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A Messy Morning Downtown

UPDATE: Metrorail riders who could not use the faregates when leaving the powerless downtown stations this morning should be able to reenter stations this afternoon without a problem.

"We're reprogramming our fare gates so that riders who exited stations without paying this morning do not need to see the station manager this afternoon/evening on their way home," Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asto said in an e-mail.

"They can just go through the gates and tap their SmarTrip cards or process paper Farecards like they usually do. Basically, we are overriding the fare collection system. Those riders who exited the stations affected by the power outage this morning will not be charged for their morning trip if they exited a station that was experiencing a power problem."

Metro Center and Dupont Circle stations, closed this morning for different reasons, have both reopened. Power has been restored at other stations that were operating on emergency backup. All the downtown traffic signals should be working.

Metro Center Station had closed at 9:50 a.m. after the second track fire of the morning was discovered. Dupont Circle Station had closed at 9:25 a.m. because of the power outage at a Pepco substation that disrupted the commute for both transit users and drivers on the west side of downtown Washington.

Red Line riders have encountered lengthy delays.

The latest fire at Metro Center was reported on the Red Line tracks in the tunnel that heads toward Shady Grove. This was about an hour after the station reopened following the first track fire reported at 7:24 a.m. Metro says it doesn't know the cause of either fire.

It was the morning's power problem that closed Dupont Circle Station. The station's escalators at Connecticut Avenue and Q streets NW are 188 feet long. Metro closed the station for safety, but trains were still going through Dupont Circle.

Metro set up a bus bridge of free shuttles between Woodley Park and Farragut North to get passengers around that problem.

The power problem had affected five downtown Metrorail stations, which were on emergency lighting. Besides Dupont Circle, they were Shaw-Howard, Farragut North, Farragut West and McPherson Square.

The trains were stopping at those stations, but the escalators, elevators, fare gates and vending machines were not working.

For drivers: Power problems knocked out some signals in Northwest Washington. Karyn LeBlanc, spokeswoman for the District Department of Transportation, said at 10:20 a.m. that some power has been restored but there are still approximately 25 intersections still out. Traffic control officers were at some intersections.

There's more on the power problems in this story by Post reporters Debbi Wilgoren, Howard Schneider and James Grimaldi.

The affected area: Between 9th and 13th streets NW on the east and west and between L Street and Florida Avenue NW on south and north. Areas also affected include E and F streets between 9th and 13th and New Jersey Avenue between Florida Avenue and N Street.

Stay current: Here's a link to Metro's Web site. And here's one to the District Department of Transportation's traffic camera page.

Problems on the Red Line started early this morning, when the small track fire disrupted service.

Metro says emergency crews put out the fire that began at 7:24 a.m. near Metro Center. As of 8:30 a.m., trains no longer had to share a single track but congestion continued because the trains had gotten backed up.

To deal with the disruption caused by the fire, Metro set up a bus bridge connecting Gallery Place-Chinatown, Farragut North and Metro Center to help get people around the incident.

Customer communications: Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in a statement that passengers should expect to wait more than 60 minutes for a shuttle. (A bus bridge would normally be slow and crowded, but this morning's power outages and darkened traffic signals made travel especially difficult.)

She said people traveling along Connecticut Avenue could take the Metrobus Connecticut Lines of L1, L2, L4, L7 and L8 to get around the problem. (But they might encounter heavy traffic along Connecticut Avenue and elsewhere on the west side of downtown.)

The upside: Metro, which came in for a lot of criticism from Orange Line riders during the past week, is working to improve its communications with customers during emergencies. Farbstein's statement made plain how long Metro expected the delays to be and suggests alternative routes. She followed up with several updates as the morning evolved.

I think Metro's e-mail alerts still need to be clearer about the scope of the problem. Here's the early morning e-mail alert I got about the Red Line after the first fire:

"Disruption at Metro Center. (Expect delays in both directions to due an earlier situation at Metro Center that has been resolved.)"

That sounds almost routine. If I were at Shady Grove or Glenmont, I might think the problem could be solved by the time I get downtown, but that would not have been true today.

Tell us about your experiences this morning.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 13, 2008; 8:25 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Analyzing Metro's Performance
Next: The Weekend and Beyond

Comments

Here's a question, why can't they have someone at the top of the stairs at dupont, telling people about the delays. The escalators weren't moving, and those stairs are huge!

Luckily, our friendly Washington Post Express employee was there telling people about the delays and the lack of power, but they really should have posted a metro employee there.

Posted by: DCmarathoner | June 13, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Luckily, our friendly Washington Post Express employee was there telling people about the delays and the lack of power, but they really should have posted a metro employee there.

Posted by: DCmarathoner | June 13, 2008 8:52 AM

Hahahha. A Metro employee? Actually DO something? Hahahahah.

That was a good one.

So at what point does the need for email alerts become moot? I mean, there have been 1+ hour delays every day since last Wednesday. My car has been just as reliable as always. :)

Posted by: Bob | June 13, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Another BIG gripe about Metro this morning: where oh where are the emergency lights? Farragut North was dangerously dark, and my train passed other stations that looked the same. Are you listening Metro -- and will you FIX this problem?

