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A Summary of Metro Alerts After the Crash

Several Metro riders expressed frustration over the notification they received about the Red Line crash after it happened. Many were stranded on platforms or in trains awaiting news. This compiled list looks at alerts and news briefings our reporters, editors and readers received from D.C. authorities, police and WMATA throughout the evening. The list reveals much clearer notification from Metro officials in press releases than in alerts provided to the public. In two cases, the alerts suggested that the issues had been resolved. If you have other actual alerts from Metro, please forward them to tellus@washingtonpost.com.

5:00 p.m.: Approximate time of crash between Fort Totten and Takoma stations. 5:07 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55697) Disruption at Tenleytown-AU. Expect delays in both directions due to an earlier train malfunction outside of Tenleytown station that has been resolved. 5:18 p.m.: WMATA Alert:(ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Brookland and Takoma due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Fort Totten station. Shuttle Bus service has been requested. 5:19 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Brookland and Takoma due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Fort Totten station. Shuttle Bus service has been requested. 5:29 p.m.: Washington Post confirms crash and derailment. 5:36 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Ave and Silver Spring stations due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Fort Totten station. Shuttle Bus service has been requested. 5:36 p.m.: WMATA Press Release on derailment and "collision." 5:46 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55697) Disruption at Tenleytown-AU was cleared. Thank you for riding Metro. 5:53 p.m.: WMATA Press Release on derailment and "collision." Injuries acknowledged. 6:03 p.m.: WMATA Press Release confirms first two fatalities. 6:07 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Ave and Silver Spring stations due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Fort Totten station. Shuttle Bus service has been established. Customers should add an additional 30 minutes to their travel time. 6:15 p.m.: Washington Post and several local news outlets confirm two dead. 6:24 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Ave & Silver Spring stations due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Fort Totten. Shuttle service has been established. 6:26 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Ave & Silver Spring due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Ft. Totten. Shuttle service has been established. 6:27 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55700) Disruption at All Stations. Customers traveling or connecting to the Red Line, due to significant Red Line delays, customers are encouraged to add an additional 30 minutes to their travel times. 6:45 p.m.: Readers report seeing signs at Metro stations reporting a "police incident" and delays due to a "train malfunction." 6:58 p.m.: WMATA Press Release confirms two fatalities. Adds that one fatality was operator. 7:01 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Ave & Silver Spring due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Ft. Totten. Shuttle service has been established. 7:02 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55700) Disruption at All Stations. Customers traveling or connecting to the Red Line, due to significant Red Line delays, customers are encouraged to add an additional 30 minutes to their travel times. 7:11 p.m.: Mayor Adrian Fenty announces four fatalities at news briefing. At this point it becomes the deadliest accident in WMATA history. 7:18 p.m.: WMATA Press Release confirms four fatalities. 7:40 p.m.: WMATA Press Release confirms four fatalities. Adds warning to avoid Red Line throughout the evening and Tuesday. 8:33 p.m.: Mayor Adrian Fenty announces six fatalities at news briefing. 9:06 p.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Avenue & Silver Spring due to a police situation outside of Fort Totten station. Shuttle bus service has been established. 9:20 p.m.: WMATA Press Release confirms six fatalities. 9:26 p.m.: Reader reports WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Brookland-CUA & Silver Spring due to a police situation outside of Fort Totten station. Shuttle bus service has been established. 10:11 p.m.: WMATA Press Release announces altered Red Line service. 10:17 p.m.: Several readers report WMATA Alert: (ID 55700) Disruption at All Stations was cleared. Thank you for riding Metro. Tuesday's Alerts 1:32 a.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten was cleared. Thank you for riding Metro. 5:14 a.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55716) Disruption at Fort Totten. Due to a situation outside Fort Totten station, customers traveling on or connecting to the Red Line are encouraged to add an additional hour to their travel time. 10:03 a.m.: WMATA Alert: (ID 55716) Disruption at Fort Totten. Due to a situation outside Fort Totten station, customers traveling on or connecting to the Red Line are encouraged to add an additional 30 minutes to their travel time.

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  June 23, 2009; 11:37 AM ET
 
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Comments

I believe the earlier frustration of many of the commutters could've been avoided if Metro had told us instead of "a train experiencing mechanical difficulties," that there was an accident between Takoma and Fort Totten. From Metro Center to Rhode Island, it took us a whole hour!; by the time I got out of the train I was hecka mad. It was only later that I learned of the accident and fatalities, and I just don't think the situation was handled appropriately. It was mad chaos everywhere.

Posted by: sajilormoon01 | June 23, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

It often seems like WMATA is so terrified of inciting a mass panic that they treat their riders like they're 5 years old. If they had just put up a message that said "Major accident at Ft. Totten. Major delays throughout the Red line. Shuttle service established, but passengers should consider alternate transportation," I think that people would have felt more informed. Some of the them might have even taken the hint that something big was going on and found a ride or called a cab, which would have at least made life easier on those without that option.

Posted by: ModestProposal | June 23, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I was on the platform at Gallery Place and found out about the accident from my brother who lives in CT. He phoned me to see if I was ok. I had no idea what he was talking about as the only message Metro was giving at the time was about the Tenleytown incident. I then left the station and took the 42 bus home.

Posted by: dottie20 | June 23, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Pathetic notifications. They definitely could have avoided a lot of additional confusion and overcrowding by sending alerts that stated the severity of the situation. Metro gets an F. What a sad state of affairs that people had to lose their lives for Metro's inadequacies to be addressed. Lack of necessary funding = lost lives...

Posted by: commonsense202 | June 23, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Let's call a spade a spade. Metro officials flat-out lied to its passengers about the nature of yesterday's incident and its severity. Their behavior was inexcusable and should be prosecutable.

Posted by: landlaw | June 23, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Yup, the PR flacks were running the situation room. WMATA should take a cue from London Transport.

While in the city for a couple of weeks last summer, I was riding the Tube when someone committed suicide by jumping in front of another train up the line. The system announcements were immediate, clear and helpful: "This notice to passengers of the Northern Line. An incident at the Highgate station is being investigated and corrected. Expect delays on the line. Passengers are encouraged to seek alternative routes, if possible. Updates will be provided every 5 minutes. We appreciate your patience and understanding. Thank you."

I was stuck in the Tube for about 1/2 hour because of it [they remove the bodies QUICK on the Tube!]; but everyone was cool because we were treated respectfully and kept informed.

When will operators in the US ever learn this lesson?

