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National Airport Metro station (Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards)

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Metrorail service was suspended on the Blue and Yellow lines today after a train derailed.

Metro says no injuries were reported among the 50 people on the derailed train, adding that they have since been transferred via shuttle bus to another train.

The derailment happened around 10:45 a.m., south of the National Airport station, and involved the lead car of the train, according to scanner traffic. Arlington medics were dispatched to the scene but there were no reports of injuries.

Since the derailment, trains have been operating in two segments — Franconia/Huntington to Potomac Yard and Largo/Mt. Vernon Square to National Airport, according to Metro.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m., the transit agency said it was inspecting the track ahead of resuming service on a single track. As of 1:30 p.m., Blue and Yellow line trains were running every 24 minutes and single-tracking past the derailment.

A partial derailment near Rosslyn in October 2021 was found to have been caused by a wheel defect in newer, 7000-series trains. Earlier this year Metro unveiled a multi-year plan to change out wheelsets on hundreds of 7000-series trains.

Metro’s general manager said in a press conference this afternoon that it was a 7000-series train that derailed, but the agency believes a brake assembly came off of an older 3000-series train and caused the derailment.


Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards


(Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 8/1/23) If you build it, they will come.

That is the philosophy guiding the planned construction of the east entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, for which Arlington County inked a contract earlier this month.

First floated in 2002, the idea of a second Crystal City Metro entrance remained on the local radar before becoming one of the suite of transportation projects the county and state agreed to deliver in order to secure Amazon’s (recently opened) second headquarters in Arlington.

This month, Arlington approved a contract with JBG Smith and Clark Construction, which together agreed to build the second entrance for no more than $117 million. Design work is not yet complete, however, and the new entrance may not be ready until 2027.

The new entrance will be located at the northwest corner of Crystal Drive and 18th Street S., a couple of blocks from the current entrance.

Although a few years away, project proponents say the project will bring visitors closer to Crystal Drive, a part of Crystal City undergoing significant change, and will create a “transit hub” connecting people to rail (VRE and Amtrak), buses and the airport. Doing so, they say, will make using Metro more convenient and, thus, encourage additional ridership, which remains below pre-pandemic levels.

“This east entrance really brings transit where it belongs, into the heart of a commercial district,” says Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, the president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District.

“Crystal Drive is a commercial spine and there are many enhancements and new destinations that will deliver soon and will seamlessly connect to the entrance,” she continued. “In 2024, we will realize a truly reinvisioned Crystal Drive.”

The Crystal City Water Park, set to reopen this September with a number of food vendor stalls, would be across the street from the new entrance. A retail strip with Mah-Ze-Dahr, Tacombi, and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is steps away, while two dozen other retailers are set to move into Crystal Drive over the next year, including a new restaurant called Surreal.

Construction upgrades at the Crystal City Water Park are nearly complete (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Proponents say the second entrance will facilitate connections to other transit modes. Getting between VRE and Metro, for instance, can be a confusing hassle, says local civic association president Eric Cassel.

“Everybody who is a tourist or something like that, they have a hard time finding it currently, it’s kind of hidden away,” he said. “People don’t take transit as much because it’s difficult to transfer between that and buses and everything else. One of the reasons to make a focal point of a transit hub is to get people who would otherwise drive to take transit.”

The new station will also make hopping on the Metro a bit less of a slog for people who live or work in the neighborhood.

“This new entrance would save me and others 5 minutes of walking up the hill to get to the current entrance,” says Jay Corbalis, public affairs vice president for JBG Smith.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot to some people, but when you think about that every day, twice a day, for thousands of people, it starts to add up why it’s an important project,” he continued. “It changes the geography of National Landing. It brings that many people closer to the rest of the region.”

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Faregate modification coming to the Pentagon City and Courthouse stations (courtesy WMATA)

Taller faregates are coming to a pair of Arlington Metro stations to combat fare evasion.

