Northern Virginia Representatives Urge OPM To Maximize Telework During WMATA Station Closures
Washington, May 1, 2020
Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Gerry Connolly, (D-VA), today wrote to the Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) urging prompt guidance to federal agencies to maximize telework policies during upcoming Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) track work. The Platform Improvement Project and the ongoing Silver Line Phase 2 extension are set to close Metro stations along the Orange and Silver Lines in Northern Virginia this summer, and federal workers make up a large share of WMATA’s ridership.
“We write ahead of the upcoming Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Platform Improvement Project and Silver Line Phase 2 extension work, during which all Orange and Silver line stations west of Ballston-MU will be closed and all Silver Line service will be suspended starting Saturday, May 23. The closure of these stations in Northern Virginia will pose significant challenges to the thousands of federal workers who rely on Metro to commute.
“Current Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance allows for implementation of telework to the maximum extent possible due to the COVID-19 crisis. We urge OPM to, at the very minimum, provide maximum telework flexibilities for those affected by the upcoming WMATA service interruptions regardless of COVID-19-related developments.
“Previously, OPM has issued agency guidance to allow expanded telework and alternative work schedules during WMATA service disruptions. This was done for the SafeTrack program in 2016, ahead of a severe service disruption for lines in Virginia in 2018, and during WMATA’s shutdown of six Blue and Yellow line stations in 2019. The spirit of the guidance has been helpful. Delays in publication of the guidance, however, have limited the ability of agencies to deploy telework flexibilities in a timely manner and in a way that could best mitigate commuting disruptions. Last year, OPM issued guidance on May 21 just days before WMATA shut down six stations serving thousands of federal employees despite months of advance notice from WMATA about the planned work.
“We urge you to issue timely guidance to maintain the current maximum flexibility in telework options for affected federal employees for the entirety of the Platform Improvement Project and Silver Line Phase 2 extension work.”
A signed copy of the letter is available here.