Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Sickness and suicide are two ways an individual can halt Metro

November 9, 2011 - 09:52 AM
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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from making outright threats, there's not many ways a single individual can trip up the entire WMATA system. In the last few months I've studied the system, I have noticed the two leading causes seem to be "sick customer" and these incidents, like at Clarendon and at Bethesda, when a person somehow finds themselves on the rail tracks. More often than not, our WMATA woes seem to come from mechanical dysfunction or planned track work but not always — sometimes one rider is enough to unbalance the delicate schedules.

This morning it was the Blue and Orange Metro lines that were delayed thanks to a "sick customer" at Stadium Armory. The phrase, of course, as WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel has explained in the past, can mean several different things, from seizures to vomiting to a person passing out to heart problems. A case of rider "sickness," however the person's problems manifest, is far more common than a commuter on the tracks, which tends not to happen much more than a dozen times a year.

Again we have the burden of a communal transit system. As members of so-called "society," we have to help others in need, and these occasions call for stopping trains to get medical personnel and security in there. I rode to work this morning easily enough but kept hearing the voice of Metro announcer Alice Riley referring to the situation and wondering at the delays elsewhere and how people were reacting. I saw the signs flash in the Metro: "Delays in both directions." WMATA only announced that normal service had resumed on the Blue and Orange lines 20 minutes after nine this morning, officially making this another case of the Rush Hour Metro Blues. As we saw from the ridership outcry this morning on Twitter, many were not happy:

I know I should have sympathy for sick #wmata customer but it is so hard :( so much for being on time at work.
Nov 09 via Twitter for AndroidFavoriteRetweetReply

A customer gets sick at Stadium Armory and I get to sit at Rosslyn for 20 minutes (and counting) #themetroeffect#wmata#letsgoooo
Nov 09 via Twitter for iPhoneFavoriteRetweetReply

Sick passenger at Stadium Armory clearly means “stop all trains and slowly begin single tracking.” Thanks for another great commute #wmata
Nov 09 via Twitter for BlackBerry®FavoriteRetweetReply

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