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.
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