Posted by: FriendOfJakes | June 13, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

What a way to end the week! (well it aint over yet...we still need to get home this afternoon)

http://wtfmetro.blogspot.com/2008/06/metro-mans-pic-of-week-613.html

Posted by: Metro Man | June 13, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

My experience this morning wasn't that bad. I was stuck on a train holding for about 15-20 minutes while resolving the Metro Center fire. The train driver did a great job communicating with us. He provided clear updates every couple of minutes that included a play-by-play of what was happening. "Crews are on the scene at metro center..." "Track inspection is about to begin..." "The first train is moving through Metro Center now...", peppered with apologies for the delay. This driver definitely understood how to keep the riders placated - with good information!

Posted by: Red Line Rider | June 13, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I got on the Red Line to Shady Grove at Metro Center right as they realized there was a fire. We pulled up a little, sat for a bit, then had to backtrack into Metro Center and disembark. I left the station and headed to the street, where I had to figure out how to get from 12th & F to 20 Mass. Ave. It ended up being almost a straight shot down F heading east, but it was a very hot walk even at 8am. And seeing several blocks' worth of non-working traffic signals along with all the emergency and power vehicles was surreal.

I could not hate Metro any more if I tried. I'm tempted to leave early today but even if I do that, I'll probably still get home at the regular time because of the ridiculousness that is our public transit system.

Posted by: Shannon | June 13, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Too bad the Alert DC notice went out too late (over an hour after the initial incident) to provide a sufficient heads-up:

From: "AlertDC"
To: "Transportation Alert Recipients"
Subject: Message from Alert DC
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 12:34:14 +0000
Metro is reporting delays of over an hour on the Red Line. A small fire on the
tracks in the Metro Center area has been put out, but major delays continue.
Additionally, at least Dupont Circle, Shaw-Howard U, Farragut North, Farragut
West and McPherson Square Metrorail stations have no power due to an unrelated power outage. Non-Red Line service is operating normally in those stations, but with low (emergency) lighting. Avoid Metrorail entirely if you were planning to use the Red Line.

Sent by DC HSEMA to e-mail, pagers, cell phones

Powered by the Roam Secure Alert Network

Posted by: Red Line Commuter | June 13, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

QUOTE "Avoid Metrorail entirely if you were planning to use the Red Line."

THAT SHOULD READ:
"Avoid Metrorail entirely if you were planning to get anywhere on time."

Posted by: Metro Man | June 13, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Why isn't it a law that a 'dark traffic signal' is to be treated the same as a stop sign. We always here them say 'treat it as if it was' but anyone who has driven knows there are 100s of people who do not.

Posted by: Andrew | June 13, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

We were held up at Adams-Morgan and then limped into Dupont Circle where we switched over to the other side of the tracks to get around the fire at Metro Center. The driver told us very clearly what was going on. I commend him for that (and the fact that the speakers were good enough to actually hear the information).

I had to get off at Gallery Place to switch to the Yellow Line...what a zoo that was.

Posted by: peej | June 13, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I saw the commuter alert this morning for the red line and decided to drive - not knowing about the traffic signals. Rhode Island Ave had a number of traffic personnel doing their best. The most frustrating, though, was the police squad car (3rd District, Car #355) that was blocking a lane of inbound traffic, had set up stop signs, and were standing on the corner doing absolutely nothing. DC Traffic workers, well done. MPD, classic example of ineptitude.

Posted by: Brentwood | June 13, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

We got a free ride because the fare collector machines were down at Farragut North, but there was no Metro employee there to tell us how we were going to get back on later today since our fare cards weren't "cleared."

Posted by: Paulina | June 13, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Farecards "clear" automatically after 4 hours. I don't know about SmarTrip cards though.

Posted by: Woodley Park | June 13, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

So begins Friday, the 13th!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I arrived at Dupont Metro at 8:15/8:20. The metro express guy (who is wonderful) was warning people not to bother the long trek down broken escalators, but of course people were rushing down them anyway. I couldn't figure out where the shuttle bus service would run from - of course a long hold on the customer service phone line - so I made my way down to the dark platform and waited. Apparently got on one of the last trains going through, though from how crowded it was I expect it was also the first train to come in a very long time. The lack of information was stunning.

Posted by: Kster | June 13, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

how long til Metro raises rates AGAIN? it's pathetic.

Posted by: Dream Out Loud | June 13, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I saw the commuter alert this morning for the red line and decided to drive - not knowing about the traffic signals. Rhode Island Ave had a number of traffic personnel doing their best. The most frustrating, though, was the police squad car (3rd District, Car #355) that was blocking a lane of inbound traffic, had set up stop signs, and were standing on the corner doing absolutely nothing. DC Traffic workers, well done. MPD, classic example of ineptitude.

Posted by: Brentwood | June 13, 2008 10:12 AM

That's your typical DC police "working".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I strained to understand the train operator explain the situation to us this morning--due in part to the noisy throngs of tourists, but even when I moved to an emptier car, I still could barely make out whatever the operator was mumbling...speak up! and speak clearly!

