Metrorail closes for an entire day for safety repairs
Washington braces for full day of Metrorail shutdown to deal with safety concerns," Washington Post).
The Metrorail system carries more than 700,000 riders/day and there aren't good transit alternatives when the system is down. The federal government announced workers can take unscheduled leave or telework so that they don't have to come into the office. But many people have to get to work regardless.
One railcar has the carrying capacity of about 2.5 buses so more than 2,000 buses would be required to provide roughly equivalent service, although buses in street traffic can't travel as fast as trains do on dedicated right of way.
The first graphic is from a WMATA planning document and provides comparative information on different types of high capacity transit. The second diagram compares capacity of different types of transit vehicles in terms of "equivalent bus units." A 1.0 rating equals about 60-80 riders.
Note that some people have suggested that such a shutdown should have occurred over the weekend, so that the ability to commute by transit would have been maintained and because that would have provided enough time to organize transit alternatives, when there would also be much less transit demand compared to a weekday workday.
Parallel bus service along the Metrorail system. In the past I have suggested that a Metrorail Night Owl bus service be created, to provide service across the Metrorail network when it is otherwise closed ("Night moves: the need for more night time (and weekend) transit service, especially when the subway is closed").
That could be a model for emergency transit service when Metrorail is closed.
-- WMATA bus maps
Metrobus DC map.
Bus service on major arterials within DC. Within the city, the bus network runs on the major arterials and many of these bus lines carry between 14,000 and 21,000 people per day. These lines can substitute for some of today's lost transit service.
Limited high capacity bus service between DC and Maryland or DC and Virginia. But generally, few high capacity bus routes traverse the borders between DC and Maryland or DC and Virginia.
For example, the 30s bus line in DC ends at Friendship Heights on the DC/Maryland border, rather than continue on Rockville Pike. The 70s bus line on Georgia Avenue does end at the Silver Spring Metro Station in Maryland, and different Metrobus services provide service further up Georgia Avenue to Wheaton, and via Viers Mill Road to Rockville.
Suburban regular bus service. Generally, each jurisdiction runs its own intra-jurisdiction bus service, generally for lower demand routes, while Metrobus provides cross-border service and higher capacity service. Some services cross borders, for example, some Fairfax Connector service goes to Crystal City in Arlington.
Commuter bus service. Further out suburbs in Maryland and Virginia have long distance commuter bus service to and from DC and certain other high demand employment services. These routes are limited, and don't substitute for rail service, but can divert hundreds of car trips.
-- Commuter Bus - Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission
-- Commuter Bus | Maryland Transit Administration
-- Martz Fredericksburg commuter bus service
Unfortunately, there is no master map or webpage showing this type of service in a comprehensive manner, regardless of provider, as an element of the region's transit network. An example of the kind of map that can be created is the Meinfernbus inter-city bus network in Germany, which also provides limited service to cities in adjoining countries.
Bike share. Capital Bikeshare announced they would offer free memberships today, and have set up some corrals in the core to check in bikes, if stations are otherwise full.
But to be clear, bike share provides personal or individual transit. It doesn't substitute for mass transit. By definition a bike carries one person at a time, a bus 60 or more people, a 6-car subway train over 700 people, an 8-car subway train more than 1,000 people, etc.