Two years into its aggressive rebuilding program, the transit authority has an update: Expect more of the same sort of major weekend disruptions through the end of 2013 and well beyond.
The major projects close stations and need to be scheduled many months in advance, so the transit authority provides a calendar of them. The smaller-scale ones that require trains to share tracks around work zones have a shorter lead time, and Metro generally doesn’t announce the single-tracking schedule till the Monday before the weekend work begins.
Here’s a preview of what the next six months will be like for weekend riders:
■The major track work schedule shows nine more weekend projects on the Red Line, not including the work underway this weekend. Eight major projects will affect service on the Orange Line. Six major projects will affect service on the Blue Line. Three major projects will affect service on the Green Line and three on the Yellow Line.
■Over the long Labor Day weekend, buses will replace Red Line trains between Rhode Island Avenue and Forest Glen.
■On Columbus Day weekend, buses will replace Orange Line trains between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton, but the trains will operate Monday, Oct. 14.
■On the long Veterans Day weekend, buses will replace Red Line trains between Shady Grove and Twinbrook.
■No major projects are scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend.
■On the weekend before Christmas, buses are scheduled to replace trains between Foggy Bottom and Court House and between Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said in January that riders should anticipate four more years of this aggressive program before the pace eases into what would be more of a routine upkeep phase. So in a sense, there is an end in sight: 2017.
But until then, riders are likely to see many more updates like this one. Riders look at them to help plan their weekend outings. Civic, religious and business organizations also need them, because the station closings can have a significant impact on their events.
Weekend work generally starts at 10 p.m. each Friday, so fans going to the Nationals, Capitals or Wizards may get a one-seat ride to their game but afterward find that they must get off the train, board a bus and get back on a train to each home.
To hook up with the shuttle buses, the final trains of each weekend night are scheduled to depart earlier than they normally do, which can confuse riders who haven’t seen Metro’s warning signs, possibly leaving them stranded.
Riders also complain when a weekend shutdown — or even single-tracking — continues into a holiday Monday, when government workers may be off but many private employees are doing their regular commutes.
Metro has modified some aspects of its weekend strategy:
■Starting Wednesday afternoons, look at the station kiosk screens to see “weekend at-a-glance” service information.
■By midday each Friday, Metro’s online Trip Planner should reflect both the station closings and the track-sharing plans. So a rider who asks Trip Planner for the Saturday or Sunday travel time between two stations will get an answer that accounts for the service disruption.
■On lines where single-tracking is scheduled, the spacing between trains is widened. Trains should not need to queue up waiting their turn through an area where they will share a track. The result — if things go according to plan — is that a rider experiences no delays on the line after boarding the train.
■Metro managers have a half-hour meeting each week to review the upcoming weekend disruptions and determine whether their rider alerts and service accommodations are adequate to reduce the impact.
■Acknowledging that many people ride on weekends only and do not see signs posted earlier in stations, Metro is reaching out to the sponsors of events to advise them about disruptions that will affect participants.
These are improvements, but they don’t guarantee problem-free travels. Sometimes, there are too many moving parts for plans to come off without a hitch. On the night of May 10, a Friday, Metro was unprepared to handle the riders exiting Ballston station to board buses after a Nationals game.
Riders can consult the Trip Planner schedule for train times, but many have no way of knowing when their events will end. They still could wind up waiting a long time on a platform or at a transfer station. Weekend guidance works best when riders — and Metro — can stick to a rigid schedule.
Here’s the new schedule, week by week.
Major track work schedule
July 6 to 7
Blue, Orange Lines: Buses replace trains between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly, and between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road.
Stations closed: Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood.
July 13 to 14
Red Line: Buses replace trains between NoMa and Silver Spring.
Stations closed: Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland, Fort Totten (Red Line platform), Takoma.
July 27 to 28