Rush hour on Metro tends to be synonymous with things like “Orange Crush” and “Trains Offloaded” and “Why, oh why, did I try to take public transit today?!” While Metro can’t, it seems, fix things like intra-office corruption and driver mistakes, they are trying to do things to make it easier for the general commuter to suffer less. Starting in June, the Orange line will get 6 extra trains per hour (3 in each direction) which will run from Vienna to Largo Town Center, for an 18% capacity boost. The move forks the Orange line into traditional Blue line territory. In addition, the Yellow line will get forked at King Street to include some trains heading to Springfield to increase southbound capacity from the core.
Metro has also said that additional “transfer free” options will be coming, but failed to detail them in their press coverage. This would include something similar to the Farragut West/Farragut North walking transfer, but it’s hard to say until Metro makes it clearer.
With the Silver Line coming in 2014 (we hope), map changes that include the line out to Dulles Rail have begun in earnest, and a dashed-line extension now splits off from the Orange line to the northwest between West Falls Church and East Falls Church and bears several empty circles where stations will one day go. In addition, the market research that WMATA did has sprouted shoots, with new glyphs for buses to the airport, VRE, MARC and Amtrak, and parking options more deftly labeled. In addition, the secondary names of stations are given reduced emphasis in favor of the primary names. In addition, Forest Glen on the Red line gets a hospital glyph (but why not Medical Center?) which is new to the system.
The new map is available for public viewing on the WMATA website, and will be coming to a train car near you in the near term. We’ll see if we can get more information about the new transfer options.
Cracked rails on the Red and Blue line this morning in commute-heavy portions of the above-ground part of the rail system have snarled morning commutes. The breaks, near the Pentagon and near Takoma, were caused by the rapid cooling of the DC area to a low of near 10 degrees Fahrenheit last night, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. The breaks cannot be fixed during rush hour, and repairs will take place once morning rush is cleared.
I’ll admit, I struggled a bit trying to figure out what to write a “Best of…” article around for this week. Sports? Covered. Food? Taken. I had to look deeper than the usual fare: what was it about DC—and about WeLoveDC in particular—that I really enjoyed over the past year? I realized that one of the perks we have is the slew of interview opportunities we’re given for the site. So why not look at some of the more interesting interviews we’ve done over the course of 2011?
Often, I find that through the glimpse of someone else’s eyes and perspectives, we’re given a mirror to gaze into our own lives and see where we are, what we’re missing, and what we can hope to achieve. We wrote quite a few interviews and features on people who live, work, and/or visit the DC area this year and I wanted to take a moment and point out some of the ones that really stand out. I hope you take a moment to dive into these great features and either revisit some old friends, or find your own inspiration to make a better 2012. Continue reading →
The Metro board today met to consider some station names and changes to be made ahead of the next redesign of the map and authorized a number of changes to stations you may know and love. Here’s the skinny, straight from Metro:
Navy Yard becomes Navy Yard-Ballpark.
King Street becomes King St-Old Town.
Waterfront-SEU will drop SEU, because the university no longer exists.
Forest Glen will be shown on the map with the universal “H” symbol to indicate the location of Holy Cross Hospital.
Foggy Bottom and Medical Center will also be shown with “H” symbols reflecting proximity of hospitals.
New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet U will be renamed “NoMa-Gallaudet U.” “New York Ave” will be shown as a secondary name for one-year to assist customers during the transition.
Four stations were unaltered, due to public familiarity with their names, despite their length:
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
The new names will take effect next year when the June 2012 Metro Map hits the streets. The cost to rename the stations is estimated to be approximately $400,000, though no formal figure is available.
Metro will soon expand temporary station closures for track repairs, in place of single tracking. Though shuttle buses will be provided between the affected stations, closures are scheduled to happen around the system for two-thirds of weekends over the next 18 months. Continue reading →
I hate parking meters. I think they’re an awful concept. Not because they make you pay for what you use, but rather how they make you pay for it: with change. As rates have increased in the downtown core to $2/hr, it means that you need to carry with you rolls and rolls of quarters if you’re going to do any parking in the core that isn’t in a garage.
We started to see pay-by-phone metering last year, with a number of trials in Dupont Circle and in Foggy Bottom with a pair of services that work on a zone-based system. Call a number, enter a credit card (the first time) and then enter the zone where you’re parked. Bam, you’re good for as long as you’re within the limit for the zone. If you only intend to stay for 50 minutes, that’s all you pay for, instead of the potential for overpaying at a traditional coin meter. It’s a revolution.
I was getting ready to head to work on Monday when I noticed that Twitter was all atwitter about the Orange and Blue lines being a mess. I usually head into town from Court House after 9:30, and usually congestion issues have worked themselves out by then.
