WASHINGTON — Metro fare increases, cuts to service hours and reduced rush hour service have taken effect.
Metro is scaling back operating hours. Rush-hour rail fares and many parking fees rise 10 cents. Off-peak rail fares and most bus fares go up 25 cents.
The rail system’s new operating hours is the single most important thing riders need to know so they don’t find themselves stranded, said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld.
Sundays: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (used to be 7 a.m. to midnight)
Mondays through Thursdays: 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (used to be 5 a.m. to midnight)
Fridays: 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. (used to be 5 a.m. to 3 a.m., for the past year has closed at midnight)
Saturdays: 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (used to be 7 a.m. to 3 a.m., for the past year has closed at midnight)
Note: The last trains leave end-of-line stations up to 50 minutes before the official closing time.
Service reductions to a number of bus routes and reduced rush hour service begin on Sunday, too.
“There are a lot of moving parts here, so we’re working very hard to get this as smooth as possible. But I’m sure that there will be some issues that we’ll work through next week as we set this up,” Wiedefeld said.
Will riders notice rush hour rail service cuts?
For riders, the elimination of the Yellow Line Rush Plus may be the biggest change in rush hour service. Under Metro’s new rush hour service plan, riders will see the greatest reduction in service between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza and between Mount Vernon Square and Greenbelt.
Across the system, Metro trains will now be scheduled every 8 minutes at the end of each line rather than every 6 minutes. But Wiedefeld acknowledged that riders often didn’t see the level of service promised.
“We were not able to deliver what we were advertising,” Wiedefeld said Thursday.
“For lots of reasons, over time, we had gotten to that point. We had made poor assumptions,” he said. “I think it’s more important for the customer to know when the train’s coming and that it’s there, so that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
Wiedefeld again promised service would now become more reliable.
Get what you expect?
Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans promised that the system would continue to improve on Thursday — just one day before two separate electrical problems on the Red Line shut down segments of the system’s busiest line during the morning rush.
“Every day, every week, every month it will get better,” Evans said. “It’s not where I want it to be [with] reliability. I still have qualms about myself getting on Metro if I’m going to get to where I’m trying to get on time.”
In the meantime, rail ridership continues to drop.
“We have to continue to do better and make sure our customers understand what we’re doing; and hopefully we’ll get some of them back,” Evans said.
Wiedefeld hopes to have a better idea this fall when ridership trends might turn around.
In addition to rail service cuts, Metro is cutting or modifying a number of bus routes.
“We do have to recognize that there are cost issues and there are routes that perform poorer than others. And at some point, what is that balance?” Wiedefeld said.
See the full list of Metrobus and other upcoming transit changes here: Transit fare hikes, schedule changes to start across region.