The ongoing fare enforcement effort led Metro to design taller doors for its gates. Those are now being rolled out, with installation at the Fort Totten station expected to be completed overnight tonight, and the Pentagon City up next.

After that, another eight stations are in line to get new faregates by early fall, including the Courthouse station.

Metro officials argue that those committing crimes in the Metro system are often fare evaders, thus cracking down will help keep riders safe.

Faregate evolution (courtesy WMATA)

More, below, from a WMATA press release.

Metro has begun installing new higher, stronger faregates at Fort Totten Station as part of a systemwide rollout. The design improves upon the original prototype door following months of testing and modifications. The new doors are now 55-inches tall, twice as strong, and more resilient.

The installation at Fort Totten is expected to be completed overnight, followed by Pentagon City. The faregate modifications will be installed in phases with plans to retrofit faregates throughout the system over the next year. The first 10 stations are expected to be completed by early fall.

“Over the past several months, our team has been testing different prototypes to get to this final design. We have already seen a reduction in fare evasion and expect the higher gates will be more of a deterrent,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Randy Clarke. “The bottom line is fare evasion is not okay, and we will continue our efforts to ensure everyone is respecting the community’s system and each other.”

The new design includes an L-shape door panel that extends over the faregate to minimize gaps between the openings. The increase in barrier height from the original 28 to 48-inch prototype to 55 inches will also make it more difficult to jump over faregates. The new height is taller than a hockey net or nearly half the height of a standard basketball hoop.

The swing doors are made of a polycarbonate which is 200 times stronger than glass, lighter weight, and more durable. The final design also includes more robust hinges and a more powerful motor to strengthen the door. As stations are retrofitted with the new barriers, Metro is also raising the height of fencing and emergency gates.

Metro will install a single door panel for all regular faregates, and double door panels at the wider gates for accessibility and wheelchairs. Following Fort Totten and Pentagon City, the first phase of new faregates will be installed at Bethesda, Vienna*, Mt Vernon Sq, Addison Rd, Congress Heights, Wheaton, Federal Center SW, and Court House stations. Metro will notify customers prior to work beginning at stations through in-station signage and on Metro’s Faregate Retrofit Project page.

In addition to the faregate modifications, Metro’s stepped-up enforcement efforts have also helped to change behaviors and reduce fare evasion.

Last month, Metro also launched a new income-qualified reduced fare program, Metro Lift, to provide a 50 percent fare discount to customers who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in the District, Maryland, and Virginia. To-date, more than 1600 customers have enrolled, taking nearly 17,000 combined trips.

For more information about Metro’s comprehensive efforts to modernize its fare system, visit

File photo

(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) A suspect fleeing from police ran onto the tracks at the Rosslyn Metro station shortly before 1 p.m., delaying some trains.

The suspect ran into a tunnel in the direction of Arlington Cemetery station, according to scanner traffic. It’s not immediately clear why he or she was running from police.

Arlington County police coordinated with Metro and Metro Transit Police to stop train traffic in the area while trying to locate the suspect.

Officers were in active pursuit of the suspect after he or she exited the tunnel, leading to their being taken into custody on Memorial Bridge shortly before 1:10 p.m., according to scanner traffic.


A long-planned-for second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station is set to hit a milestone during the Arlington County Board meeting tomorrow.

The Board on Saturday is set to approve a $117.2 million contract with JBG Smith and Clark Construction, which intend to design and build an east entrance to the station on the northwest corner of 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive.

JBG Smith approached the county with an unsolicited proposal to undertake the project and, in 2020, the county struck a deal with the developer. It was one of the five transportation projects associated with Amazon’s second headquarters, including a pedestrian bridge to Reagan National Airport and an at-grade Route 1.

This May, JBG Smith and Clark submitted 30% complete designs and the $117.2 million price tag. Since then, county staff and the developers have been negotiating the terms of the contract, which would hold the developers responsible for budget overages.

