Dear PoPville – Anyone Else Noticing Metro Doors Closing Too Fast?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Aziz

Dear PoPville,

Am I the only one that notices the perpetual problem with metro operators closing the first car doors before everyone on the platform has a chance to enter?

I’ve seen this everywhere, but it’s a total epidemic at L’Enfant Plaza (which I know best because I commute to/from there daily). Obviously it’s crowded there at rush hour, but I’ve seen the doors close before all passengers even have a chance to exit, and if they’re lucky maybe 1 or 2 people board before the doors shut. I understand the need to do this when a train is full and another is right behind it, but this happens all. the. time. In fact, I just missed a practically empty train midday when the doors shut after about 5 people exited and maybe 3 had boarded.

What gives? Is there some logical explanation I’m just overlooking? Aside from going to the front of the platform or shoving fellow passengers aside, anyone have any tips to avoid being snubbed by prematurely closing metro doors?

20 Comment

  • Aren’t they supposed to return to automated control of the cars soon? Or have they done that already? I’m wondering if that has anything to do with it.

  • No, what I notice is that people don’t pay attention when getting on and off to the people behind them and slowly saunter onto the train leaving the people behind them to get smushed (like what happened to me earlier today)!

  • I’ve had them close the doors before all people were off the train at Metro Center on my way home from work at rush hour. The train was packed, so offloading was taking a while and me and 4-5 others got stuck on the train when they closed the doors too early. We had to go to the next stop, get off, and backtrack. It was infuriating! I wrote to metro about it and they said that they would work on retraining their drivers to keep the doors open long enough for people to get off (and presumably to get on).

  • Metro riders here disembark and board trains slower than anywhere else in the world. It doesn’t help when people crowd the doors on the platform or when people don’t move the center of the car.

    • Yup. That combined with trigger finger metro operators working the doors. Move your slow butts DMV commuters!

    • +1

      Move to the center of the damn car. This is much worse than escalator etiquette as it results in people not being able to board a train…

      • While I basically agree with you, there’s kind of a perverse-incentive thing where people become extra reluctant to move to the center because of fear that they’ll never get to the doors in time to get off… and then the problem just keeps getting worse.

    • My thoughts exactly. The only times I’m ever afraid of not making the doors are when there are other people blocking the way or moving way too slowly. I’m sure OP’s complaint is a legitimate problem on occasion but people need to stop acting like they’re the only person trying to ride the train.

  • talula

    I’ve noticed this too, even during rush hour they close the doors while people are still getting on the train (even when there’s room for them). Used to happen all the time at Farragut West when I commuted from that station.

  • gotryit

    Yes. This is one reason that I try to avoid metro.

  • My usual commute is toward the end of rush hour, but when I arrive/leave on the earlier side I’ve seen this happen at L’Enfant Plaza — maybe 12-15 people exit through a set of doors (at a regular pace, not excessively slowly) and then the 10 of so people waiting at those doors have to struggle to get on before the doors (prematurely) close.

  • I wonder if this is an unintended consequence of the new five-second rule… in order to keep the trains on schedule, they have to take five seconds off of the time the doors can stay open since the doors are closed upon arrival at a station for an extra five seconds.

    Just a guess, though, I really have no idea.

  • I too would like to echo what people have said about people slowly walking on and off trains and not going to the center. I would add if you are standing near a door on the train and it is not your stop, get off anyway and then get back on. It is a lot quicker to get off the train if people are exiting two across rather then having someone block the door and everyone has to go single file. Along similar lines if you are on the platform don’t block any part of the door. It doesn’t matter if you are right by the door or 10 feet away, if you are blocking people everything is slow.

    While a door should never close on people getting off the train, sometimes during rush hour with short headway, the train just has to move and if that means not everyone gets on that is the way it is. Though if people listened to the suggestions above this wouldn’t happen. I have lived in japan, I know how many people can get on ad off a train rapidly.

  • What I want to know is this: What’s with the doors taking forever to open after the train stops? I always imagine the operator in his little booth, hunting around his control panel with index finger extended. “Now, WHERE was that door open button? I thought it was right around here…”

  • This has been happening regularly for at least three years at the last car on Shady Grove bound red line trains at Gallery Place. For a time, Metro would station someone on the platform at the last car, but that person would mostly just stand around, watch people congregate without asking them to spread up the platform, and then say “the doors are closing,” along with the announcement. I used to call Metro and report the problem, but have learned to accept that this is DC: The riders will always saunter in and out of the trains, stand in the doorways, and clog up platform at the very last door despite having plenty of time to spread out and leave the last door for last-minute runners. Metro employees will always utterly fail at executing even the most simple logistics, and not give a shit.

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