Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced customers can expect to see current (reduced) rail service levels through Dec. 31, according to the agency's press announcement.
There is currently no timeline established to return the 7000-series fleet in the interest of safety. Additionally, 6000-series railcars are awaiting parts due to global supply chain challenges. Metro said incremental service improvements will be made during December as parts arrive for older model railcars.
“As we get more parts, we will return more of the 6000-series railcars to service for our customers during December,” said Metro GM and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “While we know service is not as frequent as customers would prefer, we will add each train as it becomes available to help incrementally improve service reliability and frequency.”
Nearly 75% of Metrorail stations have trains arriving at least every 10-12 minutes, as many stations are served by multiple lines. More frequent service depends upon available railcars meeting safety standards, while Metro continues to test new inspection protocols for its newest 7000-series railcars, which were sidelined in October.
“This is a monumental undertaking that is being performed on parallel tracks to ensure that we have as little down time as possible between testing and remobilizing the fleet,” Wiedefeld said. “We are intentionally not setting deadlines so that safety and good data drive our decisions, but we are mindful that customers want the best service we can provide as soon as we can deliver it, and we are committed to building back up in phases.”
Metro typically experiences lower ridership around the holidays and is still operating with 70% fewer riders on average weekdays as the region recovers from the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, rush-hour trains often carried approximately 100-120 passengers per car at their busiest points, and today trains are less crowded, with 50-80 passengers average per car.
The rail service outlook for January 2022 will depend upon the successful completion of the 7000-series test plan and restoration plan and the operational plan to remobilize the fleet for passenger service. Metro said it expects to update its service plans before the end of the calendar year.
Metro said it is also is using this time to prepare for the launch of Silver Line phase two service, as testing, training personnel and resources are required to ramp up for the expected start of passenger service in 2022.