Project costs have increased by a few million dollars since 2022, when JBG Smith and the county agreed to tweak the project to save $13 million from the then-estimated total of $126 million.

In a report, the county says this entrance project is targeting one of Arlington’s most heavily used Metro stations in an area expected to grow even more in the near future.

“The Metrorail station serves high-density residential buildings, office buildings, and retail development,” the report said. “The station is also a major transfer point for Metrorail, commuter bus and rail, and premium bus service.”

The new entrance will provide a direct route accessible to people with disabilities and forge a better connection to the Virginia Railway Express station to the east.

When the Board reconvenes in September, members are expected to consider a separate agreement with WMATA, the county report said. It will outline the county’s role overseeing design and construction and how it will coordinate with WMATA.

Location of proposed second Crystal City Metro entrance (via Arlington County)

But this is not the only second Metro entrance project taking a step forward on Saturday.

Next up, in Ballston, the Board is slated to accept $4.5 million in Northern Virginia Transportation Commission I-66 Commuter Choice Program Funds for a long-envisioned western entrance at the intersection of N. Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street.

The county has pooled together a hodge-podge of funding sources, including an $80 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, approved last summer. NVTA helped cover the cost to develop design costs in 2016 but denied a 2019 request for $33.5 million.

Despite these funding wins, costs continue rising: a county report now estimates a price tag of $150 million, up from $140 million in 2021 and $130 million in 2019.

The county expects to have a final estimate after WMATA finishes reviewing the 35% complete plans. Then, Arlington County will seek out a company to finish the designs and build the project.

“A second station entrance will improve access from the Glebe Road area and growing development in the western part of Ballston. The project will also improve egress in the event of an emergency incident requiring evacuation from the station and train platforms.”

There will be two street-level elevators and either escalators or stairs to an underground passageway and a new mezzanine with stairs and elevators to the train platform. The new entrance will have fare gates, fare vending machines and a station manager kiosk.

The project will come with improved street-level transit connections.

Map showing potential location of new Ballston Metro entrance (via Google Maps)
Watching the sunset while on a Metro train crossing the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac (staff photo)

With the Yellow Line bridge and tunnel work complete, Metro is upping service on the line.

Starting Sunday, Yellow Line trains will arrive every eight minutes all day, the transit agency says. That applies to a number of Arlington stations, including National Airport, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and the Pentagon.

More, below, from a Metro press release.

Metro ridership is growing, and service improvements are coming to make Metro an even more convenient option for getting around the region. Beginning Sunday, June 4, trains serving the Yellow Line will arrive every 8 minutes all day, open to close, an improvement on the current late-night and weekend frequency of 12 minutes.

With the service improvements beginning Sunday, Yellow Line customers will enjoy less crowded trains and shorter waits – an average of four minutes where Yellow and Green line trains serve the downtown core between L’Enfant Plaza and Mt. Vernon Sq.

Ridership has rebounded on the Yellow Line, up 20 percent following an 8-month closure for construction to rehabilitate the Yellow Line tunnel and bridge. Since reopening, customers have taken more than a million trips on the Yellow Line, which operates between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Sq. stations, and 600,000 trips have been taken over the Yellow Line bridge. Ridership is increasing every week, and ridership at the newly opened Potomac Yard station has been strong with more than 25,000 trips taken to or from the station since it opened May 19.

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, over 50,000 trips were taken to and from National and Dulles airports as customers took advantage of Metro’s convenient and affordable connection to air travel.

The service improvements coupled with ridership gains are driving a major turnaround for Metro. Starting next week, we’ll have 70 percent more trains in service during peak periods compared to last year, and a 54 percent increase in train trips. More than 17.5 million trips were taken on Metrorail and Metrobus in May, including a 20 percent increase on bus and 43 percent increase on rail over May 2022.

