Nearly a year after Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance blitz wrapped up, Arlingtonians still haven’t returned to the transit system, new data show.
An ARLnow analysis of figures compiled by WMATA and released to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission shows that ridership at Arlington’s 11 Metro stations fell by about 4.1 percent in the first three months of 2018 when compared to the same time frame last year.
Back in early 2017, WMATA was right in the midst of SafeTrack, with large sections of Metro lines closed temporarily and substantial headways for passengers, even at rush hour. But the ridership numbers suggest that any Arlington riders dissuaded from hopping on Metro during the heavy maintenance work have yet to embrace the rail service once more.
ARLnow’s analysis also shows Metro ridership in the county has dropped by about 13.4 percent compared to the same time frame in 2016, before SafeTrack work began.
Metro officials and county leaders say they’re not overly disturbed by these numbers, noting that WMATA ridership as a whole only fell by 1 percent when comparing the first three months of this year to 2017. Yet they also acknowledge that other transportation options are steadily luring riders away from Metro, and that these declining ridership numbers may be a symptom of problems in the county beyond WMATA’s woes.
“This really indicates how our transportation network is being disrupted in ways not just associated with Metro,” said Christian Dorsey, the vice chair of the Arlington County Board and a member of the Metro Board of Directors, while adding that “we’re not going to overreact to the numbers we see in one quarter.”
Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly wrote in an email that ridership in Arlington generally “reflects the ridership trends systemwide.” She says Metro has broadly found that “peak periods are performing less poorly, however off-peak (especially evening) ridership is down much more steeply,” after SafeTrack.
WMATA leaders “are confident that by providing safe, reliable service, Metro can win back riders who may have changed their travel patterns during SafeTrack,” Ly added. Yet she did acknowledge that a handful of different factors have prompted large ridership drops at several Arlington stations this year.
Metro observed one of the largest declines in riders at the Ballston station in the first three months of the year, with a more than 8 percent decline from the same period last year. Ballston also recorded a nearly 20 percent drop in ridership from 2016 to 2018, the largest of any Arlington station over the same time period.
Ly believes that’s largely due to ridership dropping on weekends, “when service is truncated from Wiehle-Reston East to Ballston for track work,” a frequent occurrence for Silver Line riders.
Along the Blue Line, however, there could be more systemic problems.
Update at 6 p.m. — The disabled train has been cleared and medics have left the scene. Residual delays remain, according to Metro.
Earlier: A Silver Line train is disabled at the Clarendon Metro station at the height of the evening rush hour after a rider suffered a medical emergency.
Initial reports suggest that a passenger suffered a seizure on the train, leading another passenger to push an emergency stop switch. The passenger was taken off the train and is being tended to by medics, according to scanner traffic, but the train is now disabled.
Metro is warning about delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines as a result of the incident.
Orange/Silver Line: Expect delays to Vienna & Wiehle-Reston E due to a disabled train at Clarendon.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) May 10, 2018
Blue Line: Delays possible to Franconia-Springfield due to congestion from delayed Orange/Silver Line trains.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) May 10, 2018
Metro is planning plenty of maintenance and construction this weekend, April 28-29, with work set to cause delays on all six lines.
Trains will run only once every 24 minutes on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines, with single tracking in store for riders as well, Metro says.
Silver Line trains will only run between the Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston stations throughout the weekend, and Orange and Blue Line trains will be sharing a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory to allow for rail maintenance work.
Metro is also warning riders to prepare for significant delays on the Red Line, with trains expected every 28 minutes. That’s in part due to single tracking between Farragut North and Union Station, as workers install equipment to support cell service in Metro tunnels.
On the Yellow and Green Lines, trains are expected to run every 15 minutes.
Yellow Line trains will only run between the Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square stations. Metro is also expecting Green Line trains to share a track between the Southern Avenue and Naylor Road stations.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
If you live near I-66, between the East Falls Church and Ballston Metro stations, the rumbling of Metro trains is a noise you’re probably used to.
But at least one person who lives in that area has taken to social media to comment on what she says is a recent escalation in noise: the constant, loud honking by trains as they roll by.
Me again @wmata I know you aren’t interested in my issue but I thought I’d share the honking fun from today’s trains. It happens ALL DAY LONG. Thinking it’s time for a noise complaint with @ArlingtonVA or @ArlingtonVaPD or maybe you could just stop the constant noise pollution pic.twitter.com/Y2K162EEMN
— alliesiggy (@alliesiggy) April 4, 2018
Video uploaded to Twitter indeed seems to show jarringly loud honking for a residential neighborhood.
The resident posted that she has lived at that location for 13 years and that this is a new neighborhood problem.
