CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Metro Stations Empty as Wary Riders Stay Away

Most of the recent noise heard at Metrorail stations came from trains zooming on the tracks to pick a limited number of riders.

Even with 19 of Metro’s 91 stations will remain temporarily closed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, public transportation remains essential for Carlton Boggs to travel to his job in the meat department at a Giant grocery store in Landover.

“My biggest complaint has been an inconvenience of time,” Boggs, of Forestville, said Friday, March 27, wearing blue latex gloves while waiting on an Orange Line train at Stadium Armory in Southeast. “I understand why all the precautions are being done, but I need to get to work. I need the money.”

Metro isn’t going to reap the hundreds of thousands of dollars in daily revenue from train and bus fares, but officials made changes to the agency’s travel schedule to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19. In addition, keep workers safe and healthy.

With trains and buses operating for only essential trips, ridership also decreased at eights stations, including Cheverly, College Park and Morgan Boulevard in Prince George’s County.

The other 16 stations, by jurisdiction:

• Northern Virginia – Arlington Cemetery, Eisenhower Avenue, Van Dorn St, Clarendon, Virginia Sq-GMU, East Falls Church, McLean and Greensboro.
• D.C. – Federal Center SW, Judiciary Square, Archives, Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Mt. Vernon Square and Cleveland Park.
• Montgomery County – Grosvenor-Strathmore.

Earlier last month, officials announced the closure of Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery to prevent people from using Metro to see the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Northwest.

Last weekend, Metro operated only 26 bus routes in the region and anticipated wait time for trains to be 30 minutes.

Another reason for the closures is to help preserve cleaning supplies as shipping delays affect availability.

Metro will close some entrances at nine stations to “conserve cleaning supplies and create additional workforce flexibility.”

Seven of the shuttered stations are within a mile of other operating stations. For instance, riders can use L’Enfant Plaza or Capitol South located near Federal Center.

Riders are asked to use the south entrance (terminal B) at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. The north entrance (terminal C) will be closed.

Also, Metro Center in northwest D.C. will close its 12th and F streets entrance.

Metrobus passengers must also enter through the rear door to limit close contact with bus operators.

“These steps will help reduce the risk of exposure to employees and save critical cleaning supplies for the remaining stations,” according to a Metro news release.

WUSA-TV (Channel 9) reported Friday a fourth Metro worker contracted the virus, resulting in the temporary closure Thursday of the Tenleytown and Van Ness stations in Northwest. Those stations reopened Friday.

Metro’s constant message during this pandemic: “Please follow urgent guidance from state and local officials: Stay at home.”

That didn’t stop Mildred Henson of Southeast from riding Metrorail Friday to bring groceries and other items to her daughter in District Heights, Maryland.

“I came out to get some fresh air, [but] I’m ready to go back to work,” said Henson, who works as a prep cook at Nationals Park. “There’s nobody here [inside Stadium Armory]. No crowds. I’m enjoying myself.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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