Posted by: abqcleve | June 23, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

the alerts were ridiculous. perhaps if there wasn't ALWAYS an issue on the red line, people would have taken the alerts more seriously. all the train operator said yesterday on the red line from metro center to bethesda was "there is an emergency at ft. totten. thank you for your patience and we will be moving momemntarily." well thirty minutes later the doors shut and we moved only to then stop at every station until further notice. i had no idea there was a collision and would not have been near as aggravated as i was. not to mention, there was no air conditioning on the train...metro is lucky they're the only game in town, otherwise the market would correct itself and there would be other players to take us poor saps to and from work everyday. totally frustrated with metro...as i am usually every week. this is an unfortunate and hopefully preventable incident that will not be repeated. my heart goes out to the victims and their families.

Bethesda, MD Commuter

Posted by: LilDiesel03 | June 23, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The notifications were absolutely ridiculous in light of the seriousness of the incident, and the impact on passengers. It is astounding to me that in WMATA's lexicon, the lose of life could be considered a "technical difficulty". It is rather frightening to consider that in the event of a major incident, WMATA doesn't even have the consideration to tell its patrons the truth...oh that's right, we are all idiots & can't handle the truth. I'm sure that we all would have been concerned for those involved, & much more patient with the process had we known. Enough is enough, despite the cost, the economy & the environment, no more Metro for me!

Posted by: cbargereed | June 23, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

After receiving alert after alert talking about “disruption” and “mechanical difficulties,” I stopped reading them. WMATA had a direct connection to me that they could have used to distribute information useful to me and my family. Instead, their use of the system turned it into nuisance, little better than spam.

Posted by: joebartell | June 23, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Calling a major train wreck with many people killed or maimed a "mechanical difficulty" is just callously cynical. But even on a normal day, my blood pressure goes up when I hear the words "due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties." How about just giving me the bad news in English: "because a train broke down."

Posted by: factoid77 | June 23, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

DC Alerts sent this message out at 5:37, perhaps the earliest specific, full-disclosure message to the public?

"Metro reports that 2 train collided and one train is on top of the other train. Metro reports massive injuries at this time. The green line and the red line are affected. Further information to follow."

Posted by: cjolson | June 23, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Now we're getting word from Metro to avoid the Red Line and seek alternative forms of transportation. What does that mean for people like me who live near Shady Grove, Rockville, Twinbrook (and there are a lot of us). The only other form of transportation is the MARC and the accident has closed that down as well. What other alternatives do we have?

Posted by: JW9288 | June 23, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The performance of the WMATA system in the emergency yesterday, was disgraceful! Not only was there a dearth of information from the Metro alert system, but the information offered was misleading and inaccurate. Additonally, during the critical period between 5:00 and 5:30, there were (as far as I know) no public announcements over the PA system - certainly not on the Red Line train I was on. WMATA has trouble performing efficiently in normal times. Yesterday's disaster revealed serious flaws in the system's management (including info. mgmt.), technology, and personnel. A major investigation and reform of the entire system is in order.

Posted by: ScottBlair | June 23, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Even this morning, WMATA continues to dissemble to its customers with euphemisms.

Here is the alert I received at 9:53 AM today, 6/23:

(ID 55716) Disruption at Fort Totten. Due to a situation outside Fort Totten station, customers traveling on or connecting to the Red Line are encouraged to add an additional 30 minutes to their travel time.
http://www.wmata.com/opt_out.cfm

"a situation...?" Even "an incident" would have been better. These alerts are 75% useless, and the 25% that contain valid, actionable information are ignored because of the other 75%. At least they are finally going to provide real-time updates on bus service status. We'll see how that goes...

Thoughts and prayers to all affected by this tragedy.

Posted by: mo7290 | June 23, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

When I left work for Union Station at about 5:45 pm yesterday, there were no trains running at Union Station. There was no mention of that in any alert at all (or on the news). You had to go downstairs to the station managers' booth to get any information. There was no shuttle service set up at all. (also, a long cab line and not a cab in sight, but that's not wmata's issue). Fortunately, I knew a bus that would get me near where I wanted to be.

Posted by: Adirondx | June 23, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

It's okay, Metro. I think we can handle the real news. Sheesh.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 23, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Count me as reader #4 for receiving the 10:17 pm alert ID 55700, "Disruption at All Stations was cleared."

Ridiculous.

Posted by: lbradner | June 23, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Although they could have provided a bit more information in terms of telling people that trains were experiencing major delays, I think metro did the right thing. You do not want to incite panic among the riders who are already within the system because that could complicate the situation they were already dealing with. You cant give alerts that indicate fatalities or serious injuries, people would have lost their minds. I was stuck on the red line for approximately an hour and a half, but for once I think metro did the best they could with the exception of that they should not have charged anybody on the red line who had to wait for extended periods of time.

Posted by: KingJoffeJoffer | June 23, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I am ashamed of WMATA, I get alerts on twitter from WMATA and the only alerts I received were "Mechanical difficulties", disruption at Fort Totten, etc. WMATA needs to inform its patrons of what is going on! No one knew what to do or some didn't know another way to get home. Last night WMATA got an F! I got better updates from CNN!

This morning I saw a Metro employee outside my condo in Silver Spring, my roommate was able to ask her what bus to use to get to Gallery Place. Today, WMATA gets a D...and thats for effort!

Posted by: drhutch7 | June 23, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Let's call a spade a spade. Metro officials flat-out lied to its passengers about the nature of yesterday's incident and its severity. Their behavior was inexcusable and should be prosecutable.

And lets call an @zzhole and @zzhole. That would be you just in case it wasn't clear. What ever the msg. was makes no difference as long as you we're notified the system was down. If you have an issue then drive like the rest of us. No one makes you take Metro. I'm sure Metro wouldn't lose a moments sleep if you quit riding the trains. Here's the really sad part. Most of the people on the board complaining and dogging Metro even though 9 people died are mostly GOV. workers. You are a disgrace to the rest of the country and to you're families. As much as I can't stand this administration I would love to see YOUR COMMANDER b%^ch slap every single FED employee for their pathetic display. And we wonder what's wrong with the US today.

Posted by: askgees | June 23, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The alerts were mostly outright false (the disruption was not cleared at all last night) or grossly misleading. Metro's performance has been so bad for so long that it's time for an outside investigative panel to do an in-depth review and make recommendations as to how to get it functioning right. There should be no hesitation to fire managers. And we should get rid of the Board composed mostly of people who think they're too good to ride public transit. Regular use of public transit should be an absolute requirement to be on the Board. Enough is enough. No more preventable deaths! Reform Metro!

