Thursday, July 22, 2010

The End

Dear Readers:

We are sorry to report that, due to lack of interest, Sir Ride A Lot and the Red Rider have decided to terminate this blog. Our goal in taking the time to write this journal was to provide an unbiased account of two riders' commute in hopes that we could help those who did not ride Metro on a regular basis, as well as the Metro Board and other interested parties, get a first-hand sense of what was really going on underground. We sought to remain as objective as possible, while, at the same time providing a bit of levity to keep things interesting. Regrettably, we have failed.

We understand that others have formed blogs which seek to provide a forum for people to rant about the horrors of Metro, post pictures, post videos, etc., etc. We have no problem with such sites and feel that perhaps they will serve some purpose in passing along the message to the powers that be that the system is fundamentally broken and needs fixing from the ground up. We fear, however, that such posts may not have this effect, but will instead simply create a forum for people to, at best, show their creativity and humor and, at worst, simply mock their fellow riders in a public forum. Such mockery achieves nothing positive and creates no real change in the system.

It was our conscious decision not to go this route and, in so doing, we found once again that the high road is truly the road less traveled. So to those who have read our site and hopefully obtained something of value from it, we are glad we could have been of assistance. We would encourage you to keep up the fight and make the effort to hold the Metro to account for the disgrace it has become. Only through the actions of a committed populace will any change actually occur.

Goodbye to all, I'll see you on the Red Line.

Sir Ride A Lot

Monday, July 19, 2010

Washington Post "Seat Hog" Article

Dear reader(s), it has been far too long since I have posted to this illustrious forum. In that time, service has gotten worse and fares have gotten higher. With the realities of Metro problems staring us all in the face, the Post has decided to give front page attention to the "problem" of seat hogs. This article can be found in its entirety at (

Sir Ride-A-Lot takes issue with this phantom problem and defends the actions of his fellow riders finding that, in general, Metro riders are courteous and accomodating even under very trying circumstances (some aren't...and you know who you are). He therefore has sent the following e-mail to the author of this article. Enjoy and please send me your comments.

Good Morning Ann:

As a co-writer of the blog The Well Red Commuters ( (with the alias Sir-Ride-A-Lot) and a daily Red Line commuter for well over 12 years, I can sadly say without reservation that commuter's behavior on the Metro is one of few things for which I can call myself a bona fide expert. As such, I feel I am well within my expertise to take strong issue with you regarding your "seat hogs" analysis.

In my vast experience, for the amount of overcrowding, breaking-down, surly treatment by Metro officials, fare hikes, faulty equipment, etc., etc., which can be experienced on a daily basis in the Metro System, Metro riders by and large should be commended for taking things in stride. The so-called "seat-hogs" I have seen are very rare and generally come in the following four basic categories: One, the man (almost always a man) who spreads his legs beyond the center line of the seat for no apparent reason; Two, the young person (generally high school, but also drunken college and twenty somethings) who gets on, slouches down, and spreads out like he/she is on his/her couch at home (and generally begins to immediately and frantically text God knows who); Third, a tourist family which is on vacation, having a great time and forgetting that, yes, people do work around here; and fourth the passenger who has a particular fondness for the aisle seat and/or has gotten up to let a rider get out and has failed to shift in.

Now, it has been my experience that any passenger from one of these categories of "seat hogs" can be easily restored to civility with an equally courteous "Excuse me." It's simple, if somebody is taking up more than their allotted seat simply say "Excuse me, could you please shift over" or "Excuse me, may I sit in that seat next to you." I have had to do this I would guess two hundred to three hundred times in my Metro riding career and most passengers are happy to comply with my request. In fact, I can only think of two or three instances off-hand when somebody was anything but courteous.

In light of these anecdotal but thorough observations, I would ask that in the future front page stories in both The Post and The Express categorizing Metro riders in a negative light be based upon actual facts rather than the need to fill a paper on a slow summer news day. While I understand the desire to bash Metro - since in many cases it is well deserved - inaccurate depictions of Metro riders in a prominent paper such as The Post create a false factual record and do a severe disservice to the riders of Metro, as well as the Washington region itself. Somebody reading this article either now or in the future would get the mistaken impression that Metro is packed with rude, selfish, mean-spirited cretins. While your article may make for good reading by those who want an excuse not to take Metro and stay in their cars, I'm pretty sure this in not what the goal of the area's newspaper of record should be.

