The College Park Metro Station will close for two weeks next month as part of the system's SafeTrack construction plan, and Maryland's Purple Line remains on schedule to open in five years, officials announced Thursday.
The College Park Metro Station will close for two weeks in April as part of the next phase of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's SafeTrack construction plan, Metro announced Thursday.
The station will close from April 15 to April 29, while the Greenbelt Station will close from April 15 to May 14 as WMATA works to repair the Green Line. Buses will replace trains from College Park to Greenbelt and Prince George's Plaza during the station closures.
Metro launched SafeTrack — a 16-part track work plan to improve the reliability and safety of the Metro — in June after years of deferred maintenance led to frequent breakdowns and delays. The Green Line closures are part of the program's Surge 14, and the program is scheduled for completion in June 2017.
Other proposed Metro changes
A union of Metro workers also suggested improvements — including implementing a flat fare system, free bus-to-rail transfers and extending hours — to increase funding and ridership for the system in a report released Thursday.
In fiscal 2018, Metro faces a projected $290 million deficit to its $1.8 billion operating budget, The Washington Post reported in February. WMATA increased fares and cut down service to address the shortfall.
Trip fares currently depend on the time of day, divided into on-peak and off-peak hours, and the distance between stations. If Metro adopts flat fares for the rail system, time of day and distance would no longer be a factor in trip costs. The University of Maryland's Residence Hall Association Senate passed a resolution late February in support of charging a mandatory student fee for all on-campus residents to provide unlimited ridership access.
The Metro opens at 5 a.m. during the week and 7 a.m. on weekends, and the rail system closes at midnight every night to conduct SafeTrack repairs.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents more than 10,000 Metro employees, suggested the system utilize labor partnerships and dedicated taxes to boost finances, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
It also proposed an amendment to federal law that would allow Federal Transit Administration funds to be used during transit system crises, if a situation presented itself.
Purple Line update
A Maryland transit official also told local lawmakers Thursday that the Purple Line light rail remains on schedule to open in five years and construction could begin this spring, despite eight months of delays due to a pending federal lawsuit, The Washington Post reported.
The 16-mile light rail line would run from Bethesda to New Carrollton and would cost an estimated $2 billion. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon revoked the project's federal approval in August until Maryland recalculates the project's ridership forecast as part of a lawsuit opposing the line on environmental grounds. Construction was slated to begin at the end of 2016.
Additional concerns stem from a proposed budget President Trump released in early March, which, if implemented, could prevent the project from receiving the $900 million in federal funds needed for Purple Line construction to move forward.
State officials cannot secure the federal funding unless they win the pending lawsuit, Trump's proposed budget stipulates that only transit projects with signed full funding agreements for the rest of the current fiscal year would receive federal aid, The Post reported.
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated Metro's fiscal 2018 operating budget was $1.8 million. It is $1.8 billion. This article has been updated.