But this was much bigger. A power cable outside Federal Triangle needed replacing, and this caused Metro to single track trains for roughly the duration of the morning rush hour. Even after rush hour ended, there were still residual issues with trains clumping and having to slow down.
I was trying to assess if I should work from home that day and looked at the next train arrival times for Court House. To my utter amazement, I saw that the next three trains were 8-car trains. When I decided to go in, I also saw that the two of the next three trains were also 8-cars. I was shocked, and dropped a note to Metro to find out what was going on.
Two weeks ago, Metro’s board heard, again, about the possibility of eliminating late night service on the weekends. This has reopened the debate about what direction Metro should be going, and whom it should be serving.
Two of the most vociferous opponents of such a change on the WMATA board have recently left, and the new board seemed more amenable to the idea.
There are those who believe that late night service is a big boon to Metro’s bottom line and that it should be continued. Others, especially within Metro, argue that closing the system earlier would give them the equivalent of 45 days more maintenance time per year, and lower costs for overtime.
As always with Metro, it’s a balancing act. On the one hand, the system is overloaded during the rush hours, has long lead times in the evening, and pretty crappy service on the weekends. It is constantly facing budget shortfalls, and its funding is always under attack. It is aging, and it isn’t in a state of good repair. It wasn’t designed to handle the service we’re asking of it, and we won’t fund it well enough to even make it run “normally”. Continue reading →
I guess I’ve changed a whole lot since I was 17 years old, when I kind of loved my summer job delivering food for Wing Zone around the suburbs of Atlanta. I met plenty of characters, sure, and getting tips for the first time felt like playing a slot machine! But the best part to me was driving around all day, blasting music for just me and the wings in the backseat. To me, this was freedom; no bosses watching over me every second and complete control over my playlist.
These days when I contemplate driving, pleasant memories of deliveries, road trips, and burning donuts in parking lots don’t come to me immediately. Mostly I think about how I got a $100 parking ticket* within a week of moving here, then got harassed for not having DC plates. Or I think about that time someone threw a brick through my side window just days before Christmas, while my car was parked in front of a church, in order to steal nothing more than a couple awesome CDs like Smashing Pumpkins’ “Zeitgeist” and a sweet mix I made called “Maximum Chillaximum”. Continue reading →
Here’s the end to our #MetroCarol story, but before we get to that- a snapshot of what happened.
I was delighted to get a Facebook Invite to an interesting event: a flash mob on the DC Metro. Jason McCool, an actor and music professor, and Melanie Spring, founder of web marketing firm Sisarina, wanted to organize a spontaneous outburst of Holiday Carols on the platforms of various Metro Stations on the Red Line.
It was a great idea; a good natured event that would be a lot of fun to watch and would bring a surprise dose of holiday cheer into the city. Plus, I’ve never been involved with a flash mob before. I’m sure it was part of the reason over 100 people RSVP’d for the event.
The FBI has had a string of wins recently nabbing numerous would-be terrorists before they’ve struck. CNN is reporting that they’ve just accused a man arrested on December 7th of “threatening to place pipe bombs along the Metro transportation system in Washington.” The individual, identified as Awais Younis (nee Sundullah Ghilzai) bragged to someone on Facebook how to construct the device and where he could deploy them without being noticed.
Lucky for me I didn’t have to go to work today, which would entail riding the Orange Line to Rosslyn.
If I did I’m sure I would of been one of the many angrytweets about this morning’s commute.
If you haven’t heard (of if you haven’t arrived into the office yet), a report of smoke/fire at Metro Center around 8 AM this morning caused delays up and down the line as trains single tracked to get around the mess. The situation at Metro Center has since been resolved but now riders are facing the residual delays, packed cars, and a malfunctioning switch at Foggy Bottom that caused a temporary split on the lines. Luckily the switch malfunction has been cleared as well but I wouldn’t be surprised if commuters are still struggling to get to work as of this posting.
Update: Foggy Bottom Metro Escalators are open again. Police presence remains. Post reports the “unruly subject” was an aggressive panhandler.
Update from the GW Hatchet: Police activity following an altercation led to the escalator shutdown. An “unruly subject” being escorted from GW Hospital tried to grab someone outside, and the recipient of the grab proceeded to pull a knife, cut the grabber, then escape uncaught.
We’re hearing from the tweets that Foggy Bottom Metro has a police situation going on, possibly a stabbing. Metro escalators are taped off and the line for the still-working elevator goes down the block.
While that’s going on, we recommend that any Metro riders about to use Foggy Bottom walk instead to (or from) Farragut West, or catch the Rosslyn Circulator.
