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Tell us about your experiences on the Red Line

A lot of Get There readers are expressing frustration with continuing delays on the Red Line. Please let us know your story.

Have you been avoiding the Metro altogether after the tragic accident that killed nine and injured more than 70 last Monday? Taking the bus? Driving?

If you're still taking the Red Line, are you leaving for work earlier? How much longer is it taking to get home? Any tips for other riders about avoiding delays?

Comments are open, or you can e-mail us directly at

By James Hohmann  |  July 2, 2009; 3:04 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Metro, Red Line, Red Line Metro collision  
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I live on the Orange Line in Arlington, and work right by the Silver Spring metro stop. Usually, including my walks to and from the Metro stops on both ends, my commute is 55 minutes door to door.

This week, it's been 80-90 minutes each way, door to door. The Red line trains have been standing at stations for 5-10 minutes without announcements, which I (engrossed in a book) don't always notice until everyone around me starts fidgeting. Metro Center's upper level is, for some reason, ABSURDLY hot and stuffy. I don't remember having to work so hard not to pass out last summer. And yesterday our train from Silver Spring (inbound to DC) just offloaded us all at Judiciary Square. The platform was so crowded, with so much shoving (and I was in an end car) that I was genuinely, wholly worried I was going to end up shoved onto the tracks, so I elbowed and clawed my way up and out of the station, and walked from Judiciary Square to Metro Center to make my Orange Line connection.

$2.70 + $1.90 = an extra $1.15 over what my rush-hour fare home should be, and I'm not best pleased that Metro got to charge me $1.15 for getting out and walking an extra mile.

Getting to work at 9:15 when I leave early enough to get in by 8:30 is really wearing thin.

Posted by: EtoilePB | July 2, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I take the metro between Silver Spring and Gallery Place. My commute is normally around 20 minutes, but now, it's closer to 45. I leave 15-20 minutes earlier than normal, and what time I get to work all depends on what time the train shows up at SS. It's usually not too crowded, but it's also around 7 am when I get on. It's definitely more crowded than normal.

Going back to SS in the evenings is a circus. I've been experimenting with taking the Green Line to Fort Totten and transfering to Red there. It still takes a while, but then I don't have to deal with the pushing and shoving on the Red Line due to all the people trying to get to Union Station to catch their commuter trains.

I have a neighbor who takes the Red Line to Fort Totten, transfers to Green, then transfers back to Red at Gallery Place in order to get to Farragut North. Apparently, it's faster, but I can't vouch for that.

Posted by: runnergirl03 | July 2, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

My commute is the same just much, much longer. I am leaving Grosvenor and going to Shady Grove first before heading downtown, in order to have a seat. A medical condition prevents me from standing for extended periods of time. So instead of a 25 minute commute, it has been hour and a half in the morning. At night I go to Union Station first and then switch trains to go toward Shady Grove. About 15 minutes shorter than the morning if all goes well, which of course is not how it has been this week. Last night it took almost 3 hours after 3 breakdowns during the ride home, including the crowds causing the doors to malfunction on my train, so we were kicked off at Van Ness. I can't wait until they reinstitute Grosvenor's. I'm not sure how much more of this I can stand. I havenoted that John Catoe is suggesting we switch to Metrobus. Unfortunately that is not really an option. All the direct buses between Bethesda and downtown were eliminated years ago, because of the Metro. I have to patch together two Ride-on's and an N2 or a 30 bus to get downtown. That would hardly be more expeditious.

Posted by: ehardwick | July 2, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The Red Line situation has made me ride in on my bike much more frequently. But, realistically, we are only getting a taste of what the situation inevitably will be as ridership increases and reliability decreases. The system's only hope is that the tragedy serves as a wake up call to Metro management and the local jurisdictions about the acute need for increased funding (or increased fares) to maintain the system. It seems the only way to deal effectively with increased ridership over time.

Posted by: JK1234 | July 2, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I was among the hordes trying to get on a Red Line train during Wednesday's afternoon rush hour.

EtoilePB is correct: the Red Line platforms at Metro Center were stiflingly hot. Did something go wrong with the air conditioning? Has it been fixed yet? It's not normally that bad, and it wasn't that bad on the lower (Orange and Blue) platform.

Given the levels of crowding and frustration on the Red Line, I think Metro should do anything possible to make conditions on the platform better.

Posted by: InVA1 | July 2, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Returning to Silver Spring on Wed 7/1 from Rosslyn (Blue/Orange) was a madhouse. I gave up at metro center when they announced single tracking and sent all the Shady Grove-bound passengers scurrying for the Glenmont side of the tracks. I walked to the Green Line up to Fort Totten.

I've been driving or biking via the Capital Crescent Trail. My neighbor's been taking MARC at SS to Union Station then hopping on metro and it's been working for her. Too bad MARC doesn't take SmarTrip cards!

