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WMATA: Use Transit Only for Essential Trips

Transit Service will be scaled back again for the week of Monday, March 23 to Friday March 27, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. There will be limited service for essential trips only, and the public is asked to use Metro only if they have no other option, or Metro will consider cutting service.

“Metro wants to provide bus service for essential trips in the region, but if continued usage for non-essential trips becomes a public health concern, Metro may consider discontinuing all bus service,” said a Metro press release. “Simply put: public health concerns take priority over individual transportation needs.”

Since Metro asked on March 13th that public transit be used for ‘essential travel only’, ridership has declined daily as people follow guidance to stay home and practice social distancing. Rail ridership was down more than 86 percent and bus down 65 percent on Friday.

However, WMATA said that many people continue to use buses for non-essential uses, making social distancing on-board buses difficult and straining already-reduced capacity.

“We all need to think of transit service as a limited resource because, right now, it is,” Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “If you are boarding a bus when you could walk, that increases the likelihood of the bus reaching capacity and having to bypass a stop where a nurse might be waiting to get to her shift.”


  • Trains will operate every 20 minutes on all lines. Stations serviced by multiple lines will see trains arrive every 7-10 minutes
  • Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations will remain closed until further notice
  • Buses will run on a modified Sunday schedule. Supplemental trips will not operate
  • All Metrobus customers should enter and exit the bus using the REAR doors only, (except customers who require use of a wheelchair ramp should use front entrance)
  • Bus operators have discretion to bypass bus stops if vehicles are too crowded to maintain safe social distancing
  • fare collection is suspended on all Metrobuses
  • All Metro Station restrooms are closed to the public

Metro said the Pandemic Response Plan remains at the highest response level, Phase 3. Officials said it will remain there until the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides. Metro may make emergency service reductions at any time if deemed necessary to protect employees and riders, they added.

For a list of routes that are – and are not – operating this week, visit http://wmata.com/


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