Friday, February 12, 2010

Snowmageddon IX: The First Commute

UPDATE: Report of Red Line Derailment. no 3 minor injuries reported.

Excellent coverage here (WaPo)

There were a few positive reviews of Metro's performance today, but for the most part, the impressions were decidedly negative. For those readers not on Twitter, here's a sampling. This list could have taken up page after page.

How was your commute this morning?

@Silvio_Marcacci getting on a metro train this morning is like getting on a helicopter during the fall of saigon #wmata #fail
@mccanner 10 minutes from union Station to metro center. Had a seat. Metro center is fine. #wmata
@samerfarha RT @volcanojw: Can't even get *on* the platform at Pentagon City #wmata
@wendilott 1 hour from union station to federal triangle #WMATA
@pbaxter #wmata trip was surprising pleasant this morning. Go Metro!
@dan_munz Reporting live from Metro Center: If you can stay off #WMATA, do. It's a fustercluck.
@timothyoconnell #WMATA reports of Red Line Metro service, it seems, have been _greatly_ exaggerated.
@jakemcintyre Metro may be useless today, but buses seem reasonable, at least for an NW-Downtown trip. #wmata
@alykat Ballston platform so full they've closed the gates, only letting ppl in after train comes. 'Next train' board is useless. #wmata
@RusynHokie Federal government open + 20 minuter interval on metro = wmata epic failure.
@trying_brevity All told, about two hour for the commute (ride on + metro). I guess that's not too bad. #wmata #rideon
@dan_munz 25% of feds at work. 10% working from home. Remaining 65% trapped together in same #WMATA car b/w Farragut West & Foggy Bottom.
@welovedc: Reading reports from Metro riders & wondering if Director of OPM is proud of himself for opening govt before WMATA was ready.
@TallPaulDC Eastern Market Metro platforms packed similar to a Nats game finishing. Waited for 4 trains and gave up.
@markalves Can't even get into Ballston station on Orange Line. Crowd is packed to bottom of outside escalator
West Hyattsville parkjing lot is only 30% plowed!! #wmata

Via email:

From MP:
Ride in this morning was relatively smooth, arrived at East Falls Church with 10 minutes before the next train, platform was packed. Trains were single tracking from EFC to Court House because they were storing trains on the opposite track between Virginia Square and Clarendon.

Took about an hour, 15 minutes longer than normal. I give Metro an A- for the effort.

From Steven:
Arrived at Potomac Ave. station at 7:45 - no trains til 8:25--and then one car was shut off, and a Metro staffer was sleeping on a seat - there were chemicals in that car- the platform is packed and so are the trains!!!

Another train arrived packed to the gills at 8:35.

The train arrival board has been off--when I arrived at 7:45, it said next train 15 minutes: No train arrived til 8:25. Trains are sitting here for at least 5 minutes. And trains keep changing arrival times or disappearing completely.

The next train was due to be in the station in 4 minutes. That was 10 minutes ago, and the train from 8:35 is still sitting here.


Anonymous said...

Took me about 2.5 hours to get to Gallery Place from Annandale this morning - took a bus to Ballston that left about 6:50 AM or so...after the bus finally got through traffic to the station, waited about 8 minutes for a train (wasn't anywhere near as crowded) which then proceeded to go to East Falls Church, pick up more people, then turn around and head to DC.

Finally got here about 20 after 9, on a normal day i'm here before 8.

michelle said...

I don't think OPM declaring the Fed open is the problem . WMATA should have been ready to run Full Rush Hour service this AM... there is no excuse not to . They had ALL day yesterday to get the above ground stations open. I really do not understand what the problem is....

AMLC said...

Definitely tried to take the metro this morning at U Street. The platform was packed and still had 5 minutes to wait. When the train finally arrived it was packed to the gills and everyone on the platform (including me) couldn't get on! I sucked up the $1.65 loss and hopped on the bus. I got to work earlier than anticipated because the bus was traveling at normal speed despite the crappy DC roads and a pretty well-populated bus. Go Metrobus! Boo Metro trains ...

