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Metro commute a "nightmare"

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While three of the five Metro lines have opened all stations, reports coming in from the various stations are almost uniformly terrible. Commuters posting to Twitter this morning have recounted some big difficulties:

-- The trek from Union Station to Federal Triangle taking an hour
-- The Pentagon City station overflowing with travelers
-- An hour-plus wait at the Rosslyn station and the Orange Line just being a general mess (with Ballston so full they've closed the gates and are only letting people in when the next train arrives, and Eastern Market's platform being so packed that half the platform couldn't get on a train).

Post employees reported earlier that the Metro is a "nightmare," with huge crowds at Union Station and on the Orange and Blue lines heading into the District from Northern Virginia. On the other hand, there did seem to be one (1) Twitter user who said the Red Line wasn't that bad, so that's something.

By Mark Berman  |  February 12, 2010; 8:57 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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Next: D.C. Metro train derails at Farragut North


Obviously the red line isn't a "nightmare" for those who can get on. It's probably completely empty! That's because all those tens of thousands of people who normally get on at Shady Grove to Grosvenor CANNOT since the stations are closed!!!

It might as well be shut down completely, and the gov't too, since 75% of the workers who rely on the public transportation can't make it in.

Posted by: elaphidion | February 12, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

That Red Line user is crazy. The train was a disaster this morning. Hundreds of people waiting, no room to get onto trains, sign boards with no information about train arrival times, etc.

This had better be fixed by Tuesday of next week, after the long holiday weekend...

Posted by: DCMike1 | February 12, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

After my red line commute this morning, I am dreading the trip home. I was lucky in that I got on towards the end of the line (Forest Glen). But starting at Silver Spring the train was standing room only, and lots of people were left to wait in the cold for the 20-30 minutes until the next train. I can't even imagine what's going to happen this evening when everyone tries to get out of the city at the same time.

Posted by: meganf | February 12, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

No - the red line IS a nightmare!!!

I got on at Bethesda. There were already a fair amount of people on the train despite originating only one stop away. The mass of people at Bethesda quickly filled the trains even more. At each station stop, more and more people packed onto the train (or tried, anyways). I have been riding the red line since June, and I can say that this is the MOST crowded I have ever seen it (which is saying a lot!). I don't know how long it was between trains, but it was not nearly enough to accomodate everyone going back to work today. When I finally got off at Dupont Circle, the train was overflowing and I had to push and shove to get off. Plus, the people waiting on the platform did not create much of a space for people to exit the train. If the Feds are back to work, Metro should be running at at least 80%. So glad to be off that train.

Posted by: nativetexan2 | February 12, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Metro told us this was coming and OPM still opened the floodgates of bureaucrats.

Great job Berry.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Coworkers are telling me that the red line is horrible. Part of the problem is that there is no Brunswick line running on MARC, and with Shady Grove through Medical Center closed, there just isn't enough room. I'm glad the government is doing liberal leave, but they should have stressed that people who don't need to come into the office should not. If you're not essential, you don't need to be out there. The roads are still really bad.

In all fairness to Berry, he was getting pressure from people who were throwing around that outdated $100 million figure. It's totally inaccurate considering that many of us federal workers have been teleworking the WHOLE time. I have not lost one day of work. Was lucky to have power the entire time and I worked the entire time.

Posted by: Stats | February 12, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Part of the problem is that anyone who watched the news last night or this morning heard all the media and government folks saying to take public transit today. Well public transit wasn't running well enough to handle that!

Posted by: DublinTraveler | February 12, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Don't even try getting on the orange line at Clarendon, Courthouse, Rosslyn, etc.. I just spent an 45min at Clarendon. There are a thousand people standing on the platform with every train pulling up completely packed (nothing new there, but the crowds are overwhelming even by usually lousy Orange line standards). You won't be able to get on within the next hour.

Posted by: jennifergraser | February 12, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

No doubt rush hour service has ended and they're back to 30 minute delays.

Great job Berry.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I got on at east falls church at 7:00 with no problem, then maybe waited 7 or 8 min at Rosslyn for the blue towards springfield. Maybe try getting up earlier?

Posted by: Axel2 | February 12, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

RE Axel 2: Sorry big boy, I was standing on the Silver Spring platform at 7 am on the dot. Waited 25 minutes for a train and it took 30 more to get to Union Station. Thankfully that is my stop and I got off, but the train was ridiculously (and the platform at Union dangerously) crowded. Sounds like the idiots at Metro lied to Berry and told him that they could handle this, Feds should have stayed closed, and therefor a lot of private business would have done the same since many (including mine) follow the FEds on closures.