Posted by: OfficeLady | June 13, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I just happened to open washingtonpost.com this morning and found out that the Red Line was a disaster. It was just dumb luck. i'd probably still be rotting on the train had I not driven to work.

Posted by: Dream Out Loud | June 13, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Thank goodness I did not run into any problems on the train, however once I got outside of Gallery Place it was a headache people fif not know what to do. I did see metro employee directing people to let them know what to do, that was nice. Everything is out on 7th street and all around Gallery Place. i think metro from what I saw has done a good job, however they can be a little slack , but know one is perfect.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Metro is a disgrace! By we are actually more of a disgrace. Because we accept the crappy service they give us and the poor explanations we receive.
The question is how long before we do something about it? This country has become the land of the complacent and the home of the inert.
Are we all too stressed and overworked to actually care? or is it the meds that keeps us comfortably numb?
Look around you? They are striking in Spain and causing traffic jams because gas is too expensive, what do we do NOTHING.

Posted by: YIHATEDC | June 13, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

As a beleaguered Orange line rider, fresh from three major delays in the past week, I'm glad to share the pain with our Red line friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Farecards "clear" automatically after 4 hours. I don't know about SmarTrip cards though.

Posted by: Woodley Park | June 13, 2008 10:25 AM

hey Doc - can this be verified? I can use my lunch time walking up to metro to have my Smarttrip "cleared" if necessary but I'd rather not.

Posted by: mallemployee | June 13, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks again to Senator Coburn (R - Oklahoma) for continuing to block to Metro funding.

Posted by: Sean | June 13, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

More of the same old same old.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | June 13, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Gosh - I guess I was just lucky this morning! I got on at Takoma at about 8:30 and got off at Farragut North just before 9 - the ride was a little slower than usual, but the driver made clear announcements every few minutes about the power being out at F. North and Dupont Circle, and when I got to Farragut North it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected - just a little dim, and hey, the open fare gates meant we got out of there faster than usual. So, not a bad morning at all, and no traffic lights to trouble me!

Posted by: hh | June 13, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Farragut North was very dark. Will probably start carrying a little flashlight with me as the emergency floodlights are few and far between. Seems to be Pepco's fault, but I agree that Metro could do a better job informing people.

Posted by: EF | June 13, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Thanks again to Senator Coburn (R - Oklahoma) for continuing to block to Metro funding.

Posted by: Sean | June 13, 2008 10:43 AM

It is not funding Sean, it is MISMANAGEMENT and INCOMPETENCE. Money is not going to fix METRO. In fact, no additional funding is required to have an employee at the top of the escalators saying "we have no power, don't come down." Of course this is Washington, Why not seek more tax dollars to poverpaid the incompetent employees at Metro.

Posted by: NOMOREFUNDING | June 13, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Even though traffic lights were out, my drive through DC was smoother than usual - no out-of-sync lights to gum up traffic flow.

Posted by: tp | June 13, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Of course this is Washington, Why not seek more tax dollars to poverpaid the incompetent employees at Metro.

Hey, if you don't like it, you can git out!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Clarification on farecards "clearing" after 4 hours: When you enter Metro, the big giant computer at Metro Center records when and where your farecard was swiped into the system. If you do not exit the system within 4 hours, the computer "dumps" the record of you entering so the card appears as if you never entered when you try to leave. That is a tried and proven fact (I know a "rail enthusiast" who tried riding the entire Metro system without leaving and found himself stuck inside the faregates at the end of his trip). However even though the computer dumps the record of where you entered, there might still be some trace of you entering and not exiting on your farecard which would prevent you from re-entering without seeing the station agent. That I have no idea about. I thought once the card cleared after 4 hours you could use it again, but I'm not 100% sure of that.

Posted by: Woodley Park | June 13, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I rode my bike like always and made it to work at the same time I always do. There are other options than Metro.

Posted by: Meghan | June 13, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

why is someone named "dcmarathoner" griping about having to walk up a flight of stairs?

Posted by: jeff | June 13, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

My office is across the street from Metro Center. I drive. Easy trip in this morning, but my first inkling of a problem was when the light at 12th & G was out. But 12th is a one-way street, so no big deal....until I turned left and there were about 10 fire trucks outside Metro Center and I saw that the light at 13th & G was dark. I stopped, as the law requires, and when my turn came I went, only to be almost broadsided by a cabbie going full speed who decided that he didn't have to stop. (You'd think with all those emergency workers around someone could direct traffic.) Parked in the office garage, which was pitchblack with a few emergency lights working, and then went out front since we were not being allowed into the building.

So I watched the traffic go by. People were pretty good about stopping for the pedestrians, but otherwise it was general chaos. Anyone who did the right thing and stopped was barraged with horn-honking, and the Metrobus drivers were by far the worst offenders in terms of just barreling through the intersections. I guess they figure that the size of the bus gives them power. One of them started honking at people taking turns and then he gave those of us on the sidewalk the finger when we all yelled "Shut the f*** up" at him. (Too bad I didn't have a pen and paper to note down his bus number.)

I have a videocamera with me today because I wanted to film the ceremony for Alex Ovechkin this afternoon. I tried getting some video of the traffic mess, but the camera isn't working correctly and I had to give up. I got a variety of still pictures with my other camera.


