What to do with Metro closed Wednesday

Metro rail is closed tomorrow. From midnight tonight until 5am Thursday morning, Metro will be closed to conduct inspections of approximately 600 jumper cables across the full rail system (all 91 stations will be closed). If you take Metro rail to get to work or school, you'll need to find a different way to get around.

Note that DC Public Schools are planning to remain open, but will excuse late arrivals and absences. OPM has said that Federal employees can telecommute or take excused leave (you have to admit, it's a good excuse for taking leave). Here's the DC gov information page on the Metro Closure. (#metrozilla?)

So, what to do if you plan on commuting?

Metro Bus will be running — plan for them to be crowded. There's the DC Circulator (assuming you can get to a pickup point), and if you haven't yet, maybe it's time to join Capital Bikeshare. If you're on H street, there's always the the DC Streetcar.  VRE and MARC trains will be running.

Capital Bikeshare will offer free 24-hour memberships at all 370 stations on Wednesday, March 16 beginning at 12 a.m. to better serve commuters looking for transportation during the Metrorail closure. Usage fees will still apply to all trips over 30 minutes. Visit any station kiosk and follow the prompts on the touch screen to access a free membership. 24-hour memberships will remain free at all stations until 11:59 p.m.

Then of course, you can grab a cab, Uber or Lyft... oofa, I can only image the surge pricing in DC tomorrow. (What's your credit limit?)

For Lyft, use code METROHELP for $20 off your first Lyft ride.  

Uber said they will have surge pricing in effect tomorrow, "In order to balance reliability with affordability, surge pricing will be capped for the duration of the closure." They suggest people try out UberPool, their ride-sharing option. They're offering up to $25 off your first ride with code "METRODC."

There's also new startup Split, where you can literally split a ride with other people going the same way as you. Check them out at split.us. They plan to put more drivers on the road tomorrow.

Bridj is also an option -- it's a rideshare / private bus that's relatively new to the area. Find out more on their website, bridj.com. (h/t gbrown)

And of course, you can always Walk. It might rain tomorrow though, so... maybe take a day off or work from home if you can. 

WMATA's press release is below...

From the WMATA press release:

Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, with support from the Authority's Board of Directors, today announced the full closure of the Metrorail system on Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections of the system's third-rail power cables following an early morning tunnel fire yesterday.

The inspections of approximately 600 "jumper cables" will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system. At the conclusion of the inspection process, there may be a need for additional rail service outages. Any further service impacts will be announced to the public as soon as they are known.

"While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately," Wiedefeld said. "When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause."

The Metrorail system will close at its normal time tonight (midnight) and remain closed until 5 a.m. Thursday. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday. 

The unprecedented action follows an early morning electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station yesterday. There were no injuries; however, service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day.

“The investigation into yesterday’s cable fire at McPherson Square is ongoing," Wiedefeld said.  “As a preliminary matter, the conditions appear disturbingly similar to those in the L’Enfant incident of a year ago, and our focus is squarely on mitigating any risk of a fire elsewhere on the system.” 

Metrobus and MetroAccess service will continue to operate on a regular schedule. Parking will be free in all Metro-owned lots and garages for customers who wish to take bus or carpool.

Alternate service options throughout the region will be extremely limited, and severe crowding is expected on buses. Consider the following alternates

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

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