(Pic above is from another Foggy Bottom bottleneck incident but pretty much represents the station’s state nowadays even without police situations.)
Here’s an interesting find I read from my co-worker Meggiepoo: a man climbing up the escalator partitions at the Bethesda Metro Station after a Caps game back in May 2009. The video was found and posted over at Unsuck DC Metro and makes me wonder if he was over-served at the game, couldn’t take people standing on the left, or unwilling to walk up a broken escalator.
As a relatively new daily Metro commuter I can understand the rage we all get from overflowing rail cars and broken down elevators and escalators. I do have to give this crazy Marylander some credit, I’ve always wanted to slide down the partition but Metro smartly put metal bumps on them to prevent that kind of crazy behavior. Of course they now make good climbing grips for those willing to scale an escalator.
Of course we here at We Love DC are not endorsing this sort of behavior but I hope it gives you a smile during your lunch.
DC Fire/EMS on Twitter reports smoke at the Q Street NW entrance to Dupont Circle Metro on the Red Line — also site of this morning’s Escalator Fail. That entrance to the station is now closed and emergency responders are on the scene.
Update: Update from DC Fire/EMS: Dupont Circle Metro – Metro Mechanics on scene – situation under control – Station Open – DC F&EMS clearing scene – no injuries
In the attached video, courtesy Twitterer jaredev (view it larger after the jump) we have people being evacuated from the south station entrance, vaulting over the handrail due to a barricade in the way.
It’s been a fun (i.e. not fun) morning on Metro, with backups from multiple sick customers on Orange/Blue and Green/Yellow Lines at Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza, broken escalators at Dupont Circle, and the standard parade of nonworking air conditioners. Update: Oh, and a switch malfunction at Rosslyn. And a family stuck in the Cleveland Park Metro elevator. Update, 6PM:And an escalator fire at Dupont! Today is the gift that keeps on giving. And by gift we mean not a gift.
For extra enjoyment, here’s a video of people yelling at the Dupont Circle escalators, courtesy wfpman: (after the jump) Continue reading →
(Thanks to peroty for the mobile photo and heads-up)
If you’re aiming to get into or out of Foggy Bottom Metro station on the Orange Line this morning, be warned that at the moment two escalators are closed, and the only open escalator is going up. This, and one broken platform escalator, make getting out difficult, and getting in pretty much impossible (unless you like lining up for the elevator).
Alternatives: Farragut West, or Rosslyn + blue bus or 38B. We have, of course, been here before.
Earlier Samer wrote about how his commute changed when he was able to drive to work, for me it has been a luxury I’ve enjoyed for most of my time here in the DC area. I called it a luxury because I had a parking space at an office .7 miles away from my home in Clarendon. With a parking space waiting for me at work I freely drove that .7 miles to and from my home every day.
Call me lazy but I grew up in a Boston suburb where you needed a car in order to get anywhere around town. For me driving was always a necessity and a habit I didn’t give up til my car had an extended stay at the mechanic. Now I have the opposite of what Samer had: I took a new job in Rosslyn, where parking wasn’t provided and I went from a daily driver to a daily Metro commuter.
Even before I became a daily Metro customer I’ve been a big fan of the Metrorail system. When asked to compared Washington, DC with my hometown of Boston it is the Metro and the public transportation system that leads my argument for why I love DC a little bit more than beantown. Sure Boston has their legendary T system but WMATA did things that the MBTA never had.
Let’s pretend you’re a bus driver. You get involved in a deadly collision between your bus and a taxi where one of the taxi passengers later dies from injuries. Your bosses believe you ran a red light, causing the accident, and fired you from your job. Sounds reasonable, right?
Or, let’s say you’re still a bus driver, but you decide to take offense at someone dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog and slug him; the costumed canine turns out to be a cop. You’re fired from your job, arrested and found guilty of simple assault.
Think you deserve to get your job back in either case?
Apparently Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 thinks so. Both men won their jobs back after an arbitration hearing between the union and WMATA sided in favor of the union. The McGruff hater is due back behind the wheel of a bus after some “retraining.” The driver involved in the fatal accident is currently sitting at home, awaiting a decision by WMATA on where to place him. Both drivers were awarded their jobs plus full back pay, something the union considers a victory.
The reinstatement of a bus driver who caused a fatal accident (and I’ll note that he had not been cited or charged with anything; Metro determined from their own investigation that the driver ran a red light) is most disturbing. “We’re very concerned,” said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein to the Examiner‘s Kytja Weir. “We feel strongly that termination was the right decision.” WMATA settled out of court with the widow of the victim, after she sued the agency for $100 million.
Union president Jackie Jeter said of the hearings that “[t]he authority does not have authority to do whatever they want to do.”