The Action Committee for Transit is deeply concerned about Metrorail's plans for station closures and single-tracking this weekend. A high-profile baseball series and hockey playoffs, on a weekend when many tourists are in Washington, will create a high demand for transit service. With trains running only once every 24 minutes on most of the Red Line, and four stations shut on the Green Line, the system will not be able to meet the need for its services.
We ask that you postpone this weekend's scheduled maintenance. No transportation agency in this area would inconvenience drivers in a similar way for non-emergency maintenance. Even with the current stretched budgets, highway departments go to great expense to minimize traffic delays during construction. Transit riders deserve the same consideration.
While I understand that track maintenance schedules are set way in advance, and require coordination with many outside contracting firms, ideally there would be more flexibility in scheduling track closures for maintenance purposes as various events come up, and weren't planned months ago when schedules were created.
On this short of a request, such a change is not likely to happen, just because of the notice requirements with the contractors.
Still, the whole point of transit-rich communities is being able to use transit as an efficient means to get around outside of the trip to work. Providing minimal travel service on the weekends, especially in peak travel/visiting/activity months like May, is problematic for many reasons.
It reminds me of the ridiculous step that former GM John Catoe took to save money, to run four car trains on weekends during pre-Christmas December. It only lasted one weekend because of the chaos that resulted.
Weekends are opportunities to promote travel by subway to market segments that aren't currently using transit. With the maintenance procedures that WMATA is undergoing, it will be many years before weekend and evening subway service can be leveraged to market transit.
While I will be writing about Metrolink, the Southern California passenger railroad service and their superb marketing later, the weekend pass promotion program that they have is a perfect example of leveraging weekends as a way to market transit overall.
They have more flexibility to do this because they have more limited service compared to a subway system, and in many places they own the trackage that they use, so they don't have the kinds of conflicts that MARC (which uses Amtrak and CSX right of way) or VRE (which uses Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and CSX right of way).
Labels: provision of public services, transit infrastructure, transit marketing, transportation planning