- The Washington Times - Monday, October 25, 2021

D.C. officials announced Monday they are offering free Capital Bikeshare memberships to city residents to help ease transit disruptions amid the ongoing inspection of Metro railcars.

The free memberships last 30 days and allow residents to take unlimited free 45-minute rides on the red Capital Bikeshare bikes with no unlocking or travel fees.

Rides longer than 45 minutes will cost 5 cents per minute for a pedal bike. E-bikes will cost 10 cents per minute from the first minute, which is 33% lower than the normal rate.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said the free bike-share program will not resolve the issue of reduced Metrorail service but could be a small thing to help mitigate frustration.

“It’s not a solution. There can be no solution to half of your railcars being out of service, but there are things that all of us … can do to ease the burden and the inconvenience that people are experiencing,” Miss Bowser said. “So if there’s something we can do with city bikes, we’ll do.”

“We need Metro leadership to clearly articulate the next steps and timeline to fully restore Metro service,” the mayor said. “In the meantime, my team is working to increase access to alternative modes of transportation.”

Metro said Friday that reduced service will continue at least until the end of the month as it inspects its 7000 Series railcars.

Trains will continue to run every 15 to 20 minutes on the Red Line and every 30 to 40 minutes on all other lines through at least Oct. 31. Silver Line service will continue to run only between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW.

Last week, Metro pulled about 60% of its subway cars out of service after the National Transportation Safety Board found that a faulty wheel assembly on the railcars had caused a derailment on the Blue Line earlier this month.

Metro said it is putting more trains into service to help alleviate the shortage caused by removing the 7000 Series railcars. It is adding some 2000 Series railcars from storage and 6000 Series railcars that are under maintenance.

The transit agency said it is working with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission and Kawasaki, the Japanese manufacturer of the 7000 Series railcars, to conduct inspections. About 100 of Metro’s 748 7000 Series railcars still need to be inspected, Metro said Friday.

Metro officials said they will not return the 7000 Series cars to service until they are fully inspected and deemed safe.

“Clearly, safety is paramount on all parts of our transportation network, including Metrorail,” Miss Bowser said Monday. “Our workers depend on it, our students and families depend on it and when visitors come to their nation’s capital, they depend on it as well.”

Anyone interested in participating in the bike-share program can visit the Ride Plans section of the Capital Bikeshare of Lyft Mobile apps or the pricing section of the Capital Bikeshare website and select a 30-day membership for no charge. Taxes and out-of-hub fees will be charged separately from rides. A valid credit card and phone number are needed to participate in the program.

Capital Bikeshare has more than 5,000 bikes at more than 650 stations throughout the D.C. region.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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