I can see @wmata that you are working on an answer to my question. Thought this video might help demonstrate the bizarre honking that happens ALL DAY. Why do residential neighborhoods have to listen to this every day? pic.twitter.com/Xza2i4Bg7n
— alliesiggy (@alliesiggy) March 7, 2018
The social media complaints go as far back as January 22, and regular Twitter posts indicate that the honking hasn’t ceased or abated, and occurs after rush hour as well as on the weekends.
Though WMATA officials haven’t yet answered an ARLnow request for comment, Metro replied to the resident on Wednesday via Twitter and said that the honking is a safety measure.
“Thank you for contacting us about the frequent honking near your home,” the transit agency wrote. “At times trains may come across animals or unauthorized people near or on the tracks resulting in the operator to blow the train horn. Your tweet was shared with the Rail Division for review.”
That explanation, the resident replied, seems unlikely given the frequency of the honking.
“Thank you for responding, however this is a constant occurrence… All day every single day,” she said. “This is new and extremely intrusive to anyone who has a home nearby.”
Update at 2:15 p.m. — The resident who first contacted ARLnow.com about the honking says it has stopped since the publication of this article. Also via Twitter, some say that the honks may have to do with workers on or near the tracks.
— alliesiggy (@alliesiggy) April 6, 2018
— Metro Reasons (@MetroReasons) April 6, 2018
An Alliterative Arlington Agency Announcement — Per the Dept. of Environmental Services on Twitter: “Monumentally massive municipal mulch mounds must move momentarily. Mooch munificent mobile masses. Magically metamorphosing. More message…” [Arlington County, Twitter]
Arlington to Participate in Drug Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 15th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]
Claremont Neighborhood Profiled — “In the quiet community of Claremont in southwest Arlington, Va., there is little turnover in homes — one of many indications of how much residents love living there.” [Washington Post]
Tenth of Metrobus Fleet Pulled From Services — “Metro has temporarily removed from service 164 buses – representing approximately 10 percent of its fleet – following two incidents in which the engines cut off at low speed… The 164 buses were manufactured by New Flyer in 2015 and 2016. The buses are all 40-foot compressed natural gas models that operate out of Metro’s Bladensburg Bus Division in Northeast DC and Four Mile Bus Division in Arlington.” [WMATA, WTOP]
ARLnow Featured on Disqus Blog — ARLnow is one of the publishers selected to provide direct feedback to the product managers behind the commenting system we use, Disqus. We were also just featured on the Disqus blog for our annual reader survey, which was cited as a way for other publishers to “get to know your engaged users.” [Disqus]
Eligibility Changes Proposed for Cemetery — “With Arlington National Cemetery set to run out of space in the coming years, restrictions on who can be buried there need to be considered, officials said Thursday.” [WTOP, Army Times]
Emergency Metro Repairs Next Weekend — Emergency repairs will mean reduced service on Metro’s Silver Line and some changes to Blue Line service next weekend, during St. Patrick’s Day and peak cherry blossom season. [Fox 5]
ACPD Conducts DUI Education Event — To discourage driving under the influence, Arlington County Police and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program conducted an anti-drunk driving event during Saturday’s Shamrock Crawl. Among other activities, attendees were invited to try to shoot basketballs into trash bins while wearing impaired vision goggles. [WTOP, Twitter]
Video Project Keeps Iota’s Memory Alive — A video series called The Iota Chair is “an oral history project on Facebook with musicians who frequented Iota Club & Cafe,” which closed last year. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Local Journalist Pens History Book — “Arlington resident Michael Doyle recounts the life and times of a 19th century morality crusader who campaigned against an infamous ‘free-love’ commune, in a new book entitled ‘The Ministers’ War: John W. Mears, the Oneida Community and the Crusade for Public Morality.'” [Amazon]
Major Orange and Silver Line Issues — Orange and Silver line Metro service has been restored but significant delays remain from an earlier disabled train at the Ballston station. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]
Legislature Considering Expanding I-66 Tolls — Del. Tim Hugo (R), the state lawmaker who proposed a bill that would slash Arlington’s tax revenue from country clubs, is now also proposing legislation that would require I-66 to be tolled in both directions. “If you live in Arlington, D.C. or Maryland, and you are going to Tysons Corner or west, you pay no toll in the morning and you get a free ride home,” Hugo said. “We will even it out by getting some people in Arlington to pick up the freight.” [Washington Post]
County Board Members Lobby Against Country Club Bill — Both Libby Garvey (D) and John Vihstadt (I) were in Richmond yesterday to lobby against HB 1204, the bill that would provide a “windfall tax cut” for Arlington’s two country clubs. [Twitter]
Vegas Bunnies Arrive in Arlington — “Six furry, floppy-eared cottontails dubbed the ‘Las Vegas bunnies’ have arrived at an animal rescue center in Arlington after many others were poisoned in Nevada.” [Washington Post]
Arlington School Board Bill Passes — A state bill that would ensure that Arlington County has the legal standing to have an elected School Board, after questions arose about the School Board’s legality, has passed the state legislature and is now heading to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for his signature. [InsideNova]
Update at 1:15 p.m. — Repairs were completed and normal service resumed before noon, Metro says.
