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Metro to suspend most weekend track work during cherry blossom season

The transit agency says it plans to take a weekend maintenance break for the next four weekends

Blooming cherry trees around the Tidal Basin (2018)
Getty Images

The National Cherry Blossom Festival brings more than 1.5 million people to D.C. each year, helping to make it one of Metro’s busiest times in terms of ridership. This year, from March 23 through April 14, Metro will halt “almost all weekend track work” to make commuting to the cherry trees a little easier for people, the transit agency announced in a release last week.

In a statement, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said “taking a break from daytime track work makes Metro the best way to see the blossoms without worrying about traffic or parking.” Trains will depart end-of-line Metro stations every 12 minutes on Saturdays and every 15 minutes on Sundays over the four-week period. Stations served by multiple lines, such as those downtown, will see trains arrive every four to seven minutes, per the release.

The 2019 Cherry Blossom Festival officially lasts from March 20 through April 14. According to the National Park Service and the Capital Weather Gang, the trees’ “peak bloom” period is expected in the first week of April. About 3,000 cherry trees are located near the Tidal Basin.

This year’s festival comes at a difficult time for Metro. Ridership on the rail system recently decreased to fewer than 595,000 weekday trips on average—the first time since 2000 that ridership dipped below 600,000 weekday trips on average—reports the Washington Post. And while it remains uncertain when late-night service will return to Metrorail, the transit agency is venturing to subsidize ride-hailing and taxi trips for overnight workers for a year.

Metro isn’t the only way to get to the cherry trees, of course. Today Capital Bikeshare starts rolling out 500 electric bikes around D.C. One already in service is cherry blossom-themed.