Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Union Station 'arcing stud' track fire finishes off Metro's rough week

October 14, 2011 - 11:02 AM
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(Photo: flickr/typebalance)

WMATA has not had the easiest week, for those following along. There was the suicide attempt at Clarendon on Tuesday, the switch problem Wednesday, and now this morning, Red Line riders dealt with serious delays after a track fire erupted at Union Station thanks to what WMATA is reporting to be an "arcing stud" issue. Oh, and at the Suitland Metro station (where a rapist lurked recently), there's been a lot of robberies at the garage that the Metro Transit Police are worried about.

Fitting, I guess, given the ominous rain and other signs of the past couple days. My lunch receipt literally rang up as $6.66 on Tuesday — I should have known then.

1 hour to get from Bethesda to Metro Center on the Red Line due to delays at Union Station. Worst Metro Week Ever! #wmata
Oct 14 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

It's a shame, in a way. I feel like Metro's system is always malfunctioning right as the transit agency tries to get out a bunch of good news, such as this week with the Metro map, the Blue and Yellow line realignment that'll happen next year to improve service, and other tidbits from yesterday's board meeting.

But people don't remember stuff planned for months in the future. They remember the misery of their own morning commute. It's the same problem with the escalators — until all these repairs do happen, all people see is the sign that says "broken." They see the fact that they can't stop at Union Station due to smoke and fire and have to take a shuttle bus. And amid these problems, WMATA often does jump into action and work to resolve them relatively quickly ... but commuter frustration often fails to take any of those correct moves into account. I can't imagine what it must be like to navigate that set of emotional land mines from the other end, from inside WMATA.

If you're curious to read more about the arcing that happens around Metro's electrified (to around 750 volts) third rails, read this recent post I wrote about the sudden flashes of light that can accompany Metro-train arcing. But don't worry — at the time, WMATA told me that the arcing poses no safety hazards to customers. As of about 10:30 a.m. this morning, WMATA reports that residual Red Line delays are still happening but Union Station is open and the earlier arcing issue is "resolved." Union Station suffered similar delays and concern in late September as well, again due to smoke and sparks from arcing.

Try to go to work again ... via buses. Ugh. Thanks #wmata.
Oct 14 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

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