Posted by: BillSamuel | June 23, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I started at Grosvenor and the 1st situation was the train being cleared at Friendship Hgts or Bethesda. Then we trod along and get to Union Station. All power to the track was shut off and it was 5:45pm, I made my own decision to exit the train and leave the station. I boarded the train at 4:10 and was stalled at Grosvenor until 4:30pm. So I was anxious and frustrated, because my cell did not work and I had no contact with family. So, once I walked to North Capital Street to catch a #80 bus, only then did I discover it was a train collision and that 2 fatalities had been reported. Oh well, I was able to board and so were the other 50 or so people, but the driver made us pay all over again. That was insulting, at least 5 people asked the driver why did they have to pay? It was not their fault the trains collided. I felt sorry for folks who had no other money and the ones who did not know the city. Metro should have called those extra shuttle buses ASAP and called in their staff, even if they were off, they should have reported in. I got home at 7:15pm. I would have had to catch a #80, then the K6 and then the F4, but a stranger asked me was I ever gonna get home and she took me to my house. Thank God for his Angels that walk amongst us. I left the train mainly because I am a diabetic and needed to eat something or they would been pulling me out on a stretcher.

Posted by: dihcroepac | June 23, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Catoe MUST be held accountable here. The crash was bad enough. But the absolute failure to communicate clearly what happened exacerbated the problem tenfold as riders, so accustomed to seeing messages of trains experiencing "mechanical difficulties" assumed the issue would be resolved in a matter of minutes, not days.

John Catoe must resign or be removed.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 23, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Channel 4 TV reported that McMillan's brother, Vernard, said after hearing the news about the train crash he had a feeling his sister might have been involved. So he tried to contact her with no luck. "I called her phone a couple times, and she didn't call back," he said. "That's not like her."
************************

As evidenced by her own brother, the NTSB should do a check on the operators cellphone usage while on duty. If her brother knew enough to call her while driving the train, how many other times, did the train operator use the cellphone while on duty? A clear violation of D.O.T., F.T.A., and WMATA's policies about cellphone usage on duty.

Posted by: Robbnitafl | June 23, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Well, for such a "cash strapped system", this accident is sure gonna cost them. The lawsuits of the injured by survivors, the lawsuits of the families of the deceased, as well as regular riders who are upset at how Metro handled this.

Posted by: GoCaps08 | June 23, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

We are not complaining about having to deal with a major delay because of a tragic accident. We are frustrated with the lack of clear and appropriate communication that could have helped passengers make the best choice of how to deal with the delays. An announcement that says a train has "mechanical difficulties" is ridiculous when there has been a serious collision that shuts down a portion of the red line. Many people were not given the chance to act in accordance with the gravity of the situation because we are used to hearing that a train is having "mechanical difficulties." It happens everyday! WMATA needs to distinguish something as serious as a train collision from something as mundane as a train with a broken door. The fact they they use the same announcement for both is completely unacceptable. If God-forbid there was a terroist attack, would WMATA also refer to that as a "disruption" within the system. They need to realize that serious situations call for equally serious information.

Posted by: SweetieJ | June 23, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

630 at Foggy Bottom/GW .. signs were announcing delays due to 'police activity' at Fort Totten. Jeepers.

They knew, fairly instantly, that a train crash had occurred. All they had to do was, as many, many others have suggested, tell the public there had been a major accident, that the line would be shut down in that area indefinitely and to make plans. Really, that was all they needed to do. Shameful operational management. The head of communications should be fired today.

Posted by: tslats | June 23, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

askgees @ 1:09pm: "I'm sure Metro wouldn't lose a moments sleep if you quit riding the trains. Here's the really sad part. Most of the people on the board complaining and dogging Metro even though 9 people died are mostly GOV. workers. You are a disgrace to the rest of the country and to you're families. As much as I can't stand this administration"

Askgees, I'm shocked, just shocked that you haven't included any racism in your current post. We all very proud of you!

Posted by: prokaryote | June 23, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

metro is terribly deficient on telling it like it is-- I was on a train once leaving West Falls Church -- it stopped in between West and East Falls Church due to a "track malfunction" -- oh sure-- from the first car we could SEE the flames on the track!!! Tell it like it is!!

The train backed up back to West Falls and we all got out.

Posted by: bronxace | June 23, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

All par for the course at Metro. I'm a devoted user (24-years) but customers always have been treated with the utmost disdain at every level -- worst of all in the sharing of info about major disruptions. Euphemisms and understatements are the rule when it comes to problems - same as with the airlines.

Posted by: brentgilroy | June 23, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I didn't learn what really happened until after I exited at Fort Totten just before 7pm.
I got on at Metro Center about 5:45, and we were told 2 things. First - the electronic signs reported delays at Fort Totten because of a "police situation". Second - the PA system was reporting "a train experiencing mechanical difficulties".
This was probably their attempt at damage control. Less said about that the better, but the fact that the Red Line is the busiest and most problematic component of the system should give Mr Catoe some pause.
We'll continue to pray for the victims.

Posted by: bsogie1 | June 23, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I entered the system at Union Station around 5:40 or so. I was on the platform until 6:00. I did see an alert that there was a police incident. That's when I decided to leave. The station manager kept repeating "I have no information" as people left. I just figured that someone had jumped in front of a train. I ended up walking to gallery place, where the information boards still said that there were mechanical difficulties.
I'm not really mad at metro. We've come to expect mediocrity. I'm more mad that, as a Virginian, my taxes go to Richmond. I sure wish NoVa tax dollars stayed in NoVa to support metro and traffic congestion.

Posted by: dragnchic9 | June 23, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Do you all really think that Metro was trying to cover-up the accident like it was not going to get out eventually? An earlier report on passengers reflected passengers complaining because Metro was too graphic with the details of the accident stating that two people were confirmed dead. Really, what difference did it made whether it was a massive casuality or a mechanical error that was causing the delay as it relates to communting problems? Could it be that Metro was more concerned with tending to the injured and casualties to be concerned about letting you all know the gory details of people laying dead in their trains. Some of you people are so sick; you're not happy unless you're complaining about what others are or are not doing. Here's a thought...get your a$$ some skates and skate you a$$ to work each day.

To the family members of those who lost their life in this tragedy...my condolences.

Posted by: Beingsensible | June 23, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I still want an answer from Metro on why this is causing delays on the Red line between say Metro Center and Shady Grove? Trains have to turn around at Rhode Island but trains turning around is normal practice (happens all the time at Shady Grove, Grosvenor, Silver Spring, and Glenmont).

Why turning trains around earlier than normal is causing residual delays.

Posted by: r6345 | June 23, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Regarding to ROBBNITAFL's post -- it's true about the metro operators using cell phones. I usually prefer the last/first car, depends on which way I'm going, and I've seen a few occasions where the metro operators were chatting... using some form of communication device, including cell phones, while the train is moving. I also remember a dozen or so times when two people were in the driver's room/section -- I'm not sure if they were a trainer and a trainee but they seem very chatty among themselves at the time... and yes, the trains were moving at their normal speed. SIGHS!

