Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Metro Commuting

It was been a rough few weeks for those of us who rely on Metro’s orange line to go to and from work. Last Wednesday, thunderstorms brought down a power line on the tracks between the East Falls Church and West Falls Church stations causing major delays as service was suspended. Even before I left the office, I received e-mail updates from Metro informing me of the outage and the notice that shuttle buses would be available at East Falls Church to take folks to the remaining three stops. Despite the many announcements we received from the train operator prior to arriving at East Falls Church, the station was a mess. There was no one to guide people to the buses or to give announcements with updates. Although I stood outside the station for over an hour, I didn’t move far enough to even see a bus. By then Metro service was restored, and I took my normal route home. The usual 50-60 minute commute took almost 2.5 hours! What I learned from last week’s experience is that we are screwed if there is ever a true emergency in the DC area. More about last week’s problems from the Washington Post (here and an editorial here), Word of Pie, The Adventures of Joe and Britt and DCist.

Last week was only a prelude to Monday. As anyone who rides Metro knows, a train derailed between Rosslyn and Court House (where I work) around 2:45. When I tried to enter the Court House station shortly after 4:30, the station was closed and there were dozens of EMT, fire and police personnel on the scene. After walking to Clarendon, I was extremely lucky squeeze on a train after only waiting 3 minutes and arrived home by 5:50. I don’t think there was another train at Clarendon for another 20-30 minutes and I’m sure that was even more crowded. I’ve read more stories about the long delays people had arriving home.

At this point, I have very little confidence in Metro (and this is from someone who is a huge proponent of the system). Minor delays for orange line riders continue this morning, but I’m not taking any chances. I’m driving today. I’m going into work late and staying late so that I can drive after the HOV restrictions have been lifted. Although this is not a realistic long-term option, I feel like I have to do this until the situation is resolved.


Captain Easychord said...

days like these remind me that there's more than one reason why I like to live where I can walk to work... *whew!*

Captain Easychord said...

also, a colleague of mine who takes the red line to the MARC train (and lives in harpers ferry, wv) evidently had a 4.5 hour commute home yesterday... good times!

Anonymous said...

Yep, heat is going to cause more derailments if the engineers continue to drive the trains at excessive speed. They will kill someone if they already haven't taken a little life already. I'm surprised the papers kept reporting no injuries, insisting NO ONE WAS HURT! ALL IS WELL! ALL IS WELLLLLL!! When a expecting mother, YES a pregnant woman was hospitalized after the Metro Train Derailment, who was suffering from abdominal pains! Hopefully, she didn't have a miscarriage and loose the baby. I'm sure the Metro System will be paying out a few million to that woman if she loses the baby. Personally, with the gas crunch the trains have been loaded with too many people and exceeding their max weight allowed for safe transport. If the Fire Department has laws for excessive people in a building for Fire Code, why hasn't anyone been enforcing Max Occupancy for the Metro Trains? The Trains have been loading far too many people on them, I would speculate that overloading/weight and speed were the two main factors for this derailment. Someone should arrest the Metro Engineer for exceeding max safe weight and speed during this accident. Or at least give him a ticket!