WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — For the third time this year, Metrorail’s schedule is getting a boost in frequency.
The next timetable change is set to take effect on Monday, March 20, when Silver, Blue, Orange, and Blue+ lines will start running every 12 minutes on weekdays during the morning and evening rush. Metro defines these “peak periods” as 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. During all other times of the day, trains on those lines will run every 15 minutes.
In the transit system’s “core,” where stations are covered by three separate lines, riders can expect trains to stop every three minutes during rush hour service.
The central part of the Metrorail system stretches from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory — a total of 13 stations. Among them is Metro Center, which consistently ranks among the busiest stops.
Wait times on the busy Red Line are also set to improve. Starting on Saturday, March 25, Red Line trains will run every 8 minutes, all day every day. Currently, service on the Red Line varies depending on the day and time of travel.
Ridership on the rise
Ridership on the DMV’s largest transit system is slowly climbing from pandemic-era lows. On Wednesday, March 15, the number of systemwide trips hit 337,000, a post-COVID record. Daily ridership before the pandemic averaged over 626,000 trips.
Officials have pointed to staffing issues and train availability as the main setbacks in returning Metrorail’s schedule to pre-pandemic frequency. Currently, the transit system has over 1,000 job vacancies. Compounding the problem is a 2021 derailment that forced more than half of Metro’s fleet out of service. In recent months, safety regulators have allowed the 7,000-series railcars (the type that derailed in 2021) to slowly return to passenger service.
“As we add trains and improve service, more and more people are choosing Metrorail,” Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke said in a statement. “Our teams are working hard every day to get more 7000-series trains in service and hire more people so we can make #YourMetro even better.”