Metro ser­vice dis­rup­tions per­sist af­ter re­pairs

SafeTrack im­prove­ments have ended, but com­muter headaches haven’t

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY JA­SON TIDD

The lights in the un­der­ground sub­way car flashed, grab­bing the riders’ at­ten­tion.

“This train is out of ser­vice,” the op­er­a­tor an­nounced, re­peat­ing the line six times.

Com­muters ex­ited as Metro work­ers walked through the train. Once empty, it pulled away. The plat­form sign over­head showed five min­utes un­til the next train. Four min­utes later, it showed nine min­utes un­til the next train. Then it went blank.

“Peo­ple had al­ways got­ten so fu­ri­ous about the Metro and how un­re­li­able it can be, and I had never re­ally em­pathized or sym­pa­thized with their fury un­til it hap­pened to me,” said Tren­ton Kennedy, a sum­mer in­tern work­ing in the Dis­trict.

Mon­day was the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive work day in which Mr. Kennedy was late to a meet­ing be­cause of Metro de­lays. He had can­celed one Fri­day af­ter two arc­ing in­su­la­tor in­ci­dents. This time, it was a lunch meet­ing on Capi­tol Hill.

“It’s pub­lic trans­porta­tion and I know I should plan bet­ter … be­cause it can’t be per­fect all the time, but for it to just not work dur­ing rush hour,” he said, not fin­ish­ing the state­ment.

Mon­day marked the first week­day af­ter the com­ple­tion of the year­long SafeTrack main­te­nance pro­gram for the 41-year-old sub­way. It was also the first week­day of higher fares and short­ened hours. Most Metro­rail fares in­creased 10 or 25 cents; Metrobus fares rose 25 cents.

Metro Gen­eral Man­ager Paul Wiede­feld has called for $500 mil­lion a year of ded­i­cated fund­ing to keep the per­pet­u­ally cash-strapped tran­sit sys­tem safe and re­li­able.

Mr. Wiede­feld’s SafeTrack ini­tia­tive, in which three years’ worth of sub­way re­pairs and main­te­nance were com­pleted in a sin­gle year, had caused de­lays and forced com­muters to re­con­sider their tran­sit op­tions since last June.

At the Shady Grove sta­tion, which was closed last week for SafeTrack, one of the sub­way sys­tem’s older model rail­cars pulled out with pas­sen­gers head­ing into the city.

One of them, who did not give his name, said he was a re­tiree who com­mutes for down­town meet­ings.

“It has all worked out fine for me,” the re­tiree said. “Some peo­ple com­plain about dif­fer­ent things, but I’ve never had a prob­lem, and I’ve been rid­ing the Red Line since it opened.”

The Red Line opened in 1976, and the Shady Grove ex­ten­sion opened in 1984.

An­other Shady Grove rider, Daryll Miller, rides Metro to vol­un­teer at the Smith­so­nian. When SafeTrack ham­pered her com­mute last sum­mer, she was al­lowed not to work.

She said she has no­ticed more of the newer, 7000 Se­ries rail­cars this year, and was sur­prised that Mon­day’s com­mute used an older car.

“I do trust it more, the newer trains,” Ms. Miller said. “More safe, more on time. I’ve been stuck a few times on an older train where they ac­tu­ally had to take it out of ser­vice and every­body had to get off the train and wait for the next train.”

She said it hasn’t hap­pened to her since the end of last year. “Maybe things are bet­ter,” Ms. Miller said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.