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Suburban commuters were furious this week as Metro’s Red Line, one of the main ways Marylanders travel into DC for work, suffered morning rush hour delays on two separate occasions. Both of these delays were caused by problems on the Shady Grove arm of the Red Line, meaning commuters coming from Glenmont who switched trains or commuted early were largely spared the problems on the other end of the line.
On Sept. 30, a cracked rail near Dupont Circle caused the Red Line to single track from Van Ness-UDC to Dupont Circle. This, in turn, led to crammed trains, trains bypassing stations altogether, and overall large delays for a large number of commuters coming from suburban Montgomery County into DC. The delay was made worse by timing— the rail cracked in the morning, as morning rush hour into the city began to pick up. The higher volume and technical difficulties made what was already a frustrating situation absolutely infuriating.
People took to Twitter to voice their problems. The most popular anti-WMATA account is @unsuckdcmetro , and other people resorted to using hashtags or even tweeting at Metro’s official twitter. Many of these tweets on Tuesday had pictures- I’ve collected a few below to show you.
Twitter outrage was so voluminous that unsuckdcmetro actually trended nationally on the morning of Sept. 30. The failures were particularly galling to commuters considering the timing and considering that the Red Line has been, for much of the past months, been undergoing extensive renovations that slow down weekend service considerably. Furthermore, even in cases of delays, Metro does not often offer refunds, meaning late commuters still have to pay for their long, frustrating slog whether or not the service was up to standard.
The backlash also prompted WMATA to set up a survey to try and ascertain the opinion of their consumers, and to ask how to improve service. The survey is now deactivated, but screen captures were posted to Twitter, often prompting mocking answers by still-bitter consumers.
Today, the Red Line suffered another rush hour catastrophe on the same side of the line as yesterday’s cracked rail. This time, a disabled train outside of Van Ness-UDC caused single tracking between Friendship Heights and that station. There were also problems with a disabled train near Takoma, and the ever-constant scourge of dysfunctional escalators Once again, the vital lifeline between the Maryland suburbs and busy areas like K Street and Dupont Circle was blocked. And once again, people got very vocal and fairly angry. Here are some of today’s tweets highlighting this morning’s rush hour delays:
There is not yet word as to whether or not Metro will release another survey to deal with today’s delays.
As a consumer of Metro, and furthermore as a Maryland resident who uses the Red Line daily for work, I obviously sympathize with the disgust of these commuters. WMATA, which has a convenient monopoly on public transportation into the city, is constantly beset by more repairs, more delays and worst of all higher prices. These delays come at crucial times during the day, and come after recent price hikes to help pay for repairs and the Silver Line. Even the resumption of automatic train operation won’t be able to fix the fact that the Metro has a habit of failing its customers time and time again.
I got lucky this week, because I ride the Glenmont side of the Red Line to Ft. Totten, where I then bypassed the Red Line altogether by hopping on the Yellow Line. Others, many of whom work in the center of the city and have to get off at Farragut North, Dupont Circle, Metro Center or Gallery Place, do not have such a luxury, particularly because repercussions of delays elsewhere on the line often cause backups as far as Northeast DC (the stops located after Ft. Totten, like NoMa-Gallaudet and Rhode Island Ave).
These constant delays and repairs raise a number of challenging questions to WMATA. For one, Muriel Bowser, mayoral frontrunner and Democratic candidate, had served time on the Metro board. DC has also raised the idea of the Olympics, which would disrupt an already-shaky commute and which would clog our transportation to the breaking point.
To commuters like me, and thousands more, Metro’s higher prices and inconsistent service provide just as much frustration as the Beltway does to those of drive. The heart of the country’s government should not have to be clogged with the bad cholesterol of technical issues and incompetence.
Featured image is from Shutterstock
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