Archive for the ‘WMATA’ Category

Frusterated About The Metro? WMATA Offers Chance For Rider Input On Budget

Today my roommate came home and told me she had a bad day. When I asked why she complained about something at work and went on to lament about the terrible Metro service on the way home from work.

You aren’t a Washingtonian if you don’t have an ambivalent attitude towards Metro. On one hand you love that it’s relatively clean, and that it’s open late for those nights you want to go out. On the other hand trains are often delayed and the elevators and escalators often appear to be out of order.

Now you can do something about it.

I found out on Greater Greater Washington that WMATA is conducting a survey of concerning items that should be included in the FY2011 budget. WMATA hopes to get rider input on several possible fare increases and service cuts. The results will be reported at a future Metro board meeting.

It only takes ten minutes to complete (like the census) so why don’t you take a minute to tell WMATA where they should spend your money?

Embattled Metro Chief John Catoe To Resign

CatoePhotoMy friends at the Washington Post just informed me that  Metro System General Manager John. B. Catoe Jr. will step down from his post as head of the Washington Metro Transit Authority.

As chief administrator of the second largest rail transit system and the seventh largest bus network in the United States, Catoe had his contract renewed this past September til 2012. He will step down on April 2nd. He announced his intentions to step down after a special board meeting held on Thursday.

Complete details can be caught on Washington Post’s Get There blog.

Last night I was at a happy hour with co-workers discussing the failures of the Metro system. Interesting to see that after all the calls for his resignation, it looked as if he wouldn’t leave but now is.

I’ve always been a fan of the Metro system here in DC- I consider one of the best; however I can see that it has been on a sharp decline in service and capacity in recent months. The system needs to fix itself after the tragic Metro crash back in June. I hope a change in leadership helps restore WMATA as one of the best public transit systems in the country.

Metro Track Work To Close Stations

The Washington Post just sent the following “breaking news” to its email list. Personally, I would call this “heartbreaking news.” The National Airport, Crystal City, and Pentagon City stations – on the Blue and Yellow lines – will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Tuesday due to pre-planned track work and extensive maintenance.

We suggest you take the bus

If you’ve got folks coming in to town for a visit, or are planning to leave town for a visit, and were planning to take the Metro to the Airport, you’ll have to settle for shuttle bus service from the Pentagon station. Taking the shuttle could add significantly to your travel time, so plan an extra hour if you need it.

I guess the up side is that riders on the Blue and Yellow lines this Labor Day weekend, will be able to experience what it must be like in other cities, with express trains? Yeah, I was seriously not reading that WMATA release closely enough.  We’ll be wishing we could move to those express-train-possessing cities, instead!

More info on the weekend’s disruption is available from both WaPo and WMATA.

Other Cell Providers To Gain Service In Metro

No longer needed for Non-Verizon users (photo courtesy Flickr user brownpau)

When my high school pal David asked if he should get an iPhone or Blackberry, I gave him my DC opinion.

While I’d love to have an iPhone, the AT&T exclusivity has always been a barrier for me taking the plunge. When I moved into the area three years ago, I sported a Motorola Razr and a Cingular cell phone plan. However I noticed that my service was lacking around my Clarendon neighborhood and at the office. So I switched to Verizon.

One of the added benefits of Verizon was it’s service underground on the Metro system. To this day I enjoy checking e-mails on my blackberry as I zoom (or wait) along the Orange line.

Of course my friend Dave doesn’t have this problem since he’s still in Boston but now I won’t have that problem as WMATA recently unveiled plans to phase in cell service from other major providers.

Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile will work together to install service in the follow stations: Ballston, Bethesda, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Friendship Heights, Gallery Pl-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, L’Enfant Plaza, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Smithsonian and Union Station. The goal is to have wireless access up and running by Mid-October, and complete system-wide service by Fall 2010.

It’s too bad I recently re-upped my Verizon plan for two more years, otherwise I’d be thinking about making the jump. How about you? Will the expanded service in Metro make you think about changing cell phone plans?

Dude, Where’s My Bus?

Greater Greater Washington has the goods…NextBus is finally live!

Dude, where's my bus?

