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Metro Trying to Adjust to Red Line Demand

While last Monday's crash occurred on the eastern side of the Red Line, the continuing delays affect the entire line, from Shady Grove to Glenmont. And that's likely to continue.

Many of us got a Metro eAlert this morning that said this: "To minimize delays, a number of trains will offload at Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland-CUA and Ft. Totten stations. Shuttle bus service is available."

I found that confusing, so I asked Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel to describe what was going on. (His group at Metro doesn't do the eAlerts.)

Red Line trains are under manual control and operate at 35 mph. They are extra slow between Takoma and Fort Totten, the zone where the crash occurred.

Normally, it should take 61 minutes to get between Shady Grove and Glenmont. Because of the slowdown, Taubenkibel said, it's taking that long to get from Shady Grove to Fort Totten. To try to meet demand throughout the line, he said, controllers are turning back some trains early. That means the stop at Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland or Fort Totten and tell everybody to get off and wait for the next through train. Then the train turns around and heads back in the direction it came from, trying to reduce crowding at those stations.

The shuttle buses are still running between Silver Spring and Rhode Island Avenue. In Silver Spring this morning, there was none of the crowding on them that I saw last week. Metro personnel told me that the shuttle was serving as a backup today, but that I'd be better off taking the train.

And that was true. The train ride from Silver Spring to Farragut North was uneventful, except for the slower speed, which would be obvious to any Red Line rider. All trains continue to pull to the very front of the platform. So at many stations, people who are unaware of that are watching the front car go by, then running to catch up. Metro should continue to remind riders about this change, especially with so many tourists on board this week.

Taubenkibel suggested that riders with computers or mobile devices check the Next Train feature on Metro's Web site, because the usual schedule of train arrivals is thrown off by the manual control of trains and the speed restrictions. This is the same technology used in the electronic message boards on the platforms to show arrival times. It gets thrown off when trains share the same track, but that's not the case this week.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 29, 2009; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrobus, Metrorail, Red Line crash, delays  
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Next: Takoma Station to Close Early Next 3 Nights

Comments

What's the deal with Metro running less trains on the Red Line? This morning at Grovesnor, there were none of the empty trains that customarily start at Grosvenor (which is every other or every third train that arrives at Grosvenor), just packed full trains that started at Shady Grove. Can you get an explanation on that?

Posted by: TheFingerman | June 29, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

This morning the message "All trains will be pulling all the way to the edge of the platform" has made its way onto the Metro message boards between elevator outages and red line delays.

Posted by: jcepler1 | June 29, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

There is still no point in trying to catch a rush hour train heading downtown if you live in the city. Metro continues to disappoint despite the fact that 90% of NW riders only need to go as far as Union Station. Not sure how a disruption at Fort Totten should hinder that. What a joke.

Posted by: djones13 | June 29, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

eAlerts are worthless. for the first time they referred to an "accident"...i thought it was just a "situation" with a "train at Ft. Totten experiencing mechanical difficulties".

Metro communication is an oxymoron.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 29, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

eAlerts are worthless. for the first time they referred to an "accident"...i thought it was just a "situation" with a "train at Ft. Totten experiencing mechanical difficulties".

Metro communication is an oxymoron.

Fire John Catoe NOW.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 29, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I have to take the Red Line from Gallery Place to Silver Spring. Does it make any sense for those of us on this path to take the Green Line and switch at Fort Totten?

Posted by: runnergirl03 | June 29, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

This is further proof that there is a strong need for a Purple line (along with other lines connecting the various metro lines outside of center of DC). WMATA should start pushing MD, VA, and DC to think about new lines sooner rather than later. Its only going to get worse as the metro lines get older.

Posted by: jro1 | June 29, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Where's the in depth coverage about why the accident transpired and how it could be prevented in the future. It would be nice to see reporting that is a little more proactive...

Posted by: pixiewithabubble | June 29, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Metro is obviously running fewer trains on the Red Line. Given this fact, I fail to see the reason for the 35 mph speed limit (especially between Shady Grove and Friendship Heights). It is rather discouraging to watch the traffic on Rockville Pike moving faster than we are...

Posted by: ceebee2 | June 29, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"Normally, it should take 61 minutes to get between Shady Grove and Glenmont. Because of the slowdown, Taubenkibel said, it's taking that long to get from Shady Grove to Fort Totten."

And it's taking 20 minutes to get between Fort Totten and Takoma, not including waiting ten minutes for a train during rush hour.

Posted by: DOEJN | June 29, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Here is what I sent to Metro just now as a refund request.

I think Metro is giving us worse than off peak service and should charge off peak fares for anyone using Red line station during peak hours.

Sent to WMATA via website:

One of the worst metro rides in history. Didn't get off in Takoma til 7:20PM, a ride of about 40 minutes. I couldn't believe it. Given how few trains were heading south, how it possible that you could make the ride last that long? I mean it took real skill to be that slow. What I really is a refund and either Dave J. Kubicek or the head of the red line to tell me personally what happened, so I know he/she knows how bad it was. (At least I had a seat, but even I --- who has no AC in my house because I don't want that --- was hot and stuffy.) Thanks.

Posted by: spiritedrandy | June 30, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

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