August can be a quiet time for the District Council. No hearings or votes are scheduled until we reconvene in mid-September. But I still find that Metro keeps me very busy. In the past couple of weeks, Metro has been working hard to make improvements to multiple stations on the Red Line and to bring internet and cellular service to all rail stations.
Metro’s latest infrastructure project focuses on the Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland stations. The purpose of the project is to repair platforms and realign them with trains to accommodate customers with disabilities. These stations have been closed for several weeks and will reopen on Sept. 4.
I realize the inconvenience station closures bring to riders. That is why I’m pleased that dedicated bus lanes were created to replace rail service along the Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland corridor. After the communities surrounding both stations petitioned Metro, all parties worked together to find a solution to provide riders with public transportation during the period of the station repairs.
On June 29, Metro announced that free customer WiFi service is now available in all underground stations, with service coming to above-ground stations soon. Metro also partnered with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless to bring cellular service to underground stations and to the rail segments between them. The addition of wireless internet and cellular service seems like a given in 2018. Even more important is having the ability to communicate throughout the system at all times.
The next few years won’t be easy for Metro riders as more projects are announced to keep pace with routine and deferred maintenance. Improvement projects are necessary and inconveniences are unavoidable. That’s the reality of the rail system we have. Bus service will run its usual routes in Georgetown, but riders who use the bus to connect to the Metrorail system should be aware that service disruptions are likely.
Earlier this year, a dedicated funding source for Metro was secured for the first time in itshistory. I championed the legislation for the District’s share and I want to put the newstream of funding for capital projects to good use.
There is no silver bullet to fix the system, but I am confident that hard work will lead to a more reliable and safe public transportation system.
Jack Evans is the District Council member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.