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MARC Back, More Buses, But Red Line Still Slow

updated 5:46 a.m. and 9:38 a.m. Wednesday
SS Shuttle.jpg
Metro personnel direct commuters to the shuttles in Silver Spring on Tuesday. (Thomson)

Red Line trains are now running from Shady Grove all the way to Fort Totten. Coming from the other direction, however, trains can run only from Glenmont to Silver Spring, meaning that there is still a bottleneck for the huge influx of travelers entering the Red Line from the East.

The Takoma Metrorail station remains closed to Red Line traffic. Platforms and trains are packed all along the Red Line, travelers report, as trains continue to move more slowly than usual.

The Green and Yellow lines are operating normal service through Fort Totten Metrorail station. For other commuting information, including the shuttle bus service Metro is offering around the affected area, see below.

10:40 p.m. Tuesday
Transit commuters should find Wednesday's trip easier than today's, as Metro and MARC add service. But the break in the Red Line remains.

MARC announced that the Brunswick Line is back. Commuter trains between Western Maryland and Union Station were canceled Tuesday because the Red Line crash blocked its tracks between Takoma and Fort Totten, and stranded MARC's equipment at Union Station.

Metro is adding buses to get people in and out of the Silver Spring area. That includes more service on the Metro Extra (79) express and the 70 and 71 buses on Georgia Avenue and the S9 express on 16th Street NW. A free shuttle will be added today to connect Silver Spring and the Green Line's Georgia Avenue/Petworth Station. That's a good idea. Should take some pressure off the shuttle between Silver Spring and Rhode Island Avenue.

One Metro worker, who was maintaining her cheer after more than eight hours of directing passengers to the shuttles, said she expected to be doing that job for the rest of the week.

Shuttle Bus Sign.jpg Hand-written directions to shuttle. (Thomson)

One thing about the shuttles at the in-between stations of Takoma, Fort Totten and Brookland. It's not always clear from the markings on the bus whether it's going north or ask, so be sure to ask the Metro workers in the yellow vests or the bus drivers to be sure.

Once on the trains: They're under manual control, rather than automatic. They're running a bit slower than normal. And all the trains, whether they're six cars or eight cars, are pulling up to the head of the platform. These are all safety measure following Monday's train collision, even though the cause of the crash remains unknown.

The District says it has reopened all lanes on the New Hampshire Avenue Bridge, near the crash site. Nicholson Street will remain closed as crews continue to clear debris from the railroad tracks.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 24, 2009; 9:38 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: MARC, Metrobus, Metrorail, Red Line crash, delays  
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Next: Metro Shouldn't Be Railroaded on 1000 Series Cars


Freight trains are running through that section of track now (I can see them from my window). The first one came through at about 4. This track also has one Amtrak in each direction every day, and those both went through today. These trains are all running on the same track, the one that runs alongside metro's outbound track - usually they use both sides.

Posted by: h3h3 | June 24, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what the cheapest all-day parking option is in the Farragut area of DC?

Posted by: jonnydoe1234 | June 24, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

One thing that I haven't heard any reports on: how seriously is Red Line service affected outside of the crash area? Say for instance, I'd like to take it between Metro Center & Union Station - should I still expect massive delays, or are those more limited to trains getting out of the city?

Posted by: dolm | June 24, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Fire John Catoe.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 24, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

When I got to Silver Spring at 7am and asked where the shuttle to Georgia Ave-Petworth was, the WMATA staff had no idea what I was talking about. Instead, they directed me to the shuttle to Ft Totten (which also stopped at Takoma, picking no one up and letting exactly one person off - a big waste of time). I should have just taken the 79 bus. Why was the shuttle from Silver Spring to Georgia announced to the press but not implemented?

Posted by: johnmbriggs | June 24, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Any idea when the Takoma station will reopen?

Posted by: blankdc | June 24, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Anyone know how long it takes the shuttle bus to go from Silver Spring to Fort Totten i AM rush hour, and reverse in the PM?


Posted by: dezlboy1 | June 24, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if WMATA will ever tell us why there are delays between Fort Totten and Shady Grove and between Glenmont and Silver Spring.

