ROCKVILLE – At least one County Council member says any recommendations the council may offer commuters while Metro repairs the Red Line could “ring hollow.”
County Council member Roger Berliner said during the County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee local residents should consider alternatives to commuting via Metro.
“I feel we’re just (pleading) to everybody else and not doing it ourselves, that just rings pretty hollow,” he told Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) and Council member Tom Hucker (D-5).
Montgomery County Council members are encouraging residents to telecommute or use transportation alternatives in order to reduce demand on mass transit while Metro crews repair the Red line in August, October and November.
“I have found that our County’s resistance to teleworking has been very strong,” said Berliner Thursday.
Metrobus, Ride On and Marc Train will provide extra transit options during three Red line repair projects planned as part of Metro’s SafeTrack initiative.
Ride On director Al Roshdieh warned about there not being enough buses to meet an increased demand.
“We probably don’t have enough buses in the region to support the number (of passenger trips) being lost,” said Roshdieh.
Montgomery County spokesperson Lorraine Driscoll said the County Council’s plan for providing support during SafeTrack projects is not final.
She pointed out Metro said some of the project schedules might change, which could affect how County officials plan too.
Floreen said she thought the number of people teleworking during the first two safety surges made a difference in Metro’s ability to transport riders during single-tracking and station shutdowns.
“There’s been much frustration with Metro recently,” she said. “I think everybody (in Montgomery County) is getting ready for a sea change,” she added.
More repairs are coming for the Red line in August, October and November:
$1· Surge 6, Aug. 1-7: Metro will single track Red line stations between the Takoma and Silver Spring station. Wiedefeld told riders to not ride Metro and not to travel during rush hour that week. He encouraged riders traveling between Ft. Totten and Downtown Washington, D.C. to use the Green line. Red line trains between Glenmont and Grosvenor are scheduled to run every 12 minutes and from Shady Grove to NoMa every six minutes.
$1· Surge 7, Aug. 9-18: Red line trains are scheduled to run between Shady Grove and Rockville every 18 minutes (about three trains per hour) during continuous single tracking. Wiedefeld advised riders to board at Twinbrook, White Flint or Grosvenor rather than Shady Grove or Rockville during the 10-day project.
$1· Surge 10, Oct. 10-Nov. 1: Metro officials project the 23-day shutdown of the Red line stations between Brookland-CUA and Rhode Island Avenue is projected to create the greatest loss of passenger trips of SafeTrack. With a loss of approximately 108,000 weekday passenger trips, Wiedefeld predicted severe overcrowding on trains during rush hour.
From Aug. 1-7, Metro is set to provide additional bus trips on routes S9, 79, 80 and 60/62.
Riders who need to travel through the District during the shutdown in October can switch to the Green Line, Metro spokesperson Morgan Dye said.
Riders can also take a Metro shuttle between Fort Totten and NoMa stations if they need to access one of the closed stations directly.
“The buses will be the primary alternative for customers traveling to/from two closed stations: Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue,” said Dye.
Ride On is slated to offer free shuttles every 10 minutes during peak travel times during each project.
$1· Silver Spring to Fort Totten stations (connect to Metro’s Green Line), with service at Takoma Station
$1· Grosvenor to Friendship Heights with stops at Medical Center and Bethesda
$1· Between Grosvenor and Shady Grove stations via Interstate 270
$1· Between Silver Spring Transit Center and Fort Totten Station via Takoma Station along Blair Road
$1· Ride On will supplement WMATA’s bus bridge between Fort Totten and NoMa-Galludet Universtity Station
In addition, for SafeTrack 7, Ride On will supply enough buses for the 46 bus to run every 10 minutes during peak travel times, for the standard bus fare. The line runs from Grosvenor to Rockville and stops at White Flint and Twinbrook.
Metro Chief Operating Officer Jack Requa, who served as Interim General Manager last year, told County Council members and transportation officials they need to tell riders taking the Green Line is not the only solution available.
“I know its impact in Montgomery County but the system is 40 years old,” said Requa.
Wiedefeld said Tuesday a portion of riders must telecommute for each SafeTrack project to be successful.
The first two safety surges resulted in a decrease in ridership at the affected stations, which reduced overcrowding.
Wiedefeld said buses could not accommodate the number of passenger trips lost. He applauded employers who allowed their staff to telecommute or have flexible schedules to travel outside of rush hour.
Roshdieh sent a letter to Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn requesting the Maryland Transit Administration fund more railcars for Marc train fleets.
“In addition to our $447 million in annual capital and operating investments in Metro, MDOT is actively monitoring and responding to each phase of WMATA’s SafeTrack rail closures,” Rahn said.
Rahn said he agreed to add cars to existing fleets on the Camden and Brunswick lines “as needed” but said there was insufficient notice for SafeTrack to plan extra fleets.M
Montgomery County buses will supplement Metrobuses between shut down stations for the October to November shutdown, Rushdieh said.
Providing free Ride On shuttles for each Safety Surge will cost the County about $350,000, according to County staff.
However, they said that total could reach $1 million if the County opts to add even more buses.