DC Metro says wait times could reach 60 minutes on July 4th

Washington, D.C.’s, Metro warned customers could face wait times of up to an hour on July 4 as the transit agency grapples with a reduced number of railcars on one of its busiest days of the year.

The agency sidelined about 60 percent of its fleet in October after a train derailment revealed defects in Metro’s 7000-series railcars, causing delays across the rail system that persist nearly nine months later.

“Due to the reduced number of railcars available for service, capacity on Metrorail will be less than previous Independence Days,” Metro said in guidance published on Wednesday.

“That means customers should be prepared for longer wait times, up to 60 minutes, and for crowding to occur, especially at the conclusion of the fireworks.”

The fireworks display on the National Mall is scheduled for just after 9 p.m., and typically leads to long lines for the Metro even with a full fleet.

Metro encouraged passengers to delay their post-firework travel to allow crowds to disperse and consider entering at a station other than Smithsonian, which is located closest to the fireworks.

“Metro Transit Police may temporarily restrict entry to stations experiencing excessive crowding to prevent unsafe conditions on the platforms,” the transit agency said.

Since October’s derailment near Metro’s Arlington Cemetery station, the transit agency has been gradually improving service levels by returning older cars to service.

But those gradual improvements hit a snag when Metro sidelined 72 of its rail operators in May after announcing that close to half of its 500 total operators were noncompliant with required certifications. Metro’s general manager and chief operating officer resigned the following day.

The agency earlier this month returned eight of its 7000-series railcars to service and is now working to return the rest of the fleet once inspectors sign off.

Independence Day typically marks a high ridership for D.C.’s subway system, with rail ridership topping 210,000 passengers on July 4 last year.

Roughly 120,000 passengers boarded Metro trains on an average day in 2021, and ridership still remains well below pre-pandemic levels, according to the agency’s ridership data.

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