Monday, June 29, 2009

Metro Fail

It took me an hour and a half to get to work this morning, twice as long as it should. I can't tell if Metro thinks they are going to get more funding by providing pitiful service, if they think that they need to pretend to be "more careful" to inspire confidence in their customers, or if they actually think they are making things better.

Okay, they had a wreck, people were killed, it was horrible. In the aftermath we found out that Metro had screwed up in every way, their collision-avoidance system wasn't working, the brakes on the train were months overdue for maintenance, the train itself was old and the government had told them years ago to stop using it, and so on. We pay top dollar for public transportation here, I spend nine bucks a day not including parking, and what do we get? Junk. Dangerous junk.

Now we have a new routine on the Red Line. Well, first of all, every other train is supposed to turn around at Grosvenor. All locals who live out beyond that know you can get off a train at Grosvenor and wait a few minutes and an empty train will come out of the tunnel. You can get a seat. Apparently Metro has stopped doing that. They don't announce it or anything, they just stopped it. Today there was a "No Passengers" train scheduled to come into that station, which means that it is not picking up passengers going outbound but will turn around, so a lot of people waited while a full train stopped, headed downtown. A train came into the station with signs saying "No Passengers," and then changed them to "Shady Grove" and kept going. So we all missed a train for nothing, hundreds of us.

The new routine is this. You wait forever on a crowded platform, until finally a crowded train pulls into the station. The doors open and more people jam into the cars. After several stations, the crowding is so bad that the doors can't close. The operator's announcements get crankier and crankier, until finally they "offload" the train, which is their way of saying they kick everybody off. The platform is already crowded, but another thousand or so passengers pour out of the "disabled" train to join them. Everybody waits until another already-crowded train pulls into the station. Repeat.

What, they can't tell which door is stuck? They can't send somebody to walk to that car, tell people to get out of the way and let the door shut? If it's a bad car, they can't offload one car, they have to do the whole train? (I know they can, I've seen it.)

This happened to me Thursday and it happened today, that is, it happened to the trains I was on, we got offloaded because the doors wouldn't close. During the course of the morning it must happen a lot of times.

Metro is clearly running fewer trains than they need, I don't know what the rationale is.

I took the Metro shortly after the June 22nd accident. Most people did not yet know that the accident had occurred. I went into Union Station at about 6:15 (the wreck was at about 5:00) and the platform was not crowded. Trains came on a regular schedule, true they could not go all the way out, but they went to Rhode Island Avenue and turned around without problems. In other words, even with an obstruction at Fort Totten, it is entirely possible for most of the Red Line to run smoothly.

There is apparently a 35 mph speed limit in effect on the stretch of track where the accident happened, and Metro blames this for delays everywhere else. What is the point of going slow there? The sensor that prevents collisions was not working two weeks ago, but I honestly hope they have fixed it by now! Are they slowing down so people can look out the window and see what's left of the debris? Or is Metro trying to make people think it is safer somehow to go slower there? It doesn't make any sense to me unless there are people working on the track and the investigation, but I don't think there are. The mess has been cleared up, there's nothing to see at this point, now they're working at their desks.

Every day after the accident, Metro service got worse. It is now intolerable. People need to get to work on time, and Metro is not meeting that need.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if this has anything to do with it but someone told there was a crack on the rail somewhere near Grosvenor last week.

June 29, 2009 11:44 AM  
Blogger Tish said...

My youngest unmarried son's phrase for situations like this is "epic fail."

As in, "Metro commits an Epic Fail."

June 29, 2009 6:48 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

The whole vocabulary has been extended by the wonderful and hilarious FailBlog.


June 29, 2009 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea -not anon
I had been driving all week last week althoughi normally take Metro and teleworking so far this week. Yesterday, a man killed himself in the afternoon on the tracks at Forest Glen.

I will start back on Metro tomorrow to see how it goes. Because my commute is so long when Metro has "good" timing, I am not sure I will do that. Adding 2 hours to my work day is enough- adding 3 or more is not going to happen.

June 30, 2009 11:43 AM  
Blogger Isaiah said...

I can't stand the metro train system. I would pay a flat metro fee of $5 if they would do three things.

1) Run the metro trains at most every 5 minutes.

2) Stay open 24/7

3) Use only 8 car trains

Enough said. If you need to charge me more to actually work go ahead. Don't charge me cheaply so you can under perform and feel good about it.

July 01, 2009 9:31 AM  

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