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Metro Slammed for Poor Veterans Day Red Line Service

The Action Committee for Transit says insufficient Metro service left passengers standing on platforms north of Friendship Heights.

Update, 3 p.m.: Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said that while Metro hasn't yet reviewed the ACT statement, ridership numbers and wait times, she's aware that some riders are displeased wih Monday's level of service.

"Some people felt that wait times were longer than what they thought was appropriate for a Monday," Lukas said.

However, Lukas said Metro ran service today that's typical for a federal holiday, when ridership normally drops about 20-30 percent from regular workday levels.

Three-day weekends are important for Metro to complete necessary track work, Lukas said.

Original Post: Transit riders advocacy group Action Committee for Transit said Red Line service north of Friendship Heights was insufficient to meet rider demand this Veterans Day.

Metro announced last week it would be single-tracking trains between Grosvenor and Friendship Heights to allow for rail and fastener renewal and tunnel leak repairs.

Trains were running this weekend and during the Veterans Day holiday on Monday once every 20 minutes on the western leg of the Red Line north of Friendship Heights. Additional service was added between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday between Friendship Heights and Glenmont.

But according to ACT, too few trains running north of Friendship Heights left trains crowded and some riders standing on platforms.

"When I got to the station this morning in Bethesda, I found a crowded platform with almost as many people giving up and leaving the station as arriving," said Ben Ross, ACT vice president. "When an inbound train finally arrived, it was full of standees, and after it pulled out so many people left the station that there was a backup at the up escalator."

ACT argued Metro could have provided more capacity by running "caravans" of trains close together rather than alternating one train at a time in each direction through the single-track section.

"Metro must stop using maintenance as an excuse for failure to provide needed transit," Ross said.

Metro did not return a call for comment.

Were you stranded on the Red Line this morning? Do you think Metro should have provided more trains this Veterans Day weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Bill Redmond November 12, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I was totally oblivious to the fact that today is Veteran's Day (observed) when it took so long for a RideOn bus to pick me up and when Metro announced this morning that they were single-tracking. I couldn't imagine what was going on on a work day. I also went out at lunch time to return a book to the library and deposit some checks. d'Oh! The darkened library clued me in. The MoCo Libraries took advantage and celebrated both the (historical) and (observed) holiday by closing for two days.
Emily November 13, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I arrived at the Tenleytown station at about 8:20am yesterday. I was headed towards Glenmont. In one hour, I saw 2 trains packed with people and I was unable to board. A third train had plenty of standees, but I was able to board (due to people on the platform giving up, and less people entering the station). At subsequent stations, the train driver informed those on the platform that two 'empty' trains were behind him. I was informed of the delays ahead of time, but I knew that I really didn't have any other option to get to work. Also, the arrival board kept indicating that trains would arrive sooner than they did. Several times it appeared as if there were several trains not that far behind. However, after every train it took at least 20-30 minutes even though the board indicated that trains were running 15min apart.
Miriam Miller Wolk November 13, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I commute from Grosvenor into the city, so I was definitely affected by the service issues yesterday. Metro is missing the point. The delays weren't caused by the holiday schedule - they were caused by the decisions to single track on the northern end of the red line and close stations on the orange line. On a typical day, trains arriving at Grosvenor to Shady Grove are standing room only (which is why metro alternates empty trains at Grosvenor during rush hour). Single tracking meant 35 minutes between trains at Grosvenor, and many of the trains were so packed that it look multiple tries to get on. This caused a ripple effect all the way downtown as more people poured into stations and couldn't board trains that were further and further apart. My co-workers on the orange line had it even worse, since the buses routing commuters around closed stations had difficulty meeting commuter demand. If it was just a matter of running fewer trains, but having both sides of the line running normally, you would have had some full trains, but not the utter debacle that was yesterday's service. Metro should stop giving us lip service about "holiday schedules" and acknowledge it made an error in single tracking/closing stations during the rush hour, knowing full well from past ridership data that there would be a significant number of private sector commuters depending on the trains.

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