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WMATA returns to pre-attack schedules, encourages D.C. tourism


While it might be a stretch to say that Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is returning to "normal" following the Sept. 11 attacks, you could say WMATA is returning to a state of familiarity — and at the same time, trying to help the city regain its footing.

Just as Ronald Reagan National Airport began serving customers again, the Pentagon’s Metrorail Station Oct. 1 reopened its doors to all customers. Following the plane crash, only Pentagon employees with identification had been allowed to exit the station.

And as of Oct. 4, Metrorail resumed its usual operating hours. Department of Defense had requested WMATA begin operating trains at 5 a.m. rather than 5:30 a.m., but indicated the earlier opening no longer is required.

Although train schedules and station access are returning to pre-tragedy status, many District of Columbia-area businesses aren’t as fortunate, including tourism-dependent companies.

In an effort to encourage people in District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to visit Washington and boost the city’s economy, district officials Oct. 2 requested WMATA provide free rides for Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess customers all day Oct. 13 and 14. In an emergency meeting held Oct. 4, WMATA’s board agreed.

"At a time of national crisis as the result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the region has come together to forge a new alliance inspired by the American spirit, which says we will not let an act of terrorism and cowardice keep us from our neighborhoods, places of business, destinations of interest, houses of worship and entertainment areas," said Board Chairman Decatur Trotter in a prepared statement.

The free weekend will cost WMATA $600,000, which the three districts WMATA serves will absorb.

WMATA plans to distribute brochures to advertise the free rides, including a guide to District of Columbia, its top destinations, and which trains and stations will get passengers where they want to go.

It’s all about "becoming a tourist in your own city," says Steven Taubenkibel, WMATA spokesman. "We’re trying to do everything we can to get people to use the system."

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/9/2001