It surprised us to read that Metro doesn’t plan on running any special trains on July 4, when it expects 700,000 or more people to ride. 700,000 is just under what Metro carries on an average weekday. Metro also hasn't decided yet whether to keep Smithsonian Station open during the festivities.
It has been several years since we took Metro to the big birthday bash, and it's certain they've added capacity, but the last experience was enough to deter us from ever wanting to try again.
We went mainly because we had a foreign friend visiting DC for the first time. We watched the fireworks from Rosslyn, where we’d met up with some friends who were having a party later on in DC.
After the pyrotechnics, the plan was to take Metro to into the city.
The crowds on the Rosslyn platform were suffocating, so much so that you weren’t really in complete control of your movements. The mob ebbed and flowed, and you went with it whether you wanted to or not.
It was not only uncomfortable, it felt dangerous.
On this particular night, the tide of people swept our foreign friend onto the train while pushing the rest of us away. Before we’re realized it, the doors were closed, and our friend, who at this point looked extremely panicked, had no idea where they were going.
Frantically, we tried mouthing "get off at the next station" to them. As the train pulled away, we were unsure if our friend had read our lips.
Luckily, our friend got the message, and our driver stopped in more or less the same spot as the previous train, which allowed us all to reunite.
Metro GM John Catoe told WTOP that because Metro is now using so many 8-car trains, they will be able to handle the crowds. "It's going to [be] a lot easier -- very much like a normal rush hour day from the standpoint of customers," he said.
Does Catoe realize that when the fireworks are over, ALL of those people want to leave at the same time, which is very much unlike rush hour, which runs over the course of hours?
As a benefit of not running special trains, Catoe said there will be no "confusion about which trains go over the Yellow Line bridge."
Is this an even trade?
What have your recent July 4th Metro experiences been like?
Other items of interest:
How Metro measures on-time performance on buses (GGW)
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board supports Purple Line (Balt. Sun)