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No holiday for us, Metro commuters complain

The Buzz blog has some of your photos showing the potentially dangerous crowding on some Metro platforms Monday morning. This is likely to be a preview of the afternoon rush, since Metrorail still is operating on reduced service and continuing the weekend maintenance program.

Ben Ross, vice president of the Action Committee for Transit and a Red Line rider, said in a statement that Metro failed Red Line customers Monday by running too few trains. With only one train every 20 minutes north of Friendship Heights, hundreds of rush hour passengers were left standing on the platform and forced to seek other means of transportation to work.

“Metro must stop using maintenance as an excuse for failure to provide needed transit on weekends,” he said. Metro reduced service on this federal holiday while also extending its disruptive weekend maintenance program through Metrorail’s midnight Monday closing time. The combination was particularly ghastly for commuters on the busy Red and Orange lines, which are the focus of the weekend maintenance.

A rider’s photo sent via Twitter shows Monday morning crowding on the Bethesda platform.

Ross described the trains sharing a track between Friendship Heights and Grosvenor so work could be done in the tunnels. Riders were left standing on the platform, he said.

“When I got to the station this morning in Bethesda,” Ross said, “I found a crowded platform with almost as many people giving up and leaving the station as arriving. When an inbound train finally arrived, it was full of standees, and after it pulled out so many people left the station that there was a backup at the up escalator.”

Conditions were no better on the other side of the Red Line. Kate Ramsayer, who boarded a train in Takoma at 8:15 a.m., said in an e-mail that her car was packed.

When the train stopped at Fort Totten, she said, people were pushing and shoving to get on and off, and a woman knocked off balance got her foot caught between the car and the platform.

Some passengers near the door got her free, Ramsayer said, and she was helped to a station bench.

Ramsayer described the rest of the train ride as “packed like I’ve never seen it the entire way to Dupont. All along the ride, people waiting on the platform could not enter the car, there just was not enough room.”

On the Orange Line, trains shared a track between Vienna and East Falls Church, while shuttle buses replaced trains between East Falls Church and Clarendon.

This is not the first time riders have complained about both the reduced schedule and the extended maintenance program on those holiday weekends that are holidays only for some. We see versions of this on some Columbus Days, Martin Luther King Jr. Days and President’s Days.

Last year, Veterans Day was on a Friday. Metrorail reduced service and began its weekend track work program on Thursday night, but the big impact was on the Green Line, rather than one of the more heavily traveled lines.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.



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Robert Thomson · November 12, 2012

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