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Red Line Delays For At Least 10 More Days

The slowdowns will continue at least through July 19, Metro said this morning. Keep on adding at least a half an hour to the regular travel times all along the line, even though the problem causing all this is between Fort Totten and Takoma.

Because of the reduced speeds in that zone, where the June 22 crash occurred, trains everywhere on the Red Line have to wait. This means that on any Red Line trip, riders are likely to hear the operator say the train is holding for a schedule adjustment.

Also, there are somewhat fewer trains than normal operating on the Red Line because of the congestion stemming from the slowdown.

If trains get backed up, some may be turned around and sent back to ease congestion on the platforms in the most crowded areas. The normal turnbacks at Grosvenor and Silver Spring are not occurring. Right now, turnbacks can occur at many stations, depending on the state of the line.

Metro says that if the National Transportation Safety Board can complete its work in the crash zone before July 19, service will return to normal, but if the NTSB needs more time, the slowdown will continue beyond that date.

Each night during this period, Takoma Station will close at 10 o'clock for the investigation. When the station is closed, trains won't operate between Silver Spring and Fort Totten. Shuttle buses will take riders between Fort Totten, Takoma and Silver Spring.

"I understand that our riders are experiencing uncomfortably crowded trains and platforms. I understand people's commutes are taking longer to complete," Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said in a statement this morning. "Rider safety is the most important thing that we are focused on right now, even if safety means someone's trip will take longer. We appreciate the patience that our riders have exhibited."


By Robert Thomson  |  July 8, 2009; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Next: Congestion on I-95 in Maryland After Tanker Crash


Perhaps the reason why traffic in DC continues to worsen (per this morning's article that DC area residents spend 62 hours a year in traffice) is because of metro issues like this.

People lose faith in metro and become scared to ride it knowing that there's sloppy management and no one running the show in a reliable manner. Not to mention it takes 4 times as long to get where you need to go via our public trans system than if you just drove...

Posted by: Ellvee | July 8, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Why does NTSB work at night necessitate slow operation during the day?

Also, why does WMATA continue to charge rush-hour fares for service that is slower than normal off-peak service?

Perhaps the Washington Post should look into these questions rather than taking WMATA's word for it.

Posted by: JOSEPHGORMLEY | July 8, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps someone should point out to Mr. Catoe that safety concerns in rail transit are not limited to trains crashing into each other; overcrowded platforms and trains pose a much more imminent threat of injury.

Posted by: bv2112 | July 8, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Amen to both Ellvee and Mr. Gormley. As Metro becomes an increasingly expensive, slow and shoddy system, it steadily chips away at the advantage it has over driving. Sometimes, it blows it even before one can get on a train, as, for example, with the absurdity of not even being able to find a place to park at some stations so that one can be a customer in the first place.

The prices, along with John Catoe's salary, should be cut in half as long as Metro continues, in its best government agency mode, to deliver the poor service it's providing today.

Posted by: DellC | July 8, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

In answer to JOSEPHGORMLEY. The Post has ceased to be a source of INVESTIGATIVE journalism. That's why you won't see them looking into those questions.

WaPo want a cracker?

'Cause that's all they are is a parrot.

Posted by: nadie1 | July 8, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Dr G--The follow-up question to ask are these: WHY are trains still moving so slowly through Ft Totten/Silver Spring? Is there still damaged track present? If so, when will it be fixed? Are they still investigating? If so, what is taking so long (when a plane crashes, the system isn't disrupted for weeks)?

When a Metro spokesperson gives another of their everything is hunky-dory answers, you need to say: OK, we all know that's a bunch of BS; now what the REAL answer?

Posted by: ceebee2 | July 8, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The funny part is, the actual stretch of track between Fort Totten and Takoma is one of the swiftest and smoothest parts of my ride (from Metro Center to Silver Spring in the morning, and back again in the evening). It's all of the other ones were we have sudden jerking stops and long pauses and move at speeds where good runners could pass us.

