At Union Station, the Metro escalators were running, so every once in a while Wednesday morning, someone would step on. One man, seeing the shuttered entrance down below, tried to turn around but got stuck, backpedaling in place as he climbed up while the escalator chugged steadily down. Most just popped up on the other side from the “up” escalator, and rushed to the cab stand.
Many people just walked after getting off their MARC and VRE trains, rushing, annoyed that they would be late. Others welcomed the fresh air after their train ride, and said they had started walking in good weather anyway after hearing about smoke, fire and other safety scares on Metro.
Faith Royce, on her way to work in Dupont Circle, said, “I’ve been trying to swear off Metro as it is, because nothing works. They don’t do basic maintenance.”
She has been trying out alternatives after a string of bad experiences, like taking the Metro from her home on Capitol Hill to Pentagon City only to find, after shopping, that the Yellow Line was shut down. She has been 45 minutes late for appointments because of Metro delays. After foot surgery, she was going to a doctor’s appointment last winter when she got stuck in “not one, not two, but three stations — I couldn’t elevate or escalate out.” She had to cancel the appointment — and took a cab to the next one. Now she’s learning bus routes and trying Uber. “Metro is wonderful when it works,” she said. But it has cost her too much in recent years with delays and breakdowns and unexpected high fares of cabs she didn’t expect to have to take. Now she’s thinking a bus might be the way to go. “I’m fed up with Metro.”
Carlene and Terry Abbott got to Union Station with time to spare for their Amtrak train to New York — because they took a cab. They come to D.C. every March from Nebraska for a national postmasters conference. With a 7-day Metro pass, Carlene has been sightseeing while Terry is at meetings. But when they were walking through the lobby of their hotel in Crystal City on Tuesday, she gasped: On the TV it said Metro would be closed. “Then our folks back home called,” to make sure they had seen, she said.
Their trip over the bridge and up past the Capitol Dome took just 20 minutes despite some traffic. The cab fare was a shame, though, and they were thinking the fares on the way back Wednesday night might be even higher. “We’ll see if people are taking advantage of the situation,” Carlene Abbot said. She was thinking about how many people were inconvenienced by the closure: “700,000 people every day — it’s crazy. That’s a lot of feet, to keep running like they do.” It’s such a convenient way to get around, she said — “other than the other day, when I was out tootling around the city, when the train stopped and I heard there was a fire at the next station.” She made a face; she was thinking, “What would I do if I had to get off? How would I get back?”
Deanna Won, 49, had to get to Union Station to catch a train to Philadelphia Wednesday morning. But when she logged onto the Metro trip planner, the only options it suggested were buses from Arlington. Confused, she called, and learned to her shock that there was no Metrorail service all day. “Wow. We’re in the nation’s capital, and we don’t even have reliable transportation.
“This has been a frustration that has been building,” she said, each time there is a delay or a problem. When she travels to other countries, she always finds a better way to get around there.
By bus, it would take her an hour and a half from Arlington, so she got an Uber, which cost about $24 with surge pricing. “With Metro I’ve been late to important meetings,” she said. “It’s just sad.”