DC Metro says wait times could reach 60 minutes on July 4

The Washington DC Metro warned customers could face wait times of up to an hour on July 4 as the transportation company struggles with a reduced number of rail cars on one of its busiest days of the year.

The agency sidelined about 60 percent of its fleet in October after a train derailment revealed defects in Metro’s 7000-series railcars, causing delays in the rail system that persist nearly nine months later.

“Due to the reduced number of rail cars available for service, capacity on Metrorail will be less than during previous Independence Days,” Metro said in an advisory published Wednesday.

“That means customers should be prepared for longer wait times, up to 60 minutes, and for crowds, especially at the end of the fireworks.”

The fireworks on the National Mall are scheduled for just after 9 p.m. and usually lead to long lines for the subway, even with a full fleet.

Metro encouraged passengers to delay their journey after the fireworks so the crowd could disperse and consider going to a station other than Smithsonian, which is closest to the fireworks.

“Metro Transit Police may temporarily restrict access to stations with excessive crowds to prevent unsafe conditions on the platforms,” ​​the transit agency said.

Since the October derailment at Metro’s Arlington Cemetery station, the carrier has gradually improved service levels by putting older cars back into service.

But those incremental improvements became a problem when Metro sidelined 72 of its rail operators in May after announcing that nearly half of its 500 total operators failed to meet the required certifications. Metro’s general manager and chief operating officer resigned the following day.

The agency returned to service eight of its 7000 series trainsets earlier this month and is now working on returning the rest of the fleet once inspectors have signed up.

Independence Day typically marks a high passenger count for DC’s subway system, with more than 210,000 passengers per train on July 4 last year.

About 120,000 passengers boarded the metro on an average day in 2021, and passenger numbers still remain well below pre-pandemic levels, according to the agency’s data.

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