COLLEGE PARK – As the College Park Metro Station closes down for two weeks for repairs, University of Maryland students are scrambling to adjust their commutes.
Metro announced on March 30 that it would be closing two stations, College Park and Greenbelt, for its 14th SafeTrack Surge: an extended period of time during which certain tracks are closed for major renovation projects. These surges are for the purpose of addressing Metro safety recommendations and updating the overall system to make it more consistent.
“The surge is proceeding as planned and the work, to date, has been very productive,” said Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority special projects officer Ron Holzer.
Transportation officials designed the surges to compact three years worth of renovation into only one year, and despite the inconvenience posed to Metro riders, they believe commuters will be able to adjust easily.
“Yesterday we saw a little more foot traffic than usual. Commuters are very savvy, and since this is the 14th surge, they’ve learned all the new ways to get around,” said Paulette Jones, spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation.
Jones said University of Maryland students have lots of alternative transportation opportunities to utilize while the College Park stop is closed, such as the university’s buses, to make their change in commute easier.
The Greenbelt Metro Station will be closed from April 15 - May 14, while the College Park station will be closed only until April 29. Although the College Park station will be closed for a much shorter time than Greenbelt, many students who commute to class and work are still struggling to find ways to campus without the Metro.
“The Metro closing makes everything so much harder,” said Shahrazad Hired, a Maryland senior who has commuted since her freshman year. “It’s very inconvenient for me. I’ve had to adjust my whole commute around it and it takes me so much longer to get to work and class now.”
Hired says the Metro has also been much more congested as a result of travelers who would normally get on at the College Park or Greenbelt stops converging at Prince George’s Plaza.
While the Metro is closed at these stops, free shuttle buses have replaced the trains between Greenbelt and Prince George’s Plaza, making stops at College Park. While these shuttles provide a cost-free option to commuters, the added travel time has turned some students off from using them.
“I’ve just been avoiding the Metro altogether and using Lyft or Uber,” said Sydney Parker, a junior who lives on campus but occasionally uses Metro services. “It’s more expensive, but I don’t use the Metro often enough to work around the shuttle schedule or transfer from the bus to a train.”
Despite the inconvenience for some, other students are optimistic that the SafeTrack closings will result in a more reliable Metro.
“If closing the (College Park) stop for awhile is going to make the trains break down less and run on time I think it’s worth it,” said sophomore Brandon Johnson. “It’s only for a couple weeks, and what matters is that they’re making it safer.”
This scheduled SafeTrack surge is the first to have affected Green Line commuters. Two more surges are scheduled during May and June, concluding the year of repairs to the Metro system.