The Daily Feed, WMATA

Another Metro Collision Today, 3 Cars Destroyed

Photo courtesy of
‘Untitled/The Commuter’
courtesy of ‘Bogotron’


Metro is doing one thing right – they are giving a lot of details around the recent collision from this morning via press release updates. We now learn that every single car involved, all 12, were damaged. At least three of the cars are unrepairable, according to early reports. WMATA says each new car costs about $3 million a piece, but they haven’t provided official damage estimates yet when it is still not clear how much should they destinate to legally compensate those injured which according to Motor vehicle accident lawyers Brisbane should be over 1 thousand American dollars per injured.

I think it’s safe to assume the damages resulting from this will be well over $10 million for the replacement and repairing of cars.

The three employees that were injured in the crash have already been released from the hospital. Still no word whatsoever on suspected reasoning for the crash but an investigation is underway. These boston motor vehicle accident lawyers are already handling the case.

Full details from WMATA are here.

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Mythbusting DC, The Features

DC Mythbusting: Metro Map to Scale

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Don Whiteside’

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Mythbusting!  After our last feature busted some misconceptions about the busiest Metro stations and lines, we’ll tackle another Metro myth this week: that the Metro map that you see in stations is proportional.  The official Metro map shows right angles and evenly-spaced stations throughout the system, and all lines look to be generally the same length.  So the real Metro system looks the same when it’s drawn to scale, right?

The Daily Feed, WMATA

Fed’s Takeover Move Triggered by Metro Crash

Photo courtesy of
‘Wednesday Morning on the Metro’
courtesy of ‘Photos by Chip Py’

The Washington Post wrote Sunday about the Obama administration’s intent to push Congress to implement a large change in how subway safety is regulated and enforced across the country by DOT. Currently, the feds really have no power to set regulations what so ever on subway systems due to a 1965 law passed by Congress that was intended to prevent the government from inhibiting transit growth. Subway safety is typically overseen by a state level agency or, in Metro’s case, an independent Tri-State committee (which the Post notes has exactly zero employees). DOT doesn’t even have the power to make Metro comply with NTSB recommendations today.

It comes as no surprise that this move was triggered by the awful Metro crash in June and the many, many safety incidents that have plagued Metro this year. Our subway system is the second largest in the country, but it is definitely the one that has the most direct effect on Capitol Hill – it moves the majority of Hill staffers to and from work everyday.

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Mythbusting DC, The Features, WMATA

DC Mythbusting: Metro’s Most Crowded

Photo courtesy of
‘good morning.’
courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

DC has a great Metro system: it’s (generally) reliable, clean, fast, and connects many major destinations in the city.  But we love to complain about our commutes– being crammed like sardines on the train, being stuck in Metro stations so full that you can’t even get down the escalator to the platform, and having buses pass right by your stop because they’re already packed to the brim with riders.  Experiences like these make many people think that they’ve got it worse than anyone else in the area– that they’re stuck riding the busiest line, getting off at the busiest station, or riding the busiest bus.  But there’s a lot of misinformation out there about Metro’s most crowded lines, stations, and buses, so I’m going to set things straight this week.

Most Crowded Metro Line: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard Orange line riders complain that they’re stuck riding the busiest line.  Most of these Metro riders are on the train between Ballston and L’Enfant Plaza, which definitely is the busiest section of the Orange line, with people packed into Metro trains that are sometimes too full to even board.  But does the Orange line really have it the worst? Continue reading

The Daily Feed

New SmarTrip reload locations

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Joe Tresh’

We still don’t have online loading but WMATA has announced the addition of 42 more SmarTrip purchase & reload locations. They have a listing of all the locations on their website but continue not to map the locations.

Well, I grabbed the addresses and slapped them into an online tool that plotted the locations, so here you go: The list of WMATA partner locations where you can buy a SmarTrip card and add value to it, as of November 6th, 2009. You can check to see where your nearest location is visually. Perhaps in the future WMATA will commit to a map & finder tool.

The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

WMATA silently edits news release

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘aquateamhungryfort’

Earlier I linked to a WMATA news release on the changes to how SmarTrip SmartBenefits would be handled and disbursed. When reader Nate commented that he disagreed with me about the significant part of the story I went back to look at the release again… and was surprised that I had misremembered there being a section about how unused benefit deposits were refunded

When I checked another window, however, I discovered I hadn’t misremembered – WMATA had just edited the release and made no note of the change. Both releases state they were issued at 11:52am today. The original section that explains what Nate is talking about was the last bit of the second paragraph and reads as follows:

Any unused benefits will be credited back to the employer at the end of each month. Employees who currently contribute a portion of their pre-taxed salary to through the SmartBenefits® program should contact their employers to determine how that employer will handle any unused portion of their pre-tax contribution.

