The first commuting days of 2010 were unacceptable. The Red Line was a mess on Monday, and then the Orange Line collapsed into a teeming pile of flesh on Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning once again saw the Orange Line in a full frontal fail.
Metro sucked all last year, but the past few days have revealed an entire new realm of suck we thought was only the suck of myth. One rider claimed they had to wait for 7 trains at Court House on Wednesday morning before there was room to get on.
What happened between the end of December, when things were relatively "OK," and Jan. 4? What took run-of-the-mill Metro sucking to lows never thought reachable?
Not to be too conspiratorial here, but today is when the Board is supposed to make a decision about some very big service cuts. A year ago, at roughly this same time, Metro was talking major service cuts as well. Granted, the budget being discussed at the time was the annual budget, not an unexpected shortfall within the operating budget of same fiscal year as is being faced now, but the threats are eerily similar.
Among them were closing Metro at 10 p.m. on weeknights, increasing headways, and eliminating select bus service and closing mezzanines. Sound familiar? This year, they're not threatening to close the system at 10, but they're proposing ditching all 8-car trains and pretty much the rest of the list from last year.
Could these totally sucky commutes to start off the year be a Metro ploy to drum up fear so they can once again kick the brutal cuts down the road or raid another pile of money?
Remember when the Park Service, when faced with cuts, would threaten to close the Washington Monument? It has become known as the Washington Monument Strategy, and it is a common practice among bureaucracies.
When the dust settled last year, the cuts turned out to be rather meager, but as the final decisions were being made, everyone was in a tizzy.
What do you think? Could WMATA be so Machiavellian? Has ANYONE seen an 8-car train this week? Are we guinea pigs in a bureaucratic pissing war? Will they really go through with all the proposed cuts at today's meeting?
It is a fact that Metro's budget picture is not pretty at all, so we may end up with the cuts proposed. If the past few days' rides are any indications the cuts will have Metro playing a very risky game by letting the platforms get this crowded, and if you scroll down beyond the photos, you'll see one reader's idea for a solution to some of the crowding at Gallery Place, a notorious bottleneck.
@JohnDellaporta The GP/Chitown platform, after 2 trains passed by w/o picking people up. http://twitpic.com/wp34w #wmata
It was 9 a.m., Tuesday, January 5.Other items:
I was stuck. Not on a train, but on a platform at Gallery Place.
Hundreds of people clogged the platform, making it totally impossible for anybody to move. People who wanted to board a Red Line train to Shady Grove could not. People who wanted to exit a train were stuck. People who wanted to get out of the station were trapped on the platform—cheek by jowl with their fellow man.
A couple of Metro Transit Police officers surveyed the situation from the balcony that overlooks the Red Line tracks. I eventually made my way upstairs and asked the officers who was in charge of this mess.
"A rail supervisor should see this!" explained one officer. I agreed and inquired as to the whereabouts of that supervisor. "We've called for the supervisor," said the officer. He shrugged and walked away.
The officers called, but who was listening? I'm afraid we know the answer.
Hello, John Catoe? Hello, Metro Board of Directors? Why not visit Gallery Place during the height of morning rush hour? Come show us that you care!
Metro has two kinds of problems: Those that will never be solved and those that can be solved—right now, immediately, and for no extra money. The same is true at Gallery Place during morning rush hour.
The unsolvable problem at is the station’s layout. The Green and Yellow Lines meet the Red Line in a T. There will always be gridlock as Green and Yellow Line passengers try to transfer upstairs to the Red Line. Then there are the inevitable delays and breakdowns that cause people to pile up on platforms. These problems are tough, and we will always have them.
The frustrating thing is that Metro could make one easy, cost-neutral decision that would immediately improve this ridiculous situation at Gallery Place.
Ever since the June 22 accident, trains have pulled to the front of every platform to add a margin of safety. This generally makes sense, except for inbound Red Line trains at Gallery Place during morning rush hour.
Simply allowing trains to stop where the people are stacked 15 deep would make a huge difference and would enhance platform safety.
C'mon, John Catoe! Make it happen! Let's score some points for safety and common sense.
Or at least dispatch a rail supervisor to survey the situation.
Unsuck readers may recall my December 17 post titled "Doors Yet Again!" You’ll be relieved to know that nobody from Metro has followed up with me in any way. Of course Unsuck readers more than made up for that by posting a lot of good comments.
- Washington Post cites a TOC report that says a "Metro train nearly hit team of safety inspectors," but they don't provide a link to the report. We have an email out to the TOC to see what, if any, ramifications there will be. After all, that's the key.
- WMATA's reponse to the story
- Jogger hit by bus sues WMATA for $30 mill (Fox)
- $9.6 mill on new anti terror unit (WMATA)
- Advocates urge delay in cuts (WaP0)