SEABROOK — Orange Line riders in the county will once again need to find alternate transportation thanks to SafeTrack. Washington Metropolitain Area Trasit Authority announced on Friday that SafeTrack Surge 15 will impact Prince George’s County from May 15 – June 16. All of the Orange Line stations in Prince George’s County – New Carrollton, […]
SEABROOK — Orange Line riders in the county will once again need to find alternate transportation thanks to SafeTrack.
Washington Metropolitain Area Trasit Authority announced on Friday that SafeTrack Surge 15 will impact Prince George’s County from May 15 – June 16. All of the Orange Line stations in Prince George’s County – New Carrollton, Landover and Cheverly – along with Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue stations in the District of Columbia, will be closed for a month.
“In order to minimize the customer impact elsewhere on the system and to maximize productivity, the surges, which were originally planned as continuous single tracking, will instead be ‘line segment shutdowns,’ where buses will replace trains at selected stations,” Metro said in a press release.
The agency will also be altering some train schedules during the surge. Orange Line trains usually running to and from New Carrollton will now operate between Largo Town Center and Vienna, every six to eight minutes during rush. Meanwhile, the frequency of Silver Line trains, which will run between Wiehle-Reston East and Stadium Armory, will decrease from every six minutes to every 12 minutes during rush.
Blue Line trains from Largo Town Center to Franconia-Springfield will be unaffected.
Commuters who usually use the affected stations are encouraged to find alternative means of transportation, for example by parking at the Greenbelt or Largo Town Center stations. But for customers unable to make the change, Metro says it will be replacing trains with “limited, free shuttle bus service” to and from the closed stations.
Sherry Ly, media relations manager for Metro, said the agency will be reaching out to riders affected by the changes to make sure they are aware of the planned closure and can make other arrangements.
“Metro conducts extensive outreach for every surge including in-person outreach and signage at stations, MetroAlerts email and text messages, social media, broadcast and print media, and Metro’s website,” she said. “We have also worked closely with Prince George’s County, (Maryland Department of Transportation) and District of Columbia officials on planning for Surge 15 to ensure residents are notified of any potential impacts and alternative travel options.”
This is not the first time Prince George’s County commuters have been impacted by SafeTrack. The current surge, which runs through May 15, has closed the Greenbelt and, for the first two weeks, College Park stations on the Green Line. Last summer, from June 18 – July 3, the Potomac Avenue and Stadium Armory stations were closed on the Orange Line.
At the time, County Executive Rushern Baker, III urged residents to find alternative ways into the District if they have to travel there.
“We have some of the highest numbers of federal employees in the county, and those federal employees and other employees who work in the district take Metro. So it’s very important for us during these times when they’re doing SafeTrack that we figure out ways for them to be able to get back and forth from their jobs in the region,” he said on June 9.
Residents adjusted their commuting habits to accommodate the shutdown. Metro figures saw ridership originating from the stations east of the closure fall by as much as 74 percent during the first two days of the surge.
SafeTrack is an aggressive maintenance program pushed by General Manager Paul Wiedefeld meant to condense three years’ worth of backlogged preventative maintenance work into one year. It began last year on June 4 with the closure of the Virginia side of the Orange Line, between East Falls Church and Ballston.
Metro says the system’s typical operating hours in recent years mean it is open 135 out of 168 hours per week, which does not provide enough time for maintenance staff to work on the tracks. SafeTrack was designed to give them that time to complete a variety of work including inspecting power cables, replacing switches and crossties, renewing grout pads and more.
Moving forward, Metro is shortening its operating hours to allow for consistent maintenance time without having to use these shutdowns. The new rail hours, from 5 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 5 a.m. – 1 a.m. on Fridays, 7 a.m. – 1 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Sundays, will take effect in late June.