Posted by: EtoilePB | July 8, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Please investigate and tell your readers if the texting actions by the Metro operator will be included in the NSTB safety report. Metro apparently did not, before the accident, have a sufficiently appropriate culture to enhance safety, despite the platitudes from the top. The fact that I received a $90 ticket for rolling through a stop sign exiting Shady Grove (despite first stopping to pay at a deserted kiosk at 7:40 pm) and exiting on a one-way street that is little used and goes only to the other garage) shows that Metro priorities to enforce safety are misplaced. Metro safety enforcement appears to be concentrating on low risk at the expense of high risk activities. I hope NTSB takes note.

Posted by: iseyij | July 8, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous. A month to clear-up this mess? It's beyond grasp. Are you folks taking weekends off?

Posted by: jckdoors | July 8, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Im Sooooo glad I save myself $9/week and 10-15 hours of commute time buy NOT RIDING METRO!!!!

What a waste of time and effort....

Any other city I NEVER Drive... in DC however, its still a necessity...

Posted by: indep2 | July 8, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

So after July 19th we won't have delays? What a joke. The red line is delayed every day of the year. Rapid transit it ain't!

Overhaul the management now! Outrageous is too weak a word. We are FED UP!

Posted by: Trout1 | July 8, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

this has been the last straw for me. I can park downtown for $10 and get to ride in the comfort of my own car. Metro was costing me $12.75 and it had gotten so aggravting it is not worth it anymore.

Posted by: weljr65 | July 8, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday around 5pm on my commute home from Foggy Bottom to Vienna on the Orange Line, our train stopped at least twice (that I noticed) with the message that "we will be holding here for 90 seconds for a schedule adjustment." Schedule adjustment? So the trains behind us can catch up? I don't recall seeing any reports regarding problems on the Orange Line tracks as well. Although I HAVE noticed since the Red Line accident that the Orange Line trains are slower, shorter, and less frequent than ever before. Does anyone wonder why road traffic is worse than ever?

Posted by: emacco | July 8, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If every single member of Metro's Board of Directors, and all of its senior managers, were required to commute on Metro, rather than driving their Metro-supplied cars, you can bet your bottom dollar that the entire system would work better.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 8, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

This is in response to the first poster, Elivee.

Please know that traffic in DC continues to worsen because public transportation gets the short shrift compared with roads and highways, which receive $42 billion of federal funding on an annual basis. Federal funding for public transportation is minuscule.

If we want to reduce road congestion, then we need a road-user "congestion" fee as well as re-investing in public transportation. Provide dedicated bus-only lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks on every road, bike trails, and increase the number of parking spaces at metro stations. This will increase travel options and reduce automobile dependence. This is known as multi-modal travel or "complete streets."

We also need tax credits and incentives to encourage commuting via bike, foot, and metro to reduce automobile dependence. The federal govt provides $115 monthly subsidies to its workforce. That's why so many federal workers ride the metro.

Lastly, riding the metro is vastly safer than driving. From 1996 to June 2009, metro had no fatalities. In contrast, roads and highways experience 40,000+ deaths annually.

Posted by: | July 8, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Why is everyone blindly accepting that the ONLY reason for the slowdowns on the redline is reduced speed between two stations? It doesn't even make sense. If all the trains move at the same speeds, just slower, then the only extra delay should be from the diference between going, say, 35 mph instead of 60 mph between two stations -- at most a couple of minutes.

Of course, it's not the reduced speed that's causing the excessive slowness. I think that Metro won't let a train leave the Takoma station until there are no trains all the way through the Fort Totten station. Because the distance from Takoma to Fort Totten is huge (look at the Metro map), this is the source of the crazy delays. Why can't Metro give this real reason?

Posted by: jonnydoe1234 | July 8, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Is the Washington Post a newspaper or just an outgrowth of There are never any further questions or follow ups with Catoe and company and all this seems to be is a relay from Metro to the people. How could this possibly happen in a supposedly major metropolitan area? The trains are a joke without problems and the buses are unboardable in recent weeks. A car is a necessity living in this sham of a city.