Anonymous said...

RI Ave metro station was a F*cken mess. Took me over an hour and half to go from RI ave metro to Union station.

Anonymous said...

Green okay from College Park to L'Enfant. But L'Enfant was so messed up I decided to walk to Foggy Bottom instead.

BeyondDC said...

Farragut to Courthouse (a reverse direction commute) was full, but otherwise fine. Same speed as a typical day. It was no big deal.

Anonymous said...

Went from Springfield to L'Enfant at 7am without any problems and the platforms at each station were practically empty. I guess all the other federal employees took the two-hour delay and slammed Metro stations then.

Anonymous said...

Went to Eastern Market. About 200 people already there. Waited 15-20 minutes for a train that was insanely packed. (The board said 5 minutes ... right) Waited another 10 minutes before giving up and walking. GAH!

Stacy said...

Green line was packed when I got on at Waterfront, but I only had to wait 3 minutes (10-minute headways), the next train sign was accurate, the platform wasn't too full (though busier than normal) and things emptied out by L'Enfant. Can't complain.

Anonymous said...

Arrived at the Huntington Station on the Yellow Line at 6:00 a.m. to find out it was closed. Metro personnel said there was damage on the tracks at the King Street station. When I asked if there was a bus that ran to the King Street station, they said yes, but you have to walk all the way over to the other parking garage on the lower level. After walking 25 minutes through piles of snow, I arrived at the bus stop. After waiting 20 minutes a bus arrived and everyone packed on to the bus. I was shoved in to a seat next to a rather large person. There was no other choice but to lay on my side for the 45 minute ride. The bus did not stop at the King Street station. I ended up taking the bus to the Pentagon when I was able to get on the Metro there.

Anonymous said...

At Van Ness this morning around 8:30 an out of service train pulled up and then after a few minutes opened up and let everyone to Glenmont. What about the people above Van Ness? I was very surprised, I went to Union Station and the line to Medical Center was decidedly fuller than the train to Glenmont. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I read wmata yesterday and it said service was being restored as snow clearing efforts were paying off. Riding in today on the blue past Arlington it was clear that nothing had been done to the tracks - the electric rail was covered in untouched snow.

Snow clearing efforts - is apparently a euphemism for a sunny day over 32 degrees

Anonymous said...

Aaaaand, we have a train derailment at Farragut North. Can't wait to see what happens during the evening rush hour. I'm leaving early.

Anonymous said...

If it was were you moving?

Anonymous said...

I agree that it's pretty wild that WMATA wasn't able to take advantage of the (relative) warmth and sun yesterday to get back to full strength, but I think lack of full service should have been taken into account by OPM. One Friday is practically useless. If they had cancelled on more day, then WMATA, DDOT, surrounding cities/counties would have had 3 (remember long weekend) more days to get roads and rails completely clear. Instead we have a huge cluster complete with derailment. Thanks OPM for caving to political pressure.

Anonymous said...

I'm willing to bet that the results of the craziness today are much more than $100 million in lost productivity. Which is already a hugely inflated number for the cost of closing the Fed for a day.

Anonymous said...

The platform at Gallery place going toward Dupont Circle is going to be the scene of an accident.
This morning it was so crowded I have no words to describe it. I let two SIX CAR trains go by because they were so crowded. When the 3rd train came I was shoved into the train by the momentum of the crowd behind me. People were six or seven deep on the platform and some people were really asking for trouble by walking along the very edge of the platform where the lights are.

Dave said...

Eastern Market to Courthouse - total almost two hours including waiting through 1 train too packed to board, single-tracking through L'Enfant and Smithsonian, and "15-minute" headways actually being 45 minutes between trains. And that's just the morning commute with the delayed Fed opening... just wait til the afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Ballston -- been here 5 years and for the first time, the platform was so crowded they weren't even letting people into the station. Maybe 20-30 people outside waiting. Tried to grab the 38B bus. Long line, missed the first. Got the next and a seat but it took 2 hours to get to Farragut Square. Oh, wait. We couldn't even reach the Square because by then the red line train had derailed. My worst commute ever by far. It was obviously too early to let the federal workers back onto the system.