The new edited release makes some mention of “pre-tax benefits” but excises the word “contribution” entirely. Kinda sleazy.

The other changed sections are after the jump.

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The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Burying the lead disappointment

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Joe Tresh’

WMATA’s press release about SmartBenefits talks a little about how some changes will be made to the SmarTrip behavior to comply with new IRS rules but leaves the really interesting thing for last. A sizable percentage of people in the area might get transit subsidies from their employers but here’s the real news for all SmarTrip users: no passes or online refilling of cards till Fall 2010.

WMATA blames this delay on the complexity of implementing these changes to meet IRA rules, but it’s hard to give this much credence given how horribly overdue they are in implementing this feature. IRS transit mandates might be why they couldn’t fit it into 2009, but what’s the reason they didn’t have it in 2004 or 2005?

Mythbusting DC, The Features

DC Mythbusting: Georgetown Metro Stop

Photo courtesy of
‘Georgetown Tunnel’
courtesy of ‘MikaAltskan’

Hi and welcome to another edition of Mythbusting!  This week we’ll be tackling the myth of the Georgetown Metro.  The legend explains why Georgetown, a vibrant part of the city with many attractions, does not have a Metro station.  Legend has it that Metro planners had originally planned a station for Georgetown, but Georgetown’s well-connected residents fought to keep the criminals and poor people that would ride Metro away from their exclusive neighborhood.  They successfully defeated the Metro plans, and thus, there’s no Metro station in Georgetown today.  Why else would there not be a Metro station at such a major destination in DC?

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The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

WMATA alerts by text message? No.


One of our loyal readers sent us a note about WMATA’s eAlerts system and the inability to sign up to get them via text messages rather than email. In fairness to WMATA, the main screen only says “you can receive alerts via email notifying you of Metro service disruptions.” However when you click on the subscribe button you get a popup that says “Receive alerts through email or text message” and the box to enter your contact info says “Enter Your email or SMS address.”

Unfortunately it’s a trap; the box refuses to accept any entry that isn’t a x@y.z format email address. You’ll have to stick with whatever email to SMS gateway your cell provider offers if you want to get the alerts sent to you via text. TechRecipies has the format for all the major carriers here if you don’t know yours.

As to why WMATA’s form is misleading? Unclear. Our tipster asked customer service why it wasn’t working and got a resounding “dunno.” Perhaps WMATA will be expanding to offer this functionality down the road and their text got ahead of their capabilities. Or maybe it’s already in and a coder simply forgot to update the validation check.

The Daily Feed

Columbus Day Metro Closures Announced

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Metro has announced station closures and train detours for Columbus Day weekend (which extends through Monday, a federal holiday that not everyone gets to take off) while they replace large pieces of track and inspect and maintain others. They provide a tiny and poorly-compressed map of the closures that might be helpful if you’re willing to squint and compare it to the regular map. (Metro! I do this for a living! Help me help you!)

The short version is, the Yellow and Green lines will be a nightmare, and you should avoid them if you need to take them through the eastern part of the city.

The two ends of the Green line will be operating, but the segment in the middle, between Navy Yard and Gallery Place/Chinatown, will not operate AT ALL. So if you’re someone dependent on the Green Line to get into the city from the Branch Avenue end… you’re screwed, because there are no transfer stations along any part of that segment. If you’re using the other end of the Green Line, you’ll still be able to switch lines at Gallery Place to get around.

Since the Yellow Line’s bridge over the Potomac is part of theInstead of heading toward Fort Totten from L’Enfant, the Yellow Line will basically be doubling a portion of the Blue Line route until Stadium/Armory instead of coming over the river from the Pentagon, and will come into L’Enfant on the lower platform with the Blue/Orange lines. So you’ll still be able to get around if you’re dependent on the Yellow Line, but with some hopping around and transferring multiple times if you want to get to Fort Totten.

