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Washington, D.C.




Explosions and smoke-filled tunnels. Frustrated riders and epic commutes. This is the new normal on Washington’s Metro. Metropocalypse, a weekly podcast from WAMU 88.5, explores the unprecedented plan to rebuild tracks and re-engineer culture on the nation’s second largest transit system. Send questions & ideas to






EPISODE 27: A Metro Carol

Metro is taking disciplinary action against half its track inspection department. Late-night trains will not return until July 2019 at the earliest. Will the new year usher in a season of festivity and goodwill to all riders?

Duration: 00:24:17

Episode 23: Can Donald Trump Make Metro Great Again?

The president-elect's promise to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure improvements is emerging as one of the least divisive aspects of his agenda, at least at this early stage. Will the Republican-controlled Congress go along with it? And will any of that money help WMATA?

Duration: 00:26:19

Episode 22: Gazing Into The Future (Through The Lens Of A 'Reality Check')

Buckle your seatbelts, because where we’re going, there are no roads (or single-tracking). We consider two potential scenarios for Metro in the years ahead.

Duration: 00:25:27

Episode 20: Arguing For Equity

Permanently ending late-night service. Temporary shutting down stations with low ridership. Many of the ideas for fixing Metro’s ills raise questions of fairness: Are the burdens of the SafeTrack era falling too heavily on lower-income communities? We ride the rails with Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia to discuss those issues and more.

Duration: 00:26:43

Episode 19: Metro-Politics

When it comes to Metro politics, the most important thing isn’t party lines — it’s regional lines. We talk to a WMATA board member from Prince George’s County about the view from the east side of the region, and we look at where Virginia, Maryland and D.C. leaders stand on a key question: How can Metro get an infusion of funding?

Duration: 00:31:02

Episode 17: Will Nats Fans Have To Race To The Metro Station?

As playoff baseball returns to Washington, D.C., thousands of Nationals fans could face a choice: Stay for the end of a game, or leave early to catch the right Green Line train? Also, we discuss the acute misery of Blue Line riders: New data suggest their Metrorail experience is the worst in the system.

Duration: 00:15:30

Episode 16: Has Metro's 'Death Spiral' Begun?

More than a decade ago, a top Metro official warned of the potential for a "death spiral" involving a confluence of maintenance problems, budget pressures and rider dissatisfaction. Chris Zimmerman was on WMATA's board at the time, and he explains why those warnings went unheeded. We also ask three Metropocalypse listeners about their experiences using the rail service.

Duration: 00:25:35

Episode 14: Broken Culture, Honest Announcements

We talk to Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans about what he wants to see as the transit agency tries to fix its infrastructure and its culture. We also hear more from the man in the middle of it all, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld. And who's that coming from the train speakers? Nina Totenberg?

Duration: 01:09:51

Episode 11: Track Fires vs. Garbage Fires

As the bad news keeps coming for WMATA, we've been thinking about how Metro's woes compare with those of older systems. Kate Hinds, who covers transportation for WNYC in New York, reminds us that every city's subway has its strengths and weaknesses.

Duration: 00:46:23

Episode 10: Labor, Safety And Money

Rep. Barbara Comstock discusses how changing the pay structure for Metro's unionized workers could help the transit agency close up some of its budgetary holes. And Jackie Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, offers a counterpoint from the perspective or organized labor.

Duration: 00:58:00

Episode 9: #Hotcars And Hot Work

Why is the air conditioning so bad on some Metro cars? And what, exactly, is happening out on the Orange Line tracks during SafeTrack surge No. 5? Martin Di Caro goes looking for answers.

Duration: 00:21:42

Episode 8: Metropocalypse Now!

Martin Di Caro and guest co-host Lauren Gardner of Politico take a bus bridge with Rep. Don Beyer and encounter a bottleneck along U.S. 1. Come for the conversation about politics and policy — stay for the impressions of Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando.

Duration: 00:10:43

Episode 7.5: Live At Kramerbooks In D.C.

In front of a live audience, we nerd out on questions about ridership and "death spirals," expansion plans and bus lanes, and the 1990s technology we can't seem to escape.

Duration: 00:47:25

Episode 7: Nerd Riders

Greater Greater Washington founder (and fellow transportation nerd) David Alpert tells us about his website's MetroGreater contest. We answer hot questions from Metropocalypse listeners. And experts on the psychology of commuting explain how SafeTrack might affect Washingtonians' habits.

Duration: 00:24:36

Episode 6: How Will Washington Get Around In The Year 2026?

In the latest Metropocalypse, we explore the future of Metro: What will the system look like in 10 years? Should responsibility for running the system be passed off to the private sector? How will the introduction of driverless cars and other technologies impact the system?

Duration: 00:22:31

Episode 5: Why 1986 Still Matters

In 1986, a federal official issued a warning: If Metro continued to expand rapidly, the system faced a future of stark choices over maintaining existing infrastructure. Metro chose expansion. We talk to a historian about that decision. We also hear from a former Metro general manager about the following years, and from an Arlington planner about measuring how riders are responding to SafeTrack.

Duration: 00:21:21

Episode 4: Historic Blunder Of Epic Proportions?

SafeTrack hits its second phase, with full shutdowns of sections of the Orange Line forcing commuters to use bus "bridges" between stations. What if Metro had built extra tracks, though? We talk to a historian about why redundant stretches of rail weren't part of the system's blueprint.

Duration: 00:16:10

Episode 2: Dispatches From Day One

The Metropocalypse crew is on the scene at the Ballston station in Virginia as the "new normal" takes effect. We also ask key questions of Metro's general manager and D.C.'s mayor, and we discuss what the end of late-night service means for everyday people.

Duration: 00:19:21

Episode 1: The Surge

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Metropocalypse, WAMU 88.5's new podcast about Metro. WAMU 88.5's Martin DiCaro and Politico's Martine Powers explore what the "new normal" will be for the Washington region's subway system, and we talk to the chairman of Metro's board about why commuters will have to pay peak fares during disrupted service.

Duration: 00:14:37

Metropocalypse: Trailer

Explosions and smoke-filled tunnels. Turf wars between government agencies. Frustrated riders and epic commutes. This has become the new normal for the Metro system. Metropocalypse, a weekly podcast from WAMU 88.5 News, explores the latest developments, answers riders’ burning questions and finds humor and insight amid our region's commuting nightmares.

Duration: 00:01:34