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Clearing Out Foggy Bottom

Metro says it will have supervisors at Foggy Bottom Station this morning to figure out the best configuration of the two working escalators for the rush period.

On Monday morning, only one was moving in Metrorail's eighth busiest station, and that was going down when hundreds of people were trying to get out.

This was the situation, as described to me in an e-mail from Angela Emerson of Alexandria:

"When I arrived at the Foggy Bottom stop this morning, there were many hundreds of people waiting to exit the station. The station has three escalators. One was carrying folks down into the station, one was blocked off and not moving, and the remaining one, which we were all forced to use to get out, was not moving.

"So the delay was caused by only one up escalator being open, and everyone having to climb that one out."

Some of you asked if the station needs two entrances, rather than the one, with its bank of three escalators.

Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said a feasibility study, done at the request of the District last year, found it would cost more than $21 million to build a second entrance at 22nd and I (Eye) streets NW. She said the study looked at installing two escalators, a stairway and two elevators at the

You can see the Monday morning scene in this video at Masses huddle on the mezzanine waiting to walk up the halted escalator. A few others scramble upward past people on the downbound escalator.

This is Candace Smith's escalator-by-escalator description of the Monday morning situation:

Escalator No. 1, the one the passengers were walking up to reach street level, had been taken out of service on July 18 to replace a motor. But until Monday morning people could still use it as a "walker." (Now it's under repair and will be out of action until September.)

Escalator No. 2, the middle one, was taken out of service on Sunday, because of mechanical problems. Early Monday, a mechanic decided it had to be closed off to the public for safety, so it could not be used as a stairway. That escalator was repaired and running by 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Escalator No. 3 was running downward. The station manager couldn't get it to reverse direction. Rather than shut it off and use it as a stairway, Metro decided to keep it going, since about 5,000 people do enter the station during morning rush hours. During this time, Smith said, the station elevator remained in service.

This is what we see so often in the transit system: With more and more people riding, the chances increase that when things go wrong, they'll go wrong in a hurry.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 29, 2008; 5:32 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Next: Detour Ahead on Clara Barton Parkway


The one working escalator is going to break!

Posted by: Metro Man | July 29, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

My bad, I misread. I suck at life :(

Posted by: Metro Man | July 29, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Typical of METRO. When Metro has problems the riders suffer.

Posted by: Jimbo | July 29, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

We have a similar situation at Shady Grove every single day. Shady Grove is a busy station at one end of the Red Line, and it only has one set of two escalators / one stairway. I'm surprised Shady Grove doesn't have two sets of escalators or more stairways. So, every time a train arrives, people bunch up at the top of the escalators heading down one escalator and the stairway next to it (if people aren't coming up the stairway). It can take a few minutes for the platform to clear. It becomes even worse during rush hour when the next train can arrive while the platform is still congested from the previous train. I wonder if WMATA is planning to add more escalators and stairs to this station, which desperately needs it?

Posted by: Josh | July 29, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

How about building a second entrance with just stairs?

And you're leaving some numbers out. If they kept the one working escalator going down because 5,000 people enter the station (and we all know how hard it is to walk down stairs) how many are trying to exit? Are they making the morning barely easier for 5,000 people at the expense of 25,000 stuck on the platform? You don't say.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

The surface entrance escalators have been replaced once sense the station first opened in 1977.

Two options would solve the problem short of building a second surface entrance.

Move the middle escalator over and put in a fourth escalator.

Remove the middle escalator and put in stairs.

A second redundant elevator would be desirable as well.

Posted by: John R Cambron AKA Sand Box John | July 29, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Metro always has an answer for all of their poor service. Always. It must be nice to work somewhere that has no goals and accepts mediocrity as the standard.

Sometimes, it would be nice for a metro spokesperson to just say, "heck, we f-ed up, we're really sorry." I gotta tell you, I'd accept that more happily than all the BS they feed us all the friggin time.

Posted by: LV | July 29, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Can someone let Metro know this isn't some video game like Subway Tycoon or something--though if it were, the game would be over by now.

It's ridiculous that Metro acts the way they do. Wait until something screws up because it's going to, rather than try to head it off at the pass. Any word on whether the train driver who spotted the kink in the track on the orange line still works for Metro? Probably not, it made Metro look good and they could be honest for a change. Metro doesn't like to be honest, they like to skirt the issue.

Posted by: Jarrod | July 29, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

People ought to learn where the Emergency Stop button is located. Usually on the right side, a red button under a plastic flap. Lift the flap, push the button, and the escalator comes to a screeching halt.

Of the thousands of commuters trying to exit Foggy Bottom, no one thought to take things into their own hands and hit the button on the down escalator?

Posted by: Woodley Park | July 29, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

the station manager "couldn't" get the escalator to change directions? When i walked by him, he was chatting with about 4 other metro employees, a woman said something, he looked at her, smiled, LAUGHED, shrugged his shoulders and threw his hands in the air. "So they're both broken" she said, "Yep! haha! you'll have to walk!"

He didn't seem to be trying too hard to get the escalator to go up, and he was literally laughing at our situation.

Posted by: jtmeyer | July 29, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I'd laugh too if I was being paid to do nothing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Even if there are 5000 people entering the station, they trickle in, whereas people exit the station in droves, so the priority should always be to get the only working escalator to run up.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Just what to metro station managers "manage" if they cannot even reverse an escalator?

Is there anything actually in those little glass huts they enclose themselves in? We all know there's no phones, since Metro doesn't know how to communicate, so I'd really love to know from Metro what a station manager "would say you do here", to quote Office Space, besides laugh at the plight of the commuters?

Posted by: Query for Ms. Smith at Metro | July 29, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Check. Foggy Bottom fixed. Now can you make them fix the air conditioning at Farragut West? Please?

Posted by: Liz | July 29, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the little glass huts are where this alleged "air conditioning" is, because there certainly isn't any in the stations.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

This goes to show the folly of stations with zero sets of stairs.
Far too many were built in that mode. While adding entrances
is really costly; how about estimates on adding stairs??

Posted by: George B | July 31, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

They can't make an estimate without including all the gold-plated-fat-people-moving-devices.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Shouldn't the second entrance be more like 23rd & H?

Posted by: Foggy Bottom | August 1, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Deaf rider with a SmarTrip, and I am FED UP with Metro. Here's a letter I wrote to them. I'm sure it won't make a bit of difference.


I have been riding Metro for a long time, since 2005, as a student, and I have a SmarTrip card, but I am losing faith in Metro. Tonight at Metro Center there were delays up to 20 minutes, with a lack of announcements, so I decided to take the X90 bus back instead. Well, it never appeared, so I ended up taking two buses back. The 93 bus (from U-Street) was 10 minutes late! This is ridiculous. I feel like Metro has became unreliable, slow, and increasingly frustrating for me to use, especially on the weekends. Enough is enough! I feel like I'm paying more and more for less!

I hope you do something to improve the service of Metro, especially for a Deaf person such as myself.



Posted by: Andrew | August 3, 2008 3:11 AM | Report abuse

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