Green Line service restored after massive delays, crowding

January 30, 2013

Green Line service was snarled for hours on Wednesday evening, with service suspended between multiple stations during the evening commute and hundreds of riders trapped underground or severely delayed.

The delays began shortly after 5 p.m. as Green Line trains began single-tracking between the Navy Yard and Southern Avenue stations due to a third-rail problem near Anacostia. The problem was an “arcing insulator,” which was a smoking part of the third rail.

Green Line service between those two stations was halted just after 6 p.m. as a result of the track problem and a woman who was reported to have had a seizure aboard a train at Navy Yard.

Buses were sent to ferry riders through the closed stretch, but crowding quickly became a major problem as people looked for guidance with little information coming from Metro about which buses to take or when they would arrive.

Multiple trains were also stuck underground when service was halted.

Riders reported being stuck underground for hours on trains that were crowded, hot and dark.

“No safety procedures were given,” said Farrah Garcia, 35, who was heading to Southern Avenue and spent hours trapped on a train. “People start panicking when they don’t hear anything for two to three hours. Metro can do better.”

Queen Collins, who was on the same car, said she had to help a woman who had an asthma attack on her train. She also said there was a pregnant woman on the train. Despite that, there was no medical aid offered to riders.

“They didn’t offer us anything, any water to drink,” said Collins, 49. “The driver said that central wouldn’t even say a word to him.”

Some passengers aboard at least one of these trains chose to climb out into the tunnel without any direction from Metro, according Dan Stessel, the transit agency’s spokesman.

It’s unclear how many riders did this. Riders aboard a train that let passengers off at the Anacostia station at around 7 p.m. said that passengers pried open doors and tried to walk back to Navy Yard, only to be sent back by officials.

“It’s terrible,” said Shanca Santiago, 20, who was heading from her job in Chinatown to pick up her six-month-old son Pryce in Congress Heights. “They said 10 minutes and they said 10 minutes and that was two hours ago. This is so unorganized.”

Santiago said that when she got off the train at Anacostia, she found disorganization and no information on how to proceed to Congress Heights.

“And they keep trying to raise fares,” she said. “I’ve been waiting on a train for 2 hours, and they say I can’t use the bathroom. Are you serious? I’m still holding my bladder.”

Service was restored at around 7:15 p.m., according to Metro.

This post has been updated. Most recent update: 7:35 p.m.

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Mark Berman · January 30, 2013