Relief not easy to find
Does this Metro rider's experience match your own during the past few weeks of hot weather? She encounters the double threat of air conditioning and escalators.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I read your advice in Sunday's Washington Post about escaping a rail car without air conditioning and had to let out a chuckle. This past Wednesday, I got on a Red Line train at Judiciary Square sometime between 5 and 5:10 pm. I quickly realized that there was no air conditioning in my rail car, so I dragged my 34-week-pregnant belly and my large rolling litigation bag down the platform at the next station and sought refuge in a different car.
The second car was no better. I lasted in the second car until the Van Ness Station, where I dragged myself out onto the platform, hoping to try a third car, but of course the doors shut before I was able to get in. So, I waited for the next train and recuperated on the air-conditioned platform. I was hopeful that the next train would have air conditioning.
No such luck. I got into the next train, and it was at least as hot as the cars in the previous train had been. At this point, I started sending e-mails to my husband containing language that cannot be repeated here. I was determined to make it to the Bethesda Station without passing out, but the hot, stagnant air was really getting to me.
So, at Friendship Heights -- just one stop short of Bethesda -- I got off the train at approximately 5:25 p.m. Again, I was unable to make it into another car before the doors closed. Surely, the next train -- my third of the evening -- would have air conditioning.
But again, no such luck. Fortunately, I only had one stop to go. Then, to add insult to injury, as often happens at the Bethesda Station, where the escalator from the platform up to the station has been under repair for an inordinate amount of time, perfectly able-bodied patrons crowded into the elevator in front of me and left me standing on the platform with my huge bag and belly, feeling nearly faint from the ride, to await the next elevator.
Shame on Metro. There is no excuse for anyone to have to endure such a commute.
-- Ellen Epstein, Bethesda
DG: There are two problems with the heat on the rail cars. One is that it's just plain hot out, and it's difficult to adequately cool an interior space with six doors opening every couple of minutes. That part we have to deal with by dressing appropriately for the season. Temperatures in cars with working air conditioning are likely to be in the 80s on hot days.
But the really hot cars, the ones I'm saying you should abandon as quickly as possible and report to Metro, have busted equipment. You'll know them as soon as you board. Metro should be checking for such cars during a walk-through at the ends of the lines. But there's no reason we can't be part of the solution by reporting those hot cars to the Metro staff.
Meanwhile, about those escalators: Bethesda is an almost constant problem. But the scene that got the most attention Monday was at Dupont Circle, where all the Q street escalators were out during the morning rush.
Metro's buzz phrase now is "state of good repair" and how we need to get there. Metro could put itself in a good place with many riders by showing some quick results in these two very tangible areas of air conditioning and escalator repair.
But here again, there are things we can do for each other: I've had several complaints about how riders are treating each other on those Bethesda escalators between the platform and mezzanine. There's no point getting angry at other riders or cutting someone out of a line. Annoying as the escalator outage is, it's still just a short walk. Be patient with fellow riders.
| July 12, 2010; 3:35 PM ET
Categories: Metro | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line
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