Metro riders using the Red Line on Tuesday evening had a miserable commute, encountering major delays and heavy crowding across the line. Several problems combined to create a nightmarish trip home for many.
The transit system issued a news release on Wednesday apologizing for the problems and offering more information on what happened. While these details can’t undo the time riders spent packed on crowded platforms or jammed onto idle trains, it’s still worth explaining just what happened.
The first problem occurred when a section of the track near Fort Totten lost power shortly before 4:30 p.m. Red Line trains had to share a track between Fort Totten and Takoma for about an hour, which created delays in both directions.
While the single-tracking was resolved by about 5:30 p.m., it usually takes some time for delays and crowding to ease after something as disruptive as an hour of single-tracking at the beginning of the evening commute.
But not long after the single-tracking was cleared, a pair of Red Line trains had mechanical issues, which created additional problems for riders still dealing with the lingering delays from the earlier issue.
A disabled train near Dupont Circle caused Red Line trains to single-track between Dupont Circle and Van Ness until shortly after 6:15 p.m. There was also a train with a mechanical issue near Silver Spring.
In addition to two bouts of single-tracking and another problem involving a disabled train, Metro offloaded some trains and turned them around to try and keep wait times shorter. But for riders offloaded, this only lengthened their commutes.
The news release doesn’t touch on another issue that didn’t impact trains but did affect Red Line riders later in the evening. Shortly after 7:20 p.m., Metro reported a power outage at Union Station and said that escalators and elevators weren’t working. Trains kept running, but the station was dark until power was restored by Pepco shortly before 9 p.m.