To answer the question about SmarTrip cards, they do NOT clear themselves. But the station manager can do it easily when you get on the train in the afternoon. They'll have you enter through the emergency gate, exit through a faregate with your card, then re-enter. A nuisance, but a reasonably easy thing to do. You won't be the only person doing this, I'm sure!

Posted by: Rich | June 13, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

How is it Metro's fault that the power went out? Are you angry at your office building for not personally calling you and letting you know the lights would be out? I don't get it.

Posted by: Question | June 13, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Friday the 13th, heat wave, whatever...

Metro continues to be underfunded by the many overlapping jurisdictions controlling its funding.

Before you aim your ire at Metro, you might contact your congressional representative (except for those like me, who don't have a vote in Congress) and demand more funding. Then Metro can take pro-active, long-term steps to correct the systemic deficiencies in the system.

Happy Friday~!

Posted by: Captain John | June 13, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Bring on the 15 billion!!

lol

Posted by: Metro Man | June 13, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Friday the 13th, heat wave, whatever...

Metro continues to be underfunded by the many overlapping jurisdictions controlling its funding.

Before you aim your ire at Metro, you might contact your congressional representative (except for those like me, who don't have a vote in Congress) and demand more funding. Then Metro can take pro-active, long-term steps to correct the systemic deficiencies in the system.

Happy Friday~!

Posted by: Captain John | June 13, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I really lucked out--I had to be at work by 7:30 (by Union Staton) and got in before this all started. Two others in our office were not so lucky--they called in to say they were stuck at about 7:40--no mention of problems on Metros home page or their email alert system for at least ten minutes after that.

Great job Metro!

Posted by: gaithersburg MD | June 13, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I got lucky this morning on my way from Glenmont. The astute conductor informed us as we pulled into Fort Totten about the fire at Metro Cen, and that the train would hold due to single tracking. I and a large contingent immediately got off the train and took the Green Line to Gallery Place instead.

I do applaud the better information flow this morning on both the train and in the stations PA system. The problem is that Metro still has major problems coordinating with DCFD in emergencies. Also, they have no clue how to run shuttle service in this type of situation. The power outages really compounded an already bad situation...

Posted by: chinatown | June 13, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"I really lucked out--I had to be at work by 7:30 (by Union Staton) and got in before this all started. Two others in our office were not so lucky--they called in to say they were stuck at about 7:40--no mention of problems on Metros home page or their email alert system for at least ten minutes after that."

Depending on where the equipment they use to access the server is located, they might have been affected by the outage, so perhaps they were unable to post anything quickly.

Posted by: Rich | June 13, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It gives me great pleasure to watch out-of-shape people hoof it up the Dupont stairs. If you're elderly or disabled, I feel bad, otherwise the workout probably did you some good.

It's a long escalator but it's no worse than say a 5th story walkup.

Needing to see a medic for climbing stairs??? Quick! Get this man a donut! He just had to climb a few flights of stairs!

Posted by: CBGB | June 13, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Friday the 13th, heat wave, whatever...

Metro continues to be underfunded by the many overlapping jurisdictions controlling its funding.

Before you aim your ire at Metro, you might consider contacting your congressional representative (except for those like me, who don't have a vote in Congress) and demand more funding. Then Metro can take pro-active, long-term steps to correct the systemic deficiencies in the system.

Happy Friday~!

Posted by: Captain John | June 13, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Oops...So Sorry for the repeat posts~!

Seems Friday the 13th is taking its revenge out on me by way of computer "issues."

Posted by: Captain John | June 13, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

My complaint about Metro's communications (thinking specifically of Monday's mess) was I can never hear the announcements at the station! I had already entered the station at McPherson Square and stood there for 15 minutes before I heard full information about the derailment. Between the PA system making it sounds like they're eating the microphone, the scrolling updates on the LED board being out of date and/or being interrupted by "X train arriving X minutes", it was downright frustrating.

Also I think it would have been best to have Metro staff outside the turnstiles of nearby/connecting stations warning of delays. I didn't hear about the power outage at McPherson (today) until I was in a tunnel on my way from Smithsonian. Had I known there was the backup on Monday, I would never have entered the station and waited 30 miserable, hot, crowded minutes for a train I couldn't board to begin with.

Posted by: Georgetown DC | June 13, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

For those of you saying Metro does not need more funding, please try to learn the difference between operating expenses and capital expenditures. Operating expenses pay for the day to day, lights on, trains running expenses. Capital expenditures are much, much larger and are for long-term infrastructure and railcar upgrades. Your fare only goes to operating expenses and wouldn't be a drop in the bucket for capital expenditures. Sure, we can argue that there is mismanagement on the operating side, but a dedicated source of funding is the only way to secure necessary funds for capital projects that will ensure Metro is even around to be operating as the area continues to grow.

Posted by: Anon | June 13, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Hey Georgetown DC, are you serious?!? When you said the LED signs being interupted by X trains arriving X min was frustrating?!? How ELSE do you expect us to see when the trains would be coming?!?! That's the only way we know other than the blinking lights

Posted by: anti- Georgetown DC | June 13, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

It's really not fair to blame Metro for Pepco's power outage. That's a bigger headache for Metro than for any of us. Try other public transportation systems and then come home. Metro does a pretty good job.

