Friday, November 08, 2013

A Commute From Hell — A Metro Epic Fail

I'm one of the first people to point out when Metro does what it is supposed to do. When things work. The prime example is the efficiency of getting people home after Nationals' games.

However, when Metro fails, it is usually on an epic scale and yesterday certainly was that.

I could tell something was wrong even before I passed the fare gates. The platform at Rhode Island Avenue was full of people. Never a good sign. When I got on to the platform sure enough there were delays in both directions.

A friend texted me saying that there was a track problem by Union Station. The suggestion was to take the Green Line to Gallery Place. In order for me to do this I would have to go to the Fort Totten station and then transfer to the Green Line. The problem was there were no trains running in either direction. It was like this for about ten minutes until, finally, a train pulled in going in the direction of Glenmont.

This train would get me up to the Green Line. I decided to take it. It seemed, at first, like a good idea. When I got to the Brookland stop, there was a train going into the city. It was sitting on the platform with its doors open filling up with people. This made me feel good about my decision.

Got to Fort Totten. Got to the platform for the Green Line trains. I just missed a train but still was feeling good about this. In a few minutes another train came along. I was in without much problem and actually got a seat. So far so good.

That's when my luck rain out.

The platforms at Gallery Place were completely filled with people. I don't think I've ever seen so many people on the platforms at that stop. And I'm talking about both platforms. It was just crazy.

I made my way down and decided to head toward the front of the platform thinking there would be fewer people there. Fewer being a relative term here. I finally made it to the front and hoped for the best.

As I said there was a track problem at Union Station. I checked the Washington Post using there ap on my phone to see if they had any information on what was going on. They did. A story said delays continued. That people should expect a 12-15 minute delay. Well I'd waited for 15 minutes at Rhode Island Avenue for a train. I started to get a little annoyed at this point.

As we all waited for a train, the platform continued to fill and fill and fill. Finally a train arrived. It was of course full of people. Hardly anyone was able to get on to it. There was an announcement from the train driver that there was a train directly behind this one and not to overcrowd the train.

Turns out there was no train directly behind him. The next train was about five minutes away. It too was completely filled. There was one more behind it but few people could get on it. Our side of the tracks had had its quota of trains and now trains were running in the other direction.

The platform continued to fill with people. I finally decided this was nuts. I was going to exit this station and walk to Farrragut North. In generally the number of people on a train goes down dramatically at that station.

First thing I had to do was get out of Gallery Place. That proved to be more difficult than I thought. I headed for the escalator. At one point I was stopped. People could not move in either direction. One person decided to push their way through and almost knocked someone on to the tracks.

Finally people started moving. I was able to get out of Gallery Place. No problems getting to Farrragut North. I missed the first train but was able to get on the second. By the time it reached DuPont Circle, I was able to sit down.

I left my house at 7:40 I got to my office at 9:20. It should have taken me about 45 minutes.

Once again there were few if any announcements. These came mostly from the train operators. Nothing over the loud speakers in the stations. Well I take that back there could have been an announcement at Gallery Place but the speaker that was right above my head wasn't working.

I realize things like this can happen. They happen way too often as far as I'm concerned. But once again Metro seemed incapable of telling people what the hell was going on.

Hopefully today will be a little bit better.

The platform at Gallery Place

Here you can see both platforms and see just how crowded the train is.

The platform on the left was the one I was on. You can understand why I left the station.

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