Northwood News ♦ June 2016
By Laura Hussey
Commuting by Metro has been a challenge over the past year, as riders of the
aging system have experienced unexpected delays, crowded cars, single tracking,
and a complete shutdown of the rail system with little notice. Things may
get worse before they get better, and what’s coming will probably affect
every type of commute to every part of the area at some point over the coming months.
Metro’s chief operating officer, Paul Wiedefeld, has announced an aggressive
maintenance plan, branded Safetrack, which will affect every one of Metro’s lines
for some period of time over the next year, with extended periods of single tracking,
complete closure of segments of the system for weeks, and reduced service hours.
On our side of the Red Line, the segment between Fort Totten and NoMa/Gallaudet University
stations is scheduled to be closed for 23 days from October 10 to November 1.
With travel disruptions inevitable for virtually every commuter, now may be a good
time to experiment with alternatives to your normal commute. Here are a few ideas:
- Red Line commuters who choose to stick with trains may experiment with riding
MARC trains, which also stop at the Silver Spring Transit Center and terminate at
Union Station. Single tickets are $5; a pass for unlimited rides for Monday to Friday
is $37.50. At Union Station, riders could transfer to the Red Line or walk to their
final destination. Union Station to Metro Center is about a mile, a 20-minute walk.
- Train commuters may also try working the Green Line into their commute, either by driving
to Greenbelt or another station with parking, or by taking the Red Line to Fort Totten and
then changing to the Green Line into D.C. (the Green Line reconnects with the Red Line at
Gallery Place, if the ultimate destination is further along the Red Line).
- Another option is to replace the train portion of your commute with a bus. Metro
Z2, Z6, and Z8 and RideOn 21 and 22 buses travel Colesville Road, stopping at Southwood,
Lorain, and the north corner of University; commuters can connect at the Silver Spring
Transit Center to many other bus lines into and from D.C. Fare is $1.75.
Transferring from one Metro bus to another is the cheapest public transportation option,
since transfers from one Metro bus to another are free.
- In addition to Metro buses to and from D.C. and other parts of the area that serve the
Silver Spring Transit Center, the transit hub is served by a couple of express bus routes
operated by MTA — the 305 and 325 lines. Schedules are available at
mta.maryland.gov/commuter-bus. MTA commuter bus service is more expensive, but
also faster than Metro bus — about half an hour to get from the Silver Spring station
to Metro Center — with both fares and travel time comparable to Metro train service.
MTA contracts with a private company for this service, and the buses have cushy seats and
powerful air conditioning. Single tickets are $5 and may be purchased from the driver
with exact change only. Ten-trip passes are $40 and monthly passes are $136, available from
- Other alternatives include ride-sharing (including traditional car-pooling as well
as services like Uber and Lyft); bicycling all or part of the way (using your own bike or
a bike-share service); or telecommuting, if your work allows.
Smart phone apps may make life easier, regardless of what option you choose. Google Maps
has information on public transportation routes as well as bike routes. There are many
other free apps that can help with your commute. Several neighbors have recommended
Moovit, but, again, now is the time to explore alternatives and learn the ins and outs of
the app or apps you choose.
Happy commuting! ■