The Most Crowded I’ve Seen Metro Center since the 1st Obama Inauguration


Thanks to @catiecat for passing on this shot Sharon took at Metro Center this morning.

@megroh sends an equally rough shot from Gallery Place at 9:13AM today:


91 Comment

  • How is this acceptable day after day after day after day?

    • it’s unacceptable to those of us who are powerless to do anything about it. Unfortunately, few METRO board members (who could, in fact, do something) actually ride METRO, so they don’t have to deal with our daily frustrations.

    • Google “Metro derailed by culture of complacence, incompetence, lack of diversity”

    • Cherry

      Yes! I’m sick of this. Everytime I step foot in the station, I’m hoping and hoping and wishing that I’m able to get to my destination on time. Metro doesn’t care because they know commuters heavily rely on this system. A massive boycott needs to take place. Something has got to give!

    • We have to all demand operations management change. We need MTR to take over Metrorail operations. Relying on WMATA to solve its problems has gotten us nowhere. Service is worse than ever. MTR, however, has a clear track record for having improved operations in systems it has taken over.

      We could also use some support to redirect the DC Council’s attention from its silly streetcar plans to Metrorail improvements. But they don’t use Metro, and so they don’t have to deal with this either..

  • Thankfully I was able to avoid this after seeing WMATA’s alert on their website around 7:20 am (always checked before getting on the metro). I took the green line instead but still had to slog through Orange line delays. UGH.

  • west_egg

    Disasters like this are an almost-daily occurrence, and the “leadership” at Metro is completely oblivious. They report that ridership is declining but blame it on factors like the Feds’ benefit reduction instead of being honest with themselves about how unreliable service has gotten. Rush hour meltdowns are the new normal and weekend service makes Metro the option of last resort for anyone with other options. I have zero confidence in their ability to turn things around anytime soon.

  • Is this a six car train? If it is, why on earth did it seem like a good idea to run a six car instead of an eight car train during rush hour?

    • The theory is that, by running 6 car trains you can take those extra 2 cars from 8 car trains to make make an additional 6 car train. So you get more trains operating with a shorter wait time. However, when delays occur it’s often a shock sent through the system. (That was logic me. Emotional me is grumpy at how crowded all Metro lines have become and how unreliable the system/service is).

    • west_egg

      Metro does not have the capacity to run all 8-car trains during rush hour. Right now about 25% of trains are 8-car during rush hour. This is especially fun at Chinatown when transferring to Red in the direction of Glenmont: Since train operators cannot be trusted to remember how many cars they’re pulling, WMATA’s band-aid is that all trains pull to the front of the platform, resulting in a mad dash for the train on a platform that’s crowded and narrow.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        To be fair, it is pretty clear from the signs what size train is coming, so anyone who is surprised and needs to make a “mad dash” was not paying attention. That said, it does seem like these delays are happening much more frequently lately. Glad I don’t have to ride the red line anymore.

        • I agree that it’s generally clear. But with more frequency I’m seeing the signs announcing a “2” car train (which is obviously not correct) or no information on train length (“–“).

          • It’s not clear at Chinatown because the sign is so far up the platform. If you’re changing from green/yellow you’re at the end of the platform, much too far to read the sign.

        • Or people haven’t put 2 and 2 together that “Car” means how many cars are on the train/where the 6 car train is likely to end.

        • west_egg

          I’m mainly referring to the scenario of people coming upstairs from the Green line who are transferring to a Glenmont-bound train. The station’s “T” shape puts you at the back end of the platform. So if the train is pulling into the station as you’re coming upstairs, you can see that your train has arrived but you’ve got a long distance to travel if you actually want to make it. I don’t run through crowded stations but plenty of others do and I really can’t blame them, because with situations like today’s who knows when the next train is going to come?

          • I do this every day, and you’ve got your directions reversed. It’s the Shady Grove bound platform that’s the worst. If you come up from green/yellow on the Glenmont side, you’re at the front of the platform and the front red line cars are right there. If you come up on the Shady Grove side, you have to turn the corner and walk all the way down to get on a six car train, often against a crush of humanity getting off the train.

