There are a few ways Metro can improve Gallery Place

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

On Wednesday, around 5:45 p.m., I transferred from the Yellow Line to the Red Line at Gallery Place on the way to Van Ness. The station platform has always been really crowded at rush hour, especially now that the trains go all the way to the front to stop, leaving no train cars where most passengers enter the platform. This time it was insufferable -- pure backlog, and no one could walk anywhere.

Folks could fall. Plus, the trains were running normally, yet even with [manual operation] the doors closed almost as soon as passengers disembarked, leaving no time for passengers to get on and creating more incentive to crowd. It's poor design for the number of passengers and a real safety risk.

-- Marsha Gold,

The District

Although we've discussed the worrisome situation at Gallery Place several times in the column, I'm particularly concerned now as the tourist season is resuming. When the Cherry Blossom Festival begins this coming Saturday, Washington will once again throw open its gates -- and the gates of its transit system -- to visitors from around the world.

The visitors generally add to the excitement of using the transit system. They don't know our local customs. They stand anywhere they want on the escalators. When they pass through the train doors ahead of a rush-hour horde, they stop to admire the view.

They won't be so serene on, let's say, opening day at Nationals Park, when they get off the Green Line from the stadium and make their way toward the Red Line platform on the Shady Grove side. The regulars, at least, know what they're in for: They're going to face a wave of humanity heading straight for them with a wall on one side and a platform edge on the other.

The visitors will have the same looks on their faces they get when they realize the rail car doors aren't going to bounce back when they try to hold them open.

This crowding isn't so much a problem when the train is eight cars long and fills up the platform. But how many eight-car trains do you see?

If it's a six, then the situation is exactly as Gold described it: The train pulls to the head of the platform, leaving a big gap between the train and where the approaching passengers are. The gap is pretty quickly filled by people getting off the train.

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