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WMATA said bringing back late-night hours could mean more frequent delays

Metro is proposing the return of some late-night hours as part of its new budget, but the transit agency is eyeing single-tracking and shutdown zones as a solution.

WASHINGTON — Metro wants to bring back some late-night hours, but transit agency officials said that means other riders will be delayed more often.

On Thursday, Metro leaders told the agency’s board of directors that adding four hours of rail service per week will mean more single-tracking and rail shutdown zones on weeknights after 10 p.m.

"In order to expand late-night service, Metro will use late night bus-bridges and single tracking as needed," Metro documents said.

"When we need to do that, we will do that," Laura Mason, Metro’s executive vice president of capital delivery, said.

Metro has proposed extending hours as part of its new operating budget in hopes of upping its ridership numbers. Metro wants to close at midnight Monday through Thursday, and at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday hours would not change.

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Metro scaled back hours in 2017, saying track work crews urgently needed more time to do preventative track maintenance overnight. 

Now, Metro says crews are more efficient. 

"Significant progress has been made to shift from reactive to proactive maintenance work in the Metrorail system," according to documents submitted to Metro’s board. "These improvements reduce demand for track time and enable Metro to expand service hours without impacting safety or service reliability."

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Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the transit agency is making no sacrifices when it comes to safety, but is finding a balance between service and on-time performance.

"This isn’t a safety issue anymore, this is a policy issue," Wiedefeld said. "Do you want more hours? It could cost on some of the on-time performance."

Any changes to Metro’s hours would need to be approved by its board. You can make your voice heard at public hearings as early as next month. Changes could go into effect in July.

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