The Daily Feed

The post-suicide pain & suffering

Photo courtesy of
‘MEDFLAG 2009 – Mass Casualty Scenario – United States Army Africa – 090806-F-8133W155’
courtesy of ‘US Army Africa’

A few weeks ago I wrote about a recent suicide on the Metro tracks. A few commenters took me to task for being pretty harsh in my suggestion that if someone does not get help and is determined to kill themselves that they take another approach. As I said then, I think the harm they do to witnesses and the train driver – who are unwilling participants in their demise – is near unforgivable. While they’re clearly not thinking clearly I wish they’d think of others if they cannot think of themselves.

WaPo has an article today about the trauma these drivers deal with after someone uses them as a weapon against themselves and it’s heart-wrenching. Both in the descriptions from the drivers of the moments they’ll never forget and the descriptions of how they went back to work – or tried to – after long periods of adjustment.

After several weeks of office duty, she made her first attempt to operate a train, a daytime run on the Red Line. A training instructor drove through the Rockville Station. Then Lee took over. She was fine until they went underground. “As soon as I hit the tunnel, I screamed,” Lee said. “I was seeing that vision of someone walking toward me.”

Lee was out on workmen’s comp for five years, seeing a string of psychologists.

The Daily Feed, WMATA

Another Metro Employee Injured, Delays on Blue and Yellow Lines

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘nevermindtheend’

It’s just not been a good summer for Metro. Exactly a month ago, a Metro employee was killed while performing maintenance on the Orange line, and today, word comes that another Metro employee was struck by a train between Braddock Road and National Airport stations this morning.

If you’re travelling on the yellow or blue lines, prepare for major delays for the rest of the day: service has been suspended between Braddock Road and National Airport.  The blue and yellow lines are both split into two segments, with free shuttle bus service between King Street, Braddock Road, and National Airport stations.

Update: As of 12:43 PM, normal service has resumed on the yellow and blue lines.  No updates on the injured Metro employee except that he was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The Daily Feed, WMATA

WMATA raises the bar

Photo courtesy of
‘Metro: Don’t Panic’
courtesy of ‘nevermindtheend’

This story reminds me of an exchange I had in the workplace long ago. I told a co-worker I was surprised he knew about some company goings-ons and he said “I know more than you think.” I replied “you’d have to.”

WMATA has announced that they’re raising their standards for employment, though I think it’s more accurate to say they’re adding to the list of recent offenses that disqualify a person from being hired. Perhaps it’s a pointless distinction, but I don’t think we’d say that refusing to date someone who had been recently convicted of murder would qualify you as “having standards.”

I’d call them a worthwhile step, though. Applicants for front line positions can not have received a citation for moving violations related to carelessness within the last three years. Previously they were only disqualified if their license has been suspended during that period. More than two points on their license in the last three years also now disqualifies a candidate, as does a DUI during that period.

I’m less thrilled with the increased criteria on criminal offenses – if Michael Vick can be written a free pass by so many people because he has “served his time” I’m not sure why we don’t apply the same forgiveness to the less famous. However this WMATA limit only applied to customer-interacting folks, so the reformed aren’t completely cut off from opportunities with metro.

Essential DC, News, Talkin' Transit, The Features, WMATA

Talkin’ Transit: Mish-Mash Morning

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘bankbryan’

Mish-mash of transit for your morning perusal.

HOT Lanes Delayed: While the Beltway HOT Lane construction continues forward, Virigina has decided to delay building additional HOT lanes on I-395 and I-95. The economy is the answer that’s been trotted out; state leaders fear that they won’t be able to get money from the bond market and the state has no more money to spend. The Beltway project is expected to be completed by 2012, with the outer lanes opening as early as next year.

Officials were pretty specific in stating the project has been delayed, not abandoned, though there is still a lot of concern with local officials, who feel the proposed project will adversely affect their communities and neighborhood traffic patterns.

Construction was supposed to begin next summer.

ICC & I-95: This week began a traffic pattern shift along I-95 as construction continues on the Intercounty Connector in Prince George’s County. Several lanes are being closed or shifted in both northbound and southbound directions from Route 198 to Route 212. Closures begin as early as 8 p.m. and re-open before morning rush. The closures will be in effect until Sept. 29.

VRE Gets Stimulated: The federal government has awarded $9.8 million to the Virginia Railway Express, money needed to purchase 12 more locomotives. The funds fall under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will be administered by the Federal Transit Administration.

The current locomotive fleet consists of 20 engines that can pull an average of six cars; the new engines the VRE is purchasing are more powerful and efficient, capable of pulling 10 cars each (at 144 passengers a car) and will help the service expand its current capacity.

