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Two Weeks After: Red Line Still Slow, Crowded

Metro is going to try to get more trains on the Red Line this afternoon. That's the best news I can give to riders who flooded my weekly online chat this afternoon with complaints about the service, two weeks after the train crash.

Some riders said they noticed that the 35 mph speed limit imposed on the entire line had been lifted. But because trains still must slow in the crash zone between Takoma and Fort Totten, service still can be sluggish in many areas.

Here are several descriptions that I did not have a chance to post during the chat. Each writer describes a morning experience on the line.

Red Line: Got on at Grosvenor today. Room to get on there, but once past Tenleytown it was just a mess. I don't know how anyone who lives in the city could get on as the trains were 9 minutes apart, so they couldn't just wait for the next one. Got off at Farragut but almost didn't due to not being able to get through the crowds.

Folks don't want to step off the train to allow people out, and then step back on ... I think out of fear that they themselves won't get back on.

Red Line: The red line is not normal. There is still a longer than usual gap between trains resulting in massive overcrowding to the point that people at the closer in stations aren't able to board at all. Also, the Silver Spring to Grosvenor turnback does not appear to have been restarted.

Red Line Commute: Most certainly NOT back to normal; I commute from Bethesda to Metro Center and trains were still 10+ minutes apart and very crowded. Normal speeds are irrelevant since we had to repeatedly stop and hold at stations or in tunnels.

Washington, D.C.:
How was the Red Line you ask this morning?

It was packed. I got to Metro Center a little after 8:00 a.m. and the board didn't have a time for the next red line to Glenmont. Finally it popped up that it was 6 minutes. The next train after that was 15 minutes.

While those comments reflect the majority I received, there were some like this.

Glenmont: I rode in from Glenmont today around 8:15 and found the ride very smooth. The cars were relatively empty, even at Silver Spring, where it had been loading up during the slowdown. We only slowed down a bit around Takoma, and it only added maybe 10 minutes to the trip.

Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel told me there were about 30 trains on the line this morning, which would be fewer than normal, and it's because of the ripple effects from those slower speeds in the crash zone.

Based on this morning's experience, Taubenkibel said, Metro is planning to add more Red Line trains this afternoon. But if train controllers find the Red Line is backing up as a result, they may have to turn some trains at stations all along the line.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 6, 2009; 1:44 PM ET
Categories:  Metro , transit  | Tags: Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Takoma station will close again tonight and tomorrow at 10 p.m.
Next: Outage Hits Intersections in Northeast D.C.


My wife and I are considering, for the first time ever, not using metro anymore, all because of how long and unpredictable our commute on the red line from Grosvenor to downtown has become. I can't imagine we are the only ones.

Posted by: Tony-Tony-Tony | July 6, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

7:50 Silver Spring to Metro Center. Crowded with trains holding for 3-5 minutes at first four stops. Then Gallery Place was it's usual zoo, people pushing to get into the cars. It's insane.

Catoe must go!

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 6, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

As of this morning (July 6), the red line is still a mess. There is about an 8-minute wait between trains, and when the train arrived at Bethesda at 7:40 a.m., it was already packed. The many people waiting at Bethesda defied the laws of physics and mangaged to crowd onto the train somehow, though. (What is one to do, wait for the next train? Ri-i-i-ght...) The alleged 21-minute ride to Union Station took 25 minutes which, with the extra 5-minute delay in waiting for the train, represents an extra 43% delay in terms of time. One passenger said he heard that it is going to be like this for about a year, though he did not cite his source. In any case, it looks like things are going to be bad on the red line for a long time. Fortunately for metro, there is no viable competitive transportation alternative for most of us, and fortunately for its employees, nobody is accountable to anybody.

Posted by: MyPostID27 | July 6, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The Metro is:
- Old
- Dangerous
- Poorly Managed

I was appaled to see its run down condition during my last stint in the area from Feb. through May. There were too many trains on the tracks and they were always stopped around Takoma.

A new Metro system manager is needed... NOW.

Posted by: metro-rider | July 6, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Metro Red Line alert:

5:32 - (ID 56279) Disruption at Friendship Heights. Expect delays in both directions due to an earlier switch malfunction outside Friendship Heights station that has been resolved.

3:17 - (ID 56275) Disruption at Fort Totten. Expect delays in both directions due to an earlier track circuit malfunction outside Fort Totten station that has been resolved.

Why doesn't Metro want me to get home??? "Track circuit malfunction," "switch malfunction"? Real reassuring guys! I've been a big time advocate of public transportation for a long time, and Metro is quieter than the Chicago "L" and cleaner than the Philly Blue Line, but I'm tired of wondering if the people sitting next to me are the last faces I'll see before I die. I rode in an end car this morning for the first time since the accident.

Posted by: SilverSpringer4 | July 6, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone think there is any advantage to living in the city? Metro and John Catoe have effectively eliminated public transportation to those paying more rent. Unless you live in Maryland do not dream of getting to work on time.

Posted by: djones13 | July 6, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

What happened during tonight's rush hour? I left Gallery Place at 5:30 and didn't get to Silver Spring for nearly an hour. The conductor just kept saying there was a train on the platform ahead, but we just moved so incredibly slowly the whole time, stopping for five minutes or more. I understand delays happen, but at least tell me why.

Posted by: runnergirl03 | July 6, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Got to Union Station at about 4pm to take a train to Silver Spring. The board said it would be an eight car train, so I waited towards the back end of where the train would show up. When it arrived, the train stopped, and I waited for the doors to open. Then the train slid back a little bit, and then it drove ten feet forwards. I guess the train's operator didn't have one of those "remember, its an eight car train" post it notes in the cab.

Posted by: jcepler1 | July 6, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

This article shows a picture of the "next train" board showing trains running on time.

There should be a place where we can all post pictures of the numerous signs showing delays!

Posted by: DOEJN | July 6, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I take back everything good I said about the Metro in yesterday's online chat. (My comments about it getting better were published.)

Yesterday I left Silver Spring at 4:15, in order to make it to a jeweler by Farragut North before they closed at 5:30 -- my fiancé and I were meant to pick up our wedding bands together. Guess who didn't make it?

It was 5:03 when I came out of the Metro at Judiciary Square, fed up with the (Shady Grove-bound) train having just *sat* for 2-10 minutes at every station, and between stations, without a single announcement. It took me less time to walk (in women's dress shoes) from Judiciary Square to 20th & M than it had taken me to get from Silver Spring to Judiciary Square by Metro.

This morning, I boarded the Orange Line in Clarendon at 7:38 a.m. and got off of the Red Line in Silver Spring at 8:52 a.m. And the Orange Line portion of my commute was swift and flawless. We were told, "There is a back-up between Fort Totten and Takoma," which I understand will be a residue of the accident, but how can it be backing up WORSE now? And I know the trains move more slowly, but the math just doesn't add up.

I'm done. I can't walk or bike, because from Clarendon to Silver Spring it's really not practical, but I may look into making my '96 car more reliable for driving. I haven't driven on a daily basis since 2001. Thanks, Metro, for making me look like a total jackass for trying to believe in sustainability and mass transit.

Posted by: EtoilePB | July 7, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

"Thanks, Metro, for making me look like a total jackass for trying to believe in sustainability and mass transit."

This is true (well, the part about sustainability and mass transit, not your looking like a jackass). And just wait until DC imposes a commuter tax to discourage us from driving to work. Our choices are bad and worse.

Living and working in Tysons Corner looks better all the time.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

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