How Not to Commute Today
These are some suggestions about what NOT to do. I've collected them from my own experiences and from yours.
Avoid the shuttle buses. The system is well organized and it's running far, far better than I had expected. The bus bridges are usually a nightmare during a Metrorail emergency. The reason I suggest avoiding them is just that you probably can find a faster alternative. The shuttle between Silver Spring and Fort Totten has to travel along many local streets, make lots of turns and halt at lots of red lights and stop signs.
Avoid the S4 on 16th Street. I've tried this from downtown to Silver Spring two evenings in a row and it's been even more crowded than usual. Lots of passengers waiting downtown on 16th Street for buses that already are jammed by the time they get there. I think it might be more productive to wait for the S9, the limited stop service, which is scheduled to come every 10 minutes. Normally, it would be just a rush hour thing, but during the Red Line emergency, it's operating at midday, too. And there are extra buses.
First bus isn't necessarily best. There's a lot of bus bunching because of the crowding on the buses, as people bail out from the eastern side of the Red Line. If you can afford to be patient, pass up the first crowded bus and see how things look on the next one, which may arrive pretty quickly after the first. (Wish that NextBus alert system had started already, but that's still a week away.) You might try this with the 79, the Metro Extra on Georgia Avenue.
Don't pass up a 70s bus. The fastest bus to and from Silver Spring on the Georgia Avenue route is the 79, the limited-stop Metro Extra. But many of those buses are filled with commuters using it as a Red Line alternative. Consider using the other Georgia Avenue buses, the 70 and 71, because you might be more likely to get a seat.
Avoid the east side of the Red Line. Even though the Brookland and Fort Totten stations have reopened on the Red, I think you might still be better off taking the Green Line (and the Yellow Line, depending on the hour) up to Fort Totten and getting on the shuttle bus there -- if you feel you have to take the shuttle. The Red Line is the most heavily used in the system. (Still no word on when the track between Fort Totten and Silver Spring will reopen.)
Don't forget about the baseball traffic. If it hadn't been for the crash, I'd be focusing more attention on this: The Nationals are playing the Red Sox again tonight and Thursday. The games start at 7:05, and are likely to be very crowded. So that puts rush hour pressure on the Green Line, through Navy Yard Station, and on South Capitol and M streets.
Don't stand where you usually stand. While you're waiting for a Metro train, I mean. As a safety precaution, the transit authority has ordered the operators to stop all trains, whether they're six cars or eight cars, to stop at the front of the platform. They don't want eight-car operators to forget how long the train is and stop where the doors can open in a tunnel.) That's a very good plan. But it means that people need to move up the platform, or they won't have time to get into the first car.
By the way, this may partly explain why you're seeing fewer people in the first car. Some are avoiding it because of the crash stories. Others may not be standing where they should to board the first car.
All right, that's what I've got so far, but I know you've got more. So please lay out your suggestions in the comments field.
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