Posted by: Sarah | June 13, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

NOMOREFUNDING said:

"Money is not going to fix METRO. In fact, no additional funding is required to have an employee at the top of the escalators saying "we have no power, don't come down.""

Oh really? What employee is going to stand there for free? Who is this team of METRO minutemen waiting to come out on call and play traffic cop?

Face it people, this was a crisis situation. Everyone was doing their best to help people out. I was sick (and still am) of hearing people complain about not getting five-star service in the middle of a crisis on PUBLIC transportation.

Who is going to pay for all of those diction classes for METRO announcers for those of you who couldn't open your ears and pay attention to what was going on? I listened carefully and had no problem finding the right track.

Realize we are all in this together. Instead of expecting to be pampered and catered to, pay attention.

I'm also sick of people who cry and moan about paying taxes, then turn around and complain about the roads, metro, and services. We collect ourselves in government to fund these resources. When we refuse to fund the government, we harm ourselves. Bridges fall, crime soars, and tracks catch on fire.

When we ignore government and leave it in the hands of people who want it "drowned in a bathtub," we deserve leaders who are incompetent.

It's like Atlas Shrugged for me-first capitalism.

Posted by: Joe | June 13, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Won't blame Metro for power out. Will wonder about two fires at the same station on the same tracks in the same morning...during the morning rush hour. In good news the drivers were pretty good about giving status updates (I bailed at Fort Totten to come downtown in the Green line).

Now if Pepco could have waited another 10 minutes to get their act together on my building I could have gone home since hte building would have been closed, but that's not Metro's issue (didn't help my day any, but not Metro's issue).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"It gives me great pleasure to watch out-of-shape people hoof it up the Dupont stairs. If you're elderly or disabled, I feel bad, otherwise the workout probably did you some good.

It's a long escalator but it's no worse than say a 5th story walkup.

Needing to see a medic for climbing stairs??? Quick! Get this man a donut! He just had to climb a few flights of stairs!
"

LMAO!!!

Posted by: Metro Man | June 13, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

My point (not clearly made, obv.) was that it would start a sentance - "The trains are delayed because..." then cut off Blue line train (no time given). It never got past those first 5 words, and no time was ever given. No helpful information, no explanation given.

Posted by: Again Georgetown DC | June 13, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"It gives me great pleasure to watch out-of-shape people hoof it up the Dupont stairs. If you're elderly or disabled, I feel bad, otherwise the workout probably did you some good.

It's a long escalator but it's no worse than say a 5th story walkup.

Needing to see a medic for climbing stairs??? Quick! Get this man a donut! He just had to climb a few flights of stairs!
"

FROM WASHINGTON POST.COM:

"At Dupont Circle, one of the passengers treated for shortness of breath was Gainna Ellis, 42, a receptionist whose long morning ordeal had started hours earlier. She commuted by Metro from her home in Greenbelt to her office near Metro Center, only to find her building--and the whole street--without power. Told that the backup generator was about to go off, she decided to head home.

Then, "I got a bright idea to come to Krispy Kreme," a donut shop near Dupont Circle, Ellis said. She made it to the store while the Dupont Circle station was still operating, bought a dozen donuts and a cup of coffee, and walked down the immobilized escalators -- apparently ignoring Metro's strict no-food rules.

Inside the station, she learned it had just been shut down. "So I had to climb up all these stairs again. That was too much," said Ellis, who suffers from high blood pressure. " . . . Then I started feeling sick, like I was about to throw up."

A firefighter helped her up the stairs, walking with her and urging her to take her time. Emergency personnel gave her water to drink and took her blood pressure four times, until it came down.

An hour later, Ellis was still near the station, hoping for a shuttle bus to take her to the Green Line"

Posted by: Metro Man | June 13, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I entered an orange line station just after the derailment on Monday. Seeing the backup, the manager let me out the emergency exit, bypassing the farecard reader. The next time I entered metro with my smartrip, the station manager cleared my card but charged me for a ride. When I explained what happened, he wrote me up a free pass (that I had to give to the station manager at the end of my ride).

They may be able to clear the Smartcard without charging, but if they just clear your card in a hurry, be sure to explain there was a delay and you should not be charged for a ride you didn't take, even though you entered a station.

And boy am I glad I had to drive in today!

Posted by: Red & Orange rider | June 13, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh really? What employee is going to stand there for free? Who is this team of METRO minutemen waiting to come out on call and play traffic cop?

Posted by: Joe | June 13, 2008 11:54 AM

Joe at every Metro station there is a station manager getting paid for sitting there, most of the times, doing NOTHING.
Today during the "CRISIS," that employee could have stood at the top of the escalators letting people know that there was no power and not to come down. No additional funding was needed for that because that employee was already there getting paid. instead of doing something during the "CRISIS" most of them did nothing.
Think and not simply accept that more money is always the solution. The bottom line Metro employees are overpaid and incompetent. As to you, you think they should get more funding.

