Montgomery County could spend as much as $1 million to aid thousands of local commuters who are expected to be affected by Metro’s SafeTrack repair program in Rockville and Silver Spring later this year.
Al Roshdieh, the county’s transportation department director, told a County Council committee Thursday morning the county will provide free Ride On shuttle service during peak travel times—morning and afternoon rush hours—between stations undergoing repair work. The additional shuttle service is expected to cost the county between $350,000 and $1 million, Roshdieh said. The final amount will be determined after the local SafeTracks surges are completed and will be based on how much demand there is for the shuttles.
Metro is conducting the year-long SafeTrack program to catch up on track repair work that has been neglected for decades, resulting in numerous smoke and fire-related incidents, including the death of a woman on a Yellow Line train in January 2015.
Riders can expect the first service disruption from Aug. 1 to 7 when Metro plans to continuously single-track trains between the Silver Spring and Takoma Park stations. The single-tracking is expected to affect 94,000 weekday trips, according to the transit operator. County shuttle buses will transport commuters every 10 minutes from the Silver Spring station to the Fort Totten station, with a stop at Takoma Park, Roshdieh said.
During this surge, Metro is also planning to run 25 percent fewer Red Line trains between the Grosvenor and NoMa stations. Roshdieh said Ride On will also be providing free shuttle bus service from Grosvenor to the Friendship Heights station with stops at the Medical Center and Bethesda stations during this time.
A similar shuttle service will be provided for commuters during the single tracking scheduled Aug. 9 to 18 between the Shady Grove and Rockville stations, which is expected to impact about 32,200 weekday trips.
Roshdieh said Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn agreed to add more cars to the MARC trains that run from Rockville through Silver Spring to Union Station during the SafeTrack work to provide an alternative for commuters. Rahn also agreed to ensure the state doesn’t conduct road work on Rockville Pike or Georgia Avenue to reduce the possibility of delays for Metro riders who may be driving instead.
Silver Spring commuters are also expected to be affected by the complete closure of the Red Line between Fort Totten and NoMa, just inside the D.C. border, from Oct. 10 to Nov. 1. The shutdown is expected to affect 108,000 weekday trips, according to Metro. During that time, Ride On will provide free shuttles from Silver Spring to the Fort Totten station, where riders can board Green Line trains. Due to reduced service on the entire Red Line during this period, free shuttles will again run between Grosvenor and Friendship Heights with stops at the Medical Center and Bethesda stations.
The county is also asking local employers to allow employees who may be affected by the track work to telecommute or to travel before or after rush hour.