MoCo Outlines Plans to Help Commuters Navigate Metro’s SafeTrack Outages
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation continues to develop plans to supplement the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s efforts to assist travelers during SafeTrack. Thousands of Germantown-area residents rely on the Metro’s Red Line every day to get to and from the place of work or school.
WMATA’s SafeTrack is year-long effort to improve the safety and reliability of the Metrorail system. Three planned line segment repairs and around-the-clock single tracking projects, referred to as “Safety Surges,” will affect WMATA’s Red Line service in Montgomery County in August.
“Montgomery County residents and employees are going to be significantly impacted by SafeTrack and that is why I have directed MCDOT to take the lead in doing what we can to mitigate these effects — not only for Red Line riders but for all travelers in the County,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “MCDOT is closely coordinating our response to SafeTrack with our regional partners — WMATA, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Capital Bikeshare -- through a multi-pronged approach in cooperation with our Police and Department of General Services -- to do what we can to offer options to our residents.”
MCDOT is coordinating with WMATA, MTA, MDOT and Capital Bikeshare to assist travelers as they continue to work on their service plans for later Surges. WMATA’s first Surge (Surge 6) in Montgomery County does not begin until August 1. WMATA has committed 40 buses to enhance service in surge areas. Responding to a request from MCDOT, MARC will add cars to existing trains during peak periods. Capital Bikeshare will offer a $2 one-time use option.
Throughout the Surges, MCDOT will be monitoring conditions and making adjustments as needed, but its initial plan includes, keeping up to 17 recently replaced buses in service. By doing so, MCDOT will both provide additional Ride On service on certain bus routes and free bus shuttles between affected Metrorail stations. Ride On will provide on-street ambassadors at affected Metrorail stations to help direct travelers to transit options.
WMATA’s Surge 6 will be from August 1 through August 7, and will mean continuous single tracking from the Takoma to Silver Spring stations. During Surge 6, Ride On will provide free bus shuttles every 10 minutes during peak travel times; including buses from Silver Spring to Fort Totten stations (connecting with Metro’s Green Line) with service at Takoma Station; and Grosvenor to Friendship Heights stations, with stops at Medical Center and Bethesda.
Surge 7, which will run from August 9 through August 18 will likely affect the most residents from the Germantown/Clarksburg area will mean continuous single tracking from the Twinbrook to Shady Grove stations. In response Ride On will provide a free bus shuttle between the Grosvenor and Shady Grove stations via I-270 every 10 minutes during peak travel times. Ride On will add more buses to Ride On’s Route 46 that provides service from Grosvenor to Rockville via White Flint and Twinbrook, increasing bus frequency to every 10 minutes during peak travel times. Regular fares apply.
Surge 10, which will begin on October 10 and run through November 1 will force a total shutdown of Metrorail between NoMa-Galludet University and Fort Totten stations. In response to this work, Ride On will provide free bus shuttles every 10 minutes during peak travel times between the Silver Spring Transit Center and Fort Totten via Takoma Station along Blair Road. Ride On’s service will supplement WMATA’s bus bridge between Fort Totten and NoMa-Galludet University Station.
The County is also coordinating with area employers to use Fare Share transit and vanpool benefits and increased State tax credits to augment promotion of alternatives to Metrorail, including vanpools, buses and MARC train. As well as, promoting telework by employers by holding seminars and webinars and providing free consulting services. “Telework Quick Start” webinars are schedule for June 23 and 28. The County is also working to promote employer-based carpooling by facilitating match-up meetings, online enrollment, Guaranteed Ride Home registration and incentives.
Montgomery County will also enhance operations at its Transportation Management Center, which monitors and provides information on traffic conditions and can make traffic signal adjustments in real time. The TMC will increase its emphasis on improving traffic flow in corridors affected by SafeTrack Surges, facilitating signal changes and providing enhanced response to disabled vehicles or other traffic impediments.
Photo courtesy Montgomery County