Posted by: JOEISANIDIOT | June 13, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Donut lady is CLASSIC! Classic cluelessness and disregard for the rules. Classic DC-area denizen. She got her just desserts (snorts)...

Posted by: Occlusion | June 13, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

2 1/2 hours to get to work in what usually takes 45 minutes... 2 metros, 3 buses and A LOT of walking. SHAME ON METRO for still charging me for all of it.

Greed. Pure unaccountable greed.

Posted by: valamondo | June 13, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, it IS the law that non-functioning intersections (where signals are out and there is no law personnel or signs giving traffic direction) become four way stops. Unfortunately, you got to see firsthand the level of ignorance/nonchalance people in this region have towards that. Just keep stopping yourself, tell your friends and family to do the same and eventually word will reach the entitled VIPs who can't be bothered to adhere to social norms or the code of law. One can hope...

Posted by: FOUR WAY STOP | June 13, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I think I should transfer to the green line @ Ft. Totten and catch the blue line via L'Enfant Plaza, opposed to fooling with Metro Center this afternoon.

Undecided...involving three different lines just create more potential to get stuck somwhere.

Either way, I'll probably be screwed though.

Posted by: Metro Man | June 13, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

JOEISANIDIOT said:

"Joe at every Metro station there is a station manager getting paid for sitting there, most of the times, doing NOTHING.
Today during the "CRISIS," that employee could have stood at the top of the escalators letting people know that there was no power and not to come down. No additional funding was needed for that because that employee was already there getting paid. instead of doing something during the "CRISIS" most of them did nothing."

"Most of them did nothing"?

The managers I saw were all working very hard to answer questions on the platform or by the booth and dealing with the crisis. I have a photo of the manager at Gallery Place surrounded by commuters. She was staying calm, answering questions, pointing the clueless people who weren't paying attention to the correct platform, and doing a very professional job.

Gas prices are up and people are discovering just how important mass transit is, and there you sit with your "name" that is actually an attack complaining that if METRO didn't cater to what you feel on a whim was the most critical thing (people outside the stations sending people away), then they are obviously lazy and overpaid.

Go back to the suburbs and take your SUV with you.


Posted by: Joe | June 13, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the donut lady, there is no rule that says you can't bring food onto the Metro - how many of us bring our lunch, take home carry out, carry coffee in an insulated cup? - the rule is that you can't EAT it on the Metro. I'm sure she wasn't planning on eating the dozen donuts sittingon the train, but take them to work. And don't assume they were all for her - she may have been wanting to teat her co-workers.

Posted by: Anon | June 13, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, the one time I actually got up i time to be on time for work, This Sh** Happens!

Posted by: Brooke | June 13, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

My gosh, what a bunch of whine-babies some of you people are. How many days out of the year does Metro run smoothly and on time? Most of the time! Stop boo-hooing because something happens to disrupt your perfect life. Stuff happens, things break down, power goes off. It is not the end of the world and is usually corrected very quickly and efficiently. Metro is a good deal -- if you don't like it, drive to work and pay $4.10 per gallon for gas and high daily parking lot fees. Otherwise, shut up!

Posted by: kahala | June 13, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The word wasn't getting out the other direction.

Got on after 8 am at Silver Spring. Train offloaded at Rhode Island Ave with no warning even at Brookland - just told between Brookland and RI Ave that the train would be offloading and returning in the direction of Glenmont. Which it then did. No explanation of why, nothing about problems in the system (the scrolling warnings by then said there were residual delays from a problem already resolved).

Since it appeared trains weren't going beyond RI Ave, I headed back the other direction to Fort Totten, entering the nightmare that got me to Rosslyn at 9:30.

I still have no idea why we were offloaded and why that train went back toward Glenmont.

Posted by: MB | June 13, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I guess I got lucky for the second time this week! First, I had comparatively little problem getting home to Court House during the Orange Line problems on Monday via the free shuttle bus bridge. I was only delayed about 30 minutes, which wasn't bad all things considered, and was occasioned by me walking from Dupont to Foggy Bottom to catch the shuttle. Then, today, I went from Court House to Metro Center, got to Metro Center about 8:45, got right on a Red Line train to Shady Grove, and got to work up in MD with little difficulty or delay. The only problem was the usual delay at Grosvenor as we waited for a Grosvenor train to turn around. Interestingly, the Red Line car I got on was the only car on the train using the old "doors opening"/"doors closing" announcements and chime tone, so I even got to experience a moment of Metro nostalgia to boot!

Posted by: Courthouseguy | June 13, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

RE: "I got on the Red Line to Shady Grove at Metro Center right as they realized there was a fire. We pulled up a little, sat for a bit, then had to backtrack into Metro Center and disembark. I left the station and headed to the street, where I had to figure out how to get from 12th & F to 20 Mass. Ave. It ended up being almost a straight shot down F heading east, but it was a very hot walk even at 8am. And seeing several blocks' worth of non-working traffic signals along with all the emergency and power vehicles was surreal.

I could not hate Metro any more if I tried. I'm tempted to leave early today but even if I do that, I'll probably still get home at the regular time because of the ridiculousness that is our public transit system."

