Talkin’ Transit: News Wrap

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

August was slow, and September isn’t getting much news on the transit front (lots on other subjects, though). I’m going to take a look back on some Metro news you might have missed this month (but not this, as you’ve all seen it by now).

Summer is almost done, so let’s talk snow, shall we? As you’re probably aware, I’ve got a thing about snow and the amount of money that the Federal government, Metro, and local businesses lost during the storm-plagued winter. Metro tells us that they are still recouping some of the $12.7 million that it cost them to clear the snow (forget about the monies lost while the system was shut down). FEMA has agreed to reimburse Metro another $1.76 on top of the million they’ve already granted them. Only $10 million to go…

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Another person working for Metro was recently arrested. Samuel Kingston was charged with third and fourth degree sex offense and second degree assault by police. Kingston didn’t work directly for Metro, but at Metro Access subcontractor Challenger Transportation. This isn’t the only time that persons working for Metro have been arrested for crimes while on the job, but it is distressing to hear about cases that involve disabled riders. The Metro Access program seems riddled with problems, and this doesn’t help.

In better news, Metro completed the Labor Day Weekend work that closed five stations. It is rather amazing what the agency can do with proper planning and execution. Here’s what they did:

  • Replaced two track switches at Silver Spring
  • Installed 750 track fasteners, 1,720 crossties, 525 feet of track, and 500 rail insulators
  • Installed new tunnel safety lights
  • Repaired 4,800 feet of water leaks in tunnels
  • Replaced 6,400 feet of emergency fire lines along the tracks
  • Added 2,400 feet of new fiber optic communications cables to support upgraded cell phone access
  • Installed new heater tape along outdoor tracks to help reduce the build-up of ice and snow

I’m seriously impressed with what they manage to do in three days. It comes at a cost, of course: overtime, planning, and customer dissatisfaction with the closed stations and slow service elsewhere. But, and here’s the thing, this work has to be done. I think it’s better for all of us that this work be done at some weekend inconvenience and cost, rather than prolonged over weeks of night work. The sooner the system components are upgraded, the better.

The next major outage during a “holiday” weekend is over Columbus Day in October. Metro will be replacing switches and doing other work on the Orange and Blue lines, and will close the McPherson Square and Farragut West. It will also not have Orange and Blue line service at Metro Center, though the station will remain open and the Red line will continue to run. Columbus day is not a holiday for everyone, but Metro is pressing ahead to keep the system in a state of good repair.

And to wrap things up for now, did you know Metro has a store where you can buy all sorts of Metro memorabilia? More importantly, did you know they have screen savers* available as a free download? Now you do. Don’t thank me, just buy me a beer sometime…

* I’d link to the screen savers directly, but Metro’s store is a frame and the URL doesn’t change when you click… Sigh.

Born in Lebanon, Samer moved to DC to go to college. A lot of good that did him. Twenty-two years later, he still lives in the area. When he’s not writing for a blog or tweeting incessantly, he wanders the streets (and the globe) photographing whatever gets in his way.

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