Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Heads Should Roll"

Full disclosure: I rode my bike yesterday and was spared this particular Metro nightmare.

As late as 6:30, the Key Bridge was full of people fleeing back into DC from Rosslyn, and along the bike trail near Rosslyn, I struck up a conversation with a handicapped man in a motorized wheelchair who had given up on Metro and was slowly motoring his way all the way to Ballston. He said it'd take him over an hour and that he was glad it wasn't winter.

Here's a couple of accounts from Rosslyn. Thanks to all who wrote.

If you want to read about what it was like on the train that hit the jumper, check out this Twitter feed.

From Danny:
Let me start by saying my thoughts go out to the family and friends of the person who was hit by the train.

I'm a long-time reader of your blog, and to be honest, I've always taken some of the complaints with a grain of salt. However, today I'm compelled to write because of my complete and utter disgust with how Metro handled the situation at Clarendon.

Where to start?

First of all, I get it. It's an unexpected, tragic situation at the worst possible time of the day, but whomever decided to keep pouring trains and throngs of people into Rosslyn once the severity of the event was apparent deserves to be fired at once. I mean shit canned, axed, dispatched. Whatever. Gone! They're incompetent and stupid. Heads should roll.

This decision, I believe, had to have been made by someone in the upper levels of WMATA, perhaps even the general manager. Whomever it was has never been to Rosslyn and has NO IDEA of the bottleneck it is even during a regular rush hour. This is in larger matter to--you guessed it--the escalators almost never work.

That's my second point. There were NO ESCALATORS working at Rosslyn. One stopped while people were on it, giving them all a little extra rush of adrenaline, I'm sure. I saw several older people who looked to be having a really rough time climbing that mega escalator. Thing is, they couldn't stop, there was a FLOOD of people backed up behind them pushing them on against their will.

I'm surprised no one was trampled or collapsed. It took me over a half our to get out of there. UNACCEPTABLE!

Third, Metro workers were nowhere to be seen. Well, I take that back. I saw one at the top of the big escalator barking at the trudging herds of distraught people. Thanks, guy. I'm not in the Army. Believe it or not, I paid to be here!

Fourth, the shuttles were a disaster. There was no apparent coordination and no one there to direct people. I finally gave up and walked to Ballston down the bike path.

Fifth, the communication from Metro was horrible. I saw someone on Twitter praising it. Are you kidding me?

You really got no indication of how terrible the situation really was. Instead, its Twitter feed was full of generic Metro-speak, the subtext of which was "don't blame us" or " just be a little patient and all will be fine." B.S.

Residual? Please. Better word, guys.

In a crazy situation like this, Metro needs to speak in plain English, they need to retweet pictures form the incident and let riders know just how bad things really are so they'll avoid the mess in the first place. Bottom line, they need to admit they're not able to handle this and make sure as many people totally avoid Metro for a time. Utter and complete fail.

Unsuck's Twitter feed was way more useful had I the chance to take a look before I'd committed to Metro for the evening.

Sixth, my fellow riders. Wow. Do you really think pushing, shoving and being rude is going to make anything better? The DC d-bags were in full force proving again that Metro brings out the worst in people.

Today clearly shows that Metro has ZERO idea of how to handle something like this. I shudder to think how it would handle a fire or a bomb. Add panic to that situation, and it's lethal. If that were to happen, we're all dead. I really think that.

And because of that, today was the last fare Metro will collect from me.

Don't forget about this. Don't forget like we did the Red Line crash. Don't forget like we did the L'Enfant escalators. Don't let Metro continue to jeopardize your life.
From Brian:
I wanted to voice my concern with what happened on the Orange Line today.

First, I wanted to say that I've used the Metro for four years and know how the system works. This by no means was my first rodeo.

Apparently, there was a person that fell on the tracks causing the Orange Line to have to shuttle from Rosslyn to Ballston. All trains had to turn around at Rosslyn.

This created one of the most concerning scenes I've ever seen in D.C. and with Metro.

The number of safety issues that resulted from this delay was unacceptable.

The mess began with EVERY escalator in the station not working. This caused people to not be able to move in or out of the station and people to pile up in the station.

The lack of coordination and communication by Metro was appalling.

People were literally being dumped on to the platform, and nobody could move!

There also was no coordination with people that wanted to get ON to the trains to get to the Blue Line. This caused people to be moving in every direction including going in to the crowded platform and causing even more of a delay for people to get out of the station.

There certainly is no emergency evacuation plan and there clearly is no coordination among Metro and local authorities during an emergency.

Out of the hundreds of people that were in the station, I only saw two Metro employees and one police officer. All of them looked overwhelmed by the size and distress of the crowd and really were only capable of telling people where to go.

The most concerning issue out of the whole situation was the lack of preparation for an emergency.

Metro clearly had no communication with the station manager, Metro police or local police.

There was no plan for getting the large crowd out of the station and nobody making sure that the people coming in to the station would hold off so that the people in the station would get out.

As I said earlier, I know how things work at Metro. It does suck. It does do well at times. I can deal with having trains that stop and start abruptly, trains that are consistently late, the track issues, etc. What I can't deal with is a lack of thought towards the safety of the public.

The situation that resulted today was downright unacceptable and put the most serious issues of Metro on display.

There is no hiding from this. There really is no type of oversight. I don't know how it is possible to allow public transportation to run without some type of emergency evacuation plan.

After today, I honestly don't think it has even been considered.

Other items:
Metro looking at zone-based fares (WMATA/PDF)
Can you hack your SmarTrip? (Arstechnica)
Silver Line costs keep piling up (Examiner)
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Site Meter