Metro will suspend bus and rail service on Saturday and Sunday to deal with what’s expected to be a crippling snowstorm, its general manager announced Thursday.

The rail system will close at 11 p.m. Friday, while the “last buses will depart their origin points at 5 p.m. [tomorrow] and operate to the end of the route before ending service.” Rail service on all lines will open at 5 a.m., both above and below ground, while bus service will begin under “severe” conditions, meaning buses will only operate along major routes. MetroAccess, the authority’s service for the elderly and people with disabilities, will suspend para-transit service tomorrow after 6 p.m., and will not commence any new outbound trips after 1 p.m.

“It’s more important to be transparent about what we can and cannot do,” said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld at a news conference Thursday afternoon. He added that, if possible, people should stay at home, as other officials in the region have advised. To protect electricity-providing third-rails in the system, Metro personnel will plow along lines, Wiedefeld explained.

Metro won’t have shut down to this extent since Hurricane Sandy affected the region in 2012; before that, 2010’s Snowmaggedon caused similar closures. As has been done in the past, Metro this weekend will move hundreds of railcars into its tunnels to protect them from the elements. All track work will also be suspended this weekend, and the Metro Transit Police Department will remain fully staffed. Metro’s Emergency Command Center will coordinate responses, like clearing platforms.

“We want to open back up as quickly as we can,” Wiedefeld said, after noting that it remains to be seen how weather conditions will affect the Monday commute. “Let’s see what the day brings tomorrow, and Saturday.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery