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Metro Cuts Weekend Service

Commenter "Jay" on the previous blog entry has rightly reminded me that I should call your attention to the story in today's Post by Lena Sun about the service cutback Metro initiated last weekend: Riders this winter will see more four-car trains and fewer six-car trains.

Oddly, this was not something Metro chose to announce to riders. It just happened. Metro routinely announces bus detours for weekend events or plans to take an elevator out of service for repairs. But the only reason you know about the four-car trains is that Lena Sun went after the story.

Weekend Metrorail service has always been among the top complaints among my readers. Might as well drive, they say, if the service is going to be that poor. The problem for riders has been the maintenance and rail car testing program that forces trains to share one track for travel in both directions. This creates lengthy delays between trains and can add to the passenger load.

Wonder what riders will say when they get a load of these four-car trains during December weekends. I was about to write a column item encouraging holiday shoppers to use the trains on weekends and stay off the roads around the malls. Now I'm not so sure.

By the way, the Metro board plans to vote on a fare increase on Dec. 13.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 28, 2007; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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I'm not quite sure what the problem is. Most of those trains were running fairly empty anyway, and they did say that big events would still get the 6 car trains. If it will save maintenence on them then I'm all for it as long as they don't try that two car experiment again. Those were too crowded. 4 sounds fine to me.

We can't have late night service, 6 car trains and have everything work even remotely right all at once unless we're willing to pay way more than we do towards the system. Next step, dump the carpet.

Posted by: EricS | November 28, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I want 8 car trains running every 2 minutes 24/7 on each Metro line. And I want it now.

Posted by: More service | November 28, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind the 4 car trains too much. What kills me with Metro on weekends is waiting 18 minutes for a train.

Posted by: Julia | November 29, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

EricS, in re the no-carpet trains, I heard on WTOP or WAMU or something this morning that prototypes of two new train cars are going to be tested soon.

Does anyone know how to find out where/when those cars are on track? That is, aside from one of those "No Service" trains that can blast past you on the Green Line?

Posted by: TheMatt | November 29, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, are crowded trains on weekends a problem? Sometimes they're reasonably full, but I hardly think 4 cars isn't enough to fit folks. Certainly better to have more frequent service with 4 cars than less frequent with 6 cars.

Posted by: ah | November 29, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Boo hoo. If the trains are empty, they're too big. How about half-size trains twice as often? I don't even bother to use Metro on the weekends because the waits are so long.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

While I don't like the idea of any service cuts on Metro, I'm cautiously (foolishly?) optimistic that Metro will make efforts to better maintain its fleet with shorter trains on the weekends. The two biggest problems I have had on Metro are infrequent weekend service and frequent breakdowns. The infrequent service is tough given how empty DC is on the weekends, but I had many problems this summer in which service was regularly cut further due to track work AND unannounced. I rode the Red Line regularly from Farragut North to Union Station for a summer job. Metro's website would announce reduced service between say, Shady Grove and Medical Center due to trackwork. Okay, no problem...until I find out WITHOUT WARNING that my train from Farragut North to Union Station on midday Saturday is now a fifteen minute wait, twice what it's supposed to be. Many times I'd end up late for work because Metro would cut service on lines without proper warning. More frequent service on the weekend would always be better, though even if they were to simply revise their advisories, that would be a start. As for breakdowns, after being caught in the Rosslyn Tunnel breakdown for almost an hour back in August, too many cars with no air-conditioning on 90°+ days this past summer, and forced off numerous trains due to door problems, all in the last year, something has been wrong with Metro's maintenance of its fleet. Never mind the too frequent derailment of the 5000 cars around the system. If fewer cars run on the weekend and maintenance is increased on those that aren't run, I hope that Metro starts moving towards being reliable again. Considering how Metro's biggest concerns earlier this year were screwing with the system aesthetics like ripping out train carpets and installing ugly new lighting and "public art" in stations, hopefully this is a step in a new and proper direction towards reliability. (Now, if only they would revert the God-awful "STEP BACK! DOORS CLOSING!" messages back to the old ones while doing the maintenance...)

Posted by: Mirai Zikasu | December 2, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

electrify the doors

Posted by: Anonymous | December 3, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they make every two of the four car trains during rush hour become one eight car train? That would save paying two drivers and stop the backup of trains that occur in the tunnels. It seems stupid to have four car trains running within 4 minutes of each other. Thoughts?

Posted by: 4 car trains | December 5, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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