Last night, the D.C. Metro’s Red Line had massive rush hour delays due to a “small fire” at the Gallery Place station. For me, a 25 minute commute turned into a 105 minute one. I do realize that things break down. While maintenance is a separate issue, the response to this fiasco–that was the word the conductor of our train used–shows that WMATA still is unable to respond to riders’ needs in a crisis. Some further thoughts:
- Over and over, we were told that the Red Line was single-tracking (both directions were using a single track). But there were lengthy periods of time where there were no trains moving. At all. This isn’t single-tracking, but no-tracking.
- There was no estimates by Metro on how long trains would be held. If people had known it would take this long, most would have found other means of transportation. Metro needs to do a much better job helping riders figure out alternatives.
- This isn’t the first time Metro has ever had a fire or had to suddenly single- (or ‘single’-) track trains. Yet they seemed utterly incapable of a response–even a mediocre response. As I noted above, there were long stretches (~20 minutes) where no trains were moving. How is that even possible? It seems like they just gave up.
- Related to the previous point, what happened shouldn’t be crippling. There should be ready-to-go contingency plans. Metro is forty years old; it should have these plans at the ready. Even if they need to be modified, at least there’s starting point.
- Wiedefeld’s honeymoon just ended. The maintenance backlog isn’t his fault, but this response was awful. Despite all of the talk about changing culture, it hasn’t changed.
In related news, Metro rail is going to suck this weekend if you’re attending the March for Science in D.C.
Fuck you, WMATA.