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Metro-wide Delays

Just got in from an hour on the trains that included short trips on the Orange, Blue and Red lines, plus some waiting around on platforms. Here's a report on the afternoon slowdown of trains that Metro initiated to conserve power:

From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., I was on a packed in the middle of an Orange Line train toward Vienna that was pretty warm, on the front car of a Blue Line train in which I could have chilled beer, and a crowded Red Line train with two cars out of service. (The operator gave us time to figure that out and run for the open cars -- but an announcement wouldn't have hurt either.)

The amount of crowding varied a lot. Some cars were packed -- especially around the front and rear doors -- and others half empty.

My best advice is to stand on the platform at a point where you'll have some options about which car you enter. You're likely to see a jammed one pass by, followed by a relatively empty one. Couldn't pick up a pattern to that -- other than that it occurred on each of the lines I traveled.

The less crowded cars were cooler, so it made extra sense to seek them out this afternoon.

My vote for hottest platform out of the ones at which I waited: Farragut North. That beat Metro Center by a bit. Rosslyn was the coolest station that I visited. Actually pleasant. Many reasons for such variation: Stations that are transfer points, where a lot of trains and people are coming together, tend to be hotter. So do platforms like the one at Union Station that come just before the point where the tracks go above ground. Being on a platform deep underground helps.

Farragut North was so hot that I sat for a while on a bench with six Metro employees who were monitoring the passenger count on the trains. When a train entered the station, one of the counters would break away from the group and approach the train. The other five usually remained seated, but they were writing on their notepads.

Seeing so many Metro workers clustered in one point, I was worried that something was amiss with the system. Nope, one assured me. Nothing wrong. It just takes a lot of people to count passengers from a bench.

Or, as she put it: "It's pretty hot today."

At Capitol South, Benning Road and Dupont Circle's Q Street entrance, Metro employees are giving out a total of 21,000 free bottles of water to exiting passengers. (That's right: Not entering passengers. You know the rules.) These three stations were picked because each has an escalator out of service. At Dupont Circle, both of the elevators from the mezzanine to the platform elevators are out of service for extended repairs.

Here's how Metro Interim General Manager Dan Tangherlini described the program in a statement:

"We are working as quickly as possible to restore these escalator units at these three key stations, and we understand that anytime an escalator unit is not working it's an inconvenience. "Distributing water to passengers after they climb up our escalators is our way of saying thank you to our loyal customers, and to also thank them for
their patience while we make these repairs."

By Robert Thomson  |  August 1, 2006; 5:11 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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