Late-Evening Delays Make Metro an Ordeal

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I use public transportation daily to get to my work in the District. I pick up the Fairfax Connector at the Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride and travel to the West Falls Church Metro station, where I ride the Orange Line into the District.

On a recent Friday, a function after work kept me after hours near Dupont Circle. It ended about 9:30, whereupon I walked to the Red Line's Dupont Circle Metro station. I waited 16 minutes for a train that took me to Metro Center.

Upon arriving at Metro Center, I waited 18 minutes for a four-car Orange Line train. When that train finally arrived, it was so packed that it resembled the cars leaving sporting events. The Caps and Wizards weren't playing, however, and there was nothing else of note going on in the city. Once I arrived at West Falls Church, I realized that all of these transfer delays had caused me to miss the 950 Fairfax Connector Bus back to the Park & Ride by mere minutes.

Faced with a 25-minute wait for the next bus, I decided I'd had enough for the day and instead took a $32 cab ride home. Tired and frustrated, I arrived at the Park & Ride at 11:15, 1 hour 45 minutes after my journey began. Had I waited for the next 950 bus, my trip home would have been about 2 hours 20 minutes.

This might not seem like that much, considering the distance, but because there was no traffic or weather issues, I could have made that trip in much less than half the time. Also, my rush-hour commuting time is about 1 hour 10 minutes. I vowed then that the next time I have business after hours in the city, I will drive. Metrorail is no longer an option.

Given that many Virginia fans attending Nats games will have to transfer to the Orange Line at some point on their return, I wonder how they'll feel about long waits for jam-packed four-car Orange Line trains.

If Metrorail can't handle a normal Friday night in the District any better than the service I received, how will it handle baseball crowds in the summer?

Dion Pifer

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