Friday, June 8, 2012

Headways Out of Hand

Via @lowercasejames: Hey @wmata why are you even open on weekends? ‪#wmata‬

Via R:
I'm a regular Metro rider, and one constant annoyance is the uneven headways on Metro. Why can't Metro maintain "policy headways?"

When I worked for the New York City Transit Authority 25 years ago, we had "gap stations" at which trains would be held until their scheduled departure times. This is important not only to ensure even loading of trains, but also to avoid delays at junctions.

My regular commute involves a trip from the Pentagon to L'Enfant Plaza, where I change to the Green Line and ride two stops to the Navy Yard. The other morning, there must have been some sort of problem, since the platform at the Pentagon was very crowded. A Yellow Line train arrived, and sure enough, some of the crowd couldn't get on.

Behind him in the tunnel, the lights of a Blue Line train were visible. The Yellow Line train departed, the Blue Line arrived and left, and behind him was another Yellow Line train (less than a minute behind). I boarded this train, we headed off for L'Enfant Plaza, and, true to form, were held in the tunnel south of the station for a "Green Line train in the platform."

Now, since the running time from the Pentagon to L'Enfant is known to within a few seconds, why can't the Yellow Line train simply be held briefly so it doesn't arrive at L'Enfant while a Green train is working the platform? This is hardly rocket science.

More to the point, if Metro made more of an attempt to maintain consistent headways across the system, these delays at junctions could be eliminated, train crowding would be reduced, and passengers would have faster trips. (By the way, my trip this morning, involving a bus and two trains, took just over an hour. When I make all the connections, it can take as little as 45 minutes. I should also note that the total distance is 6.5 miles, and takes 15 to 20 minutes by car).

Metro's service quality sucks.

Here's a marker for you. The U.S. government offers a "transit benefit" program -- up to $125 per month to pay for Metro rides, on top of salary.

That's right. We Feds can ride for free.

How many do?

Less than 25 percent of the people in my building even use the transit benefit.
Other items:
Metro may be better at Twitter, but deep down, they just don't care (GGW)
MWAA may get a watchdog (Examiner)
Sarles to Bethesda riders: F you! (Examiner)
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