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Better Announcements For Red Line Riders

8:10 a.m. on the Red Line at Silver Spring: "Good morning, customers. I have two reminders for you today." The operator went on to remind riders that all trains are pulling to the front of the platform and that trains continue to move slower on the Red Line during the investigation of the June 22 crash.

I heard the messsages repeated at Takoma, Union Station, Gallery Place, Metro Center and Dupont Circle. Pretty good frequency, I thought. The repetition increased at the downtown stations where there is so much loading and unloading of passengers. At one point, the operator included a suggestion that riders check the platform message boards to see how many cars were in an approaching train so they would know where to stand. Also, when the train stopped outside Takoma Station, he immediately let passengers know that we were waiting for a train at the platform to move.

The message boards on the platforms -- at least the ones I was able to see during the morning rush -- were accurate about arrival times and number of cars. I noticed, as many riders have, that the destinations may vary. Some trains are marked once again as terminating at Grosvenor or Silver Spring, rather than at the ends of the Red Line. But Metro has not announced a return to the normal pattern. Metro could still end train trips anywhere along the line if controllers determine they need to relieve crowding back in the other direction.

By the way, the train trip I measured, from Silver Spring to Metro Center, was indeed long. It took 26 minutes, rather than the normal 18 minutes.

Metro is providing more information about the crash and its consequences in a section on its Web site. Use this link.

This page within that section gives a status report on track circuit monitoring throughout the rail system. There's a link on that page to a YouTube video that shows you what a controller is looking at in monitoring trains from the Operations Control Center.

I know that these days train trips can vary not only day to day, not only rush hour to rush hour, but also train to train. What was your experience today?

Metro Resources:  Riding the System  |  Trip Planner   |   Map  |  Post Coverage

By Robert Thomson  |  July 30, 2009; 9:49 AM ET
Categories:  Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Next: Fire Disrupted Metro Service at McPherson Square


You have to be able to understand the announcements to be able to "hear" them. The acoustics in Gallery Place for instance are so bad you can't understand any of the announcements.

Posted by: outtacontext | July 30, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I was on that train. Though I found the announcements to be helpful, why is Metro still telling people to add an extra 30 minutes to their travel time?!? That seems very excessive to me, considering things are mostly back to "normal." If the trip from SS to Metro Center usually takes 18 and it took 26, passengers certainly do not need to add 30 minutes of travel time. Now, if I was just entering the station and heard that I should be adding 30 minutes to my travel time, I would immediately think there was a major problem (train derailed, sick passenger, etc), not residual delays from the accident over a month ago. But all in all, the driver did an excellent job keeping passengers in the loop as the train progressed slowly downtown.

Posted by: ndstephanie1 | July 30, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Dr. G. We got the same message last night on the commute from Metro Center to Silver Spring.

This morning however, there was no indication why Metro center was full of smoke. I infer it was from the McPherson Square incident, but there was much confusion from passengers about whether to evacuate the station given the amount of smoke in Metro Center proper.

Again, Metro takes a step forward, but fails again moments later.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 30, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

From Woodley Park to downtown, it might take you half an hour just to find a train with enough room to board. Half hour seems about right for us.

Posted by: thetan | July 30, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I heard it at every station from Dunn Loring to Metro Center. I only heard it once between Metro Center and Union Station.

I couldn't figure out why he was repeating himself so often. This explains it.

The message boards weren't accurate on the Red Line at Metro Center - it said 3 minutes for the next train to Glenmont - next thing I knew the train was in the station and the board still said 2 minutes. The blinking lights seem to be far more accurate but they don't always blink in every station.

Posted by: archers44 | July 30, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock, why do Metro's rail disruption reports stop at July 22nd? See:

That particular day appears to have four trains with brake problems, and there appear to be two trains that overrun their station a day (possibly related?)

Also, the bus ridership counts are clearly false. Every weekday average bus ridership is supposedly 450k, every Saturday 236k, and every Sunday 152k.


Posted by: FunInSun45 | July 30, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Metro couldn't find its own ass with both hands and a flashlight. It is completely and utterly dysfunctional from the top management downwards to the clipboard wielding crew on the platforms all standing around not accomplishing a thing.

Posted by: nocando | July 30, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

What exactly is the purpose of those clipboard people? They seem to present during many of the more horrific delays. Obviously, they are not accomplishing a thing.

Posted by: Trout1 | July 30, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm still going to Grosvenor and going in that way instead of going in from Wheaton; once you get above ground seems to be okay but the last time I rode we were stopping before then every thirty seconds or so because of the backed-up line from the crash site.

Thanks, I'll take the crowded Grosvenor train where I won't be in the train as long. (The trips used to be about the same length, with Grosvenor being shorter but not by much.)

Posted by: | July 30, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Thetan is absolutely correct with that post. If you live in the city,particularly NW, probably add 30 minutes to your trip because getting on a train is near impossible. Congrats to metro for completely eliminating any advantage to living in DC. Also, congrats to Dr. Gridlock for praising Metro's announcements yet ignoring the fact that it is an utter failure. I will take someone screaming over the PA system for my entire commute if I can get there in a reasonable time.

Posted by: djones13 | July 30, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I heard this announcement at Pentagon City this morning heading toward Mt Vernon Square and then at L'Enfant heading toward Capitol South/Largo. Looks like this may be a metro-wide policy now.

Posted by: pentagoncity1 | July 30, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Better for Metro to communicate the risk. Restricted speed zones begets congestion which begets fewer runs per hour which, if not met by less use, will lead to boarding delays and malfunctioning doors.
Some days I never have a problem on that side of the Red Line. Somedays we're stopping 5 minutes momentarily outside SIlver Spring, at Silver Spring and at Takoma stations.
And sometimes we're kicked off the train because people don't want to move to the center. (as if having to walk to Judiciary Square from Chinatown justifies making passengers at Takoma or NY Ave wait for the next train or the next train or the next train or the next train...).

Posted by: cprferry | July 30, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

[[Though I found the announcements to be helpful, why is Metro still telling people to add an extra 30 minutes to their travel time?!? That seems very excessive to me, considering things are mostly back to "normal."]]

Only kind of. I ride from Metro Center out to Silver Spring every morning, and back again every evening, and for the last three weeks, including this week, the ride takes generally anywhere from 28 to 48 (yes, 48) minutes. Most recently it's been tending towards a 10-15 minute delay (making my entire commute 1:10 rather than 50-55 minutes), but last week I actually had several 90-minute to 2-hour commutes getting home.

Posted by: EtoilePB | July 30, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

My train conductor was making that announcement ("I have two announcements for you today") at evrey stop last night going north on the yellow line around 8pm. Unfortunately, the announcement was taking much longer than it was taking for customers to exit/enter the train. Therefore we ended up sitting with the doors open at every station for extended amounts of time while she made the announcement.

Posted by: anonymous55 | July 30, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

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