Metro announces service adjustments to combat new COVID-19 variant in Washington, D.C.
WMATA has announced new service adjustments and an updated employee testing and vaccination policy to combat the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA/ Metro) has announced that it has made several changes in the operations of its services, in line with new COVID-19 regulations.
As part of these changes to Metro operations, Metrobus will reduce its services on weekdays to a Saturday schedule, with additional trips on some routes. Key routes that serve essential destinations – such as hospitals and grocery stores – will be protected.
Furthermore, MetroAccess will decrease shared rides and increase accessibility rides, while Metrorail will continue to operate as normal. However, customers will be required to wear face coverings for their health and safety and are encouraged to consider alternative forms of transport, like Metrorail, to travel throughout the region.
“Scaling back service will ensure that customers who rely on Metrobus, Metrorail and MetroAccess for transportation have a more reliable schedule,” said Metro’s CEO and General Manager, Paul Wiedefeld. “Metro employees live in some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic and are exposed to the surge in the region and throughout the nation. It’s important that the taskforce take steps to make Metro operationally sound to meet the needs of our customers.”
Additionally, as the authority closely monitors COVID-19 conditions throughout the Washington, D.C. area, Metro employees will now be held to vaccine or testing policy compliance in order to help to prevent serious illness and the spread of the new Omicron variant.
Furthermore, from 10 January 2021, all unvaccinated employees will be required to undergo weekly testing and will be placed on unpaid suspension if they fail to comply to Metro’s testing and vaccination policies. Employees will have up to 30 days to comply or be subject to termination of employment. As part of their fully vaccinated status, employees will also be required to enter booster shot information into Metro’s portal by 31 January 2021.
As well as adjustments to Metro’s core transportation services, changes have also been made in the operation of Metro’s call centres. Customer service call centre operators will now work remotely to help to combat COVID-19 infection, but there will be no changes in their hours of operation.