Metro Response Angers Orange Line Riders
Metro commuters are complaining about the transit authority's response to the service disruption yesterday afternoon on the Orange Line. They express concerns that are common -- too common -- when there is an emergency in the rail system: Metro's reaction, they say, is too slow, and when it comes, it's disorganized.
The problem began at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, when the storm brought down a power line on the tracks between East Falls Church and West Falls Church and service between stations had to be suspended.
Metro set up a bus bridge, providing free shuttles service to get homebound riders to West Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Vienna. Regular service wasn't restored until 6:12 p.m.
Here's a letter that captures the anger that other riders also expressed.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I am so surprised that the WP only has 1 sentence in their story about yesterday's storm about metro's incompetence. The promise of shuttles from East to West Falls Church was ridiculous! I knew there was going to be delays when I entered the system at Union Station at 4:30 p.m., and everything was fine until they made us offload at West Falls Church to an already crowded scene. It looked like traffic leaving a baseball game it was so crowded!
The platform, turnstiles, ticketing area, and all of the sidewalks and the road in front of it were crowded with people. Most were patient while we waited in a group that was probably 20 people wide and stretched from the gate exit to around the bus loading area, but some were testy.
We stood for an hour in the rain and lighting to watch half empty buses leave on their normal route and the occasional packed shuttle bus. Traffic was bad, but it took police at least 30 minutes to show up to direct traffic out of the station so the buses could move faster.
Thankfully, an officer commandeered a normal bus route with five people on it and turned it onto a shuttle, there were too many people piling up and no other way to relieve the massive crowd.
Once things got moving again with more shuttles, finally we got news from the first Metro official who even came by during this ordeal to inform us about that the trains were moving again.
Metro needs to have a better plan to move large amounts of people who are reliant on their service. I hope to God I am never in Washington when a catastrophe occurs and I need to go home. It would be a disaster. If Metro cannot operate well after a thunderstorm, I'm afraid to think how it will perform if something worse happens.
June 5, 2008; 2:00 PM ET
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