Why isn't John "Johnny Boy" Catoe held accountable for anything?

Posted by: JG55 | February 12, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I got the the packed platform at Takoma at 8:50 with no inbound trains in sight, then took the advice of a friend on Facebook who had heard trains were skipping Takoma altogether, and took an outbound train to the end of the line. Waited on the train at Glenmont to come back downtown, and actually had a seat on the absolutely pack train to Union Station. Walked to work from there, thankfully. Arrived at 10:15. My question for Dr. Gridlock - why do trains sit at Glenmont for 10 minutes? Why didn't it just close the doors and turn around and head back downtown?

Posted by: abgr | February 12, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The yellow line was passable, the blue line had extra trains starting at crystal city and was ok.

The problem was getting there. I live in Ballston and Flat out could not get to the platform, so I bused it over. This was a nightmare, OPM should have kept everything closed.

Posted by: Natstural | February 12, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

abgr, smoke break. Unless you want to drive the train, you're going to have to wait.

Be sure to send your thanks to OPM director Berry for flooding the system today.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I live in Glover Park (no Metrorail nearby whatsoever), and this was my commute for my first day back to work:
-Walk to Wisconsin Ave Ave to catch the 30 bus (my normal bus, D2 was not running): 25 mins
-Wait for 30 bus: 20 mins
-Stand on crowded 30 bus while it crawls toward downtown: 60 mins
-Bus stops at Foggy Bottom; get off and wait for Circulator: 20 mins
-Get on Circulator... get off at Conn and K: 10 mins
-Wait for 42 bus toward Mt. Pleasant: 20 mins
-Get on 42 bus; ride to 16th and Irving: 25 mins

Total: 180 minutes! Yay! It took me three hours to get to work today. My God. I can only imagine how long it will take to get home.

Posted by: dcgirl6 | February 12, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

For once Metro didn't lie. They announced last night that service would be this bad and Berry opened the government when the system could only handle a handful of actually essential workers.

If you're out there today he has one message: sucks to be you.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Tried getting onto a Red Line at Woodley Park at about 9:30 AM. That was not happening. Took Red line to Friendship Heights, and forced my way onto a downtown train. One person managed to get on at Van Ness, only because one person got off. At Tenleytown, Cleveland Park, and Woodley Park, no one could fit. At DuPont, some people got off, some got on, but not everyone who wanted to get on could. At Farragut North, there was a problem, because a lot of people wanted to get off the jammed train. No one (who wasn't getting off at Farragut North) wanted to step off the train for fear they wouldn't get back on.

Finally got back to my car, parked at a downtown friend's apartment garage. Got through downtown fine once I got onto the Freeway. Then out on I-66. Inbound I-66...yep, backed up from Fair Oaks to Constitution Ave.

Posted by: thetan | February 12, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Metro is a complete nightmare. The federal government should not have opened today because the transit system cannot handle it yet. The only way I could even get to a metro station was to take a cab, since so few bus lines are running. And then there was a long wait to get onto a platform to wait for a train, followed by a painfully slow train ride. Of course, there was very little information from metro on all of the delays, as usual.

Posted by: lgp2 | February 12, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The decision to open the federal government today was ill-informed, stupid, and unsafe. As I write this, I heard that there was a derailment on the red line. The Washington Post site has more information about it than the wmata site does, which has a short note that is 45 minutes old saying a train has "reportedly derailed". Way to go, metro!

Ride-on buses were a joke this morning. The county clearly put a lot of effort into plowing ride-on bus routes instead of residential streets, but I do not know why, since they are running very few buses. I waited at the intersection of 2 routes, the 30 and the 47, for 40 minutes, with 6 5 other people before a bus showed up for either route, and it was packed.

Metro, it goes without saying, was horrific. We got to Bethesda about 9:35 and a train came in about 10 minutes. It was packed when it arrived, and I doubt that everyone even at Bethesda was able to get on, let alone at the next stops. As usual, the driver was hollering about not crowding the train (too late for that), go to the center of the aisle (sorry, it's already full of people), and "there is another train 6 (or 5, or 4, it kept changing) minutes behind this one" (and if you are dumb enough to believe that, I've got some mortgage-backed securities to sell you).

It is time to completely replace the management of wmata, and to vote out of office all local politicians who support wmata management. I could just about puke at the thought that I actually voted for that idiot Ike Leggett .

