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No Way Up At Foggy Bottom

Here's an angry letter about crowding this morning at the Foggy Bottom Metrorail station. But there's also a video at welovedc.com that shows the scene that the writer describes.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
If I had any other viable option for my commute, today would have been my last day taking Metrorail.

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 fo rced 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.

Many of us were asking ourselves and each other what would have happened if there had been an emergency evacuation? Most of us concluded a stampede probably would have ensued.

Why wasn't this problem taken care of over the weekend? Why wasn't the blocked escalator opened? So often we hear that the problem with Metro is lack of funds -- I think that the problem is really a lack of proper planning and poor management.
Angela Emerson
Alexandria

Metro clearly had a problem getting people in and out -- especially out -- of its eighth busiest station. Here's a 6:20 p.m. update, summarizing what Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said in an e-mail:

The escalator everyone was walking up needs a new motor. It was taken out of service on July 18, but had been functioning as a staircase. The middle one was taken out of service on Sunday because of mechanical problems. Then early this morning, a mechanic decided it should be blocked off for safety, rather than used as a staircase.

As for the third escalator, the one that was running down, the station manager was unable to reverse it. Rather than shut it off and let it function as another staircase, Metro let it continue running down, since 5,000 people do enter the station during the morning rush.

This evening, two of the escalators are working. On Tuesday, Metro supervisors will be at Foggy Bottom to monitor conditions. Based on the degree of crowding, they could decide to make one or more of the escalators serve as staircases.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 28, 2008; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

Well of course the only working escalator had to be going down. We wouldn't want the pansyass interns to actually have to you know walk downwards.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 28, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

No comment from Metro, of course.

Posted by: wipe them out, all of them | July 28, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I've had the same thoughts as Angela over the last week at the Archives Metro stop. They only have two escalators from the train platform to the turnstile platform. Last week, only one of those escalators was open. The other was blocked off with the yellow barricade and no real indication of a problem.

What happens is utter gridlock with one stopped escalator that is supposed to accommodate people going up from their morning commute AND people trying to get down. I felt VERY sorry for the people trying to get down as they would wait and wait and wait for an opening to get down the escalator that never came. Meanwhile, it took those of us trying to go up approximately 10 minutes to do so as train after train pulled into the station and emptied more people onto the platform.

I mentioned the fire hazard to the station manager who didn't really seem to care. Just the usual, "apologies for the inconvenience." Well I gotta tell ya metro, I'm not sure I'd be thrilled with the inconvenience of being DEAD due to an emergency that doesn't allow us to quickly move out and away.

When I got off this morning, the escalators were working again, after a full week of that crap.

I feel this woman's pain. Wish there was something we could do. Alas, our hands are tied as usual with Metro.

Posted by: LV | July 28, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I share the frustration of these metro riders. I also wonder about the future of metro usage. The high price of gas, neverending beltway traffic, and renewed eco-consciousness is incentivizing more and more people to use metro. If Metro wants to retain all of these new riders, they need to find a way to accommodate their needs, especially with more escalator access.

I remember a few years ago when Metro made an effort to put coverings on open escalators to prevent more water and weather damage - Waterfront and College Park were among the projects. Is there a plan to cover more escalators, like the ones at Foggy Bottom and Dupont?

Posted by: JBL | July 28, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Hell, just give us a staircase.

Posted by: WTF Foggy Bottom | July 28, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

A few years ago, I used to take the Metro to Foggy Bottom-GWU station with my sister, who was undergoing chemo at the nearby medical center. (She died of cancer a few months later.) One of the things I worried about was the escalators (would they be working.) I guess we were "lucky" but most of the time the escalators at the station were working properly. It would have been a hardship for my terminally ill sister to walk up a stationary escalator.

Nor would a staircase have worked for someone such as my sister. Nor would it work for some of the elderly people whom I've seen going to GW for medical appointments. That the station serves a hospital and a nearby medical center means it has the potential to draw a greater number of infirm people (ill or recovering from injuries) than some of the other Metro stations. It is all the more important to have the escalators running properly. No way for me to tell whether Metro takes that into account.

Posted by: Longtime Metro Rider | July 28, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

A few years ago, I used to take the Metro to Foggy Bottom-GWU station with my sister, who was undergoing chemo at the nearby medical center. (She died of cancer a few months later.) One of the things I worried about was the escalators (would they be working.) I guess we were "lucky" but most of the time the escalators at the station were working properly. It would have been a hardship for my terminally ill sister to walk up a stationary escalator.

Nor would a staircase have worked for someone such as my sister. Nor would it work for some of the elderly people whom I've seen going to GW for medical appointments. That the station serves a hospital and a nearby medical center means it has the potential to draw a greater number of infirm people (ill or recovering from injuries) than some of the other Metro stations. It is all the more important to have the escalators running properly. No way for me to tell whether Metro takes that into account.

Posted by: Longtime Metro Rider | July 28, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Apologies for the double posting, it looked as if my initial comment did not go through.

Posted by: Longtime Metro Rider | July 28, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I rarely take Metro anymore, I used to take it all the time. Last week I thought it would be fine to take it two stops from Clarendon to Ballston. Of course, when I got to Ballston, there was one escalator blocked, one stationary, and one working- GOING DOWN! How stupid is that? Those people who work at Metro are just the stupidest people ever!

Posted by: James | July 28, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Not only the frequently non-working escalators -- what about the fact that the place is like a steam bath - I don't think the air conditioning has been working all summer. It is stifling down there. My other stop at Metro Center is usually resonably cool - Foggy Bottoom is truly dangerously hot, certainly for the older and infirm folks. I have made it a point to stand under every one of the supposed air conditioning columns, and not one is putting out any cool air. Bad enough that the air conditioning does not seem to work on a fairly high percentgage of the Metro cars but now it is like stepping into an oven to step out of them into the foggy bottom station.

Posted by: Long Time Foggy Bottom Metro User | July 28, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

It is past time that Metro seriously considered replacing some/most/all of its shorter escalators with staircases.

It would save money (at least in the long run) by reducing maintenance costs and would allow Metro to devote more funds to keeping its elevators and longer escalators (e.g., those at Dupont Circle) operational.

Posted by: inarlington | July 28, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse


Try this folks.

Take a look at the personnel inside the station kiosk (the masters of all they survey). Do any of them look like they were on the short list for a Rhodes Scolarship?

Posted by: Tiger_Caddy_31 | July 28, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The video had people running up the down escalator...and to think that I got a $300 fine for doing that a few years back...

Posted by: Rob | July 28, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Not to worry, "Metro Supervisors" are on the case! Expect a resolution sometime in 2015.

Posted by: BOHICA! | July 28, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

As I sympathize with all the people suffering these inconveniences in DC, I must say that at least one factor plays into their advantage. The respect they show each other as they are trying to deal with working themselves up those stairs. I used to take the metro in DC too, now I am in Brussels, Belgium and the thing that bothers me more than the poor metro quality(which seems like a universal issue) is the grumpiness and aggressiveness from one traveler to another.
So many programs are subsidized to improve the environment and to reduce people driving in cars to limit gasses from exhausts. Metro is promoted as a good alternative. Well, if they would use some of the money from those programs to fix metro issues, maybe more people would feel inclined to take the metro and could actually feel good about doing so too.
Just a thought from across the ocean.

Posted by: Tom | July 29, 2008 3:06 AM | Report abuse

There is no respect. People run around to the front to crowd their way in. Going up working escalators they stand on both sides and stop when they get to the top. We're going to start getting pile-ups and injuries and pretty soon people are going to start dying in sight of a hospital.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 29, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

New game show: Who wants to be eaten by an escalator?!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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