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Transit-Less Terps: Metro Closes College Park Station On Graduation Weekend

Terps without transit.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/marylandalumniassociation/7181275593/
Terps without transit.

On Sunday, thousands of University of Maryland students and their proud parents will descend on the College Park campus for that joyous annual rite of passage: commencement. They won't be getting there via Metro, though.

Metro will be closing the College Park Green Line station this weekend as part of its weekly schedule of track work. According to Metro, it will be replacing tracks and switches along the stretch between Greenbelt and West Hyattsville, closing three stations—Greenbelt, College Park and Prince George's Plaza.

University officials say they only learned of the scheduled closure yesterday, and commencement-related websites still say that visitors can rely on Metro to get to the Comcast Center, where the ceremonies will take place.

“Eleven family members are visiting this weekend and staying in a hotel in College Park, and I don’t own a car. How are we supposed to get around?”, asked Ted Van Houten, who isn't only scheduled to graduate with a Master's degree in urban planning, but also serves on the board of the Action Committee for Transit, a pro-transit group in Montgomery County.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said that the track work was scheduled six months ago, and announced via a press release from the transit agency. He said they received no feedback about it at the time, and that ridership at the College Park station during commencement last year was low anyhow—only 262 people an hour at its peak. 

"The work we're doing isn't routine, but rather rebuilding the system," he said. "We understand the impact, but it's necessary."

For any graduates-to-be or their visiting families, Stessel says Metro will run free bus shuttles serving the three shuttered stations. Still, the transit agency warns that anyone expecting to catch one of the buses should add 35 minutes to their travel time.

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