For Manassas resident Megan Coleman, the summer shutdown of six Metro stations in Northern Virginia has required some trial and error as she makes her way to work.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is replacing platforms at six stations on the Blue and Yellow lines through Sept. 8, including Braddock Road, King Street-Old Town, Eisenhower Avenue, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield and Huntington.
Prince William County and Manassas commuters are finding alternative ways to get to work during the summer Metro shutdown. Instead of driving, OmniRide, Virginia Railway Express, SlugLines or joining a vanpool or carpool can be alternatives for commuters during the summer shutdown.
Coleman can drive to the Franconia-Springfield station to catch the express shuttle bus to the Pentagon to get on a Metro train to finish her commute. She can also catch a ride with a family member to the Dunn Loring station on the Orange Line. Either route during the shutdown adds about 30 minute to her commute each way, she said. For now, she has found a carpool to get to work. She said she plans to take the Metro again when the shutdown is over.
OmniRide and drivers on I-95 have anecdotally reported experiencing more traffic due to construction and the summer Metro shutdown — in a region that already is known for heavy interstate traffic.
VRE has seen a 10% increase in its daily passenger trips from Tuesday through Thursday from about 20,000 daily passengers before the summer shutdown to about 22,000 daily passengers, said Karen Clarkson, VRE spokeswoman.
“VRE has seen an uptick in ridership, particularly at our Alexandria and Franconia-Springfield stations, which are a stone’s throw from Metrorail’s King St-Old Town and Franconia-Springfield stations, respectively,” Clarkson said.
And it isn’t just commuters inconvenienced.
Woodbridge resident Jessie Scherstrom Green said driving to a 9 a.m. doctor’s appointment in McLean on a weekday took two hours when it normally takes an hour or an hour and 15 minutes.
Tracie Donaldson said while she doesn’t work in the D.C. area, the temporary shutdown has kept her family from making summer trips to Arlington and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, because she doesn’t drive in D.C.
In anticipation of new riders on the VRE trains, the cost of an Amtrak Step-Up ticket is temporarily $4, lowered from $8.
The tickets allows passengers with a multi-ride VRE pass to use any of the 12 Amtrak trains, Clarkson said.
OmniRide is offering two free bus shuttles from commuter lots to two VRE stations during the shutdown. VRE fares are still required. OmniRide is offering a free shuttle, which serves stops along Dale Boulevard, from the Dale City commuter lot to Rippon VRE station. The bus service is also offering a free shuttle from the Tackett’s Mill commuter lot to the Woodbridge VRE station. That shuttle also serves stops along Old Bridge Road.
OmniRide continues to o er its express bus routes and Metro express routes to help people traveling north all the way to D.C. Despite the Metro shutdown, an average of 550 people continue to use OmniRide’s Prince William Metro Express, which connects Woodbridge to the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, said Christine Rodrigo, OmniRide spokeswoman. Commuter Connections, a regional network of transportation groups organized by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, recommends a variety of alternatives: carpool, vanpool, bus, rail, telework and its CarpoolNow app, which helps carpool drivers pick up other commuters going to and from work. The free app offers a $10 incentive per trip, with a maximum of $600 per year, according to Commuter Connections.
Kalai Kandasamy, curator for the “Sluglines” app and the website, sluglines.com, created three new slug routes, where people can informally o er free rides to two other people so they can ride the HOV-3 lanes for free with an EZ-Pass Flex.
Kandasamy said the slugging community is great, because it can help people reach their destinations faster while reducing the number of cars on the road.
He estimated about 3,500 drivers pick up about 6,000 riders per day. But starting new slug lines is difficult to build up the awareness and use of the route, he said.
The new morning slug pick up locations are in the parking lots at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, the Van Dorn Street Metro station, and Landmark Mall. Landmark Mall requires a parking permit.
The slug routes head into various locations in D.C. Drivers pick up riders in D.C. in the afternoon and head back to the morning pick up locations.
“It takes time for them to understand how to pick up drivers and where to drop them o ,” he said. “I still get the question, ‘It is free?’ Drivers and riders can be hesitant. Once they start doing it, they’ll see the efficiency.”
Since the summer Metro shutdown, Kandasamy said about 200 people have joined the Slugline Facebook group. Kandasamy also recommends the Waze app, which can help drivers and riders coordinate. Kandasamy wants drivers to be aware of the new slug lines so they can pick up riders.
“We have a lot of riders and few drivers,” Kandasamy said about the new slug routes.
He envisions the Springfield-Franconia and Van Dorn slug routes to be permanent.