Update at 9:45 a.m. — All Blue and Yellow line service between National Airport and the Pentagon has been suspended due to “unscheduled track repairs.” The Pentagon City and Crystal City stations are being evacuated, Blue and Yellow line service is being run in two separate segments, and a shuttle is being established.
Blue/Yellow Line: No trains btwn Nat'l Airport & Pentagon due to unscheduled track repairs at Pentagon City. Bus shuttle being established.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) January 22, 2018
A large fire department response is on scene at the Pentagon City Metro station due to a track fire.
The apparent insulator fire is on one of the track at the station, producing light smoke. As of 9:15 a.m., the station was not being evacuated, but trains were being offloaded.
The Arlington County Police Department is helping to direct traffic in the area.
Trains are currently halted but Metro is preparing to single-track through the station, according to scanner traffic.
— Identify as #LLCAmerican (@dbroncos78087) January 22, 2018
— Jackie Barrientes (@JBarrientes_DC) January 22, 2018
— Zachary Keefe (@darthzach7) January 22, 2018
Blue & Yellow line customers expect delays in both directions due to a track problem at Pentagon City. Some trains my offload and turn back for service. 9:09a #wmata
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) January 22, 2018
9:07A YL/BL trains are holding & being offloaded on either side of Pentagon City; no trains are passing the station at this time. #wmata ^SR
— Rail Transit OPS Group (@RailTransitOPS) January 22, 2018
County HQ to Be Named After Bozman — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to name the County Office Building at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard for Ellen M. Bozman, the six-time Board Chair who served on the Board through some of Arlington’s most transformative years, and who died in 2009.” [Arlington County]
Blue, Yellow Line Service Disruption — Metrorail service on the Blue and Yellow lines was suspended earlier this morning due to “fire department activity” at the Pentagon station. Arlington County Fire Department units investigated the incident and turned the scene back over to Metro around 6 a.m. Service has since been restored. [Twitter, Twitter, Fox 5]
County Board Sets Stage for Va. Square Redevelopment — The Arlington County Board on Saturday took a first step towards the redevelopment of several properties at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road. New apartments and upgrades to the YMCA have been proposed for the site. The Board approved a General Land Use Plan Study and Concept Plan that will “serve as a long-range planning guide for potential redevelopment.” [Arlington County]
Arlingtonian Among Rhodes Scholars — Arlington native Matthew Chun, a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been named one of 32 Rhodes scholars in the U.S. Chun, who is also captain of the school’s wrestling team, is one of two Virginians among the latest group of Rhodes scholars. [Associated Press, MIT News]
Juvenile Hospitalized After Nauck Hit and Run — An individual under the age of 18 was reportedly struck by a car on the 2400 block of Shirlington Road, in the Nauck area, over the weekend. The car’s driver drove off after hitting the juvenile, who suffered non-life threatening injuries. [WJLA]
Nestle Lease Lauded in Commercial RE Awards — The lease of 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn to serve as Nestle’s new U.S. headquarters was given the “Award of Excellence” in the Real Estate Transaction category at the 2017 NAIOP Northern Virginia commercial real estate awards. It was among six Arlington-related winners at the awards ceremony, including the new Marymount University Ballston Center development. [NAIOP]
Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton
Metro Station Closures Promoted Big Lines at DCA — Shutting down the National Airport and Crystal City Metro stations caused long lines for shuttles and cabs and very pricy Uber and Lyft rides for travelers trying to leave the airport this past weekend. [Washington Post]
Chase Starts in Arlington, Ends in Alexandria — Arlington County Police spotted a stolen car heading southbound on I-395 yesterday afternoon and initiated a traffic stop. The driver, however, refused to stop and instead fled down the King Street exit. Virginia State Police gave chase down King Street and Braddock Road near Fairlington — Arlington units stayed behind per department policy — and eventually the car was stopped and two people arrested in Alexandria. [Twitter, Twitter]
Va. Square Land Use Changes Considered — The Arlington County Board will hear public comment on and vote on whether to advertised proposed land use changes to several parcels of land near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road in Virginia Square. Citing traffic and building height concerns, some residents have objected to the possibility of a six-story apartment building on part of the site. [InsideNova]
E-CARE Event Stats — Updated at 1:25 p.m. — Arlington County’s biannual E-CARE recycling and disposal event this past weekend collected 55,875 pounds of household hazardous materials, 30,000 pounds of used electronics, 700 compact fluorescent bulbs and 30 cubic yards of scrap metal, while setting a record hourly rate, according the county. [Twitter]
Bad Behavior at Elementary School — Yesterday during afternoon school dismissal, police were called to Campbell Elementary on S. Carlin Springs Road for a report of a driver in the parent pickup line who was “cursing at teachers.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Alexandria to Promote Metro Improvement — “The City of Alexandria is launching the ‘Back 2 Blue’ campaign to raise awareness about the improved rush-hour service times on Metrorail and encourage residents and customers to ride the Blue Line. Service on Metrorail’s Blue Line has improved significantly, with rush-hour wait times of just eight minutes. [City of Alexandria]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