Posted by: djones13 | July 8, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Does Catoe have a mailing address where I could send him one of these?....

Posted by: djones13 | July 8, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Metro needs to change the rush hour time frame. Why pay rush hour fares when the train frequency remains at non-rush level? Begin rush hour fares at 5:00 not 3:30, and end it at 6:30.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 8, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

If they're running fewer trains on the Red Line why can't they all be 8 car trains? Take the trains they're not running and add them to the 6 car trains they are running.

Posted by: archers44 | July 8, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

What has happened to Dr. Gridlock? Why are you reprinting a metro press release? Anyone who rides the red line knows Metro isn't being totally truthful.

The metro center platform was packed this morning--and there were four metro employees gabbing with each other and doing nothing.
Lisa Farbstein is the head of "p.r." for metro. Her e-mail address is below.

Posted by: jraindc1 | July 8, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Some of these complaints are overkill.

First, to those who complain about the city as a whole, please go home. This was a lovely city until it filled up with people from other states who just whine all the time (and yet overpay for cruddy houses in bad neighborhoods). It's a great city, and a great area, and it would be even better if the whiners would go home.

Second, these delays are a pain. And I don't know if metro management can be faulted. Maybe they can. But let's not exaggerate. Metro is safer than walking down the street. And these occasional several week delays are nothing like highway and road construction projects that cause months of anguish.

So by all means criticize. But if you hate the city, just go home, and don't exaggerate regardless.

Posted by: Riggo3 | July 8, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

jonnydoe1234:"I think that Metro won't let a train leave the Takoma station until there are no trains all the way through the Fort Totten station. Because the distance from Takoma to Fort Totten is huge (look at the Metro map), this is the source of the crazy delays. Why can't Metro give this real reason?"

Correct. WMATA is currently prohibiting multiple trains from traveling on the same track in between Takoma and Fort Totten. Even though the accident occured on the inbound track, WMATA is also prohibiting multiple trains on the outbound track at the same time. At the front of each station, WMATA has assigned an employee to sit there with a radio to tell the operator of the train when to advance.

This is just another example of how Metro's comms systems is just absolutely horrendous. In San Diego County, the bus system had busses outfitted with the capability to communicate with the command center and with busses in the immediate area. (The drivers often communicated with each other to make sure their passengers made their transfers, but also to communicate time checks, traffic accidents that affect routes, and mechanical issues.) When they set this up, I don't know, but that was how they did things in the 1980s when I was growing up. WMATA in the 2000s STILL doesn't even have a system like this in place. Instead, they only recently provided bus drivers with cell phones to contact the command center when a bus breaks down. I felt like I entered the dark ages when I came to DC in the early 1990s and got on the bus.

Posted by: prokaryote | July 8, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

To iseyij,

There was no evidence that the Metro operator had her cell phone on her person the day of the crash. In fact, she applied the brakes in an attempt to avoid a crash. The train was operating in "automatic" that day. So the NTSB has been testing all the systems on the trains and tracks to see if they were functioning correctly. They found problems, thus the investigation continues.

Also, you failed to mention who gave you a ticket for rolling through a stop sign. I suspect it was the Montgomery County police. Montgomery County does not run the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. They are two separate entities.

To those of you who are comparing the cost of parking vs. the cost of riding Metro, you need to factor gas and wear and tear on the car into your calculations. Metro still comes out ahead.

Posted by: mdreader01 | July 8, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

mdreader01, Metro doesn't come out ahead in many commuting situations, and, even if it does, it isn't by much. What you need to factor in is the misery, the missed meetings and work time and the time lost with family due to ludicrous, two hour commutes on a system given its own, dedicated rail lines by the taxpayer.

Posted by: DellC | July 8, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

prokaryote: "Correct. WMATA is currently prohibiting multiple trains from traveling on the same track in between Takoma and Fort Totten. Even though the accident occured on the inbound track, WMATA is also prohibiting multiple trains on the outbound track at the same time. At the front of each station, WMATA has assigned an employee to sit there with a radio to tell the operator of the train when to advance."