Posted by: JKim_Rb | June 23, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

While the event yesterday was tragic I agree with so many of the other riders. Metro did a horrible job letting us know what was really going on. I boarded the train around 5:45pm and I did not know that anything major happened within the system until I got home around 7pm when my roommate told me to turn on the news. My out-of-state mother called me in a frenzied panic because she had called me previously but I did not answer since my phone was on vibrate. I missed several other calls from out-of-state family members as well. They were all relieved to hear from me to say the least but if I would have known that something serious had occured I would have just called them right away myself so that would not have to sit worried wondering if I was okay or not. They had no idea what line I rode, all they knew was two metro trains crahed and that is all they needed to know to make their hearts stop for a second. The notifications from Metro were totally unacceptable and I hope all of our comments will help them realize this.

Posted by: sdiva44 | June 23, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Here is the alert I received at 9:53 AM today, 6/23:

(ID 55716) Disruption at Fort Totten. Due to a situation outside Fort Totten station, customers traveling on or connecting to the Red Line are encouraged to add an additional 30 minutes to their travel time.
http://www.wmata.com/opt_out.cfm

"a situation...?"
--------------------------------------
If you were a family member of one of those "situations", you'd much rather it be called a "situation" than having Metro give the gory details of how your family member left this earth in a daily alert.

Posted by: Beingsensible | June 23, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"It often seems like WMATA is so terrified of inciting a mass panic that they treat their riders like they're 5 years old."

Ummm, maybe it's because their riders act like 5 year olds...just maybe? Check out some of these comments and then try and post your comment again with a straight face...

Posted by: Beingsensible | June 23, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

SweetieJ is right: "An announcement that says a train has 'mechanical difficulties' is ridiculous when there has been a serious collision that shuts down a portion of the red line. Many people were not given the chance to act in accordance with the gravity of the situation because we are used to hearing that a train is having 'mechanical difficulties.' It happens everyday! WMATA needs to distinguish something as serious as a train collision from something as mundane as a train with a broken door.
Enough with the DC area's rail obsession! Let's fix Metrorail, make it safe! Don't spend megabucks building "light" rail like the Purple Line, buy more buses, improve the crosswalks and the taxi systems! Rail costs big $, attracting big rezoning/redevelopment to justify the cost. Buses just get people where they need to go.

Posted by: catbird500 | June 23, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

These comments about "once again metro is terrible at notifying commuters" are pretty ridiculous, considering that none of you have taken the appropriate steps to be a responsible and informed commuter. You can sign up for FREE ALERTS by the WMATA via text message OR email! The exact details of what had happened began at 5:37 and were continued on a regular basis throughout the night and this morning. If you are only interested in complaining but not interested in solving the problem I cannot sympathize.

Posted by: AB123 | June 23, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

When I got to CUA shortly after 4pm I knew something was up with Metro. A train bound for Grosvenor was just sitting at the platform. There was an alert flashed up on the platform board about a train malfunction at Tenleytown-AU. It took several minutes for that train to clear the station and behind it was an eight car train bound for Shady Grove which I got on since I was going to Rockville. What was supposed to be an hour trip back home took two hours. I didn't exit the Rockville Station until 6:11pm. I noticed something on the board about free exit fares due to an problem at Fort Totten. The only thing mentioned during my long ride back was they were single tracking around Tenleytown and hopefully the problem would be cleared. The train kept starting and stopping in the tunnels all the way up to Rockville. I bet you anything the single tracking problem is somehow connected with this whole accident.

Posted by: sellallyouown | June 23, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Metro's announcements are so generic that they are useless for riders.

I understand that in a system as big as this (where it takes more than one hour to get e.g. from Vienna to New Carrolton) it is hard to make accurate statements how every single train will be affected by disruptions.

But WMATA should put people in a position to make that decision themselves. "Mechanical difficulties" are announced all the time. And so is "will be moving momentarily." In reality, that can mean anything from five seconds to one hour.

Posted by: cpwdc | June 23, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Just because the brother called her cell phone does not mean anything and does not show a clear violation of any rules. She did not pick up the phone because she had already passed away. And we do not know if the phone was on her. And we do not know if her brother has ever called her on the train before. It was an emergency and he did the first thing anyone would do and call.

Let us see what the investigation brings out.

Posted by: SmallPen15 | June 23, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

The news media could do a better job of reporting these things by checking details that are available to anyone who can read a Metro system map. One of the idiots on Channel 4 was talking about the "Red Line to Rhode Island Avenue Petworth" this morning then talked about "Red Line to Georgia Avenue" while the map showed nothing about any such redirections. I'm not even sure they're capable or redirecting trains from the Red Line to the Green that way.
Anyway, I only watch the TV news to see how much I can catch that's wrong rather than for any real information. Just sorry for anyone who puts any faith in what they say on the tube.

Posted by: blankspace | June 23, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@AB123: I am signed up for Metro's text message alerts. Or was -- I unsubscribed this morning. Why?

1.) The text messages almost always cut off before the relevant item has come through.

2.) All of the alerts in this case said there was a "mechanical difficulty" and gave no indication of the severity or scope of the problem.

3.) Messages arrive like spam. When I woke up at 6:15 this morning, I had 7 of the same two 1:30 a.m. messages waiting for me, one saying there was a problem and the other saying the problem was all clear. I received 61 text messages from the Metro between 4:30 yesterday and 7:30 this morning, and none of the ones about the major incident was useful or informative.

4.) If I'm stuck in a train tunnel, the messages only have about a 30% chance of getting through.

So no, the fact that the "Free alert service" exists does not absolve Metro of its other responsibilities to communicate.

Posted by: EtoilePB | June 23, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Quote from previous post: "Really, what difference did it made whether it was a massive casuality or a mechanical error that was causing the delay as it relates to communting problems?"

The difference is this: A typical delay from a mechanical problem is less than 15 minutes, and the correct course of action given this information is to stay put and wait patiently. A delay from a fatal accident is HOURS and the correct course of action is to leave the Metro system and find alternate transportation if possible.

BIG difference to the TENS OF THOUSANDS of people riding the trains.

WE ARE NOT WHINERS--we just want accurate information, FOR ONCE.

Posted by: Jessica150 | June 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it’s reasonable for wmata not to report the actual deaths and injuries about the crash through their alert system, but they should’ve released a message that differentiated such a severe and infrequent accident from any other frequent “mechanical difficulties” or “police activity”. Generally, a mechanical difficulty results in delays, but it rarely shuts down a track for the rest of the night/next day. Some of us without many alternative transportation options tend to wait out the delay. Anyone who left the office during the normal rush hour and didn’t have a smartphone was reasonable in expecting the delays to clear up eventually. Had wmata indicated that there was a “crash” or “collision” or even “accident” riders would’ve had a more accurate idea of the severity of the situation and the effect that would have on their commutes. This also would’ve prompted some people to seek information about the tragic details of the situation without wmata providing those details directly to riders. People may have been less frustrated about what they probably assumed was a disabled train and more sad for those who lost their lives in such a tragedy.

