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Those Platform Direction Arrows

During our online discussion on Monday, a commuter expressed frustration about being too frequently misled by direction arrows at the end-of-a-line Metrorail station. The lit-up arrow is supposed to point to the train departing next, whichever side of the platform it's on.

In this case, the next train arrow was on the Red Line platform at Shady Grove.

Gaithersburg, Md.: "I wish Metro could at least get the sign right at Shady Grove announcing which side of the platform the next train will leave from. Twice last week and again this morning despite what the sign indicated, the operator announced that the train on the opposite side of the platform will leave first, after many people had already settled in."

I responded that I wasn't sure why that happened, but Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel gave me an explanation of how the system works.

He said that when a train arrives at the platform, the arrow pointing toward that train as automatically lights. In rush periods, with so many trains on the line, that might not turn out to be the next departing train. So it's up to the terminal supervisor to reposition the arrow to show which train is leaving first.

There's also a rail supervisor on the platform to make sure people know which train to board, Taubenkibel said. Riders should also listen for announcements from the train operator about which one is leaving next.

Not a fool-proof situation for those of us who arrive at the stations in a caffiene-deprived state some mornings.

By Robert Thomson  |  September 18, 2008; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

Since 2002, I have taken the Metro from Vienna each work day. I often take it on weekends, too. Vienna is end-of-line.

I have never -- repeat never -- seen a rail supervisor on the platform make sure people know which train to board.

I will often times see Metro personnel hanging around chatting in the station manager shack. I will often see Metro personnel ignoring tourists who don't know how to use the turnstiles or fare machines.

But I have never seen Metro personnel direct people to an appropriate train.

Posted by: vienna, va | September 18, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

There's an arrow at Shady Grove? Where? I've never seen one.

Posted by: dkf747 | September 19, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I had to use the green line from Greenbelt in the mornings for a few months earlier this year, and this same issue was a problem there. The arrows were unreliable as an indicator of the next train to depart, and I would occasionally see a Metro employee on the platform but they certainly weren't directing people in any way.

I thank Steven Taubenkibel for his explanation but someone should inform him that it doesn't actually seem to work the way he describes it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Right. I have taken the Red line from Shady Grove to and from Union Station every work day for almost 20 years. I have not seen any rail supervisors assisting customers. We rarely see a Transit Police Officer. Perhaps Mr. Taubenkibel should check the reality of Metro before believing what the managers tell him.

Posted by: gaithersburg | September 19, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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