Washington’s Metrobus service will return to near pre-pandemic levels of operation starting Sunday, more than doubling its buses on the road over five months since coronavirus shutdowns took hold.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said 174 weekday routes will see improvements on bus frequency and hours of operation starting Sunday, Aug. 23. Many buses will once again operate earlier and run for longer, hitting the road around 4 a.m. and ending at midnight daily, the transit agency said Tuesday.
Weekends will see the most dramatic surge in service, with Metro touting a 90% restoration of pre-pandemic Saturday and Sunday service. Until now, only 29 weekends routes had been operating as what Metro called “lifelines.”
Among buses resuming weekend service are routes connecting hospitals to nearby Metrorail stations, which WMATA said will eliminate the need for the hospital shuttles it had been operating as part of its COVID-19 response.
The agency anticipates these changes will return Metrobus to approximately 75% of its functionality before service was curtailed in March to protect riders and drivers during the initial outbreak. In addition to routes currently in service, 58 routes will be brought back on weekdays, 82 more on Saturdays and 72 more on Sundays.
Riders and drivers will still be required to practice social distancing and pandemic etiquette, with masks or cloth face coverings remaining mandatory in all buses and trains. For now, customers who do not need assistance boarding will still have to enter and exit via the rear door.
In the Virginia suburbs, Arlington Transit also is setting its sight on Aug. 23 for a hike in services. Buses 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will switch to a regular Sunday schedule and a regular weekday timetable the following day, in addition to routes 43, 77, 52 and 84.
ART buses 53, 61, 62 and 74 will remain out of service.
Fairfax Connector is bringing full service back to all of its routes on Aug. 29, in addition to a new commuter route from the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride to near L’Enfant Plaza in Southwest D.C. and enhanced bus frequency on select routes during morning and afternoon rush.
Montgomery County, Maryland, brought expanded service Aug. 2 to all 79 of its Ride On and Ride On Extra routes.
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