SafeTrack: What It Is, What To Do, and How We Can Help

Posted by Rachel Karitis on 6/30/16 3:06 PM

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone within the DC metropolitan area who isn’t familiar with the issues our metrorail system has experienced over the past few years. After all, 72 percent of people who work in the city commute in from Maryland and Virginia suburbs, according to the U.S. Census.

For some time, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has been working to fix the safety concerns with the 40-year-old system with sporadic weekend and late-night track work. But with an increase in fire, smoke, and generally suspended service, officials decided to take more drastic measures: SafeTrack.


Proposed SafeTrack schedule WMATA The planned SafeTrack schedule, detailing affected lines and length of time, according to WMATA. Track work will only be stopped for January’s Inauguration Week.


SafeTrack will accomplish three years’ worth of repairs into just one, according to WMATA. How? Closing at midnight every night (rather than the former 3 a.m.-weekend closures), and extended single-tracking for weeks at a time. Some segments of the rail system will be closed entirely, with self-described limited shuttle service.

Of course, the schedule for these “surge projects” is available on WMATA’s website, and its trip planner has been updated with the new schedules accordingly. But it doesn’t take into account the real inconvenience of Metro commuters: the unplanned trips.

This is where TransitScreen comes into play — making real-time departure information publicly available to enable smarter transportation decisions. Now, in addition to showing the upcoming Metro departures, every TransitScreen display in the affected area also includes any relevant SafeTrack alert.


1776 TransitScreen with WMATA service alerts The TransitScreen located at 1776’s DC office, now featuring WMATA Service Alerts below Metro departure times.


These service alerts provide commuters with the ability to know the most up-to-date SafeTrack situation before taking the escalator, swiping their SmarTrip cards, and arriving on the platform only to hear an announcer asking to have their attention, please, and see a blank screen with no information about when the next train might be coming.

Huge delay on the red line? Maybe you decide to go with the S9 to Silver Spring instead. It’s not wildly humid outside? Consider using one of the newly installed Capital Bikeshare stations added to help combat SafeTrack’s inconveniences. No matter which you choose, TransitScreen will make sure you are confident the decision was well-informed.

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