It’s so sad that such a terrible accident occurred. Wmata failed on many fronts yesterday.

Posted by: SBrid | June 23, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@AB123 you are missing the entire point of this article. I receive the free alerts from metro and they were absolutely useless. A severe train collision happened yesterday where 9 people died and the alert sent out (over an HOUR after the incident) said "Disruption at Fort Totten...due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Ft. Totten." There is a difference between a train malfunctioning and a train DERAILING. What if this had been a serious attack? Metro has to find a better way in phrasing their alerts. People want to know if they need alternatives in an emergency and by telling the public that a train simply malfunctioned, metro completely misrepresented what happened.

Posted by: micheleblackwell | June 23, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

And this is why I opted out of these pathetic Metro alerts. They stink at getting out vital information AND they inundate you with their worthless information. At times I would get 20 a day or more. I was constantly getting these useless updates that many times weren't even relevant. It's a useless service and a money drain on WMATA. There are ample alternative (and reliable) mobile services out there.

Posted by: spagball | June 23, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I guess most people would be happier if they were one on the 9 killed? Babies! You do realize Metro had more important things going on rather than craft a beautiful essay about the crash. The early messages were canned. Most of the day staff had gone home already. Understand you are not the center of the universe, you are not a unique snow flake.

Posted by: JulioAugustine | June 23, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

No enforcement of eating = messy cars = rats, rodents and other cleaning problems = costs to clean and repair cars from damage done to cars and wires by rodents.

I have a choice of driving or taking Metro to work. I get so fed up with the lack of enforcement of the rules regarding eating and drinking on Metro that I drive by choice most days. Can't Metro see that cheerfully ignoring their own rules costs them money? Now we are seeing that it just cost lives!

Posted by: lisavfr750 | June 23, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

@JulioAugustine...Really? How ludicrous do you sound? Metro typically handles 700,000 passengers a day. Pardon those people for wanting to know something about the situation so that they could get home and let their loved ones know that they weren't injured.

Posted by: micheleblackwell | June 23, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Julioaugustine: you seem to have forgotten that the point of the metro alerts is to let riders know of system problems, and how they are affecting commutes. It doesn't matter what time of day it is --an alert situation is the same at 5 am or 5pm. Metro failed customers this time around.

Posted by: jollyw | June 23, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

morons. simply morons. i look forward to seeing heads roll at the top of the Metro food chain.

Posted by: jennifermadson | June 23, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

(For lesser problems) I would prefer Metro and others adopt social skills using language that straightforwardly acknowledges their burdens on us and announces either sincere intent to resolve or apologies for same, rather than the often patronizing "thanks" for our "cooperation" in putting up with it. We have no choice. So don't say "thanks for riding Metro" after announcing a delay, but say "(Here is the problem). We regret your inconvenience and we are working to resolve it." Period. No "thank you" is necessary to customers that are already at your mercy. What would you like our response to be? "No, thank YOU!"?

Posted by: redrocket | June 23, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

when will wmata realize that repeatedly giving vague "updates" is not really giving anyone information? especially when terms "momentarily" and "situation" or "mechanical difficulty" could mean absolutely anything...

i thought that metro had taken steps within this past year to keep riders better apprised of the situations, but it is clear that they only meant they would tell us riders their vague, overly-sterile "updates" more often.

Posted by: bacaje | June 23, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

@ulioAugustine...I haven't seen anyone suggest an essay be crafted. In this day of text messages and twitter, one should be able to craft an appropriate communique in less time than it takes you to read this article. Your point about everyone "going home" is also ludicrous when you consider the majority of their riders enter the system during the rush hour (3pm-7pm). Canned responses? Then what is the use of the system? How can canned responses be considered a productive use of this alert system? And yes riders may not be the center of the universe, but we are paying customers AND our (read: you too) tax dollars go to subsidize this system. As a result, it operates at the behest of the public good to some extent. And with effective communication being the fulcrum on which disaster situations hinge coupled with the need of public safety, I think your "snowflake" aspersion is empty as well

Posted by: spagball | June 23, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The Board Members and all Metro Corporate employees should ride Metro during rush hour on a daily basis and then they would understand the frustration of daily commuters. Maybe then they wouldn't be so quick to dismiss major incidences as a "malfunction" or "police activity" or "situation."

Posted by: LoveRacing | June 23, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

When I was waiting for the Southbound RedLine Train, someone said on the speakers that the train was experiencing mechanical difficulties and that metro would refund riders if they wanted to leave and seek alternate transportation, but that they had to leave at the same station that they got on in order to get a full refund. I didn't realize that there was a serious accident and I guess they did misinform us about what really happened but I was glad to get a refund so that I could ride the bus. God bless the ones who passed and their loved ones. Also, best wishes for a full recovery for those who were injured.

Posted by: kat14 | June 23, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

(ID 55715) Disruption at Fort Totten in both directions. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Avenue & Silver Spring due to a situation outside of Fort Totten station. Shuttle bus service has been established. Expect delays in both directions.

Posted by: ACNonPro | June 23, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

After reading some of these comments I find myself very disheartened. My elder was right, folks will always find a reason to complain. I see it's really easy for some to backseat quarterback. People do the best they can with what they have..So a word of caution before you start throwing stones make sure you're not the one in the glass house.

To every man and woman of WMATA, from the board of directors to the automotive specialist who work extremely hard getting residents and visitors alike around EVERY DAY without incident...THANK YOU ! ! !

Posted by: gkingsland | June 23, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

On a good note, the Feds decided to encourage telework today.

On a bad note, according to ACNonPro (and my blackberry), the station is closed again and trains are being sent back.

Posted by: tomcanick | June 23, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

gkingsland: in response to you - um, do you EVER ride the metro? if you do, then you would know that it never ever seems to run smoothly, epsecially on weekends. as if people don't go to work on weekends! what about everyone who works in retail? and getting to work on time for those types of jobs is a priority.

every interaction i ahev ever had with a metrorail employee has been unpleasant. I have lived in DC and used the metro for 20 years or more. they especially seem to hate people with bikes.

Posted by: jenem583 | June 23, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused, because I'm signed up to receive metro alerts, but I didn't get a single one. Still waiting.

Posted by: emcn822 | June 23, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

@MicheleBlackwell:This is the message I received at 5:37pm, 37 minutes after the actual collision:

Metro reports that 2 train collided and one train is on top of the other train. Metro reports massive injuries at this time. The green line and the red line are affected. Further information to follow.