So, according to NextBus, the “next bus” (see what I did there?) heading for the Metro from my office will be arriving in a mere six minutes.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to go home for a few more hours.

The utility shows arrival times for the next three buses at the desired location, which you can select by stop number (those little signs on every bus stop signpost) or just use the dropdowns to select your route, direction, and intersection.  You can access the service from your computer, or a mobile device; and if you have a favorite location that you’ll be checking all the time (your home, your office) you can bookmark that custom location as well.  Neato!  Earlier this week the DC DOT introduced a similar system for Circulator buses as well.

Have a look and let us know what you think, DC.  Is it worth it after the years of waiting?

Metro Crash Aftermath: Expect Commute From Hell This Morning

Here’s the official from WMATA, complete with everything you need to know about commuting on Tuesday:

Red Line service will be severely impacted on Tuesday, June 23, as a result of a fatal collision on the Red Line on Monday, June 22, between the Fort Totten and Takoma Metrorail stations.

Red Line riders will have several options on Tuesday morning, however if they are able to avoid the Red Line, that may be the best option for Tuesday.

The Red Line will be operating in two sections on Tuesday. Trains will run back and forth between the Glenmont and Silver Spring Metrorail stations and between the Shady Grove and the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Metrorail station. All trains will be six- and eight-car trains on the Red Line and they will be running about 8 to 10 minutes apart. Trains are expected to be very crowded.

The Brookland-CUA, Fort Totten and Takoma Metrorail stations will be closed to Red Line traffic.

Free Metrobus shuttles will be available to take customers around the incident between the Silver Spring, Fort Totten, Brookland-CUA, Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood and Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metrorail stations. People can expect long waits for buses as a full Metrorail train often carries 100 people or more per car and a bus can only hold about 50 people at a time.

Metro officials recommend that customers who normally use the Red Line between the Glenmont and Silver Spring Metrorail stations should commute to Metrorail stations between the Shady Grove and Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail stations, or to use the following Metrobus lines to avoid the service disruption:

• Metrobus C8 line (Glenmont to White Flint)
• Metrobus Q2 line (Wheaton to Rockville)
• Metrobus C2, C4 line (Wheaton to Twinbrook)
• Metrobus J1 line (Silver Spring to Medical Center)
• Metrobus J2, J3, J4 line (Silver Spring to Bethesda)
• Metrobus L7, L8 line (Friendship Heights)

Metro officials also recommend that people utilize the Green Line from Greenbelt to the Fort Totten Metrorail station for service into downtown DC.

Metro Crash On Red Line Between Takoma And Ft. Totten Stations

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Be careful Red Line Metro Riders! RT @metro_man Red line crashed!

That was the tweet I got from MeggiePoo as I wrapped things up at my office. I wrote it off as a routine fender bender that causes most of the Metro Fails we all experience on a daily basis. I drive home from my office down the street to my home, thinking how lucky I am not to be stuck in the Metro system.

I arrived home and turn on NBC4 to see the dramatic image of two Metro trains collide and stack on top of each other. I listen and watch while eating dinner and started to take it all in. Mid-bite I realized that the accident happened on the same line my roommate takes from her Silver Spring office back home to Arlington. I drop my things and run to my cell phone.

Those were the longest 90 seconds of my life as I waited to see if she would answer.

My roommate finally did, she missed that train by five minutes and was stuck on the platform, however she was safe and found a ride home.

Here’s what we know now (see update below)

  • At least 4 people are dead (one confirmed to be a female WMATA employee- a train operator), over 100 are injured
  • One train has appeared to rear end the other- this is not a head to head collision
  • There have been reports that there was track work scheduled on the Red Line earlier today
  • FBI is on the scene to assist but there is no reason to suspect that this was a criminal act
  • The rest of the lines appear to be working but they are moving slow
  • Adrian Fenty will hold a press conference soon

Here’s the official word from WMATA:

A six-car Red Line train headed in the direction of Shady Grove derailed between the Takoma and Fort Totten Metrorail stations today and was involved in a collision with another train at 5 p.m. today, Monday, June 22.

Metro officials advise that people avoid the Red Line this afternoon. Trains are operating between Glenmont and Takoma Metrorail and between Shady Grove and Brookland stations for the remainder of the day.

