Is Metro On Fire Today?

I had to report to GWU Hospital today to get my blood typed and cross-matched for Tuesday’s surgery. I also woke up with massive muscle spasms in my neck. Driving seemed to be a very bad idea, so I decided to take the Metro. I had over an hour to my appointment and Paula dropped me off at the station.

I have not ridden Metro since I left NIH. I foolishly did not check the Metro Status and Alerts page or one of the apps like MetroHero before I headed into the tunnels. I had planned to get my blood typed, then Metro back up to Friendship Heights to catch a bus over to Sibley Hospital to visit a friend.

I should have realized that something was up when I saw three Metro employees standing around the turnstyle, talking to another person. I wasn’t really paying attention as I went through … one said something about “sometimes it takes one hour and sometimes it takes eight to nine hours.” I gimped on down to the platform (I’m in an air boot on my right foot again) where I was blasted by a message “We are going to turn on the third rail on Track 2 in Metro Center in one minute. Call in to dispatch immediately if you have any objection to activating the third rail on Track 2.” OK, that was odd.

A train arrived almost immediately. The train pulled into the station with a destination of Farragut North instead of Glenmont. OK, that’s bad. My transfer station to the Orange/Blue/Silver lines is two stops beyond that. On a good day I could walk from Farragut North to Farragut West. Today was not such a good day: my foot is in an air boot, my neck is killing me, and I’m feeling a wee bit “melty” from lack of energy, and it might be raining. Overall, a bad idea. Now, if they had built the tunnel that has been on the drawing board since 2004 …

I am trying to get a positive feeling about riding a “bus bridge” to Metro Center so that I can transfer …

… At least I had my tablet, and the iPhone has Internet … but the iPhone was running out of battery power …

… I had brought my Anker power cube  … but I did not have the iPhone cable

Things are just getting worse and worse. I had been told not not to stress out about being late for my appointment because I was going to be late with a passion.

The operator made reference to an “earlier incident” that led to a complete shutdown of transit through the busiest station (Metro Center). Service was being restored.

A few years ago Nick Stocchero created a web app called “Is Metro On Fire?”  I don’t know if he did it to learn how to work with the API, or just a comment because there had been several metro fires in succession. However, it seemed to be a poignant object commentary on the fact that Metro seems to have an endless supply of problems that impact on service and cost. Poor service and rising costs. Metro seems to have had (maybe still has) a policy of not reporting problems with service unless they cause very long delays. They seemed to believe that if they did not announce service problems, nobody would notice. They did not factor in social media or the ability for riders to communicate around their official press releases. UnsuckDCMetro has been an outlet for complaints about DC Metro outages. In the past few years there have been many more such outlets.

It really should not be third-party “angry customer” sites telling riders when to take Metro and when walking would be faster. They have the technology to put a display outside the station, or outside the turnstile, that says “this Metro line is broken inbound,” do not enter the system in that directino if you are in a rush. But they don’t. So the hating on metro will continue.

Sadly, I heard that the reason for the delays were because someone had been struck by a train at Metro Center. I’m sure that they are having a worse day than I am.

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