Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bait and Switch?

So the WMATA Board is meeting today (Listen here if you dare. It starts at 11.) to determine what will probably be a major, complex fare increase (PDF).

OK, WMATA, you're likely going to up your fares. We all know that, but are you going to up your game as well?

A lot of times when the price of something goes up, there's at least a token improvement. A bell. A whistle. Something! What are we going to get for this increase?

If we pay out the nose for "peak of the peak" service can we expect on-time trains? All 8-car trains? Polite employees? Less fires on the tracks? Less switch problems? Fewer derailments? Smoother rides? Working doors? Working AC?

Our guess is no. In fact, it appears you're cutting service already.

From MG:
Remember how Metro threatened to cut night rail service to every 30 minutes if the latest fare hike wasn't approved? It turns out Metro got its cake and is eating it too, or, perhaps better said, Metro is shoving it in riders' faces.

I just waited 30 minutes at Rosslyn for a Blue Line train in the direction of Franconia-Springfield.

I arrived at 10:50 p.m. with no Blue Line train posted on the electronic board. At 11:00, lo and behold, up pops a Franconia train scheduled to arrive in 20 minutes (and it took every second of that 20 minutes to arrive).

Meanwhile, four trains pass in the opposite direction on the upper platform--not to mention the two no-passenger trains that breezed by my platform.

I can think of plenty of appropriate mottos that reflect the state of Metrorail, but this one seems especially appropriate: more money, less service.
MG is not the only one:
JPoor007 Dear @wmata, I'd like to have the last 30 minutes of my life back spent waiting on the Vienna-bound Orange line in Rosslyn #metrosucks
Have you noticed longer headways?

Other items:

Would you want to do business in DC? (WaPo)


Anna said...

Not related to headways, but also concerning -- I'm trying to figure out a disturbing incident on my commute last night.

I was on a Franconia bound train that was offloaded at Farragut West a little before five pm on Wednesday. Instead of waiting on an overcrowded platform full of sweaty teenagers and tourists, I crossed over to the other platform to take a train to L'enfant.

I got to the other platform and saw that a Vienna bound train was about two car lengths behind my disabled Franconia train. The Franconia train was in the station and the Vienna train was at the mouth of the tunnel.

I thought maybe they had unloaded the Vienna train at McPherson to come and push the Franconia train. However, once the Franconia train pulled off (by itself) the Vienna train pulled up and unloaded passengers.

Any idea how two FULL trains get so close to each other? Cause it definitely gave me a case of the metro-skeeves!

Anonymous said...

20 Minutes headways on the Redline are routine after rush hour.

Metro, the WMATA Board, and Sarles are total failures.

Anonymous said...

Metro makes me feel like Charlie Brown every day. :( You just can't win.

WMATA said...

With out knowing the dates of the long waits posted above, Metro has week night trackwork scheduled that will affect all lines. Details are posted here:
Also, please remember that due to work related to the Dulles extension, there will be no rail service between East and West Falls Church stations. More information on this closure here:

GrapesOfRough said...

I'd also like to know why I'm expected to pay more for a service that, in 90 degree weather, can't seem to make the air conditioner work.

During my commute I transfer between the red and green lines, and yesterday all FOUR of the cars I sat in failed to provide air conditioning. Yes, I'm TOTALLY willing to pay more for service like that. Suck it, Metro.

Anonymous said...

I've waited forty minutes more than once after 10 PM for the Shady Grove bound train at Tenleytown on nights when there was no scheduled track maintenance (and believe me, I would know, because I compulsively check Metro's website and look for signage at stations so I can plan ahead for nights when there is track maintenance that I'm in for a long wait._

Anonymous said...

WMATA responds here? That's kinda cool, but I have a bone to pick with their splainin'. Yesterday track equipment derailed, and there were numerous broken trains. I waited 25 DURING RUSH HOUR for a train.

Splain that!

Matt said...

Every night that I stay late in DC I find there is a missing Orange train to Vienna between 11:00 and always seems like it goes Orange Blue Blue Orange. If I miss that first Orange train I have ALWAYS had to wait 30-40 mins for the next one to Vienna. Are all these days I encounter this just coincidences?

WMATA person: want specific dates? Pick any weekday. Go stand at, say, Federal Triangle at 11pm, then tell me that it is Orange-Blue alternating every 20 minutes with a straight face. Give me a number to call the next time I have to wait 30-40 mins for a train, regretting that I did not take a cab, we'll see if we can remedy this.

Anonymous said...

WMATA is a LIAR. 20 minute waits at Dupont Circle are routine, track work or not.

Do us a favor WMATA, fire your communications consultants, we don't believe them. Use the savings to reduce the fare increase you should have been preparing for.

I'm sure paying out for lawsuits for your negligence hasn't helped riders either.

Anonymous said...

WMATA: Care to explain what was going on yesterday during rush hour at exactly 4:46pm? I was waiting at Rosslyn expecting to catch the Blue Line to Pentagon when I saw TWO Orange Line trains and an empty Train pass me by.

I checked the WMATA site and there was nothing about the delays.

Anonymous said...

@12:15 -- Orange is much more heavily traveled outbound in the afternoon...they always run Orange trains back to back during rush hour, that is nothing new. Not sure what you're complaining about.

Anonymous said...

It took me an hour to get home during rush hour last night. My normal commute time is 25 minutes. There was a 25 minute wait for a train on the Orange & Blue lines at Metro Center. What is Metro's explanation for that?

Anonymous said...

@12:50 - No, they do not run Orange Lines trains back to back during the time when I'm at Rosslyn. Maybe after 5pm or so but I always catch the Blue Line train at exactly 4:46pm on the dot. I waited 20 mins for the Blue Train causing me to miss my commuter bus.

Anonymous said...

1:08 - I was delayed at Fed Triangle heading West because of train at metro Center with door problems. This was right around 4:50 - 5:00. Delays could have been residual...

You're welcome WMATA. Riders have taken to doing your job for you...communicating to each other about delays.

Anonymous said...

They are supposed to run Orange trains back to back during rush hour. Lately they've been tending towards 10 minutes apart.

Anonymous said...

Every morning I wait 8+ minutes for a red line train in the 3-minute-max-wait downtown zone. Even if the previous 2 trains were running as a connected 16 car train, the LONGEST I should have to wait is 6 minutes. 'Splain that...EVERY DAY!!!

Anonymous said...

It took me 40 minutes to get from Metro Center to Friendship Heights tonight. There was apparently a track circuit problem. Metro never bothered to announce this problem on its Web site or via e-mail.

Perhaps it didn't want to admit to the problem after its board voted on the fare increase.

Generally, the headways are seemingly completely random. Often, about 6:30, I wander down to the platform and see trains coming at 6, 8 and 11 minutes apart. What sense does that make?

Also, can someone please explain to me why schedule adjustments near the end of the line make any sense? When there is no train ahead, why does a packed train spend 2 minutes waiting for the train behind it to catch up?

Stacy said...

Friday night, there was no New Carrolton-bound train listed on the screen when I got to the platform. After about 10 minutes, one came up with an 18 minute wait. Luckily, when I got to L'Enfant I only had a 5-ish minute wait for the Green Line.

Note to Metro: leaving the screen blank for 10-15 minutes, then posting an 18-minute headway, isn't an 18-minute headway. You're not fooling anyone.

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