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