The first thing I did was realize that the hundreds of thousands of people who are commuting through north east are going to have a heck of a time getting home. I opted to wait it out at a starbucks. Had I already been en-route, I'm not sure if I would have been able to do anything differently but I would have still known what was going on. I don't think I am missing the point of this article at all, but perhaps you are missing the point of the Alerts because many of you have indicated that you "don't like to read them". The amusing thing about this is that I am actually not a big fan of the metro-- it is always broken and living on the redline I know all too well what a headache it can be. But the Alert system can be effective if people are willing to participate correctly.

Posted by: AB123 | June 23, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

In an emergency, concise and accurate information is a lifesaver. "Authorities" instinctively withhold information from the public, fearing a panic. But study after study shows that people don't panic when they are told facts; instead they react appropriately to the emergency, and make the situation BETTER because of their more informed decisions.

To use an extreme example: how differently would United Flight 93 have ended if the passengers hadn't "illegally" used their cellphones?

Posted by: xckq | June 23, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

AB123 - Noone else got that message. The twenty messages I received from Metro referred only to " a train experiencing mechanical difficulties at Ft. Totten."

And if you look above, that first message you claim to have received is not listed as having been sent by WMATA.

Can it.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 23, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

@AB123 It seems that you and I are not receiving the same messages. I follow Metro on twitter and get the free e-mails and I never received the e-mail that you are referring to. I believe the point of the article was to show the lack of urgency in the messages that have come from WMATA and if you look at the 6:24 pm message shown in this article, which is exactly what I received, the system had still not communicated the extent of the damage. I understand that Metro can't give the exact details, but how many forms of media do I have to check to get the message that I'm not taking the Red Line home?

Posted by: micheleblackwell | June 23, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I received a notice about a problem at Tenleytown, then an email alert from CNN Breaking news about a Metro collision on the red line and thought it was in the Tenleytown area...which is the area my mother travels through to get home. Was a tense few minutes before she reminded me that she's on travel this week and was no where near the metro yesterday.

WMATA and DC alerts could have done a much better job of getting information out.

Posted by: DKing2 | June 23, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

DC got a subway system? Who knew? When did that happen?

Posted by: BoonyTunes | June 23, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

At least one conductor (on the Green line) made an announcement to passengers that two Red line trains had collided. This was around 5:15 pm so it was very shortly after the accident. I remember being shocked because they NEVER tell us what's going on, even when it directly affects our own line.

Posted by: MrDarwin | June 23, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

For all your gripes about Metro, go read, "The Great Society Subway"

Now, Metro should be faulted for not providing correct and truthful information. Even the first responders didn't know what happened until they got there.

Second, beleive Metro needs to speed up the installation of cell coverage to include all cell phone providers in the metro so those w/o Verizon/Sprint will be aware of what is happening since Metro can't provide that.

We are not kids. If they say their was an accident and red line would be out for hours, I don't think that would induce panic.

It is sad that relatives and friends were the ones to inform people on the metro that something serious had happened.

I agree, someone needs to step down for (lack of) actions yesterday.

Posted by: Shiba-fussa | June 23, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, not many of you ever had to depend on Metrobuses to get you safely home during blizzards that began in the morning and went on all day or other inclement weather. ("The buses are running on a 'reduced' schedule"). Try a seven-hour commute if you think two hours is a big deal. Clearly none of you ever sat in a Metrobus on the 14th Street Bridge when an airplane slammed into it like I experienced fifteen minutes after the Air Florida flight ended up in the Potomac. Metro has a long history of disinformation and it has nothing to do with scaring the public or trying to maintain calm. It has to do with money and Metro's bottom line. If enough people are too frightened to use public transportation they won't have any more money to buy the railcars they should have had the money for in the first place. Having a sister nearly get killed on a Metro escalator months ago and knowing how Metro fights everyone with legitimate claims against it for inefficiency and worse, negligence, should speak volumes about what happened yesterday. Sadly, thirty-year old railcars are not the exception.

And to whichever moron was posting derogatory comments concerning Federal workers--you jerk, I went to work in snowstorms, icestorms and floods because I had a government job to do. And by the wya, the lead investigators of the crash yesterday are NTSB and FBI agents. Nice job insulting them in your worthless tirade.

My heart goes out to the families and the victims of Metro's continued incompetence.

Posted by: rlgrennie1 | June 23, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I was on the Red Line at 5:15, but going from Metro Center to Bethesda. A co-worker told me there was a disruption at Friendship Heights, so at first, that's why i thought there was delays. I had no idea (and I get twitters and msgs to my Palm) what had happened until i got a CNN breaking news to my Palm saying 2 metro trains had collided in DC. Then my aunt in Rochester called saying she saw it on the BBC and had to call on me! How come the rest of the world knows what's going on before we Metro riders know what's going on? And all night it was "mechanical difficulties."

Gee, Metro's idea of "mechanical difficulties" and mine are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Not to mention the alert last night and today that all lines are clear. Just unacceptable.

Posted by: lepstein | June 23, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I also don't understand why Metro can put out such incomplete information. If they don't want people getting caught in the horrific accident, they should be honest with the public and tell them why not to come near. When I hear mechanical difficulty, I believe it will be cleared up soon, or as long as it takes to move an emptied train out- maybe 1/2 hour tops.

A collision with deaths? Of COURSE that will take days to clean up! What was Metro thinking keeping the real reason away from the riders?

Posted by: lepstein | June 23, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

@micheleblackwell: try this system instead https://textalert.ema.dc.gov/index.php?CCheck=1

Posted by: AB123 | June 23, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

OK, OK. The real issue, then, is not about 9 dead, more injured, faulty systems, bad maintenance, or human failure, but about the rage of getting home late and not knowing the details until later.

Honestly, the Metro's style of disclosure is pretty much standard for transportation services everywhere. Just about every one of them explains delays obscurely, usually citing signal problems, mechanical "issues," or traffic control instructions. All information employees must take a course to learn to speak in vacuous circles. The only aliby trains and subways usually can't cite is weather, which conveniently exonerates airline delays, whether due to rain or shine. Maybe passengers would feel more charitable if told the delays were due to freak June icing conditions on the tracks. Counsel for the defense may use precisely that sort of excuse: an act of the Almighty. So everyone go home and repent.

Posted by: jkoch2 | June 23, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, AB123. I just registered. If the DC government put out an alert at 5:37, why didn't Metro follow suit?

Thank you jkoch2 for putting this in perspective.

Posted by: tomcanick | June 23, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

These alerts were most uninformative! The only reason half of the people I was traveling along with on my train knew about anything was when we reached an area with cell service underground. Then we all recieved phone calls and text messages. At first while they are trying to assess the situation I can appreciate the vague alerts, but once press releases go out to the public about the incident, the riders deserve to be informed as well.