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The Daily Feed, WMATA

Finally, Some Metro Stations Get Underground Service!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘lorigoldberg’

Oh happy day!  News comes from Metro today that they have begun installing wireless service in 20 Metro stations that will allow customers to access the internet and make calls with Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile services as of October 16. This has been a long time coming, and while it’s not the full, system-wide service that has been promised (that won’t be complete until 2012), it is certainly a good start.

This will be the end of Verizon-only service in Metro, with the four providers joining together to build, operate, and maintain the new wireless network.  The firms will also build a second wireless network that will eventually support The Metro Channel, a planned service of system information, news, and advertising in stations, trains, and buses.

So, the good news: more opportunities to check e-mail or make a call if you’re stuck waiting in one of the 20 lucky stations. The bad news: now the rest of us have to listen to more inane conversations while we’re waiting.  Luckily, with three years until the network is complete with service in tunnels, we’ll still have relative quiet on trains (except for those pesky Verizon customers).

The Daily Feed, WMATA

10 Trapped in the Woodley Park Metro Elevator

Photo courtesy of
‘Woodley Park Metro Station’
courtesy of ‘Mieko Yamaguchi’

Well, this sounds like my worst nightmare. The Washington Post is reporting that ten people were trapped inside the Woodley Park Metro station elevator for about an hour and a half this afternoon.  NBC reports that six adults and four children were on board, and one baby suffered respiratory problems.

Anyway, the good news is that everyone was rescued around 4 PM, and everyone is expected to be fine.  I’m going to try to pretend this never happened, as I already have an irrational fear of getting trapped in an elevator, and getting stuck in a super-deep one in a Metro station sounds terrifying.

The Daily Feed, WMATA

Get Ready for Lots of Track Work

Photo courtesy of
‘”Delays Continue.” on WMATA (U Street)’
courtesy of ‘technotheory’

Prepare yourselves for lots of waiting around this weekend if you’re taking Metro, no matter where you’re headed. WMATA tells us that there will be track work on ALL LINES this weekend. Fabulous.

On the Red Line (as if you weren’t already used to delays), there will be delays between Medical Center and Friendship Heights while some tracks are repaired. On Saturday and Sunday, every other train will terminate at Friendship Heights and turn around towards Glenmont, and trains will operate every 20 minutes between Shady Grove and Medical Center. Give yourself an additional 30 minutes.

On the Blue and Orange Lines, bridge maintenance will cause delays between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory because trains will be sharing one track. Give yourself an additional 30 minutes.

On the Green and Yellow Lines, rail replacement will cause delays between Georgia Avenue and U Street stations because trains will be sharing one track. Give yourself an additional 30 minutes.

And finally, on the Blue and Yellow Lines, track maintenance will cause delays between Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street and Huntington stations because trains will be sharing one track. The Blue Line in particular will be operating only at certain stations, so part at Huntington if you want to avoid delays. Give yourself at least an additional 30 minutes to get where you’re going.

This might be a good weekend to take the bus instead.  Check out the bus map for routes, and find out when the next bus is coming to your stop via iPhone app, internet, or phone.  The Circulator has bus tracking, too!

The Daily Feed

Metro iPhone app, with bus times

Photo courtesy of Me

Find a Metro DC

When I wrote about WaPo’s questionable iPhone app choice earlier, reader JW said he’d like to see Nextbus functionality incorporated into an app. Ask and ye shall receive – John popped up to say that he’d added exactly that into his app, Find a Metro DC, and it was just waiting on Apple’s approval.

Well, Apple has now approved it so you can go grab it now. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet but the bus times is a nice feature that my current metro app doesn’t offer. John also said that he’s got support for you to pick your 3 favorite spots for quick access, a feature I wouldn’t want to give up from my current app.

The Daily Feed

WMATA seeks cyclist input

Photo courtesy of
‘Bike Garage 1’
courtesy of ‘Tony DeFilippo’

WMATA is having a public session next Wednesday, the 22nd, about bicyclists and how they use Metro as well as what needs are and are not being met. The first line of the press release says the meeting’s purpose is “to obtain input from riders on how to improve bicycle and pedestrian access for people who bike or walk to Metro” but it goes on to invite anyone who might be interested in cycling to Metro and promises a “presentation” at one point during the 3 hour (!) meeting. So presumably there’ll be some information there for the curious and an opportunity for input from non-cyclists with concerns or needs.

Metro Headquarters, Lobby Level Meeting Room
5:30p through 8:30p on July 22
600 5th Street, NW,
Washington, DC.