Red Line Ride Varies From Trip to Trip
This is my recent experience: A rush hour trip away from the Takoma-Fort Totten bottleneck can be just like the old days, before the June 22 crash. Take a trip in the direction of Takoma-Fort Totten, and it's like the train is being towed by mules.
You stop. You start. You stop. You start.
This is because the trains go one at a time through the crash zone, where the track circuit has the same problem it did at the time of the crash. It can wink out so that controllers can't see a train in that zone, so for safety, the trains have to go through one at a time.
The slowness of the ride is only one of the variables. Here are some suggestions on ways to deal with others.
If the car is too warm, move. Some cars are way too hot, because the air conditioning is busted. In other cars on the same train, you could chill beer. So if you're too hot, change cars at the next station. But you can also do everyone a favor by reporting the hot car to the operator. On Monday afternoon, I heard an Orange Line operator announce to all passengers that one car was hot. He suggested that passengers move out of it, adding that a repair crew was on the way to meet the train.
While all the stopping and starting is meant to balance out the distance between trains, they still get bunched up. Watch the electronic information panel on the platform. If there's a big gap between trains, the next one to arrive is likely to be extra crowded. If the one behind that is coming on quickly, wait for it. That train is likely to be a lot less crowded and you won't lose much time waiting.
Another reason to watch signs: Some trains do turn back at Grosvenor and Silver Spring, as in the old days. The turnbacks haven't returned to the more or less consistent pattern of the past, but it's still a good idea to look at the message boards and at the displays on the sides of the train cars.
Underground station temperatures vary for lots of reasons. They vary from station to station and even within a station. It's possible to find spots that are cooler than others if you walk around. (By the way, I was in Metro Center from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday, walking around all the platforms, and didn't find it any hotter than other stations I stopped at. As with the other stations, some parts of the platform were more or less pleasant than others.)
Least crowded cars: The first and last cars of an eight-car train and the first car of a six-car train. They're also the newer cars, the ones that look cleaner and have better lighting. They also tend to be cooler, since they're less crowded.
Most crowded cars: The last cars of a six-car train. People still haven't gotten used to having all trains pull to the front of the platform, another safety measure. They wait too far down the platform, and have to rush forward when they realize where the train is stopping. So they jam into the last two cars. A crowded car gets very hot.
Can you add to this list?
July 28, 2009; 7:31 AM ET
Categories: Metro | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash
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