Beginning next week, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) customers will be able to bring their bikes with them on the train — at any time — as the agency is ending a long-standing restriction that prohibited bicycles during rush hours.
The policy change, which takes effect Monday, is expected to make Metrorail a more attractive travel option for reverse commuters who want to take their bike to travel between the rail station and their workplace.
WMATA reviewed its policy and determined that it could respond to requests from the bicycling community by ending the rush-hour bike restriction without significant negative effects. The review took into account that the majority of rush-hour trains are eight cars in length (the longest possible), and that new 7000-series trains provide more open space.
“We received requests from Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and others in the bicycle community asking us to take a fresh look at our policy,” said WMATA COO Joe Leader. “We believe this change supports ridership growth by Metro a commuting option for those who want to have a bike with them.”
When Metrorail first opened, bikes were not allowed in the system at all. Since then, WMATA has incrementally loosened restrictions without significant problems. Bikes were first allowed in 1982, with a paid permit on weekends and holidays only. The days and hours when bikes were allowed gradually expanded over time. Permits were eliminated in 1998, and the current policy was established in 2001, allowing bikes at all hours except weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
WMATA will monitor implementation of the new policy to determine whether any modifications are necessary. In addition, the agency reserves the ability to restrict bicycles on the rail system during major events drawing high ridership, such as July 4 fireworks and Inauguration Day.
Customers can also bring their bikes with them on Metrobus. All 1,500 Metrobuses are equipped with a rack on the front that can accommodate up to two full-size bikes at a time.
Roughly 0.8% of WMATA customers arrived at their rail station by bike in 2016. The WMATA Board has set a goal of increasing that percentage to 2.1% by 2020.