So, in the future, I would beg you that before you bash Metro riders, please get your facts straight. If you need a source to report on what actually happens on Metro, I remain your humble servant. I would also ask that you check out our blog. If you do you will note that we have not updated it recently because - to be honest - nobody was looking at it and blogging into the abyss is just kind of sad. However, on behalf of myself and my colleague the "Red Rider" we would be happy to ramp things back up if there was an audience out there.

Thanks for your time. Have a great week.

Monday, March 1, 2010

40 minutes -- First workday of increased fare amount

There was an announcement as I was walking in at Shady Grove about two trains having problems, but nothing more was said about it. The train left SG promptly after arriving, and held for 1 minute downline and again for another 30 seconds.

Yesterday Metro instituted its temporary fare increase of $0.10 per ride.

Red Rider believes that when it comes time for the fare to expire, the Metro Board will vote to increase fares permanently.

Red Rider Rating: 8.5

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Senators to Metro: Fix problem or face intervention - Washington Times

Senators to Metro: Fix problem or face intervention - Washington Times

Excerpt from letter:

Five Metrorail employees working on the tracks have been killed in the past year. "Such a pattern cannot be viewed as a string of isolated accidents," says the [Senators'] letter to Metro Chairman Peter Benjamin. "Rather, it is clear that there is an institutional failure on the part of WMATA..."

35 minutes

Bravo to Metro!!! After an absolutely hideous display for so many weeks, this morning everything ran smoothly. The train was relatively clean and uncrowded, there were no delays and all escalators worked. For the first time in a long time I felt I actually got my monies worth.

Sir Ride-A-Lot Rating: 10

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

42 minutes + 1 offload

The parking behind the small garage at Shady Grove is improving. There is still snow covering parking spaces, but the top level of the garage is open which helps ease the congestion.

The train was offloaded at Bethesda this morning due to mechanical problems. There were no indications that there were problems on the train, nor an explanation, just an announcement between stations that the train was out of service at Bethesda.

The down platform escalator at Shady Grove is out, but all three street escalators were working at Dupont (South Side).

Red Rider Rating: 5

Monday, February 22, 2010

9 minutes to wait at Shady Grove

The trip itself from Shady Grove to Dupont Circle made good time. I had just missed a train at SG and waited 9 minutes for the next train to come. It did leave after sitting for just 1 minute.

However, in the first 6 minutes of the commute, 4 trains passed going in the opposite direction. I don't understand why there was a 9-minute gap with subsequent trains so close together.

How long should the interval be between trains during peak/rush hour? Metro website says "Due to the high frequency of service, timetables for peak hours (weekdays 5-9:30 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.) are not available."

The Metro timetable for midday, available online
(, show trains operating every 6 minutes during the mid-day.

This indicates that "high frequency" operations should have trains departing the station at less than 6-minute intervals during the peak/rush hour. In my experience, if things are running smoothly at SG, trains depart about every 6 minutes. I guess I'm a little confused by Metro.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good Metro; Bad Parking, People

The total Metro experience does not get high marks today.

The parking situation is not improved and there are many illegally parked cars throughout the parking lots. As I was leaving in the evening, there were 6 inoperable gates.

The Metro rides themselves were fine, a little slower than usual, but not out of the ordinary -- morning commute took 40 minutes.

The evening ride home was marred by my seat mate, who was sitting in an aisle seat next to an open window seat. I asked him to move, which he did, and despite Red Rider being small, no matter which way I faced -- forward or turned sideways -- dude next to me was determined to keep his elbow stuck in my rib cage! Dude needs to learn some public transportation etiquette.

Red Rider Ratings:
Parking -- 3
Metro rides -- 7
Dude -- 0.2 only because he moved when asked

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still dealing with the snow

Metro gets very poor marks this morning. The small garage and the parking lot behind that garage were absolutely full this morning. I saw a car pulling into the last available spot at 8:25am. Dozens of cars were parked illegally, and plenty had started parking in the reserved spaces that don't officially open until 10am.

Note to Metro: When you pile up the snow and don't open the top level of the garage, people are going to park wherever they are able! Congrats on getting the system running after the snowstorms, now lets work on the parking availability so passengers can use the Metro!

