By Ashley Rodriguez
For beleaguered local Green Line commuters, relief is on the horizon — and further improvements are on the way, as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) moves forward with platform upgrades. This work, which closed the Greenbelt, College Park, Prince George’s Plaza and West Hyattsville stations in May, should be done by the time you read this — target date for completion is Sept. 6.
While many of us were able to avoid mass-transit troubles by working from home during the pandemic, commuters still taking Metro had to trudge the winding, fenced-in path at the College Park station to reach the stop for the shuttle buses offering service to Fort Totten. I personally gave up on that leg of my commute and began driving directly to Fort Totten. I also started biking a dozen miles downtown to work, which was a simpler option.
WMATA is making a number of changes in hopes of increasing ridership. As Metro Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg said, in a recent press release, “This is a time of change for Metro and our customers, and it’s an opportunity to make our service work better for all riders whether they take Metro to work, the grocery store, visit family or friends or just get around town.”
Starting Sept. 5, Metrobus service will be upgraded. Buses on many lines will run more frequently, and riders will receive free transfers between bus and rail. Normal bus service will resume at the Prince George’s Plaza station and at a number of others, as well. A table of changes is available on the WMATA website (wmata.com).
Metrorail service is also being upgraded with shorter wait times, even outside of rush hour, at stations served by multiple lines. All Green Line stations will have shorter wait times, as these stations will again serve multiple lines, with the resumption of Yellow Line service north of Mount Vernon Square. Customers can expect to wait no more than 3 to 6 minutes for weekday trains through the day on the Red Line and at multi-line stations; after 9:30 p.m., trains servicing these stations will run every 5 to 8 minutes. On Friday and Saturday, trains will run until 1 a.m., instead of midnight, and service will start one hour earlier on Sundays, at 7 a.m. Finally, on weekends, trains will run every 5 to 8 minutes at multi-line stations and every 10 minutes on the Red Line. One-way trips will be a flat $2, so tourists will no longer have to squint at fare charts and do the math.
This fall, commuters, students and tourists will be able to reap the benefits of new platforms, more trains and fewer shuttle rides as they ride Metrorail throughout the region.