Posted by: MyPostID27 | February 12, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

After an hour of waiting at Clarendon, I gave up - only two trains had come, both packed to overflowing. When I asked the station manager if he knew the status of the 38B bus (Ballston to Farragut Square), he said he didn't even know if it is was running (it was - although the line for the bus stretched all the way down the block from Clarendon & Highland to Highland & 11th St.). I finally gave up and am working from the Barnes & Noble in Clarendon - with about 20 others in the same boat.

Posted by: sciencegrrl | February 12, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Medical Center's kiss and ride was pretty ugly this morning, from all the people that needed rides to get on the metro. Hopefully they'll get the other stations opened this afternoon. Medical Center is in a particularly bad location for a a busy kiss and ride.

Posted by: reggie14 | February 12, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Note regarding a typo in my 11:45 post: there were 6 of us waiting for the ride-on bus (not 6 5).

Metro has updated its web site, at 11:32, with a new report of the derailment. It is still much shorter than what is on the Washington Post site.

Looking at the OPM web site, there is no e-mail address provided to contact OPM director John Berry. That is probably a wise move on his part.

Posted by: MyPostID27 | February 12, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

For dcgirl16: It takes you 25 minutes to walk to Wisconsin Ave. from your house in Glover Park? I used to live on 40th Street and could walk to Wisc. and Calvert in about 5 minutes. I know the walk is more treacherous today, but really!

Posted by: purdyjack | February 12, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Responding to purdyjack:

Yes, I live on 42nd Street across the street from the park (farthest street back). Had to walk uphill in the middle of unplowed streets. The walk uphill is a b____ in normal circumstances, but today nearly fell down a couple of times. Normally it takes me 10-15 minutes to get to Wisconsin and Calvert (I have short legs).

Posted by: dcgirl6 | February 12, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

dcgirl16: Thanks for the clarification on the walk time. Having waited for the #30 bus a few times when the D2 wasn't running, I knew you weren't kidding about that. Glover Park is a very nice neighborhood (I lived there for 9 years),but if you depend in public transportation, it can be a nightmare. Have a better trip home!

Posted by: purdyjack | February 12, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Metro positively SUCKS.
I blame the politicians, who fail to provide reasonable public transportation. If you are a congressman reading this - I better see you very vocal about how you are going to fix this or you will see my vote go elsewhere.
Its becoming cheaper and safer and quicker to drive!!!

Posted by: wvp123 | February 12, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Commuting from Alexandria City to Gallery Place. DASH bus had announced they would start service at 0900 and at 0905 a bus shows up at the usual stop. Yeah DASH bus!!! Even held the bus for a passenger running down the hill (that would be my husband.) Normal passenger load. I-395 was a nightmare..happy we decided to not drive. Arrived at Pentagon station around 0930, just missed the Yellow Line train by seconds (looked pretty packed). Waited 12 minutes. Train was about normal load for rush hour. Arrived at Gallery Place just before 1000 and at my desk by 1005. Maybe 15 minutes longer than normal commute? No complaints here....

Posted by: WingsFan | February 12, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Got on at Wheaton at 8 AM...was already standing room only. The train only got more and more packed as we went in. At Metro Center there were lovely scenes like this:

Person #1: "Let me out! Let me out!"
[person shoves someone waiting to the side of the door]
Person #2: Hey, watch it!
Person #1: You watch it, you [string of expletives]. [person stalks off]
Person #1: Seriously, some people! (As though waiting to the side of the door -- not blocking it -- is some horrible crime.)

Gotta love DC.... Not looking forward to the commute home, and not sure that getting out a little early's going to do any good, especially with the gaps between trains -- unfortunately since Wheaton was open I wasn't authorized to work from home today. *sigh*

Posted by: | February 12, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I didn't leave the house until 11 am and did fine--Arlington Regional Transit 77 from Walter Reed and Columbia Pike (though there is no bus stop access due to snow piles), then to Court House metro. I didn't have to wait long, and crowds had thinned out but the sign said Next Train, 18 minutes, No Passengers.

Posted by: chunche | February 12, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

My Red line trip was as bad as everyone else's-- slow and crowded at rush hour. I never cease to be amazed at Metro's incompetence, and especially at their lack of foresight-- 20 minute waits during rush hour? What did they think was going to happen when the city came back to life? Yes it's been a snowy week, but what do they need to do to store full service, and why are they dragging their feet about it? How about getting some people onto the tracks to shovel the snow out? I'm sure there are plenty of people who would kill for extra work.