Posted by: DMPaina | June 23, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

@anarcho-liberal-tarian: I am not the only one who recieved that message, cjolson near the top of this thread got the same email. The sender in the email is listed as "Metro" but it is apparently through the dc alert system

Posted by: AB123 | June 23, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

What do you expect when you have a public transportation system run by a bunch of idiots.

Posted by: bagreene | June 23, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

While risking mass-panic by telling those in the Metrorail system that there was an accident, Metro needs to find a better way of communicating the severity of a delay.

Metro is the boy who always cries "mechanical difficulties" so riders can't judge the severity of a service disruption. No wonder people continued to filter to the red line yesterday! I've dealt with a "mechanical difficulty" multiples times this month only to experience minor delays! I commuted from Union Station to Bethesda yesterday in an hour (I'm not complaining about the delays!), but I know many colleagues who would have changed their commute or avoided the red line had they known the severity of the situation (i.e. people would have walked to Metro Center of Gallery Place and avoided the Red Line all together and still gotten home).

There must be a middle ground in terms of giving out relevant, helpful information while communicating the truth and avoiding panic.

Posted by: melissaalaine | June 23, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Yes, WMATA has a responsibility not to cause panic throughout the system. There is no need, nor did any one suggest, for them to announce "Train collision. Many dead. Run out of the station." However, using terms like "mechanical difficulty", "police situation", "resting here momentarily", or "train ahead of us" that we hear every day and associate with minor delays is also irresponsible. You're encouraging people to continue with their regularly travel routines resulting in causing huge back-ups, added pressure on Metro employees, frustration and rumor-spreading, and significant problems returning service to the rest of the line.

They could have been both non-specific and complete with something like "Red line service closed indefinitely due to ongoing situation near Takoma station. Shuttle bus available from Rhode Island and Silver Spring stations. Consider alternative transportation."

Posted by: cprferry | June 23, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

It was around 5:30 pm when our train stopped at Farragut North and our driver told us there was disabled train at Friendship Heights that had to be cleared and that a train was experiencing mechanical difficulties at Ft. Totten and we would be moving as soon as possible.

He came back on about 5 minutes later to tell us that the Metro had a "black flag" situation and reiterated the comments about the two trains, and asked for us to remain calm and patient. He did not explain the black flag term, but the general consensus on the train was it meant all trains were stopped, and probably someone had been injured on the line.

The driver made the same announcement about every 5 minutes for the hour we sat at Farragut North. It was only when a passenger with blackberry service was able to look up a news website that we found out that there was a collision and possibly people had been injured or killed. At that point, some passengers exited the car to look for an alternative route home.

When we finally left Farragut North, the driver told us the disabled train had been cleared from Friendship Heights and said nothing about the situation at Ft. Totten. Each following station we pulled into, we stopped for an extended period of time. The driver announced this was due to "scheduling issues."

I understand how difficult it must have been for that train driver and all Metro employees to function in the aftermath, but I feel that Metro as a whole did a very poor job in communicating with their passengers yesterday. I would have been more than willing to cooperate with any instructions given with regard to the situation - but there was nothing. Instead we were give sparse details about delays and mechanical malfunctions that was of no help to anyone.

Posted by: alyavh | June 23, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

AB123 - Thank you. I just registered as well.

And my anger is directed at WMATA for failing (and continuing to even now) to call it it a collision, which would have given us notice to take other forms of transportation. They are still refering to it as a disruption or "situation"...

If they had been even slightly clearer, many of us would have found alternate methods immediately, rather than waiting for the "mechanical difficulties" to be fixed, then trying for MARC, finding that shutdown after purchasing tickets, then waiting in a cab line at Union Station for an hour and half.

I could have taken a cab from National had the very first email been more explicit.

Fire John Catoe. Accountability.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 23, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

> ...customers are encouraged to add an additional 30 minutes to their travel times.

Last night: more like three hours. But at least I'm alive and unhurt.

I concur with many other posts that candid information would have been appropriate and useful to those who were only peripherally involved. These should have indicated that the rails would be de-energized for a long time, not a few minutes. "Disruption" and "mechanical difficulties" give customers no clue as the the longevity of the closure.

Posted by: ShaggyD | June 23, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Everyone who runs the metro system is an idiot.

My first reaction to it all was that it's not unexpected. Very sad, but honestly, you risk your life when you board a vehicle being run by idiots. And you should know that.

Posted by: jenem583 | June 23, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

MrDarwin,
You are very lucky to have had that driver.
Perhaps he's the same one that I had on the red line a few months ago. There was a tie up on the blue/orange line, and he actually alerted passengers before we got to Metro center. And better yet, gave advice: something like "there's a problem on the blue/orange line, if you're going to the Mall it may be better to stay on the train and exit at Judiciary Square, rather than transfer and hit the delay."

That's ONE driver in 15 years of daily commutes. I wrote Metro a note in praise of this operator, and didn't even get a canned reply. How hard would it be for every driver to make TRUTHFUL announcements like that? (but then Metro didn't respond to a recent message I sent about a bus driver entering an intersection after the light turn red, plowed through the crosswalk, and then proceeded up the block to turn right on a red arrow.

Posted by: jollyw | June 23, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

It is unfair and not terribly helpful to say that Metro is run by idiots. If Metro was run by actual idiots, then it would have failed completely years ago, and commutes in the DC area would be far worse than they are.
It is fair to say that Metro management should improve its mechanism to keep its riders informed so that they can make choices about their ride home (or wherever). Metro management can decide that this is so important that it will find a way to make it happen. While bloodlust is fun, it is probably less expensive to find those whose job it is to apply that management influence and then to put the screws to them until they do the job right.

Posted by: tomcanick | June 23, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

micheleblackwell & jollyw: Waaaaa! You two don't get it. Metro is doing the best they can with this disaster. I give them full credit, given their staff and government graft... the trains run on time. They'll dig out of this, I don't care what others say, we have the best, cleanest and ..well up til now safest tubes in the world. Try walking!

Posted by: JulioAugustine | June 23, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

spagball: at 5:19 they said trains were turning back... did you want them to send you pictures of the flayed bodies? Get a grip of what relying on the government means. Try paying what your ride is worth... then complain. Tool!

Posted by: JulioAugustine | June 23, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Metro is running around like a man leg man in a @ss kicking contest. They are about to be SUED!!!!! BIG TIME!!! We're talking BILLIONS!!!

Posted by: demtse | June 23, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

So many of you are self-centered asshats. People were lying wounded, dead, and dying in two shattered trains and all you can do is whine about how WMATA didn't tell you exactly what had happened immediately? Get off of your computers, kiss you spouses, kids, and dogs and be thankful.