I arrived on the platform at SG and two trains were waiting. I heard one conductor tell another that the train was supposed to leave 8:35 -- it was 8:41, and we didn't leave for another 2 mintues.

Red Rider Rating: Metro ride - 6; Parking at Shady Grove - 0.5

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

After the snow

It's been a while since our last post, because of the two big snowstorms DC got in one week. It wreaked havoc on the city and on Metro. Hopefully things will get back to normal, and if this morning's Metro ride in is any indication, we are well underway.

Total ride in this morning was 40 minutes, with a short wait at Shady Grove and a 2 minute schedule adjustment along the way. All the escalators were working.

Parking at SG was unusually tight, Metro has piled up the snow and there are far fewer spaces available than normal. Metro said about 70% of the parking was available, but I would put it closer to 60%.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wow - 32 minutes!

What a lovely ride in this morning! And I have no doubt it is primarily due to people staying home to avoid getting caught in the impending snowstorm. The escalator at SG was working after having been inoperative for several days, I walked up to the platform, onto the train, and the doors closed. I had a seat to myself and then a good seat neighbor, there was a 1-minute schedule adjustment at Cleveland Park, and the platform escalator was still inoperative at Dupont.

Red Rider Rating: 9.5 (.25 off for schedule adjustment, .25 off for inop escalator)

Thursday, February 4, 2010


For those of us boarding Metro at above-ground stations on Friday morning, Feb. 5, we will have to monitor the snowfall to make sure we can get with the least amount of trouble on Friday afternoon. Metro has stated that they will stop service to above-ground stations once the snowfall reaches 8".

Escalator at DCircle

When I got off the train at Dupont this morning, the platform escalator was disassembled! There is a sign that says it will be put back into service 2/7/10. I will report back to you when it does return to service or if the date is delayed.

When I've seen those "return to service" notifications, the first date is usually pushed back several times -- especially for escalators. But in good news, the three street escalators at the south side of Dupont have been operative all at once for a very long time!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

36 minutes

This morning was a good commute from Shady Grove to Dupont Circle. We held at Friendship Heights and the conductor told us that a train had just left the platform so we would hold for an additional 30 seconds to let that train get further ahead of us.

Both the platform escalators at SG and the south side of DCircle have been inoperable for several days. I saw a woman with a baby stroller this morning walking toward the escalator at DCircle and then suddenly stop when she saw it wasn't moving.

Red Rider Rating: 9

Unfortunately, last night's commute from DCircle to SG gets a much lower rating than this morning's commute. The train held at every outside station (Grosvenor, White Flint, Twinbrook, Rockville, and just before Shady Grove), for about 2-3 minutes per stop. The passengers weren't given any explanation about why, nor did the conductor say how long we would be holding at any station. Total duration was about 50 minutes. Luckily Sir Ride A Lot and Red Rider both brought good books to read!

Combined Sir Ride A Lot and Red Rider Rating: 6.5

Monday, February 1, 2010

1.5 Hours

The Friday night trip from Dupont to SG was a nightmare. Metro seems to believe that it is acceptable to begin repair work in the early evening (8:00) on Friday and Saturday thereby adding an hour onto the trip of any commuter who stays over on Friday night for happy hour. This leaves your humble author to ponder the question "Does Metro really care one way or another whether their 'customers' get to their location in a timely manner?"

Two other items struck me on this arduous ride home (i) why do the time boards in the Metro stations keep going blank and then changing the times...I thought they had computer monitors showing exactly where trains are in the system and (ii) when the first train in nearly 45 minutes arrives at SG, why should there be a delay of ten minutes getting onto the SG platform? There have been no trains entering SG for 45 minutes...what can be causing the delay unless Metro believes it's acceptable to store trains on the platform rather an putting them in the train yard. It really makes you scratch your head and wonder whether anybody is manning the ship. Overall, an extremely poor performance by Metro.

Sir Ride-A-Lot Rating: .6

Friday, January 29, 2010

48 minutes

The morning commute was longer than usual today, but there were two trains at SG to get on, so I knew I wouldn't have to wait long. Have you noticed more and more of the SmarTrip card readers aren't working at the turnstiles? There was a wait to get through at SG because a bus had just let off people. Maybe that is why Metro is removing the stickers.

