Metro to reduce workforce, bus schedule in response to COVID surge

Metro will reduce service schedules and its workforce beginning Monday, Jan. 10, amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

In a statement from Metro’s Pandemic Taskforce on Tuesday, officials cited growing absenteeism among its workers due to COVID illness and exposure as the main factor behind the decision.

“Scaling back service will ensure customers who rely on Metrobus, Metrorail and MetroAccess for transportation have a more reliable schedule,” said CEO/GM Paul Wiedefeld.

“Metro employees live in some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic and are exposed to the surge in the region and throughout the nation. It’s important that the taskforce take steps to make Metro operationally sound to meet the needs of our customers.”

According to the release, Metro will operate as follows:
  • Metrorail will continue to operate on all lines as scheduled, with customers experiencing more frequent service at stations served by multiple lines.
  • Metrobus will reduce service on weekdays to a Saturday schedule with additional trips on some routes, which is roughly 75% of regular Metrobus service and protects key routes that serve hospitals, grocery stores and other essential destinations.
    • Bus operators will be permitted to bypass customers not wearing masks for their health and safety.
    • Metrobus customers are advised to consider alternative sources of transportation like Metrorail.
  • MetroAccess will reduce shared rides, but will increase accessibility rides. You can find more information about MetroAccess service on the WMATA website.

For Metro employees, updated testing and vaccination protocols will also go into effect on Monday. Current weekly testing requirements will remain in place as officials consider test kit availability and a more frequent testing schedule.

On Jan. 16, Metro employees who have not complied with testing and vaccination policies will be placed on unpaid suspension.

“Employees will have 30 days to comply or be subject to termination of employment,” Metro said.

Metro employees will also have to update their booster shot status on the agency’s COVID portal beginning Jan. 31.

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Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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