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Trapped on the MARC train?

Probe launched into stalled train

Were you on the crippled MARC train whose passengers were confined for two hours last evening in powerless cars, leading equally-powerless riders to bust open windows in the packed, double-decker boxes or even consider disembarking and walking across other live railroad tracks against the orders of police in order to seek answers and escape the crushing heat?

We want to hear from you. Share your stories with transportation@washpost.com today.

By Luke Rosiak  | June 22, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  Commuter Rail  
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Comments

It's official: mass transit riders are sheep

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 22, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I was on the train. It felt like MARC / Amtrak were spinning their wheels on how to fix the engine, instead of trying to take care of the passengers. Also, a bunch of us were trying to figure out why MARC did not have contigency plans for something like this. Also, the communication between the MARC staff and passengers were poor (didn't help that the train was down). Fortunately enough people were able to go online on their phones to get up dates. I was lucky to get on the 9:00 train, yet, not everyone was able to board. Could not believe that there was not another train to assist with all of the passengers involved.

Posted by: mpeloquin | June 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

There will be occasions when MARC and Metro break down or incur some issue that inconveniences riders; however, these do not happen frequently. Drivers sit in traffic on a daily basis, twice a day, ten times a week. Who is the sheep, here?

Posted by: CubsFan | June 22, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so I don't understand this. Why wouldn't anyone just walk off the train? Even if they DID arrest you, I assume the patrol car / paddy wagon would have A/C, which sounds like an improvement.

Sitting in a 110 degree train car for 60-90 minutes or more? Sheeple.

Posted by: nocando | June 22, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

mpeloquin, would you email me at the e-mail address above?
Luke Rosiak
Deputy Transportation Editor

Posted by: Luke Rosiak | June 22, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I was on the train. The train conductors tried to communicate to the passengers, but it was clear that the email updates to passengers were more accurate and up to date than what MARC management was telling their own employees. The PA system was down in some of the cars, but not mine, and that is a normal state of the operation. I had a conductor on my car a few times, but because the train was standing room only it was nearly impossible to get through the aisles.

Sheep? what does name calling accomplish? Passengers understood the safety implications regarding the risks of getting off of the train, and some of us regulars assisted in communicating the risks of the options. We had no reason to believe that the train wouldn't be fixed soon, and most knew that once the EMERGENCY windows were pulled then the train would really be stuck. After an hour of building heat it became evident that the safety risk of exiting the train was less than the safety risk of staying on the train, and a passenger pulled the emergency bar to open the outer doors. Soon more passengers followed and the conductors did not stop them at that point.

The conductors on the train tried their best with the limited knowledge they had of allowable options from management and the limited resources provided as emergency standards on the train, but there is no contingency plan for such breakdowns from MTA. Every breakdown, and I say this with 4 years of ridership experience, is treated differently and seems to be approached as if it has never happened before. Ultimately, the fault lies with MARC and Amtrak management, not with the train crew.

Posted by: dianeschmutzler1 | June 22, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

If you're stuck in traffic you can give up. You can go to a movie. You can go to dinner. You can go shopping. Or you can stay in your nice, air-conditioned car.

But the sheeple will wait in 110 degree train cars and hardly even think of opening a door to get out.

We need a transit revolt. Instead, we have sheep. Same thing happens on the Metro every week.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 22, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

@dianeschmutzler1:

Stockholm syndrome...

Posted by: shocked-n-saddened | June 23, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm being realistic and placing blame where it's due. If you just blame the train crew then the solution is to fire them, and MARC/MTA can say "look we did something". The reality is the problem is in MARC train PROCEDURES and POLICY, and the sad part is that the train crew were properly following set policy. There is no policy for them to deal with overheated conditions or weighing the risks of exiting versus staying on a hot train - MARC policy gives the crew no choice and little option to use common sense.

Here's another comment that represents the need for blame at the management level and the fact that this nothing new: "So, last year when this same incident happened in sweltering heat and passengers got off the train and opened windows, MTA sent us all a scolding email about opening windows and getting off the train and how dangerous it was. Never told us what we should do when we are about to pass out due to heat (the conductors were standing outside by the way).
This year, being an election year, the media picks up on it and we get apologies all around and aren't scolded like children.
I'd like to think that its the new MTA Administrator that actually gets it, but sadly I think its more election year politics and the fact that the media bothered to notice."

The train crew should have made better decisions, yes, and they would have risked their jobs by breaking the rules (albeit properly serving the passengers), but their hands were tied by standard MARC procedures.

Posted by: Diane_M_Schmutzler | June 23, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"If you're stuck in traffic you can give up. You can go to a movie. You can go to dinner. You can go shopping. Or you can stay in your nice, air-conditioned car."

Not neccesarily true. Remember in Feb of 2008 when the ramp from 395 was closed due to icy conditions. People were stuck in traffic for 8 hours. Many ran out of gas. Just because you are stuck in traffic, doesn't always mean you can bail out. Depends on if there is anywhere to go.

I've riden Metro for 12 years and have never been "stuck". I always have atleast 2 or 3 other options for getting home, four if you count I could always take a cab or call a friend if really needed. I also do exactly what you say, go to dinner, go shopping, etc. if I do see there is some major delay on the metro.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | June 23, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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