Froggie said...

Anonymous at 11:28 was probably on the 9A Metrobus.

I found it odd that yesterday, Metro was reporting that the Yellow Line would be open, but today it isn't. Also weird that if there is indeed damage at King St, why are Blue Line trains supposedly running (this according to WMATA's website) but not Yellow Line trains?

Anonymous said...

Ya know folks. I've ridden the subway daily since 1977. I am, and remain, one of the strongest critics of the Metro muckups over the years. And I have no hesitation at having some fun at their expense, word-wise. Weather wise, OPM screwed us all. There was no way Metro could be ready for a "delayed arrival" crush.

However, I am very interested in hearing Metro's excuse for yet another derailment. How, specifically, did that train go off the tracks and why?

I don't think anyone could have done much better this time around. Our region has never dealt with a blizzard(s) of such proportions.

My heart goes out to those shoveling snow and plowing it all out for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Ballston station at 8:30 this morning. There are no words. Arrived to find an over-crowded platform. Girl next to me said she had been waiting for 20 minutes. 5 minutes go by. An orange line train passes and stops at the platform. People gather around eagerly. After 30 seconds the conductor comes our to inform everyone that the train isn't carrying any passengers. Great.

Wait another 15. A second train stops. This one is crowded. The platform, now STUFFED with people, surges forward. I get pinned inside, unable to even get a hold of a rail. Things get even worse from there until Foggy Bottom. Even more and more people trying to force themselves on when there clearly isn't room -- risking people's safety and breaking the doors, possibly sending the train our of service.

Finally made it to Metro Center where the Red line to Glenmont seemed to be running with a modicum of normalcy.

Oh, and to echo the earlier comments -- on the ride on 66 to Ballston this morning -- saw no one clearing the tracks.

Anonymous said...

Loved the customer service at Ballston this morning. Especially the metro employee yelling at us to leave and walk if we didn't like the way they handled everything. F'in tool...

Anonymous said...

I heard on the radio that metro had very limited service, with 15 or 20 minutes between trains.
So, fearing that this would be disaster, I didn't even try to get into the station and just took the 38B bus from Ballston into DC, instead of the Orange Line. From the comments above, it looks like I made the right call. I left extra early (around 7:30) and had no trouble boarding and getting a seat, even though I got in several stops after the beginning of the line. This was probably because it was so early - it sounds like the buses got more crowded later in the morning. I had to change buses when I got into DC to get to work, but even so the entire trip was only about 1 hour door-to-door. Not that bad, all things considered.
I think they made the wrong call on opening the government today. No idea whether this was due to Metro giving OPM inaccurate information about how ready there were, or OPM bowing to pressure to reopen and ignoring Metro's operating status.

Joshua said...

Because West Falls Church was closed I had to get a ride. Upon leaving I had to wait about two hours for the 5A to show up as all the ones headed towards L'Enfant Plaza kept disappearing into an abyss (perhaps for the Farragut North derailment bus bridge?). Eventually some passengers anxious to get to Dulles Airport got an out of service bus to head towards Dulles Airport. Props to the bus driver for calling up central and getting permission to do this. Total return commute time, 3 1/2 hours.

Amanda said...

Good afternoon:

I wanted to share what is, hands down, the most horrific commuting experience I have ever had -- and that's saying a lot for WMATA.

I live in Clarendon, where it's hard to catch an Orange line train on a normal day, as it's one of the last stations before passengers begin to unload at Rosslyn.

I got to Clarendon station around 8:10 this morning. Only the platform on the Vienna side was open, so all passengers had to wait on one platform. I noticed 2 trains arriving from either direction. Both trains sat in the tunnels without moving for about 15 minutes. Finally one train goes by. The next train stops, going in the direction of New Carrollton. It's so packed I didn't even attempt to get on. Wait 25 minutes for another train to come by. In the meantime a train heading to Ballston stops. I also see more than one 'no passenger' train stop on the empty platform that we didn't have access to. I'm wondering why there are empty trains passing through my station when 200 people are attempting to board trains that take take maybe 10 people per car?