If you really were on the train to Shady Grove, you were going the wrong way! You should have been on the train to either Glenmont or Silver Spring. Now coming home, you'll want Shady Grove or Grosvenor.

Posted by: Which way did I go? | June 13, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Courthouseguy, that's interesting, I had no idea they still used the old recordings/chimes on any cars. Pretty cool. I kind of liked the old chimes, myself.

On the other hand, I think that the recordings used for routine, repetitive announcements in the stations nowadays are an improvement -- in tone and language -- over the old ones in use a year ago. (From what I've read, many people found the old "see it, say it" announcement grating.) The newer announcements (which use male and female announcers) make the same points about safety, escalators, etc. but at least to me, sound better in tone and modulation.

Metro alerts just sent this out to email and text subscribers:

"6/13/2008 2:11 PM (ID 44572) Disruption at All Stations. (Customers who exited the system unprocessed due to this morning's Red Line delays may re-enter the system with their farecards during PM rush.)"

Posted by: Longtime Metro Rider | June 13, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Please note: your SmartTrip card will not be cleared, and Metro needs to figure out a way to clear cards without chrging people. Last week after entering the McPh Sq station and realizing the Orange line was a disaster, I decided to leave and take the bus. The manager said I could use the emergency exit and have my card cleared by the Silver Spring manager the next morning. She did, but I was charged for a train ride from downtown to SS! That's on top of the bus fare I had paid in lieu of the train. This is not the first time I've had this problem. Doesn't Metro want people to find alternatives rather than adding to the chaos in stations?

And I agree on the need for better communication. I received the same routine-sounding email above, but since the delay also was mentioned on a TV traffic report (again, though, sounded minor), I had a hunch it might be bad and took the bus. Commuters need to know alternative bus routes, ways to connect to other train lines, etc, but that does no good if Metro doesn't help us know when we need to use those other options. The bus takes 20+ minutes longer, so I won't take it if I think the train will be held up 10-15 minutes, but I will if I know there's a possibility of a major delay.

Posted by: Silver Spring | June 13, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Metro says that riders who left downtown stations this morning without being able to use their Farecards or SmarTrip cards can go through the faregates as usual this afternoon and shoudn't have any problems.

The gates have been reprogramed to account for this special circumstance. (I updated the blog entry to add some more details about this.)

Posted by: Robert Thomson | June 13, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

What the hell is going on now???!!!!! WMATA now lists a service advisory reporting delays at ALL stations on ALL FIVE LINES???? How the hell did they pull that one off?

http://www.wmata.com/metrorail/alertdisplay.cfm?nocache.cfm

Posted by: Rich | June 13, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

In a town where so many have bachelor's and master's and doctorate degrees, the common sense seems to be lacking.

I pieced together exactly what was happening without speaking to a single metro employee. I took the bus and walked an extra 5 blocks to work.

Posted by: Tim | June 13, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I had to take a bus and got to school ten minutes late. Not a big deal.

I want to find out if the Metro Center fires were related to Pepco's outage. If so, then all this Metro hate is misplaced and you all should blame Pepco (who, in general, seem far more incompetent).

I also want to know if "JOEISANIDIOT" thinks Metro workers magically appear from thin air. Station managers at the three stations I was in today were all besieged by hordes of passengers with questions, doing their best to answer them. They would not have time to stand at the top of the stairs... even if there were enough of them. Remember, most stations have one station manager and multiple entrances.

Sean is exactly right -- much of this can be laid at the feet of Senator Coburn for singlehandedly blocking any significant capital funding for Metro. Without his interference, Metro would actually have the money to do timely maintenance and repair work. It's too bad the Constitution prevents Metro riders from personally suing Sen. Coburn.

Posted by: dal20402 | June 13, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Rich, that service advisory about "disruptions on all lines" is a bit confusing. Looks to me like the equivalent of an e-mail subject line after two senders have been following up all day on the original message.

By now, of course, the original problem is fixed, but Metro is trying to resolve an issue (using the faregates) stemming from the original problem.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | June 13, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Metro anticipated chaos with regards to the farecards tonight and took proactive steps to avoid it. It's a freaking Friday the thirteenth Miracle.

As for the guy who said we need to just listen better. When the announcements consists of "static, static, red, static, static." What am I supposed to be hearing? It is a documented fact acknowledge by Metro that the station announcing system does not broadcast clearly.

Stuff happens. But, Metro has no battle plan for when it does. Nor will get one. I know I suggested it. I was told "every emergency is different so we can't have a set plan of action." Not even something so simple as having those employees you see sitting on their butts staring at the cars while chatting to their buddies go up to the top of the escalator and alert people of the problem.

Posted by: ep | June 13, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"Rich, that service advisory about 'disruptions on all lines' is a bit confusing. Looks to me like the equivalent of an e-mail subject line after two senders have been following up all day on the original message."

Thanks. Upon a closer re-read, you're absolutely right. D'oh! I guess they have a boilerplate form they use for these things and someone didn't think to override it.

Posted by: Rich | June 13, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Orange line did not even tell it's passengers what was going on. Only reason I knew anything was happening was my trusty GMU alert system, which texted my phone and alerted me. Good thing it did, too, because I almost killed myself at Farragut West. So, Metro, that's over a week straight of delays for Orange Liners. Great job on your improved communications with riders!

