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Morning Delays on Red Line, Wisconsin Ave.

[11:30 am. Update: The District estimated the traffic signals at Tenley Circle will be working again at about 1 p.m.]

The Friendship Heights Metrorail station has reopened after being closed for about half an hour following a report of smoke and a possible fire under a Red line train headed toward downtown. Everyone got off the train and no injuries have been reported, Metro says.

But long delays are likely through the rest of the morning commute. Trains are sharing a single track to get around the stopped train. Meanwhile, traffic is slow on Wisconsin Avenue near the District-Montgomery County line. Traffic signals were out at Tenley Circle, at Wisconsin and Nebraska avenues, because of a power failure. The District Department of Transportation says it has set up portable stop signs and its Road Operations Patrols are assisting with traffic control.

Also, there were temporary lane closures at Wisconsin and Western avenues, because of the incident at Friendship Heights Station.

The station was closed from 7:27 to 7:54 a.m., Metro said. The smoke was first reported at 6:52 a.m.

Shuttle buses were made available at about 7:30 a.m. between Tenleytown and Bethesda stations to get riders around the delays, but such bus bridges are no substitute for train service. Buses carry about 50 passengers each, while a train can hold a thousand.

Here's a map of the area.


View Larger Map

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2008; 8:20 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  
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Next: Passengers Evacuated From White's Ferry

Comments

metro needs to implement a system to inform customers that these delays are happening before customers head down escalators and through turnstiles. this happens to me way to often where i enter the metro only to walk the platform to exit on the other side and walk downtown to another metro. i am paying metro for not riding metro?!?!
i won't get into the cab fees i have to pay because of missed buses..

Posted by: LittleSally | December 12, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I am subscribed to Metro's email alert system for the Red line; this morning? Nothing. Not a single email. Nothing about the fire, nothing about delays, not a thing. What is the purpose of the system if they aren't going to use it? Just like the information displays inside the renovated cars that they never use to display stations, Metro spends lots of money but provides no customer benefits for it.

Posted by: jameslowe1 | December 12, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I was a rider in that train and was sitting near the front of the second car of the train. In my car, every seat had at least one person, so there were perhaps 300-400 passengers on the train. (I was there when a lady blurted out "100" to a fire chief who had asked how many riders there were and if we were the last ones.)

After the evacuation, in which we all climbed up what seemed like at least forty or so flights of steps up a fire escape - that were beginning to sway a bit near the top - and arrived at the street level, there was NO ONE to direct us. There were only a number of firefighters standing near the emergency exit.

I was among the last to leave because I had been sitting near the front of the train, and the exit was through one of the rear cars.

After few minutes, I asked the driver of a Metro bus, who had just pulled up, if there was a shuttle bus or what I should do. That driver was of no help. After deciding not to get on a bus - I looked around and saw three Metro employees standing around at another part of the area, chatting. I knew that they were Metro employees only because of their vests. So I walked up, said I had been on the train that broke down and asked them if there was a shuttle or what I should do.

One of them - who I think was the station master - said that the trains were running. I then asked how that was and they said that they were single-tracking. So I then asked how to get down the station and they motioned to the elevator. Then I asked how to get back into the system and she told me to go through the emergency gate on the other side of the station master booth. I was getting information one little bit at a time, question by question. There was no effort to be helpful, at all.

There should have been someone at the emergency exit to guide riders after emerging at the street level - and probably someone positioned half way up on the escape stairs with a radio. Fortunately, no one had a heart attack during that significant climb, though a number had stopped to catch their breath! Also, a sign or two on the escape route with directions or information would have been very helpful since we had no idea of where we were, of where we were going, or how far it was to safety. That is standard information on board Navy ships - which, in an emergency, is much like being in the Metro.

By the way, I do subscribe to Metro's email alert system for the Red line. The first alert I received regarding this situation had a time stamp of 7:04 and an ID of 47511.

Regarding the passenger notifications - unfortunately, some of the variable message signs - like the escalators - don't seem to be operating.

However, in spite of all of the above, the Washington Metro system remains a marvel of engineering and efficiency - and I demonstrated my faith in it by getting back on a train and completing my commute to work that morning.

Posted by: mrlabs@comcast.net | December 14, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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