Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: Mind the Gap

Photo courtesy of
‘Horton #23 (26/365)’
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

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.

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The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Would You Climb Up A Metro Escalator?

Photo courtesy of
‘La luz al final’
courtesy of ‘ndutzan’

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.

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The Daily Feed

There Will Be A Test. It Will Just Be A Test.

Photo courtesy of
‘Metro Station Platform’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

Should you be near the Friendship Heights Metro station this Wednesday around midnight, you’ll be seeing a fair amount of law enforcement, as the Metro Transit Police Department’s special response team, the FBI, DCPD, DCFD and emergency medical services personnel practice a staged emergency response exercise.

According to WMATA’s website, the exercise (a staged shootout) will test their communication and joint response to a major incident on the Metrorail or Metrobus.

Metro should not be delayed as the drill will take place shortly after Metro closes for the evening.  Police activity will remain in the area until around 3:30 a.m.

News, The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Gorgeous Comparison of Rail Systems


Good has an incredibly sexy graphic comparing WMATA to other large transit systems including CTA, BART, MBTA and MTA, including length of commute averages and other sweet statistics. This is nothing short of sweet, sweet infoporn. How does Metro compare? Right in the middle of the big five transit systems for average commute length, percent active vehicles, ridership and speed.

Like porn, though, I’m not sure if the graphic is representative of reality: how are there really 1M riders on Metrorail + Metrobus on an average day, when an average day has 1.2M trips (not riders) between the two systems and likely a total passenger total of much less than half that number. But hey, we’re probably still ahead of Boston and SF. That counts for something, right?

Entertainment, Fun & Games, Talkin' Transit, The Features, WMATA

Metro Singalong 2009

Photo courtesy of
‘Navidad en el metro’
courtesy of ‘Daquella manera’

With apologies to purists of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Johnny Catoe and Metro gave to DC…

12 budget shortfalls of 22 40 175 million dollars!

11 pole hogs hogging

10 SmarTrip card upgradesno, waithere we goum, maybeyes!no, this one’s correct!

9 tourist tip guidelines (plus ancillaries, corollaries and exceptions)

8 doors opening to nowhere

7 not-so-hard questions

6 sweatbox stations

FIIIIIIIVE customer friendly operators!!!!!!

4 busted escalators

3 in-the-dark Metro board members

2 Metro shower curtains

and one disillusioned, disgruntled rider!

Have a great holiday, everyone! See you in 2010.

News, The District, The Features, WMATA, WTF?!

Metro Closes Above Ground Service at 1pm


Metro has just announced that they will discontinue above-ground rail service at 1pm today, until the snow has stopped. That will close 39 stations until the snowfall has been managed.

In addition: Metrobus and Metro Access will stop running at 1:30pm.

The reason for the closures at 8″ of snow is that if the third-rail is covered, it can no longer transmit the necessary running power for the trains, meaning you could get stranded by the snow. Once they’ve cleared up the snow, they’ll return to normal service, but I’d expect that to be tomorrow at the very earliest. You can read more about Metro’s snow policies on their site.

Steven Taubenkibel of Metro has just said that road conditions are far too treacherous to continue service. For the remainder of the day, they’ll run empty deicer trains on the above-ground tracks, so you may still see trains on the tracks, but there will be no service there. They are emphasizing safety, asking people to stay off the roads so they can be cleared for service.

News, Talkin' Transit, The Daily Feed, WMATA

The Record That Won’t Fall: 1,120,000 Metrorail Trips

Metro Platform
Originally uploaded by tbridge

Before last week, the best day on Metro came this past Summer, with 854,000 riders. Yesterday smashed that record. Metro has now released the numbers for yesterday’s totals and they’re astronomical. 1.12M riders on the Metro. Another 423,000 rode Metrobus yesterday, leading to a total public transit ridership of 1.54M people.

While it’s safe to say that most of them were headed to the Mall for the Inauguration, not all of them were, which means the crowd estimates around 1.4 million are sounding more and more credible for me.

I’m going to come right out and say it: I don’t think this record will fall in the next 5-10 years. While growth has been strong for metro with gas prices on the rise, I can’t see 1.12M riders in a day being topped without some sort of massive event in DC that will bring people from all around. The broad appeal of the Obama Inauguration is going to be hard to beat.

Maybe another Tibetan-Freedom-style concert down on the Mall with some monster names would do it, but even then, I can’t fathom them breaking the record.

Talkin' Transit, The Features, WMATA

Talkin Transit: Parking Power

Photo courtesy of Cowtools
DC Transit System Map, courtesy of Cowtools

So another Inauguration Day hype has been deflated. Metro announced that they’ll be opening up thousands of parking spaces for cars at all Metrorail stations (save one) for Inauguration Day festivities. The prophesied “parkapocalypse” has been debunked.

So what happened?

When setting up initial plans for January 20th, WMATA set aside roughly sixty thousand parking spaces for charter buses. Estimates had over 1,100 of the big behemoths coming into the area, so naturally, where does one park so many buses? Metrorail stations, that’s where.

However, WMATA has only received THIRTY FIVE requests – that’s less than half of one percent of the inflated estimate – and is no longer taking requests. As a result, Metro opened the parking floodgates.

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Talkin' Transit, Technology, The Daily Feed, The District, WMATA

Four Line Announcements

Four Line Announcements
Originally uploaded by brownpau

Paulo captured this shot of the new Metro sign format for announcements. The old side-scrolling versions are thankfully history as they were nearly impossible to read. Thankfully, Metro’s embracing some good IA these days and going for something that’s a bit more passenger friendly than the crawl, which tended to cause crowds of gawkers while the waited for the message to finish displaying.


Metrorail Madness at Just 66% Capacity

Photo by furcafe in the WeLoveDC Flickr Pool

Photo by furcafe in the WeLoveDC Flickr Pool

WMATA is having one hell of a bad day, nay, bad month, that just happens to be capped by a really bad day. We’ve had multiple Metrorail outages today, on the Red, Yellow, Orange, and now all Metrorail lines. And who knows how many escalators are out.

You can blame the high heat. You can blame the creaking system. You can even blame power companies, both Pepco and Dominion. But don’t blame the record high ridership. In fact, wonder why Metrorail has such problems with such low ridership.

First, listen to Metrorail croon about its fiscal 2008 ridership:

For the third consecutive year, more than 200 million people rode the Metrorail system during a fiscal year, and for the 12th consecutive year ridership increased on the rail system.

In fiscal year 2008 (July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008), 215,314,956 customers went through the faregates, a 3.6 percent increase, or 7 million more customers than fiscal year 2007

Sounds impressive, eh? Like you might be more crowded on the trains when they do run. That’s until you realize that back in the 1970’s, the system was designed for 323 million annual riders.

So, rather than being grossly overcrowded, Metrorail is actually grossly under ridden – 108 million riders short of its expected volume – or only 2/3 of the capacity it was supposedly designed for. And yet, even with 1/3 more design capacity WMATA can barely keep trains running at all, much less on time.

As you imagine a third more passengers crammed in against you on an overcrowded car, all I can say is: thank god those projections were so off, else we’d all be going to hell on Metrorail.

Hat tip to DC City Desk to keep Metrorail in perspective.