With the long waits for trains on weekends these days, taking Metro seems like the last thing anyone would want to do on a Saturday.
But on March 2nd, as he’s done most weekends for the past six months, Justin Hague got on a Silver Line train at Wiehle-Reston East. With the train running only to Ballston because of track work, he got off there and waited eight minutes for an Orange Line train.
He texted the reporter he was on his way to meet that he was going to be late as his train crawled, single-tracking to Metro Center. Because it was a weekend. And weekends mean track work.
He was doing all this for fun.
No, Hague, who is 29 and has a round, affable face and wire-rimmed glasses, isn’t crazy. He’s on a mission. He’s trying to visit all 91 Metro stations.
When he transferred to the Red Line and finally got to Brookland-CUA that day, it was the 67th station he’s visited.
He’s been to stations on every line, and to the ends of most of the lines. To Shady Grove, Glenmont and Greenbelt, Largo Town Center, Huntington, Vienna and Wiehle-Reston East. He’s been to stations in the District, Maryland and Virginia. He’s been to Dupont Circle, Federal Triangle, Mount Vernon Square and the Pentagon. If there were a station named after a rhombus or a trapezoid, he’d go there.
When he got to Metro Center, apologizing for being 20 minutes late, he was — as he usually is on these excursions — traveling alone.
“None of my friends are as interested in Metro as I am,” said Hague, who’s been posting his photos of the stations online.
As he stood on the platform waiting for the Red Line, he explained that he’d gotten the idea from watching a couple visit all 2,563 rail stations in Great Britain on a YouTube series called "All the Stations.”
He now lives in Reston, but when this all started, he was living by Stadium-Armory, where there wasn’t much to do.
“One of the big themes on the show was to go out and go to places where you wouldn’t normally go," he said. "I thought that was a cool idea.”
Recent figures released by Metro show that 87 percent of rail trips from last July through December were on time, compared to 66 percent during the same period in 2017, because increased use of new trains has reduced problems. There were also a third fewer fire and smoke incidents than during the same period last year.
Hague has noticed. There seem to be fewer “daily disasters,” as he put it. But there had been a track fire just the day before at Foggy Bottom. Metro’s figures show only 75 percent of weekend trips are on time and, Hague said, there are enough frustrating days like that Saturday that the improvements haven’t reversed public perception. "And public perception is that Metro isn’t doing very well,” he said.
But he’s seen how Metro can still get you places.
Early last New Year’s Eve, he went to check out the Arlington Cemetery station. Walking around afterward, he found himself standing in the rain by the Netherlands Carillon bell tower. There were no streetlights.
Alone in the dark, he listened to 50 bells play “Auld Lang Syne.”
All the way at the end of the Yellow Line, he found that Huntington station was built into a hillside.
“It’s visually interesting because it has a back-to-nature feel to it. Nature is slowly taking over again. There’s plant life growing on it,” he said, raising his voice to a shout to be heard over the announcements.
“This is a 7000-series train. Doors opening. Step back to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car. This is a Red Line train to Glenmont. The next stop is Brookland.”
“Union Station is a phenomenal station. There’s a grandeur to it. You can see the neoclassical style of the building we don’t do in federal buildings anymore,” he said.
“NoMa,” he answered without hesitation when asked if any of the stations were just meh. “It’s a very boring station.”
But despite the magic of that night listening to the bells, other stops he’s made are more like the Griswolds visiting the Grand Canyon in National Lampoon’s “Vacation.” Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, looks at the view for a second, nods and says, “Great. Let’s go.”
This is Brookland-Catholic University.
It had been almost an hour and a half since Hague left Wiehle-Reston East. For as long as it’s took, he didn’t linger long.
“I love the kind of swooping arch canopies,” he said on the outdoor platform. He took a couple of pictures, walked by a construction site at the university, and said he had to go meet some friends at U Street to play board games.
“OK, I’m off to be a nerd,’ he said, parting. “Or a different kind of nerd for the rest of the afternoon.”
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