New Metro Shuttle Bus?

New Metro Shuttle Bus?
New Metro Shuttle Bus (artist conception)

16 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines on Labor Day Weekend, August 27th to September 3rd. What better time to rip up the Metrorail tracks serving Washington, DC’s Ronald Reagan National Airport?

The crack planners of the  Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) have developed an ingenious strategy to accomplish those track repairs with a minimum of traveler discomfort: they’re not flying anywhere themselves.

For those who are flying in and out of National Airport, Metro reminds you that “The stations will remain open, but the track between them will be closed . . . .” There will also be secret single-tracking at irregular times, and:

Free shuttle bus service will be available every five minutes between the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Braddock Road Metrorail stations to get riders through the affected area.

If we recall correctly, a six-car Metrorail train holds about 800 passengers; a Metrobus holds 50 riders. Each Metrorail train is operated by one person; so is each bus. Ferrying one trainload of passengers between Metro stations requires 16 buses and drivers.

As far as we can determine, there will be a dozen Metro trains arriving and departing the affected stations each hour during the repair period. Check our math, because the logistics are simply preposterous. Even if enough buses and drivers were available, loading and unloading would take forever, and the 5-minute shuttle bus schedule is mere piffle.

Unless . . . unless WMATA has secretly taken a giant leap forward in mass transit technology and developed sextuple articulated Metro buses! One driver could transport a complete trainload of passengers from station to station in one trip. Sheer genius.

There is one drawback: these buses would disrupt air traffic at National Airport. The only place they can turn around is on aircraft runways.

New Metro Shuttle Buses?

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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