Metro is introducing a “temporary” service change on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines after Monday’s transformer fire outside Stadium-Armory, according to a press release, and it will likely increase your travel time.
During rush hour, Orange and Silver line trains will run every eight minutes—rather than every six minutes—in an effort to prevent trains from “bunching up” near Stadium-Armory, where speed restrictions are still in effect. The slowdown could last for six months.
To avoid overwhelming the station, which is operating on low electrical capacity, Metro says only one train can pass through Stadium-Armory at a time. The move is meant to curb “stop and go” train rides during rush hours. Metro says it will also increase the number of eight-car trains in service on the Orange and Silver lines during that time, which is possible due to the overall reduction of trains in service.
In reality, many Metro riders already report headways longer than eight minutes.
While Metro says it’s currently running Orange and Silver line trains at a six-minute headway when normal rush hour service is in effect and at a 12-minute headway during midday, information from MetroMinder, an app that tracks Metro performance, presents another case.
According to the app, the average wait time on Orange line trains in the direction of New Carrolton is currently 14 minutes; in the direction of Vienna, 13 minutes. For the Silver line, those numbers are 16 minutes in the direction of Largo Town Center and a staggering 24 minutes in the direction of Wiehle-Reston East.
Overcrowding on trains has also been a problem for some time. Metro strives to accommodate an “optimal” maximum of 100 passengers per car. But according to a Vital Signs report published in August, Metro exceeded this limit on Blue line trains at the Rosslyn station in March, April, and May of this year. On the Orange line, trains exceeded this limit at Foggy Bottom-GWU station in April and May.
This week’s delays began on Monday after one of three transformers powering Metro’s Blue, Orange, and Silver lines caught fire outside Stadium-Armory station. Currently, smaller substations are providing power to the system.
The power system at Stadium-Armory will remain offline until it can be replaced, a process that could take months, according to the release.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery