Dr. Gridlock

Metrorail riders lose their cool over broken air conditioners, escalators

Metrorail passengers had to line up July 12 to walk up the stopped escalator (about 150 steps) at the Dupont Circle Station.
Metrorail passengers had to line up July 12 to walk up the stopped escalator (about 150 steps) at the Dupont Circle Station. (Ann Scott Tyson/the Washington Post)
By Robert Thomson
Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Metrorail rider expresses the themes of summer transit 2010: Too many air conditioners and escalators don't work.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read your advice [Dr. Gridlock, July 11] about escaping a rail car without air conditioning, and I had to chuckle. On July 7, I got on a Red Line train at Judiciary Square between 5 and 5:10 p.m. I quickly realized there was no air conditioning in my rail car, so I dragged my 34-weeks-pregnant belly and my large rolling litigation bag down the platform at the next station and sought refuge in a different car.

The second car was no better. I lasted in it until the Van Ness Station, where I dragged myself out onto the platform, hoping to try a third car. Of course, the doors shut before I could get in. So I waited for the next train and recuperated on the air-conditioned platform. I was hopeful that the next train would have air conditioning.

No such luck. I got into the next train, and it was at least as hot as the cars on the previous train had been. At this point, I started sending e-mails to my husband containing language that cannot be repeated here. I was determined to make it to the Bethesda Station without passing out, but the hot, stagnant air was really getting to me.

So, at Friendship Heights -- one stop short of Bethesda -- I got off the train at about 5:25 p.m. Again, I was unable to make it into another car before the doors closed. Surely, the next train, my third of the evening, would have air conditioning.

Again, no such luck. Fortunately, I only had one stop to go. Then, to add insult to injury, as often happens at the Bethesda Station, where the escalator from the platform to the station has been under repair for an inordinate amount of time, perfectly able-bodied patrons crowded into the elevator in front of me and left me standing on the platform with my huge bag and belly, feeling nearly faint from the ride, to await the next elevator.

Shame on Metro. There is no excuse for anyone to have to endure such a commute.

Ellen Epstein


CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company