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Four Md. Metro stations on Green, Yellow Lines reopen after platform project completed

ABC7 News

WASHINGTON (7News) — Four Green and Yellow line Metro stations reopened Tuesday for the first time since closing during Memorial Day weekend in late May.

All four underwent major platform reconstruction due to concrete that was deteriorating to the point where it would eventually become dangerous. The stations that reopened are Greenbelt, College Park, Prince George’s Plaza, and West Hyattsville.

Metro has now finished redoing platforms at 17 stations, with just three more scheduled to be done. This is the third straight summer some stations have shut down for the work.

The final stations that will be shut down for platform work are Cheverly, Landover, and New Carrollton. They are scheduled to shut down in summer 2022.

However, starting Saturday, two Red Line stations will close through December 4 for a different reason – crews will completely replace the aging canopy at the Rockville Station, and Shady Grove will also close with some more minor work being done there.

On Tuesday Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld told 7News the worst should soon be over when it comes to shutdowns and inconveniences to riders.

“We’re just about to that point where we’re above that curve, where these things just become like normal maintenance,” he said.

Wiedefeld says the Metro system has been making up for lost time after years of neglect that left some of the infrastructure in disrepair.

But although he says things should soon get better, he did not rule out more major headaches for riders in the future.

“We’re approaching 50 years old," he said. "So we’re going to have a lot of issues on infrastructure."

Money that would help Metro with infrastructure projects is included in a $1 trillion bill that passed the U.S. Senate last month and is expected to be voted on in the U.S. House by early next month.

It includes $150 million a year over eight years to help Metro with capital projects.

Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown (D – District 4), who rode Metro and toured two of the reopened stations with Wiedefeld Tuesday morning, is hopeful the bill will pass and that the amount of funding for Metro will increase in the future.

“When we [pass it, Metro will] make the investments, the continued investments, in safety and reliability, and then the system is doing its part to attract more and more riders,” Brown said while riding the train between West Hyattsville and Prince George’s Plaza.

But the money in the bill is for infrastructure projects, and it will not cover a potential budget crisis Metro is facing if ridership does not go back up.

During the pandemic, the system has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in rail and bus fares from riders. At one point ridership on the rail system was down more than 95 percent. Although it has since rebounded somewhat, it is still only about a quarter of what it was before the pandemic, and bus ridership is just over half what it was.

Although Metro made quite a few cuts to bus and rail service, federal stimulus money prevented those cuts from being devastating, and the stimulus money was even enough to enable Metro to increase service and offer some discounts starting this past Sunday.

But when the stimulus money runs out, Metro faces a crisis if riders have not returned in much higher numbers.

“You know, the big key for us is the schools. If the schools stay open, then I think the region starts to move in a different direction,” Wiedefeld said. “Hopefully, things start coming up, we start getting revenues in, and that becomes less of an issue. But I think we’re all in the stage of watching this Delta variant to see what happens next.”

The Delta variant has lowered Metro’s expectations of a post-Labor Day rebound. Wiedefeld expects schools being open to provide a lift to ridership numbers, but since many businesses have delayed return to office plans for teleworkers the lift will not be what it could have been.

Traditionally Metro ridership dips in August and then rebounds in September.

Prior to the platform reconstruction work at the stations that reopened Tuesday, construction crews redid platforms at the following stations over the past few years:

  • Summer 2019: Braddock Road, King Street-Old Town, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield
  • Summer 2020: Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, East Falls Church
  • Fall 2020: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
  • Spring 2021: Addison Road, Arlington Cemetery

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