Metro is making frequent service improvements as it works to return more 7000-series trains to the tracks and recovers from a pandemic-driven shortage of train operators. The Yellow Line service improvements come one month after Metro boosted service on the Red Line during peak periods on May 8. Since then, ridership has increased while Red Line customers are enjoying a more comfortable ride in trains that are about 20 percent less crowded.

Metro customers will see additional service improvements later this month on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.

Another Metro change is happening soon. Starting Monday, the north entrance to the Arlington Cemetery station is set to close for about three months due to canopy installation work.

I-66 and the Metro tracks near East Falls Church (staff photo)

Get ready for some Metro construction disruptions.

Four Orange Line stations will close starting this Saturday, June 3 through Sunday, June 25, to allow for replacement of four-decade-old steel rails. The closures include East Falls Church in Arlington, plus Dunn Loring and West Falls Church in Fairfax County.

Shuttle buses will replace trains for Orange Line riders going between the Ballston and Vienna stations, and Silver Line riders traveling between Ballston to McLean. A second phase of work, which will result in no Orange Line service just between West Falls Church and Vienna, is scheduled from June 26 to July 16.

More from a Metro press release:

Beginning Saturday, June 3, Metro will begin rail replacement work on the Orange Line in Virginia. During construction, which will be done in two phases to minimize station closures, Metro will replace the original 40-year-old steel rail between Ballston-MU and Vienna stations. Replacing the track in this section is a top priority to ensure safety and increase reliability. Crews will also install fiber-optic cables during this shutdown to modernize communications and allow for more efficient maintenance in the future.

Free shuttle bus service will be available for customers during all station closures. Customers are advised to plan extra time for their travel. Metro is boosting outreach to customers at the affected stations and will have prominent signage, announcements in stations and on trains, and teams of outreach personnel to assist customers with the temporary travel patterns during the construction.

“Replacing some of the oldest tracks in our system is critical to safety and reliability, and crews will work 24/7 to complete this project as quickly as possible so we can get back to normal service,” said Metro Chief of Infrastructure Andy Off. “We make every effort to minimize impacts to our customers, and we thank them for their patience while we continue to build a safe and modern Metro to serve the entire region.”

Customers will continue to have normal or near normal service outside of the work zones, with frequent service on the busiest parts of the system in the downtown core area with stations served by multiple lines. Between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory and between L’Enfant Plaza and Mt Vernon Sq trains will arrive at stations every 4-6 minutes all day.

Detailed shuttle service information from Metro is below.

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Emergency response on scene of the Crystal City Metro station

Update at 7:45 a.m. — The station is back open and operating normally this morning after last night’s smoke incident.

Earlier: Trains are bypassing the Crystal City Metro station and the station has been evacuated due to smoke coming from a set of escalators.

The initial call went out shortly before 9 a.m. for the station filling with smoke. A large fire department response is now on scene.

No injuries have been reported.

Bus service is helping to bring passengers from Crystal City to the nearby Pentagon City station. As of 9:40 p.m., the source of the smoke had been found, according to the fire department, and most personnel were in the process of leaving the scene.

Arlington County firefighters rescue someone stuck under a Metro train in Crystal City (via ACFD/Twitter)

Arlington County firefighters rescued a person from underneath a Metro train last night (Thursday) in Crystal City.

Arlington County Fire Department units were dispatched to the Crystal City Metro station (1750 S. Clark Street) at 8:25 p.m. for a report of an individual struck by a train, per a press release today. They found the person under a train, “conscious and alert.”

“Crews immediately began rescue operations, sending personnel onto the track bed and underneath the train to safely remove the patient,” per the release. “The patient was successfully extricated from beneath the train just before 9 p.m. and loaded onto an awaiting ambulance.”

The person was taken to an area hospital in critical condition, according to ACFD.

“Rescue operations like the one our crews faced on March 9 can be extremely challenging,” Arlington County Fire Chief David Povlitz said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of our responders and WMATA safety partners for their ability to perform such a technical operation safely, proficiently, and quickly.”

