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Alexandria facing another Metro shutdown, this time without DASH filling the gap

The City of Alexandria could be turning to state funding to try to mitigate the impacts of a pair of upcoming Metro closures.

At the same time, city staff wrote in a memo that it’s increasingly apparent the city’s DASH bus network doesn’t have the manpower to support additional bus routes making up for the loss of Metro service.

The impacts are from two Metro projects coming up: a shutdown of all stations south of the new Potomac Yard Metro station and the closure of the Yellow Line Bridge across the Potomac. The Potomac Yard closure is only expected to last from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22, but the Yellow Line Bridge closure is expected to run from Oct. 23 to next May. During the much longer Yellow Line Bridge closure, riders will have to take the Blue Line to Rosslyn to cross over into D.C.

During previous shutdowns, the city’s DASH bus network helped to fill the gap left by Metro. But Hillary Orr, deputy director of Transportation and Environmental Services, wrote in a memo that DASH doesn’t have the bus drivers to pick up that slack this time around.

“DASH buses are not anticipated to play the same role they did during the 2019 Platform Improvement Project due to a lack of operators to take on additional routes,” Orr wrote.

There are still likely to be more buses to try to cover that gap, but they’ll be WMATA buses. Orr said that city staff hoping to ask the state for $1 million for support.

The grant application is scheduled to be reviewed at a Transportation Commission meeting on Wednesday, June 15.

“WMATA has prepared a mitigation plan that includes shuttle bus bridges and a commitment to increased frequency on the Blue line rail service,” Orr wrote. “The City has also prepared a mitigation plan to support travel options for residents and workers in Alexandria. [Department of Rail & Public Transportation] has announced that $2 million is available to support jurisdictions with these mitigation plans.”

Orr said the City of Alexandria has also been putting together a mitigation plan, which includes:

  • Robust communication, marketing and employer outreach, in partnership with WMATA
  • Access to transportation options such as the water taxi, discounted Capital Bikeshare memberships, HOV lane changes, enhanced way-finding, and discounted or free travel on Virginia Railway Express (VRE)
  • Enhanced support for data monitoring such as bike trail counters, StreetLight data

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