Posted by: Mason Patriot | June 13, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, I for one say yay for metro for sorting things out for the ride home tonight. I was dreading endless lines at Farragut North, and I'm glad they've figured it out so I don't have to join an angry mob!

Posted by: hh | June 13, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

To Anon:
Here is what the story said: "She commuted by Metro from her home in Greenbelt to her office near Metro Center, only to find her building--and the whole street--without power. Told that the backup generator was about to go off, she decided to head home.

Then, "I got a bright idea to come to Krispy Kreme," a donut shop near Dupont Circle, Ellis said. She made it to the store while the Dupont Circle station was still operating, bought a dozen donuts and a cup of coffee, and walked down the immobilized escalators -- apparently ignoring Metro's strict no-food rules. "

She was GOING HOME. Not to surprise her co-workers. Those donuts were probably her mid-morning snack. And the coffee? Why would you buy a coffee hot and fresh and head right for the metro? Unless you intended to drink it on the train like so many entitled schmucks (and tourists) I see daily? Hm? It's not hard to put two and two together here.

There's a difference with people who bring food on the train in SEALED containers in their bags with no one being the wiser versus those who bring their McDonald's bag on, stink up the train, and munch on fries as they head to their destination (which is, 9 out of 10 times, what happens).

Posted by: Donut lady | June 13, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

People don't seem to understand how they work. If it didn't register, just do the action you last did when you entered/exited the Metro previously. Are you trying to exit? The fare card probably wasnt swiped right. Go to the entrance stalls, feed it/swipe it, then go to the exit lanes and it should work. Vice versa for those trying to enter but are unable. Go to an exit lane, swipe the card for the fare you failed to pay on your previous trip, and then go back and enter again. Works like a charm, no need to involve the station manager.

Posted by: Fare Cards | June 13, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Just don't let a cop catch you doing that during rush hour. If you "swipe in" and then "swipe out" immediately, you get charged $1.35. So if I swipe in at Shady Grove and then swipe out and take my farecard back without actually exiting the system, you get charged $1.35 and are inside the system with a card that says you are not. Get on Metro, ride downtown. At Farragut North, reach over the gate, swipe in at Farragut North, take farecard, swipe out and walk through the turnstile. You get charged $1.35. In otherwords, you just paid $2.70 when the fare is $4.50. Fare evasion and fraud are two words that come to mind. Something tells me a cop that saw you do that would not want to hear your story and would arrest you on the spot. Something tells me if I saw someone do that, I would alert the cops too, because if I have to pay the full fare everyone else does too.

Why isn't this a problem at non-rush hour times? Because the highest fare charged is $2.35, and this scam would cost you $2.70.

Posted by: Woodley Park | June 13, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

...and, following up on my own post, the Post reports that both Pepco's transformer failure and Metro's underfunded maintenance played a role in the Red Line fires.

Apparently the Pepco outage caused a power surge elsewhere in the system. Old stud bolts, which would be replaced faster if Metro had the capital-projects cash that Senator Okie is holding up, failed and caused the fires.

I hope Senator Okie is happy. Unfortunately, of course, most of the ignorant traveling public will just blame Metro for the whole thing.

Posted by: dal20402 | June 13, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I hadn't even thought of the scam perspective. Color me a naïve law abiding citizen who just knows the most common reason a fare card doesn't read right and how to fix it in a flash self-sufficiently. I hadn't meant to suggest anyone defraud metro. I've "fixed" my card on my own maybe twice. Normally I look to see if it has registered before moving through the gates but once in a while rush hour smooth sailing through the gates shows the person ahead of me and not my card and I only realize my card did now get read when I re enter the system later.

I suppose someone could scam metro using the same setup. But I'm not one of them. I'm a firm beliver in Karma.

Well so much for that solution. Ill just wait. Wait and wait. Wait...for a station manager to assist me next time. I'm deaf and have to write stuff down and most managers blow me off (probably because they can't read?). Hence the self-help solution with minimal contact with other humans I devised. Back to the drawing board.

Posted by: whoa | June 13, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Tom Coburn - you're a tool.

Posted by: hh | June 14, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm willing to bet that in spite of yesterday's debacle, a lot of you still believe Metro makes roads unnecessary.

Have many of you STILL believe all we need to do is "Take Metro!" in the event of a tourist attack?

Posted by: ceefer66 | June 14, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

..."tourist attack"???

Posted by: cb | June 15, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I am a D.C. resident who is disturbed by the non-response by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Once again I did not see any D.C. police directing traffic at any darkened intersections. The Washington Post indicated that three pedestrians were struck downtown by vehicles on Friday, June 13. When is the D.C. Metropolitan Police going to be held accountable for direction in emergencies?

Posted by: Jeff | June 16, 2008 2:32 AM | Report abuse

I mean "terrorist attack".

Posted by: ceefer66 | June 16, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Jeff, the donut shops weren't closed.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"I mean 'terrorist attack.'"

I like "tourist attack" better, myself. :-)

Posted by: Rich | June 17, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Tourists are more disruptive than terrorists.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

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