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Posted at 5:08 PM ET, 12/25/2010

Metro prepping for snowstorm

By Washington Post Staff Writers

Share photos | Capital Weather Gang | Dr. Gridlock's snow guide

Metro has crews on standby to remove snow from station platforms and other areas as the region prepares for Sunday's storm.

The transit agency said in a news release that it has 559 pieces of snow equipment prepared to deal with snow and will monitor conditions to keep functioning as effectively as possible.

Metrorail and Metrobus are both operating on a Sunday schedule tomorrow, and MetroAccess is running its regular subscription trips, though the transit agency says that if weather gets back, it could "limit or curtail" service for safety reasons. Snow and ice can make conditions treacherous for buses -- and for passengers trying to access bus stops or just to walk to stops.

Besides trying to keep the trains and buses running as long as possible, Metro clears the areas around station entrances but not around bus stops. Metrorail drew public criticism during the heaviest snows when it shut above-ground service and restricted underground operations during the snowstorms last winter.

Metro's basic winter plan is the same this year. Metrorail will operate a close-to-normal schedule in up to six inches of snow. When the snow gets to eight inches and starts to cover the third rail, the transit authority may suspend above-ground service. Metrobus will first reduce service depending on local route conditions, then if overall conditions deteriorate it will limit service to snow emergency routes. In a severe storm, it will halt all service. MetroAccess managers will curtail trips as road conditions deteriorate.

Maintaining service on the exposed Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River will be a priority. Engineers have modified ice scrapers on rail equipment to help keep tracks clear. Metrobus has told local jurisdictions which snow emergency routes need to be plowed to serve the maximum number of communities.

Keep in mind that conditions that limit Metro's ability to operate transit services will affect other transportation agencies, too. Arlington Transit, the Fairfax Connector, Ride On, TheBus and other suburban agencies will be affected depending on conditions in their areas of service.

By Washington Post Staff Writers  | December 25, 2010; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  Metro, Weather  
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