Gas Leak Along George Mason Drive — Part of S. George Mason Drive near Columbia Pike was closed this morning due to a gas leak. [Washington Post]
Bethesda Has Most Expensive One-Bedroom Apartments — Bethesda has the highest median rents for one-bedroom apartments, at $2,270, according to a new report. “In comparison, D.C.’s typical one-bedroom costs $2,260 per month, while one-bedroom rents in Arlington, Virginia, cost a median of $2,140 per month.” [Curbed]
Remembering Hoover Field — A pair of airports, Hoover Field (later Hoover Airport) and Washington Airport, operated during the 1920s and 1930s on the site of the present day Pentagon reservation. National Airport was opened shortly after both closed down to make way for the Pentagon. [Paul Freeman, Twitter]
Best Places to Watch the Marine Corps Marathon — A number of Arlington locations are listed among the best places for spectators to watch the Marine Corps Marathon. [WTOP]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Numerous Arlington County Fire Department units are arriving at the Courthouse Metro station to investigate a report of smoke in the station.
The fire department says there is an arcing insulator near the station and firefighters are gathering on the platform level. There is a “slight haze” in the station, according to scanner traffic.
Drivers should expect road closures in the area due to the emergency response and Metro riders should expect delays on the Orange and Silver lines. A Metro emergency response team is en route to the station.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) October 4, 2017
— Irelands Four Courts (@irelands4courts) October 4, 2017
Silver Line trains are operating btwn Wiehle-Reston E & Ballston due to a track problem outside Court House. Use Orange/Blue trains.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) October 4, 2017
ACPD units providing traffic control in the 2100 block of Wilson Boulevard for Courthouse Metro response. https://t.co/RHg6cpDbGK
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) October 4, 2017
A malfunctioning elevator at the Ballston Metro station made for an unpleasant morning commute for a woman at the Ballston Metro station Thursday.
The woman was trapped inside the station’s elevator at ground level after the doors would not open.
The Arlington County Fire Department was called and firefighters used the “jaws of life,” a heavy-duty hydraulic tool, to pry open the elevator doors. The started passenger was then able to squeeze out of the gap between the doors, where she was evaluated by paramedics.
ACFD posted a video of the incident on its Twitter account.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 28, 2017
‘Hate Group’ Holding Conference in Arlington — ACT for America, which describes itself as the “nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots national security organization” — but which is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group — is holding its annual conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City next weekend. Marriott is refusing calls to cancel the event, saying: “We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space. Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement of any group or individual.” [Slate]
Private Middle School Opens in Arlington — A ribbon cutting was held earlier this week for the grand opening celebration of The Sycamore School, a new, private middle school in Arlington. “More than 80 percent of our inaugural students are coming from public school, which tells me that our community is aching for smaller class options and more individualized learning,” said the school’s founder. [InsideNova]
Another Arcing Insulator Outside of Rosslyn — A track issue caused problems yet again between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom Metro stations this morning. The initial call for a possible arcing insulator went out around 5 a.m. Normal service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was restored around 7 a.m. [WJLA]
First Day of Fall — Grab your maple lattes, today is the autumnal equinox and the first day of astrological autumn. The equinox will happen just after 4 p.m. Eastern time. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
For at least the second time this week, a large contingent of Arlington County Fire Department vehicles has descended on the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of a track fire.
Initial reports suggest there is an arcing insulator somewhere in the tunnel between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom stations — a seemingly persistent problem that has not been resolved by Metro’s extensive SafeTrack maintenance catch-up program.
Since a woman died on a Yellow Line train that filled with smoke near the L’enfant Metro station in 2015, ACFD sends the cavalry — a full “transportation incident” response — every time there is a report of smoke in a tunnel or fire on the tracks.
Shortly after arriving on scene, firefighters determined that there was no smoke in the Rosslyn station and that Metro’s emergency maintenance team would be taking the lead in resolving what was described as a minor track fire. Most fire department units are going back to their stations.
N. Moore Street is closed in front of the Metro station as a result of the emergency response. Metro riders should expect delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.
Units on scene Rosslyn Metro investigating possible arcing insulator. Fire department backing down their response for metro to handle. pic.twitter.com/r5EwSAIMKh
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 15, 2017
Blu/Sil/Org: Expect delays to Largo & New Carrollton due to a track problem outside Rosslyn.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) September 15, 2017