Now the funny part of the commute:

At Rockville or Twinbrook, I heard a conversation between two people facing each other and across the aisle. If I hadn't heard the substance of the conversation, I would have thought they were flirting, because they did act like they knew each other, but it was quite the opposite! He must have apolgized to her for something, and she said "No, I called you d*ck, did you hear me?? You bumped into me with your bag and I poked myself." (She was apparently putting on eye makeup.) His very polite response was "Oh, sorry, I didn't know." She was clearly irritated as she turned on her music and closed her eyes for the rest of the commute, and then...

He moved over to sit next to her! Then he started poking her to tell her something! She tried to understand him twice and then she took out one of her earphones to give him a why-are-you-trying-to-talk-to-me "huh?"

I wanted to continue watching this, but it quickly became too crowded to see what was going on, and the next time I could see those seats they had already left. Well, good luck to them both, and I hope they had a nice day!

Red Rider Rating: 9.5 based on the entertainment value

43 Minutes

Cold morning commute. The train did not come at SG for 7 minutes and filled up completely with standing room at SG (found last seat on train). Conductor was friendly with a few pleasant remarks thrown in for good measure which made my fellow travelers smile without seeming to annoy anyone. This was definitely a welcome break from the standard conductor. The train became packed by White Flint with considerable crowding occurring because a train had clearly not come for some time. By Bethesda, the platform was at least three deep with people rushing to get to work. The friendly conductor began to get a bit more impatient, but overall kept his composer (as did the riders). When we arrived at DCircle, commuters crowded the doors and the train had to be off-loaded. Understandably, there were some very angry passengers. The lower escalator at DCirle remained inoperative which caused major problems moving the crush of people getting off. All South Exit escalators were operational.

Sir Ride-A-Lot Rating: 5.2 (would have been far lower if I had to travel beyond DCircle after the off-loaded train).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We knew it was coming

A temporary fare hike of 10 cents for Metrorail.

Metro - About Metro - News - Metro Board approves 10-cent fare increase to close FY2010 budget gap

Red Rider Rating: 3

37 minutes on an 8-car train

Good morning - and it was a good one! I caught an 8-car train out of SG this morning, which is quite luxurious these days when 6-car trains seem to be the norm. There was not a long wait at SG and there was minimal holding throughout the trip to Dupont Circle. The only difficulty was the PA system, which seared into your ear every time it was turned on -- ouch! To the conductor's credit, she kept her announcements short.

Red Rider Rating: 8.5

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

28 sporks later...

No, it was just one spork, albeit a used one, among the Express newspapers strewn on the floor of the Metro car. It was however a 28-minute ride from Tenleytown to Shady Grove this evening, which is a long time for that amount of distance. Otherwise it was a pleasant ride and a good conductor.

Red Rider Rating: 7 (would be higher if it had been a clean car)

I am also happy to see that the blockade was removed after a week from the alternate exit in the lot behind the small garage at Shady Grove. They've been working on those gates for a while, hopefully they will no longer get stuck in the up position!

35 Minutes

Good morning fellow Red Line Riders:

Welcome to the newest and friendliest Red Line blog in the entire DC Metro area! The goal of your host - Sir Ride-A-Lot - and hostess - The Red Rider - is to pass along each of our experiences during our daily commutes by keeping a running tally of exactly what happened that morning (or evening) on the Red Line. Our promise to you, our fellow travelers, is to never be negative, never get petty, and only report the facts. We are your humble servants. Feel free to comment, add your thoughts, and tell us what you feel, but please keep all comments factually accurate...and please no rants.

Every day each of our posts will place the time taken for the morning commute (from gate at Shady Grove to gate at Dupont Circle) at the top and close with a trip rating. Once we have been blogging for some time, it will be helpful to compare times and ratings and see how the commutes stack up morning after morning, day after day. So, without further introduction, here goes my maiden post. Enjoy and happy travels.

Arrived at SG at 7:15. Platform was unusually crowded. Clearly, no train had come for several minutes. One train came which was out of service forcing riders waiting on the East platform to cross over to the West platform causing significant confusion. When the train did arrive it was fully loaded with standing room only before it left SG. Riders, however, were pleasant and uncomplaining. The train proceeded with no delays. Only problem en route was the lack of PA system which, along with crowded conditions, prevented passengers from determining the station stop. At DCircle platform level escalator was still inoperative. However, all escalators on South Exit fully operational.

Sir Ride-A-Lot Rating: 7.5