Washington DC's Metro, the city's subway system that is used by more than 700,000 people every day, will close for 29 hours beginning at midnight tonight — all day on Wednesday, in other words. The closure will allow the inspection of electric cables in the system following an electrical fire early Monday.
According to a statement from Metrorail, the inspections that cover "approximately 600 'jumper cables' will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system." After the inspections are complete, there is still potential for additional service outages depending on what is found during the process.
If the inspections are successful, the system is expected to reopen at 5AM on Thursday. On Monday, a cable fire caused significant delays on several of the network's six rail lines as Metro operators were forced to run trains in two directions on a single track.
Last year, smoke filled a Metro tunnel, killing one and injuring dozens more, in an incident at L'Enfant Plaza. That issue drew furious responses from elected officials who called the incident "entirely predictable" and criticized the safety of the entire system. The shutdown and system-wide inspection is meant to avoid the possibility of an similar incident.
Wednesday's closure was ordered following discussions between Metro's general manager and the railroad's board of directors.
Commuters looking to get to work in the city on Wednesday are expected to encounter significant delays — Uber and Lyft are likely to get a workout, so it will be interesting to see watch how surge pricing behaves.
Washington's Metro system is one of the newer major subway systems, first opening in the mid-70's. It was a jewel of the public transit world, but has been dogged by years of mismanagement and maintenance issues.