Asked about the current condition of the person who was struck, a spokesman said the fire department typically does not do any immediate follow up once someone gets to the hospital.

Metro suspended service between the Reagan National Airport and Pentagon City stations in response to the incident and requested shuttle buses to accommodate passengers, according to a tweet published around 8:4o p.m. last night.

Two hours later, Metro announced that Blue and Yellow line service had resumed.

Emergency response to smoke at the Clarendon Metro station

(Updated at 8:45 a.m.) The Clarendon Metro station filled with smoke during this morning’s commute, prompting a large fire department and police response.

The initial dispatch went out around 8:15 a.m., for smoke in the station. The station was evacuated and trains were halted in the area.

Metro described the issue as “a track problem.” As of 8:30 a.m., reports suggest that the smoke is dissipating, no fire has been found so far, and the response is about to be scaled back.

Metro riders were told to expect significant delays in both directions of the Orange and Silver lines. As of 8:45 a.m., nothing hazardous had been found and trains were starting to resume normal operations. It’s still unclear what caused the smoke.

Inbound platform starting to get crowded at the Ballston Metro station (courtesy photo)

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The Ballston and East Falls Church Metro stations are among those set to be impacted by a multi-week closure starting in June.

WMATA recently announced that it is planning to shut down a significant portion of the Orange Line during the summer for “system maintenance and modernization.”

Two Arlington stations — Ballston and East Falls Church — will be impacted by the infrastructure projects. The current plan is that only trains going east, towards Virginia Square and D.C., will be available at the Ballston station from June 3 to June 26, while the East Falls Church station will be shuttered during that time period.

The rest of the Orange Line, from West Falls Church through the end of the line at Vienna, will be closed for a longer period of time, from June 3 to July 17.

Elsewhere, there will be ten days of single-tracking from Stadium-Armory to Cheverly stations on the Orange Line and a complete 44-day shutdown from July 22 to Sept. 4 on the Green Line from Fort Totten to Greenbelt.

Metro summer 2023 shutdown map (image via WMATA)

The reason for the shutdown, WMATA said, is to move forward on “five major projects to improve rail service reliability and modernize rail systems and facilities for customers.”

Those include completing a station roofing project on the Orange Line, replacing 30 miles of four-decade-old and failure-prone steel rails, installing fiber optic cables, modernizing information displays in the downtown stations, and elevator and escalator work at the Dupont station.

“Metro has used the lower ridership months in the summer to advance large maintenance and infrastructure projects with significant customer impacts,” the announcement notes. “By working closely with local jurisdictions, providing extensive free shuttle bus operations, and deploying comprehensive communications and outreach activities, Metro places significant effort to minimize the disruption to customers and the region.”

As for what the “free shuttle bus operations” could mean, county officials told ARLnow that hasn’t been figured out quite yet.

“WMATA will be scheduling coordination meetings with local jurisdictions to develop shuttle plans,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors told ARLnow via email. “As of yet, we haven’t heard from WMATA on their timeline. I don’t expect it to be dissimilar from other temporary station shutdowns.”

Locals have dealt with similar shutdowns. In September, Metro shuttered much of the Yellow Line for bridge and tunnel repairs as well as continuing work on the new Potomac Yard station. The Yellow Line shutdown is expected to continue at least through May, with free shuttles provided for impacted riders.

When Metro instituted similar construction-related shutdowns in both 2020 and 2018, the agency also provided free shuttle bus service.

A major portion of the latest work will be focused on “replacing 40-year-old steel rail that has become significantly more susceptible to rail breaks than rail in any other part of the system.” Metro says that it has been tracking rail breaks and determined the stretch of track between Ballston and Vienna “to be a top priority” for replacement.

The Ballston Metro station averages about 3,500 daily entries on weekdays, which is more than the Clarendon, Courthouse, and Virginia Square stations but below Rosslyn, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and the Pentagon. East Falls Church averages about 1,600 entries.


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