Every day, the trains "turn around" at the end of the line and go the other direction. Now, instead of "one" Red Line, we have "two" Red Lines. Each one requiring "turning around" at the ends. Why do trains need to take longer between stations?

Posted by: r6345 | June 24, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I decided to experiment with the MARC train from Silver Spring to Union Station. Pricey, but very easy. Of course, then I had to get from Union Station to Gallery Place, and I waited over ten minutes for the Metro. Surprising during rush hour, but I guess the slow trains are delaying everything. Noticed on the way that the platforms along the Red Line looked empty.

Posted by: runnergirl03 | June 24, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

how long will have the manual train operation and the trains pulling all the way to the end of the platform regardless of length?

Posted by: fedssocr | June 24, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"Does anyone know what the cheapest all-day parking option is in the Farragut area of DC?"

It's a bit of a walk, but the Kennedy Center is generally the cheapest if you get there early and leave before 7 PM. I believe it's $9.00 if you do that.

About the most reliable garage I know of in the Farragut area is on L Street next to Church's shoe store, but it's been a few years since I last parked there and thus I'm not sure how the pricing stands.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 24, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Did anybody report any problems with Metro's Green Line before or after yesterday's Nats-Sox game?

Posted by: dbresette | June 24, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, train delays lead to packed trains, which lead to more delays because people jam in and lean on the doors. Two days in a row, I have been on a train that gets has to go out of service because doors won't close - and all I need is 2 stops to get to work.

When WMATA intensifies their system rehaul, and as part of their investigations, they should look into these door closing issues AND work on better enforcing maximum capacities in the cars.

Posted by: Jen11 | June 24, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

are you hearing anything about when they might open up the closed stations?

Posted by: chiquita2 | June 24, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Could one solution be to only run the 1000-series cars in the middle of the trains?

Posted by: KS100H | June 24, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

MARC is telling Dr. Gridlock something different than what they told me:

The blog says: Commuter trains between Western Maryland and Union Station were canceled Tuesday because the Red Line crash blocked its tracks between Takoma and Fort Totten, and stranded MARC's equipment at Union Station.

MARC told me that the 5:10 Penn Line train was cancelled yesterday because they had deadheaded the equipment back out to Brunswick in the event service was restored Tuesday and, anyway, there was no room for that trainset in Union Station. Which actually makes no sense at all given the size of the trainyard out there. I would love to know what the real deal was.

Posted by: jhpurdy | June 24, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

An earlier commenter asked the same question but why are the trains running so infrequently on the rest of the Red Line?

10 minutes between trains is not an acceptable level of service during rush hour.

The only explanation I can come up with is that a disproportionate percentage of WMATA's rolling stock is "stuck" north of Takoma Park and therefore Metro is short of train cars. But since the accident happened during rush hour I find that an unlikely explanation.

Adding insult and stupidity to this there have been very few 8 car trains running.

I had to wait until the 4th train this morning to squeeze on and all of the Red Line platforms were extremely crowded.

If it is still like this when we go into the summer broil which could be soon Metro is going to need to deploy the National Guard on platforms to break up fist fights among riders.

This is an embarrassing level of service and if there is a good explanation for it Metro needs to make it public TODAY.

If there is not a good explanation then some heads need to roll.

Posted by: TomQuinn | June 24, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

@ dezlboy1: Yesterday, the shuttle bus from Silver Spring to Fort Totten took me about half an hour during the evening rush. (That's not counting the time we spent sitting in Silver Spring, waiting for it to fill up. I was surprised at how empty it was.

@dbresette: Yesterday, the green line heading south from Fort Totten got more and more crowded, and HUGE mobs were getting onto it at L'Enfant, heading towards the ball game, but it was running really smoothly. I'm going to tonight's game (leaving from Silver Spring) so I hope it's as smooth!

Posted by: EtoilePB | June 24, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Heads need to roll. They have needed to roll for years. This is simply one of the worst transit systems in the US. How on earth can NYC run a system over 100 years old without the problems that plague this "aging" system? I have taken NYC subways for years have have never expeienced a problem. I have problems almost every day on Metro. It is a complete disgrace!

