NEW CARROLLTON – Weeks of warnings from county and Metro officials have been heeded by Prince George’s commuters, who have adapted their transportation plans in the face of a two-week-long shutdown of rail segments on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines into the District of Columbia. County Council Chair Derrick Davis said while the shutdown […]
NEW CARROLLTON – Weeks of warnings from county and Metro officials have been heeded by Prince George’s commuters, who have adapted their transportation plans in the face of a two-week-long shutdown of rail segments on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines into the District of Columbia.
County Council Chair Derrick Davis said while the shutdown was inconvenient, the repairs to the rail infrastructure were necessary to ensure rider safety.
“While this process clearly inconveniences those who rely on Metro to travel to and from Prince George’s County to Washington D.C. and surrounding areas, these long overdue repairs and upgrades are necessary to protect the welfare of our residents,” he said. “It is better to endure temporary inconveniences in order to ensure long term safety and avoid future tragedies. We thank county workers, residents and visitors for their patience.”
According to figures released by Metro on social media, on Monday, June 20 (the first work day of maintenance Surge 2), ridership during the morning rush hours for stations east of the closure at the Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road stations was down 65 percent compared to the comparable Monday last year. Ridership at College Park and Greenbelt stations on the Green and Yellow lines (which were unaffected by the surge) increased by 33 and 23 percent, respectively.
On Tuesday, June 21, ridership at the affected stations was down even more, about 74 percent according to Metro’s Twitter. Greenbelt saw ridership increases of 34 percent and College Park of 20 percent.
A Metro spokesman said the transit agency was not releasing additional data on ridership numbers beyond what was shared on Twitter.
The figures are greeted as good news by Metro, as the agency had been joining with county and District of Columbia government officials for weeks leading up to the shutdown to urge riders to find other methods of transportation or telework if possible.
However, not all commuters had the option.
Tyler Chambers, of Bowie, just started a new job. He opted to take the train at New Carrollton and use Metro’s bus bridge to bypass the closed stations last Thursday, he said.
“It went okay. It was a little confusing, but as long as you adjust, you can handle it,” he said, adding that he left for work earlier than usual.
Chambers felt commuters got adequate notice of the shutdown and had time to prepare.
“They had a lot of signs and Google Maps tells you,” he said.
Cheverly resident Win Jenkins-Ford also opted to use Metro’s buses for the first day of the surge, but said the experience was chaotic.
“The buses were way too crowded on the way in, and it was even worse on the way home,” she said. “It was hard to even get on. I had to wait for three buses.”
Jenkins-Ford had heard on the news about the free shuttle service provided by the county to transport riders from New Carrollton to Greenbelt, and decided to try that.
“It’s really nice. I felt like I was being chauffeured,” she said. “It wasn’t crowded at all, and I only had to wait six minutes.”
The buses run on an express service every six minutes during the morning and evening commutes and every 12 minutes in the middle of the day. The University of Maryland’s Department Of Transportation Services partnered with the county to provide the shuttle.
On June 19, the county also announced the addition of free, express shuttle service from the Largo Metro station, which serves the Blue and Silver lines, to the Suitland station on the Green line during the 10 work days of the surge. Ten buses would be on the service from 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. on a load-and-go basis, while five buses would operate from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
“The idea was to really try and alleviate some of the traffic that would be going to the lines that were cut off,” County Executive Rushern Baker III said. “Adding this other bus is another commitment for the residents of Prince George’s County to make sure that during this crisis, we can get people to their jobs as quickly as possible.”
Jenkins-Ford said she believed the New Carrollton shuttle did its job of making the commute easier.
“I’m very happy. I wish it was an option permanently,” she said.
However, she said she is still looking forward to the end of Surge 2 this weekend.
“I think we’ve been dealing with issues regarding delays and maintenance for a while, regardless of what it’s called now,” she said. “It’s a very ongoing process.”