2nd train comes by - also too crowded. I wait another 25 minutes. 3rd train comes by, still too crowded. By now it's almost 10am - so I'd been there for over an hour and a half. There are still over 100 people waiting to catch a train, so I gave up. I called my office and said I was leaving the station and would try to catch a train when it was less crowded. I went back to the station about an hour later and both platforms were open. Luckily didn't have to wait long to catch an Orange Line train. It was still fairly crowded, especially at Court House. However, I got to Metro Center by 11:15 and thought I was finally good to go.

Oh, no - that was just one part of the journey.

I'd been getting e-alerts on my phone from the WMATA website about delays on the Red line because of the derailment at Farragut North. Right when I get up to the platform to Shady Grove, a train is coming. I get on the train. We sat there on the train for 15 minutes, then finally they announce over the loudspeaker that the train is out of service. We offload. I see on the board that the Farragut North station is closed and that a shuttle had been requested from Galley Place to Dupont Circle. However, there are no employees anywhere to be found to direct people. I had no idea when the shuttle would be operating or where I was even supposed to catch a shuttle, so I cut my losses and decided to walk. That's a good 30 minute walk on a nice day. With the snow and slush everywhere, it took me 45 minutes. By the time I had walked to Dupont Circle, they had cleared the situation at Farragut North (just my luck). I did end up getting on a Red line train from Dupont Circle without any further problems, and I got to work in Bethesda at 1pm.

All in all, it took me 5 hours to get to work today. Part of that is my choice to leave the Clarendon station for an hour - and if I had waited at Metro Center, I might have been able to catch the next train once they reopened Farragut North - but I still blame most of it on WMATA.

Anonymous said...

I was tempted to go downtown today, but after reading these comments and reading about the accident, I'm glad I decided not to go after all.

Anonymous said...

2 hours from Crystal City to Virginia Square. I blame the morons at OPM more then metro. The head of OPM should lose his/her head.

Anonymous said...

I left for work early this morning, anticipating that the federal government's operating status would mean that Metro would be crowded, especially with 24-30 minute dispatch intervals, as widely reported. My normal 20-30 minute commute (door-to-door) took over an hour.

I arrived at Ballston at about 8:05 to find a large crowd on the mezzanine working its way through the fare gates. Simultaneously, a large crowd of people who had just stepped off the train were trying to exit the station. Needless to say, no Metro employees were present outside the fare gates to direct anyone.

We waited 10-15 minutes on the mezzanine (presumably to allow the crowd on the platform to get onto a train). I saw 8 Metro employees in various groups on the mezzanine, laughing and talking, though no one explained what was going on to anyone in the crowd. Apparently they were single-tracking through Ballston.

Finally, we were allowed onto the platform. We then waited about 40 minutes for a train to arrive. The fun part was when one train stopped by heading west - completely lit up, with its signs claiming that it was headed for Federal Center SW - but the conductor quickly told us that the train was out of service. It was a complete tease. Is there a term for transit blue balls?

Eventually, a train came by headed for New Carrollton and we were able to board. I finally arrived at my office near Metro Center at nearly 9:15. I still beat my boss into the office, but I'd planned on being in 45 minutes earlier. Guess it was serendipitous that I left early...

Orange Line Resident

Unsuck DC Metro said...

Sheesh! had "snowmageddon" spelled wrong up there the whole day. (>_<)

Anonymous said...

Metro made their announcement early evening stating that certain line were running full service and expect a wait time of 20-25 mins. Why are folks acting surprised about the wait time, the crowds and overall shittiness of Metro?

Let's not blame OPM. They had to open Federal offices today.

Tuscan Red said...

I think Metro must have the company at this link as preferred supplier: I hear they also do snow removal, which apparently is among the skills Metro can't figure out. ;)

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