Posted by: Trout1 | June 24, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Keep asking about the shuttle to Petworth. They didn't have one waiting but once people started asking about it they diverted a bus.

I'm not sure if it's any faster than going to Takoma then Ft. Totten, but that stretch around Takoma is so slow, at least you feel like you're on a bus that's moving!

I'd like to see a Silver Spring- Ft. Totten shuttle skipping Takoma. It's a time sink!

Posted by: RedBird27 | June 24, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I am noticing slightly higher headways between trains but that can be expected when the trains are being controlled manually. For the most part my commute was smooth this morning. Got to Twinbrook metro at 8:35 am and had to wait about 5 minutes for a relatively crowded train. We were packed by the time we got to Grosvenor. It definately was more crowded than usual at that time of the morning, but I have a feeling there are more people driving to the stations on the west side of the redline in order to get into DC.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | June 24, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

As if the tragedy this week wasnt enough, this morning the red line outdid itself once again in inconveniencing customers and creating a dangerous situation. The red line from shady grove was of course overcrowed this morning 6/24/09 and trains were understandably jammed. But the operator of a red line train from Shady Grove ordered over a 1000 commuters off the train this morning about 820 am at Woodley Park, because someone was in the doorway jamming the door. 1000 commuters stood on a jammed plaform unable to get into any of the few trains that came in afterward because they were already jammed to capacity. People were inches from the trains when they came in and someone could have easily been hit. The idiocy of this was that after the train was evacuated, a operator went down the train making sure all the doors indeed closed correctly. They simply could have reboarded the train with the passengers. Instead hundreds of passengers went upstairs to the street only to find the buses were jammed as well. I had to wait for 4 buses in a row before I could get standing room on a bus. hundreds of us were delayed an addional 90 minutes today because of this, incurred addionally expense, and worse, were exposed unnecessarily to someone falling into the path of a train on a horrendously overcrowded platform. This all was not because of the tragedy, but Metro's idiotic policy of evacuating trains because some tourists bag gets caught in the door.

Posted by: hrglobal3 | June 24, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

So much for light rail. The reason the NYC Subway does not experience tragedies such as this is because it was built as a railroad and not "light rail" (translate: cheap rail).

Also, the politicizing of the financing of the system must stop. The system is crucial to the economy, safety and wellbeing of the entire population of the metropolitan area. To not have dedicated funding for at least safety and maintenance is a crime.

Shame on Metro and all involved for not making the budget a priority.

Tampa is considering a light rail system for the area. I hope they learn from this tragedy how not to manage it!

a former resident

Posted by: ImNotaWitch | June 24, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

@runnergirl03 You may want to try taking the circulator from Union Station (towards Georgetown). Just $1 and runs down Mass Ave. to 7th St.

For those coming from the Glenmont, Wheaton, and Silver Spring stations below are some options for taking a bus and connecting up with the redline on its western side.

From Glenmont: Take the C8 to White Flint or the Ride-On 10 to Twinbrook. Both trips take about 30 minutes.

From Wheaton: Take the 34 (towards Friendship Heights) to Medical Center. Trip takes 25-20 minutes.

From Silver Spring: Take the J5 (towards Twinbrook Metro) to Grosvenor Metro or the Ride-on 5 (towards Twinbrook) to Grosvenor Metro. Trips take 20 mins and 35 mins respectively.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | June 24, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Fire them? They should be arrested and prosecuted for criminal negligence. It's been going on for years.

Posted by: jhoward4313 | June 24, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"So much for light rail. The reason the NYC Subway does not experience tragedies such as this is because it was built as a railroad and not "light rail" (translate: cheap rail)."

WRONG. Metro is heavy rail, not light rail. Get your facts straight before you come off like a pompous idiot.

``The idiocy of this was that after the train was evacuated, a operator went down the train making sure all the doors indeed closed correctly. They simply could have reboarded the train with the passengers.''

Wow are you a know it all. Did you know how dangerous it is to have a train packed with commuters going down the tracks while the doors are open?

Maybe I should refer you to the New Jersey Transit incident a few years back where a man's bag got stuck in the door on the way out of the train and he was dragged to his death.

Posted by: dolomite | June 26, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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