Posted by: jonnydoe1234 | July 8, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The overcrowed trains and platforms are a more immediate danger than the one-in-a-million failure that led to the crash. Fights are breaking out between passengers trying to get on the over-filled trains. I have seen people knocked down in the crush of entry and exit particularly at Metro Center during rush hour. I saw the doors slam closed on a wheelchair passenger who couldn't get out in time. Disabled riders are particuarly harmed because it is impossible to get to the reserved seats. It is just a matter of time before someone is knocked onto a track.

Posted by: newrussianguy | July 8, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Incompetence led to the death of nine metro passengers and the incompetent butholes responsible for those nine deaths remain in charge of a system that is only slightly more dysfunctional that the Palin family. Fire them all!

Posted by: dem4life1 | July 8, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Fire Catoe.

Why do we pay $4.50 each way while New York and Chicago pay $2.50?

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 8, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Why do we pay $4.50 each way while New York and Chicago pay $2.50?

Because we have a modern, state of the art transit system, whereas they have an old, ancient system, the fact NY's runs exponentially better not withstanding.

Posted by: Trout1 | July 8, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

To anarcho:

Not only are single rides less expensive in New York and Chicago, but both of those rail systems make available unlimited ride 30-day passes for less than $90.

Posted by: Jack45 | July 8, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

We pay more to ride the biggest joke in transit. How is Metro the newest, worst, and a single-track design?

Posted by: djones13 | July 8, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Maryland MTA takes offense to DC Metro being called the biggest joke in transit, as clearly Maryland MTA is a bigger joke.

Posted by: GlenBurnie | July 8, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Man people need to quit whining about Metro. Yes there was a terrible accident on June 22nd. 9 wonderful people were tragically killed. When was the last time there were fatalities on Metro? 2004? How many people do you think have been killed in car crashes in the DC area since that time. Hundreds. Metro by enlarge is safe, yes it does have issues with delays and elevators not working, blah blah blah.

Has anyone ridden the subway in NYC? No elevators, escalators, etc... You actually have to walk up stairs (whoa!)

Have you ridden the train in Atlanta? Much worse than DC less stops, less trains.

DC by enlarge has a good system compared to other major cities. As far as costs DC does not get regularly subsidized funding from local governments that is why it costs more. Please quit whining!!!

Posted by: crabbypatty1 | July 8, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

The situation in overcrowded stations has been getting steadily worse. I've seen pushing and heard shouting and worry that we will see fight break out. Plus the overcrowding is bad enough that someone could end up on the tracks or trampled.

Yesterday at 3:30 at Gallery Place was ugly enough that I'm seriously thinking about driving until this is resolved.

Posted by: Chaucer2 | July 8, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

@ Crabbypatty1: Actually, I lived in NYC for several years, in Brooklyn, in Harlem, and in Washington Heights. Previous to that, I lived in Boston for 24 years. The only time I had as much trouble with either city's transit system as I have been having with the Metro was (1) during the 2004 DNC in Boston, and (2) when the NYC transit union went on strike in December 2005.

The MTA in New York may not have elevators or escalators, but the subway lines run 24/7, have exits closer together (so you're never a 2-mile walk from a station), and have bypass tracks. They also cost significantly less. (30-day unlimited pass for $86 vs. $151 a month *just* for my home-to-office commute.) Sounds good to me!

Posted by: EtoilePB | July 8, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

First, it's not "by enlarge" - it's "by and large" -

Second, the Red Line is bad - but from what I've heard about other lines (Green and Yellow come to mind) - it's still better than others normally are.

Posted by: r6345 | July 8, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

CrabbyPatty that is a joke. New York is the best subway system in the country. Cheaper, infinitely faster, trains 24 hours, platforms right underneath the ground, multi-track, and more local stops. DC may be better then others but to say walking up stairs makes New York worse means you are a slob.

Posted by: djones13 | July 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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