Metro announced that it is shutting down the Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations, starting from March 19 in order to reduce recreational visits to view the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin.
Both stations will remain closed until further notice, according to a statement by Metro. The transit agency currently keeps its rail service available only for essential trips.
On March 17, Metro’s Pandemic Task Force announced major service reductions on both bus and rail in response to the ongoing outbreak, calling on the public to use Metro for essential trips only and avoid visiting cherry blossoms.
Metro ridership had already dropped 70 percent across the board shortly before these further reductions.
As part of the changes, the rail system started operating between 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. daily and buses are now allowed to bypass stops if they are too full. (Weekend hours are 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.) Trains run every 15 minutes with eight cars to help maintain social distancing among commuters.
— Metro (@wmata) March 19, 2020
Metro’s goal with the service reduction is “to protect frontline employees, while maintaining regional mobility for essential trips taken by hospital staff, government officials, and emergency responders,” according to the agency’s statement.
“As members of our community stay home from work, school and social gatherings – following the critical emergency guidance of Governors Hogan and Northam and Mayor Bowser – Metro will reduce service and implement measures to reduce risk for employees and the public,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld about the new rules.
“To be clear, Metro intends to be there to provide service for essential trips in our community – as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so. If everyone does their part and stays home whenever possible, Metro will be there for hospital staff and other heroes who need us at this unprecedented moment in our lives.”