Arnetta Cunningham began a different commute Tuesday from her job at Prince George’s Hospital Center due to the second-to-last phase, or surge, of Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance project.
Instead of transferring from the Orange Line at Stadium Armory to a Blue Line train for Capitol Heights, she rode the F14 bus from the New Carrollton station to get home. With New Carrollton and four other Orange Line stations closed for repairs, she and other riders will have to endure new travel routes until June 15.
“I forgot all about this,” she said before boarding the bus. “I think it’s terrible. There should have more warning for this.”
Metro announced April 28 it would close the New Carrollton, Landover, Cheverly, Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue stations instead of continuous single-tracking, so that workers will have time and space to conduct more than 12 miles of maintenance work along the rail system.
Officials said fewer than 18,000 rush-hour trips will be affected. Dozens of shuttle buses will offer free rides between the closed stations and scheduled to run every 15 minutes.
The New Carrollton station, which also houses Amtrak and MARC train systems and is a loading station for Greyhound and Peter Pan charter buses, is Prince George’s County’s largest transportation hub. Because the Metro station closure, officials recommended for those who park at New Carrollton to consider Union Station in Northwest.
Metro workers handed out pamphlets in English and Spanish about the station closures and free shuttle bus service between the stations.
According to Metro’s website, express shuttle buses will connect the following Blue Line stations:
• Minnesota Ave to Stadium-Armory
• Deanwood to Capitol Heights
• Cheverly to Morgan Blvd
• Landover and New Carrollton to Morgan Blvd
Prince George’s County’s bus service will provide free shuttles between the New Carrollton and Cheverly stations during peak hours at 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.
It was announced last week at a meeting of Metro’s Finance Committee that the estimated cost to fund SafeTrack so far ranges between $150 million and $160 million.
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend II said Metro’s latest surge will increase congestion on roadways and streets along the route. Various reports and research by the organizations that include the University of Maryland’s National Transportation Center has shown roadway traffic during SafeTrack has increased by 10 percent during the morning rush hour and 15 percent in the afternoon.
“A number of commuters will bail out of Metro for the period because they don’t want and can’t afford to be late, fearful their employers will dock them for being late or [fire them] due to excessive tardiness, or habitual lateness,” Townsend said.
That means commuters such as Calvin Jenkins of Bowie will have to start their day at least an hour earlier.
Jenkins, who usually catches the train at New Carrollton, had to board a shuttle bus to Morgan Boulevard to catch a Blue Line train to Metro Center. Then he had to transfer to a Red Line train to his job as a cook in Rockville.
“The biggest inconvenience for me is getting up earlier,” he said. “I get off work at 10 [p.m.] and get picked up, but it will take me longer to get home.”
For more information, go to https://www.wmata.com/service/status/details/Surge-15.cfm.