Posted by: mason08 | June 23, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

They could have been both non-specific and complete with something like "Red line service closed indefinitely due to ongoing situation near Takoma station. Shuttle bus available from Rhode Island and Silver Spring stations. Consider alternative transportation."

Like they did at 5:18???

Posted by: mason08 | June 23, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Without a doubt there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for Metro's lack of honesty with the alert updates to customers in the system. Even this morning with the paper in hand (and the headline CATASTROPHE staring me right in the face) I was still seeing this referred to as "a situation at Fort Totten" -- Even after they know everybody is aware, they still choose to LIE about the severity of the situation! The nerve! Let's not poop and call it sugar people! They could have saved hundreds of commuters from wasting their whole evening sitting in cramped, hot, trains with no clue what was going on above them. A simple message like the following should have been given: "Attention customers: There has been a serious incident involving one or more trains on the red line between Fort Totten and Takoma Stations. Police, EMS, and Fire Fighters have been dispatched to assess the situation. Information when available will be announced; if you wish to seek alternative transportation you will need to exit through the same mezzanine in which you entered the system. Shuttle bus service will be established as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience."
WMATA needs to grow up and be given a good shake down! Let's give them a dose of this "transparency and accountability" that our dear president is so fond of!

Posted by: matt3470 | June 23, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

To jenem583 --
RE: "Everyone who runs the metro system is an idiot. My first reaction to it all was that it's not unexpected. Very sad, but honestly, you risk your life when you board a vehicle being run by idiots. And you should know that."

You sir are an idiot! How dare you not only be so insensitive but be so incredibly naive! Have you any idea just how many people allowed to get drivers licenses are grossly unqualified to be operating a motor vehicle? In most states just about anybody can get a license and few have any business driving on the roads. You take your life in your own hands every time you step into ANY type of situation involving travel at high speeds. If you were half the superior being you sure want everyone to think you are, you'd know that the system is NOT controlled by the idiots in the trains most of the time. In fact in this accident it was being controlled by the idiot computer system--the conductor tried to stop the train and lost her life in the process!

You are an cruel prick and I hope you find something to fill that space in your body where your soul is supposed to be!!!

Posted by: matt3470 | June 23, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I just want to start out giving my condolences to all those that lost a loved one in yesterday's tragic incident. I am deeply sorry that it happened, and I am praying for the families.

Yesterday, when I arrived at Union Station at 5:10 pm, I noticed a stationary train on the Glenmont-bound side of the tracks. I said to myself "Oh god, not another delay on this red-line." For those who are unfamiliar with Washington DC's Metro, delays are quite common on the red-line. The red-line train stayed there for over 10 minutes before the conductor finally gave an update. The train did not move for another 40 minutes.

What upset me however, was the information Metro provided passengers with. All I heard on the p.a. system was "expect delays on the red-line due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties at Fort Totten." How can there be a catastrophic collision, the worst in Metro history, and the only information that Metro provided customers with is "a train is experiencing mechanical difficulties???" I am totally upset with Metro's lack of honesty, updates, and its insistence of treating their "customers" as kids. Instead, Metro should have been up-front and provided passengers with pertinent information such as "There has been a train collision at Fort Totten. Expect significant delays on the red-line." Such a message would have been simple and concise, and I strongly doubt that it would have caused widespread panic.

Posted by: dehjomz | June 23, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Today while waiting for my train to work at around noon today, the clear (for once) announcement repeated over the speakers was that passengers who were experiencing "delays" needed to travel back to their point of origin to be refunded. Many of the people I commute in with are tourists. Given the spurious acknowledgment of the "mechanical difficulties" I'm sure many people didn't understand the extent of what had happened.

From the perspective of a commuter just learning what was going on, if I were approaching the area of the accident and was "delayed," and heard that I had to go back to get a refund, despite the lack of information, I'd be furious. While you are inside the Metro system itself, riding or waiting for your train, Metro offers no apologies, no condolences, no information and hardly any alternative!

Posted by: thewildgeese | June 23, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to be probably 30% or more of the complainers on this site have probably put others at risk on the morning or evening commutes on the highway by using their cellphone while driving.

For all the attacks on Metro, it's still several times safer than driving your car to work.

No one is sticking a gun up to your head, coercing you to take the Metro. If you dislike the Metro that much, exercise your free will to take another mode of transportation.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | June 23, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Let's call a spade a spade. Metro officials flat-out lied to its passengers about the nature of yesterday's incident and its severity. Their behavior was inexcusable and should be prosecutable.

And lets call an @zzhole and @zzhole. That would be you just in case it wasn't clear. What ever the msg. was makes no difference as long as you we're notified the system was down. If you have an issue then drive like the rest of us. No one makes you take Metro. I'm sure Metro wouldn't lose a moments sleep if you quit riding the trains. Here's the really sad part. Most of the people on the board complaining and dogging Metro even though 9 people died are mostly GOV. workers. You are a disgrace to the rest of the country and to you're families. As much as I can't stand this administration I would love to see YOUR COMMANDER b%^ch slap every single FED employee for their pathetic display. And we wonder what's wrong with the US today.


YOU ARE A JERK! My family was on that train and had i known that it was a collision and NOT a mechanical difficulty, i would have handled things differently. How dare YOU!!! the point is that the system wasnt just down, my husband died in that!! you should be ashamed of yourself

Posted by: informed6 | June 23, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm not defending Metro, it's a flawed system. But in this wonderful country we have something called choice. I exercise my free will and take the commuter bus to work.

A more effective strategy for voicing your concerns would be to boycott the Metro altogether.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | June 23, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I listen to traffic reports on the 8's on WTOP. When they're discussing road conditions, they tell us whether delays are the usual delays, or due to volume only. If there's a disabled vehicle or a minor accident (fender-bender, for instance), they'll say which lanes get around it. When there's a serious accident, they'll tell us if the authorities are on the scene. If there are workable alternatives, they seem inclined to say so. And when there's a dangerous situation like a car fire or fuel spill -- guess what? THEY TELL US!!!

Can we get those folks to take over Metro's in system communication when there's "a situation" -- or at least train Metro in how to share useful information?

Posted by: miseaujeu | June 23, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Landlaw's comment below. Two hours after the crash a WMATA alert at 7:01 p.m. notified customers that delays were "due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties". This is a flat out LIE, MISINFORMATION, and should result in criminal prosecution or a civil suit.

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

Choice sounds great. Unfortunately Metro did not provide us with the information to make a choice. Accustomed to routine "mechnical difficulties", we continued on our regular commutes. Only to clog the platforms, back up trains, disrupt Metro personnel, and cause stress to many (commuters, families, workers, selves).

Posted by: cprferry | June 24, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

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