Making the most of a delay

Metro riders might do well to look at the upsides of delays due to track work and other issues. Instead of muttering expletives when the sign signals 20 minutes until the next train, take a deep breath. Then take a walk. Seriously. Do you know how many calories you can burn pacing back and forth on the platform? Neither do I. But I’ve started this fun habit of walking the length of the platform and touching the walls at each end. Sometimes I can make it back and forth six or seven times before the train arrives. Instead of feeling inconvenienced, I feel virtuous. It’s like going to the gym, only darker and grittier.

You can also befriend fellow passengers. A recent Saturday afternoon, I waited more than 30 minutes for the train on the outdoor platform at Twinbrook. I struck up a conversation with a lovely young woman by saying, “Dammit, I don’t even see the train in the distance.” Wouldn’t you know, she shared my chagrin! We got to chatting about where we lived, where we were going, where we grew up, what we did for a living, the relative virtues of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and a host of other topics. We knew each other’s favorite colors by the time the train arrived, and we exchanged contact information. We may hang out together at a bar soon. We’ll probably take Metro there.

The next Monday morning around 9, it took so long for the stream of people to exit at Gallery Place that a few who were trying to get out of the train cars couldn’t, and no one in the large crowd waiting to board was able to do so before the doors closed. The train left the station relatively empty. You can imagine the fun exchanges with strangers that ensued after that!

So lighten up, Washington. Unless, of course, you have to be somewhere at a certain time.  In that case, go ahead and mutter an expletive or two — while pacing the platform.

Miriam E. Tucker, Bethesda

Where are Metro’s manners?

The latest headache inflicted by Metro on riders? ­Single-tracking five days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on select tracks.

Simple, everyday good manners from Metro would greatly help riders deal with the long waits, confusion, anxiety, frustration and even anger that are the result of this midday single-tracking.

Trying to determine on which track to expect sporadically arriving trains is a crapshoot. At the Van Ness station, approximately three trains seem to go downtown for every one traveling north to Shady Grove. Is there a set system? Some partially filled trains whiz by without stopping. Meanwhile, the platform is crowded with perplexed, impatient travelers.

The digital boards listing arriving trains aren’t accurate during single-tracking. As a courtesy, why couldn’t Metro station a friendly employee on the platform to advise people when and on which track to anticipate the next train in the direction they need to go?

And why must Metro use single-tracking from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.? It may not be rush hour, but people still need to arrive at jobs, appointments or everyday obligations on time.

With the anticipation of fare increases and riders depending on a system that is constantly dealing with problems, now would be a good time for Metro to show some better manners.

Shirley Johnson, Washington

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