attract customers they lost during the yearlong maintenance blitz.
Employees with Metro’s largest union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, stood outside the Silver Spring station Tuesday morning and handed out hundreds of free $10 Metro SmarTrip cards.
“The union decided to try and get the riders back,” said Esker Bilger, financial secretary-treasurer for ATU Local 689.
Bilger lamented the fact that Metro told customers that they should find other means of commuting and stop riding the system during SafeTrack.
“Metro’s done an excellent job to ask riders to stay away, and we need to find a way to promote Metro in a positive image,” he said.
“We believe if the riders come back, we can get the No. 1 transit system in the country again.”
“I think this is good,” said Anna Doroshaw, one of the riders who received a free card. “Having the employees come out and show that they really care about the system and about the riders is important. Metro has a lot of hard work to do to win back ridership.”
Another passenger, Alphonzo Brown, said he thinks the giveaway is the union’s way of apologizing.
“This is awesome,” he said. “It encourages more people just to take a step back and continue riding.”
SafeTrack, Metro’s plan to address safety recommendations and rehabilitate the system, is expected to end this summer. It started in June of 2016 and, according to Metro’s website, the last round of work will happen sometime in June of this year.
Currently, track work is impacting the Green Line with closures at the Greenbelt and College Park — University of Maryland stations through April 29. Only the Greenbelt station will be shut down from April 30 through May 14.
There is work scheduled from mid-May through June on the Orange Line between the Minnesota Avenue and New Carrollton stations. The last round of SafeTrack work is scheduled for June on the Red Line between Shady Grove and Twinbrook.