There are preliminary reports of injuries on board, some serious. Emergency officials are responding to the scene.

This being said- avoid the Red Line at all costs.

Twitter has been crazy and DCist is all over the situation.

As I return to watch more, my hopes and prayers go out to everyone in the District- I hope everyone makes it back home safe!

UPDATE 8:59 PM: As the night winds down let’s do a recap and review of the latest

  • A correction on an earlier title of the post, the Metro crash occurred on the Red Line between the Takoma and Ft. Totten Stations.
  • More detail and the actual accident: around 5 PM today a train was waiting on the tracks for the platform ahead to open up when another train slammed into it from behind. The trains were six-car trains and were headed in the same direction. The female operator of the trailing train died.
  • The Washington Post reports that at least six people are dead and scores of passengers are injured and are being described as “walking wounded” in what is being called the deadliest accident in Metro history. The last time two trains crashed was back in November 2004.
  • The Metro is still operating between Glenmont and Silver Spring and between Shady Grove and Rhode Island Avenue. Around the accident scene Metro is offering a shuttle bus service.
  • If you are seeking information on anyone that may have been riding on those trains should call the Metro Emergency Information line at 202-737-4404. If you live in Washington DC you can also call 311.
  • Metro reports that the sections of the Red Line where the accident occurred will be closed through tomorrow, so plan your commutes accordingly.

Here is video of the Mayor’s press conference earlier tonight:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGdew-OF7JE[/youtube]

After the Mayor was on, the Metro Chief provided more details on the accident:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VT23UJR-tg[/youtube]

Good Morning, Mr. President

Teddy Never Wins

This morning, I was greeted atop the Gallery Place Metro escalators by none other than No. 26 himself, President Teddy of the Racing Presidents Nats mascots.  He was passing out little red coupon cards to try and entice folks to head for the ball park this Memorial Day weekend.

That’s because this weekend the Nats and O’s engage in a little interleague play to kick off the summer season.  Now, the team is calling this the Battle of the Beltways, which might be a little generous.  Each team is in the basement of its respective division, after all.  But don’t despair, baseball fans…there’ll be fireworks on Friday night, Saturday is Hat Day (first 20,000 fans), and Sunday is Kids Jersey Day (#11 jersey for the first 10,000 kids).    Selected seats are 25% off with coupon code, “Battle”.  See you at the ball game!

Metro UPDATE: Retail on the Way!?

food-fast

Okay, well I’m glad somebody at WMATA is reading my posts-now if they’d only give me some credit!

NBC Washington is reporting that as early as this fall Metro might feature retail stores at 12 Metrorail stops.  Everything from dry cleaning to food will be available if things go according to plan. 

A plan they clearly got from my post a few weeks ago.  Okay-maybe we just had the same idea, but I’ll take credit for it until someone shows me different.

Here it is though, commuters of DC;  there isn’t much separation between selling food and drinks and being able consume them on the trains.  My opinion was made pretty clear in my last post, but just to restate it-I think the eating and drinking ban was pretty ridiculous anyway and at least Metro will see some money out of it.  Sadly, my gut says that it won’t bring a reduction in fares-but maybe it will keep prices from going up any time soon.

The  idea will be brought to the Metro Board later this month and, if approved, proposals for retail shops will be solicited in June.  Shops could start as early as late this fall.

Eating on The Metro: Why I’m For It

photo

As we leave another tourist-filled, sports heavy weekend behind us here in the District I’d like to share a few thoughts I have about eating on the metro.  Throngs of people packed into tiny spaces, tourists collecting at the bottom of escalators and failing to understand that the train extends all the way along the platform-you may think that, as fed up as I already sound about PT in DC, that I’d be calling for you all to not bring your snack on the train.

On the contrary-I’m all for it.  Full disclosure here- what follows is an updated post from my personal blog that posted just about a year ago (before my Metblog rebirth).  Still, it was time to update and reintroduce the topic to a much wider audience (that’d be you). 

The reason it all came back to me now is the picture above-taken during the cherry blossom weekend rush.  Some kid spilled his smoothie (which he wasn’t drinking) over the rug.  People had to step around it.  So why am I okay with it?  Well-read on!

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