Posted by: rickblum | July 2, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I generally take the Red Line from Silver Spring to Metro Center, then the Orange Line to Ballston in the mornings, and the reverse in the evenings. Last week, I drove to work Tuesday through Friday. This week I did a combination of driving, Metro trains, and Metro bus (S9 express rather than Red Line). I know at least a half dozen ways to get to and from work now.

Posted by: n_mcguire | July 2, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I've been going in late and leaving late. Earlier this week my train was packed at 9:40am from Grosvenor, but today there were plenty of seats at 9:30, at least in the front two cars. Leaving Metro Station around 7-8pm is okay, although there still aren't always seats until after Dupont.
I have no car and there's really no better bus option, so I'm just glad my schedule is flexible...

Posted by: grosver | July 2, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Wednesday it took me an hour in the morning to get from Glenmont to Takoma (twice as long as my normal commute all the way to Farragut North). At that point I got off the train to return home and telecommute for the day.

The operator repeatedly told us, when we were holding at a platform, that we would leave as soon as the next platform was clear, but then the train would also stop between stations. If the track to the next station is clear before you start, what reason could there be for stopping between stations?

When the train I had been on finally moved away from the Takoma platform, it only pulled out about 40 feet and stopped again. Then I saw another train headed the same direction pull in to the Takoma platform less than 30 seconds after the other one left). Clearly that train had not held at the Silver Spring station until the Takoma platform was clear. Delays are bad enough, but to see that the precautions that are supposedly causing the delays aren't even being observed is pretty frustrating (and a little scary).

Posted by: dc-native | July 2, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm back to driving since the crash happened.

Posted by: dkf747 | July 3, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

It is miserable taking the Red Line these days.

The other day they offloaded the train at Farragut North because one of the doors wouldn't shut properly - the old "passenger is blocking in the doors" excuse. I am so sick of this. What other metro system in the world is so lame that all it takes to empty the whole train is for someone to squeeze into the doors at the last minute??? And Metro personnel couldn't care less, not just the ones in the station but the ones running the organization. Where is John Catoe? Does he or any of his people actually ride Metro? Why weren't the NTSB recommendations after the 2006 crash put into effect? What kind of transportation system ignores that kind of wake-up call?? Do they WANT to get sued? Because if I were one of the families who lost someone in the crash I'd be talking to a lawyer right about now.

I have ridden commuter rail in 19 cities ranging from Paris to New York to Prague to Kuala Lumpur to Tashkent, Uzbekistan and I have NEVER seen a system so unreliable and useless.

And to add insult to injury WE THE PASSENGERS get the blame ! "Don't all get on this train, another one is coming: as if the crowding is our fault and not due to Metro running too few trains especially at rush hour. Excuse me, can someone explain where on my Smartcard does it say I can only board certain trains? When I need to get to Twinbrook and only every other train goes to Shady Grove, OF COURSE I and lots of other people will crowd onto the S.G. trains.

And constantly being told WE the passengers are at fault for the doors not closing. Look, if someone squeezing in at the last moment is all it takes to immobilize the entire train, then the problem is with the TRAIN not the RIDERS. And above it all, we get these stupid patronizing announcements about not spreading germs by sneezing on other passengers! What a stupid, brain-dead, offensive, miserable transport system we have.

And the Washington Post couldn't care less about investigating. It's more important to have a multipart series on Chandra Levy than examine why our most valuable piece of infrastructure is wasting away. Pathetic.

Posted by: econgrrl | July 3, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I live in Takoma Park and work in Shirlington. I haven't tried riding the Wrong Line since the crash. Instead I've been taking a combination of buses and the Yellow/Green Line (between GA Ave/Petworth and Pentagon). Its not as fast as the Wrong Line used to be but it hasn't been too bad. Much better than it sounds like it has been on the Wrong Line.

Posted by: KilmarockCommuter | July 3, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I have been allowing more time for my daily commute, but still can't get anywhere in a timely fashion. Even adding an extra half hour is of no use when trains aren't sticking to any kind of schedule.

I travel from Grosvenor to either Fed Ctr or Judiciary---I am usually waiting 10-12 minutes for a train to pull into Grosvenor, and then am finding myself waiting for a second or third train to come into the station in order to find standing room. (bring back the grosvenor trains---trains are full before twinbrook!) The return commute is the same. And once you get on, good luck getting anywhere! Trains are holding a minimum of 2 minutes at half the stations, allowing more people to shove into the cars. I had the misfortune to be offloaded three times last week, all because of door issues. Metro--why offload EVERY car? Why not just the problem one?
Another problem is the "next train" signage. The info on the Metro site, and the signboards are rarely the same. Yesterday, I checked before walking into Friendship Heights. The Metro site said the next 2 trains were due in 4 minutes and 14 minutes. When I got on the track about a minute and a half later (and yes, i timed it) Trains were due in 4 minutes and 20 minutes.

Posted by: jollyw | July 4, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

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