I also wonder what former Soviet Minister of Information Metro hired to do their communications. Metro never tells you anything useful-- if there's a delay or a "situation" they won't tell you the truth, but string you along that it'll "be resolved soon," so you can't make a rational decision (get a bus, a taxi, walk, call a friend, etc) only to have spent HOURS trying to get from point A to B before they tell you it's not possible and that you're going to be stranded at wherever. What are they afraid of--irrational panic? Yet there are PLENTY of EXTREMELY LOUD announcements about not eating on the system, not leaving bags behind, etc etc. Heaven help us if we ever have a terrorist attack-- Metro will just pretend that nothing is going on and everyone should just wait patiently for them to do nothing... and inform us of this at the last minute.

Every last moron who works at Metro should be fired, including the worthless and incompetent station managers. I feel badly for the drivers/operators who have the unpleasant position of having to follow the orders of incompetent idiots.

If I could afford to drive to work and park every day, I would. Sitting in my warm car, alone with the radio is much more plesant than being treated like cattle in the freezing cold.

Posted by: padnactap92 | February 12, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

News reports that Metro had resumed operations Friday morning were highly misleading. The volume that the system was carrying could not have exceeded 25% this morning. I waited until after 9:30 to go to the Virginia Square station (orange line), and was only able to get on the fourth train. Station personnel directed me to the wrong track initially - I think they must have been misinformed. I heard another frustrated commuter say that she had already been waiting about an hour. The Federal Government should not have reopened today!

Posted by: eyeofthebeholder | February 12, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Supposedly his email is I got it off of this Post article:

Posted by: julula2003 | February 12, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

not eating on the system....

ah that reminds me, I'm ignorning this rule for now on, the drinking part especially. If metro insists on 20 plus minute waits between trains while I'm standing on an outside platform, I'm drinking a cup of coffee. I've seen 3 transit cops in my 9 years living here, so I'll take my chances. If a metro manager sees me come in with coffee (ha! like they ever come out of their caves) I'll say I'm holding it until I get to my stop and that I'm not actually drinking it while on metro. Tourists (and kids) ignoring the rule anyway, raised fares, crappy service... enough is enough. I'm enjoying a cup of coffee on my ride to work, god knows I need the caffeine to deal with the constant delays.

Posted by: JG55 | February 12, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

No one seems to be reporting it, but an entire Blue/Orange line train went out of service at L'Enfant Plaza Friday morning around 8:10 AM. I don't mean the doors wouldn't close; I mean the entire train lost power and sat there -- dark and dead. Metro police had to protect the train. Metro began single-tracking around the train -- but it had to allow two outbound Blue/Orange trains to pass first. Then an empty inbound train passed 12 minutes later. Only 15 minutes after that did an inbound Blue line train finally pick up passengers.

By this time, the entire platform was full.

Once the train got past L'Enfant, things were fine -- few passengers on platforms, no more delays. But that dead train wreaked more havoc than the snow did.

Posted by: Timmy1965 | February 12, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

2 1/2 hrs to get 10 blocks in DC. The city Adrian Fenty has let become a 3rd world backroad hole. Every major street has one travel lane, side streets not plowed YET. and no progress in clearing the curb lanes. This guy need to be fired. No sign of plows, loaders, or backhoes. Just unbelievable. What are these idots doing all day and night? Breaking more plows? What are we up to 40% not working. Pathetic repsonse.

Posted by: espnfan | February 12, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

It took me 3 hrs and 15 mins to get from Manassas to Foggy Bottom this morning. PRTC was supposed to be there at 9:14 am, but didn't bother to show up for another 30 minutes then the 2 hr commute to East Falls Church. Luckily no problems on metro this morning, at least for me, they were saving that for the evening. I left the office at 5:15 knowing I needed to be at EFC at 6:05 to catch the last Emergency PRTC bus to Manassas, but of course, I got to the platform and it was jammed and the next train wasn't scheduled to come for another 12 minutes. A 6 car train, no less. Of course metro's website said they were running on time. A total lie as usual. I had to get on the opposite train and head to Metro Center with any hope of getting on the train - no a seat, just to get on. Anyway, I missed my bus by 20 minutes. Luckily someone met me at Vienna, but not everyone always has someone who can do that. A total disaster and metro is a third-world operation not just today - always. The blue line always is near empty or at least not crowded and they always send more blue lines then orange lines then we have to fight to get on because some of us have connecting buses. I get anxiety nearly every day when I leave for work because I know it is going to be a fight to get on the train at Foggy Bottom heading to Vienna.

Posted by: TG10 | February 12, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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