Metro Grade: WMATA needs a time-out
Each week, we evaluate Metrorail service and, with the help of some of our friends, present a report card. WMATA, we’d like your parent's signature on this one.
Metro will be adding cars and cutting back scheduled track maintenance to prepare for the flood of tourists coming to see the cherry blossoms in the coming week, but with this week’s grades, tourists might not be the only reason to avoid riding Metro.
There were almost more people on the tracks than trains this week. Metro reported an “unauthorized person on the tracks” at Deanwood on the Orange Line on Saturday, and another was struck by a train at the Rhode Island stop on the Red Line Wednesday. Metro says that reports found the woman on the tracks was trying to commit suicide. She was taken to the hospital and trains were delayed for the investigation. Though Metro communicated the delays immediately and clearly knew how to deal with the incident, it leaves you wondering — why is it so easy for people to get on the tracks?
Monday morning was one of the worst in terms of delays, when a power cable needed to be replaced at Federal Triangle, as our own Erik Wemple reported. Delays occurred during the height of rush hour, with Metro’s communication to riders lacking concrete details about why they were waiting on platforms and how long repairs would take. This combined with Wednesday’s problems at 7 Metrorail stations, including L’Enfant Plaza, where passengers were offloaded trains and told to wait for shuttles, most of which never arrived. After waiting in the cold, passengers were told to head back into the station, as trains were operational again. Most passengers reported that Metro employees were unhelpful in steering people to shuttle waiting areas, or informing them of what the problem was.
Now, we understand that dealing with a herd of suits at 8 am isn’t exactly ideal, but it leaves us at the Grade wondering — are Metro employees incompetent, apathetic, or just victims of WMATA’s communication problems?
Another delay was caused at Navy Yard on Wednesday, when the New Jersey Avenue station entrance was shut down after someone reported a suspicious package in a trash can. It turns out that the item was not a threat, but Metro is a really bad place throw out your garbage.
Everyone had something to say about Metro this week. Even the least Metro-accessible university in the D.C. area, Georgetown University, reported that the American Civil Liberties Union is planning on suing Metro over random bag searches. Really, Metro? As if you weren’t in enough trouble already.
Grades: Metro is holding a hearing on upcoming projects in an attempt to increase funding, but with grades like these it isn’t likely to get what it wants.
WMATA officials once again show they really don’t care how much they piss you off. 45 out of 86 stations had at least one escalator out of service as of Thursday morning, but that was not even close to the worst escalator day this week for Metro. On Monday all entrance escalators were out at the Wheaton station, forcing commuters to either take the elevator (which we all know is not the most efficient form of transportation), climb the stairs or shuttle to another station (which can be even worse).
Sorry Metro, even if someone walks out in front of you when you are taking your driving test, if you hit them, you still fail. Between sick passengers, attempted suicides, standing water and unauthorized people on the tracks, Metro did not excel in safety this week.
Metro is about as reliable as your druggie ex-boyfriend. There was a reason you broke up. Though there were fewer overall disruptions this week as compared to last week, people on the tracks and entire stations with no entrance escalators are kind of a big deal. With delays on every line that caused some significant delays, commuting on Metro was a great way to be late this week.
Here’s how the scenario went Wednesday morning, during rush hour: Trains shut down, off-loaded. Riders told to take a shuttle. They take their lives into their own hands heading up escalators, and wait for a really long time. Still no shuttle. Okay, trains are working again, back down into the rabbit hole. Metro, it doesn’t matter if you communicate your early openings and scheduled station closings, if you can’t communicate when things aren’t scheduled.
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