‘A big improvement’: Metro’s Red Line turnback ends

After more than a decade of planning, the Silver Spring Metro turnback ended Monday, a move officials hope will encourage more riders to use public transit and encourage redevelopment in the area.

Since 1984, every second Red Line train during rush hour turned back toward downtown at Silver Spring instead of heading all the way to Glenmont. That was done to address a shortage of rail cars, and meant that thousands of riders a day had to wait longer for trains to Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont.

Montgomery County council members, Metro officials and community leaders gathered outside the Wheaton Metro station to announce the change.

“You’re now going to have service at these three stations every four minutes instead of eight minutes during rush hour,” said Mike Goldman, a member of the Metro board of directors. “That’s a big improvement that these people have been looking for, for many years.”

Montgomery County Council member Tom Hucker at the announcement of the end of the Red Line turnaround Monday, July 1, 2019. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Commuter Marcus Hughes works two jobs, and for him, taking the Red Line has been a hassle: “You have to wait sometimes. It might say it’s going to Glenmont but it goes to Silver Spring.”

He said the change will make “a big difference” to his daily commute.

Council member Tom Hucker called the move a game-changer. “It’s really going to help drive the redevelopment of these areas as well,” he added.

The Yellow Line also ended turnbacks in May at Mt. Vernon Square and Fort Totten, doubling rush-hour service at nine stations between Shaw-Howard U. to Greenbelt.

Metro riders who buy passes will also now receive free bus service, and a new three-day pass gives riders more options.

Several passes have also seen price reductions, including a seven-day pass which will now cost $58 instead of $60.

“We’re really hoping that if we get the word out about this, more people will look at Metro who may have given up on Metro,” Hucker said.

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