WMATA to Boost Train Frequency as Pandemic Workforce Shortage Eases

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Beginning Feb. 7, customers on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Blue, Blue + (Yellow Line replacement) and Orange lines will see increased train frequency, cutting down service times from every 15 minutes to every 12 minutes.

The increased frequency will take place on the Blue and Orange lines from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday. Trains will depart from the Red Line station every 8 minutes from Tuesday through Thursday until 9 p.m. starting on Feb. 21.

These adjustments are intended to enhance the Blue, Blue +, and Orange lines’ 15-minute service and increase the frequency of Red Line service during the day and at night, WMATA said.

The improvements are part of the agency’s plan to boost service as more 7000-series railcars become available. In addition to frequency enhancements, all Orange Line trains will consist of eight cars to provide added capacity.

“Our newest railcars have continued to provide safe and reliable service, and we are excited to deliver them where our customers most need them,” said Randy Clarke, WMATA’s general manager CEO. “By making trains more frequent and increasing capacity with more 8-car trains, we are reducing crowding and making service more convenient.”

As WMATA steadily adds service to meet rising ridership, future enhancements to rail frequency are expected in the coming months. The availability of railcars is only one component of more frequent service and greater capacity, the agency said. In order to address the pandemic labor shortage, WMATA has hired and trained hundreds of rail and bus employees each month, a press release said.

WMATA started working last summer to reach its current level of 1,400 vacancies from a prior level of 1,900 job vacancies, the majority of whom the agency says were frontline employees. With hiring incentives, competitive pay and benefits, and training that increases eligibility, WMATA said active recruiting is still ongoing.

“Our veteran and growing workforce has demonstrated our deep commitment to safety as we work continuously to bring the Metrorail system back to full strength,” Clarke said. “I want everyone to know that Metro is hiring and that this team is doing amazing work to support the region as people return to workplaces, and we prepare for a busy tourism season.”