Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Metro Inferno

It's friggin' hot, and crazily, it's all too often HOTTER in a Metro car or station than it is outside.

How do you beat the heat on Metro?

We'll give away a couple tips that seem to work.

First, If you're brave enough to ride in the front car, they usually have AC. The only reason we can think why is that the operator is in there. This scheme has only failed once.

Secondly, our home station of East Falls Church is outside, so there's no chilling going on at all, but we have noticed that there is often a decent draft flowing upward through the large openings between the street level and the platform above. When waiting for 12 minutes for a train during rush hour, we often lean into the opening for just a touch of relief.

Our other home station, Federal Center SW, always seems to be relatively cool. We know this is not the case for all stations.

What are some stations to avoid?

On a somewhat brighter note, the kink problems that turned the Red Line into a complete mess yesterday are likely to dissipate if it stays hot. Here's what a source familiar with rail safety had to say:

If it stays this hot for a while you'll probably see fewer heat kinks, but if it cools off and then heats up again you'll have more. It's the intense shifts in ambient temperature that do it, more so than the extreme temps in either direction. Slow, gradual shifts in ambient temperature over time result in fewer heat kinks or rail breaks.

When it eventually cools off, if they've cut heat-kinked rail and replaced it, you could get that new segment contracting in a cold snap and have the problem in reverse.

Outdoor light rail systems in California, like Santa Clara, or Valley Metro in Phoenix, are plagued with these problems; all they can do is make sure they buy good heat-treated rail and conduct aggressive track inspections when the weather starts shifting.

Finally, if all else fails, you might want to try this drinking game courtesy of the Washingtina blog.

Other items:

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will give props to the Redline train operator yesterday who closed the doors at NY Avenue while we waited to pass through the speed restricted zone. The announcement he made was "I'm closing the doors to keep the AC in."

That train operator gets a gold star. The cracked rail at the Brentwood Yard gives Metro -10.

Christina said...

Actually, today on the red line, the first car was a hot car today. And Foggy Bottom metro hasn't had AC for at least 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Mr Unsuck, my two home stations are also EFC and FCSW. Perhaps I've seen you at the Starbucks at FCSW or Bear Rock at EFC. Very interesting...

Anonymous said...

Any recommendations for those of us who ride Metro bus?

Unsuck DC Metro said...

@9:20 perhaps...;)

Chris said...

Hot stations? Ballston. Every. Single. Day. It's awful. They have 2 plug-in fans near the turnstiles and that's IT for any kind of air circulation in that station. AWFUL!

Props to Metro Center, one of the busiest, for getting their "chilled" act together though!

Anonymous said...

>>First, If you're brave enough to ride in the front car, they usually have AC.<<
If by usually, you mean every other day, then maybe.

Michael A. said...

Farragut North is always awful. Friendship Heights has seemed to improve recently...or I've been unknowingly standing closer to the cold air vent.

Anonymous said...

Last summer, riding in the first car was my trick to beat the heat. Sadly, it doesn't seem to work anymore. My yellow line leg is crazy hot in the first car every damn day.

Gary R said...

My commute takes me from Gallery Place to Pentagon City. Since the Yellow line only seems to run with 1/3rd the frequency of the Green Line, I often will take the train to L'enfant to beat the heat of Gallery Place. It's not much cooler, but it seems there is more area to spread out on the platform, which makes it more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

Silver Spring. Roasting in the summer. Freezing in the winter. Especially with the wind tunnel created by NOAA. You'd think they'd install a vertical wind turbine to capture some of that energy.

Anonymous said...

Hot Station? Branch Avenue is Sweltering! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Pentagon City is always hot! Dr. Gridlock's survey of the stations last year found that it was one of the hottest. I also commute from Gallery Place to PC and agree, the yellow line train is running much less frequently than it used to. I am also routinely seeing yellow line trains to greenbelt on the other side of the platform at night. Not only does the display say greenbelt, but the train operator says it as well. This has become quite regular lately, though apparently it is a "mistake"

Anonymous said...

If metro finds out we are getting free saunas they will start charging a spa surcharge.

Anonymous said...

@Anoynumous 12:49 PM

Metro does send 4 yellow-line trains all the way to Greenbelt each weeknight, as they are stored in the Greenbelt railyard.

Anonymous said...

Foggy Bottom is most certainly the steamiest station I've been in... the contrast between there and anywhere else - Metro Center, Gallery Place, Pentagon City, etc... all high traffic stations, is stark. This is why I risk it all and take the bus - so far there've been no texters or sexual harassers on the 80 or the Circulator.

Caity Bierman said...

at Gary R. - lol I think the green line runs much less often than the yellow. regardless I ride from waterfront-which has ac to gallery place, and vise versa and my green line trains have had ac. it's very nice. but the second i get outside i get all hot and sweaty anyway.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed an up tick in ridership on the Metro? At least on the Redline, I have had to get to the Rockville stop before 7am in order to get a seat. Not that long ago, arriving around seven found amble seats.

Anonymous said...

I really need to buy a car. The commute would be just as long if not longer; but at least I would have proper AC and would not get a lecture from some elder federal employee on Metro'd anti-food/drink policy on trains when I take a slip of water to cool off.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday... (Wednesday, July 7)

~3:15PM - hot car from Union Station to Metro Center [RED LINE, middleish car]

~3:40PM - hot car from Metro Center to Vienna [ORANGE LINE, second car from the front]

I never thought I would hit the hot car lottery twice in a row. At this point I guess it's not a lottery... more of a reality.

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