          • west_egg

            You’re absolutely right, my directions are reversed. Thanks!

          • Yes, it’s the Shady Grove direction and the size and shape of the platform paired with the 6 car trains stopping at the front is the larger problem, but I think the quickest fix would be to install an additional passenger information system (PID), aka the sign with the train times, closer to the end of the station. The PID at this station is so close to the front of the train it’s useless towards the back of the platform.
            As someone with excellent eyesight I cannot tell how many cars are in the next train. If you want even a chance of seeing the PID you need to go up into the fray in the skinny part of the platform, which is already crowded.
            Then there are those of us who need Shady Grove trains, not just Grosvenor trains. It’s depressing and makes me happy I drive more often than metro these days.

  • Hey, I think I can see myself in that Gallery Place picture!
    But yeah, 8 car trains. What is the rationale for running 6 car trains through day after day of this nonsense? Is there a shortage of metro cars?

    • Yes, there is a shortage of Metro train cars. The power systems are also not capable of handling all 8 car trains.

    • They don;’t have enough cars, storage, or electrical power to run all eight car trains. They have asked DC, MD, and VA to commit the funding necessary to implement it by 2020, but as far as I know, no jurisdiction has committed to it yet.

  • The 16th st. bus line is where it’s at.

    • maxwell smart

      I can’t tell if you are joking. While I do agree that the bus system, while slower, is far more reliable then metro, the 16th Street S Line has it’s own share of well-documented issues. I get on the S at 16th and Military Road, which is not all that far from where the line originates. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had buses blow past already full – there’s still another 4+ miles on the route!

      • While I know the 16th Street buses are a mess, you can always walk away. You aren’t on a car in a tunnel filling with smoke, or in the crush of humanity pictured above.

        • I wish I could take the bus to work! I mean, I could string together a commute comprised of three less-reliable bus lines, but I think the metro’s slightly less hellish. At least I don’t have to take the red line?

        • maxwell smart

          Oh I 100% agree which is one of the many reasons I no longer will take the Metro in DC. Spring-Fall I bike everywhere and once it gets too cold/wet to reasonably bike, I resort to taking a combination of buses to get to work. On the weekends I will drive, esp. if I’m going somewhere with friends; it’s cheaper and faster.

  • I was on a train that got stuck in a tunnel. It was jam packed (like the Red Line has been the past couple of weeks) with barely any room to breathe, which is bad enough, but then the train held in the tunnel for about 20 minutes. Of course, everyone is bundled up for the weather, and there was no room to get out of your coat or scarf. My legs got shaky and I was thisclose to a panic attack. Really really glad it didn’t get to that point because there’s nothing anyone could have done. Everyone else looked like they were at the same point, closing their eyes, taking deep breaths, etc.

    Metro has become downright dangerous. Someone is going to get seriously hurt in all this crowding. Obviously, things happen and if this were a once in a while thing, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But this has been happening EVERY DAY and it is is unacceptable.

    • I’ve gotten close to collapsing – dressing for the cold, standing in a heated train, carrying everything i need for the day, and shoving doesn’t help. I feel you :-/ Just glad I haven’t gotten stuck for that long.

    • Ugh, I totally feel for you. I get panic attacks and it is my biggest fear every time I get on Metro that I will end up in a situation like that.

    • Aww I’m so sorry to hear that. Its my biggest fear. Because of your stuck train, we were stuck at the Farragut stop for about 15 mins but luckily not in a tunnel I truly feel for you as I have had panic attacks before and unless you are with a loved one who you trust, there is really nothing anyone can do. smh Metro really sucks. I feel like they know it and avoid actually riding the Metro at all costs. Sucks for us.

    • I’ve been in a similar situation (though not quite as bad). I mentally brace myself for it every time I get on the metro now (mostly when taking the red line during rush hour) and always remember to go to the bathroom before getting on.

    • I now always take my coat off on the platform, anticipating that it’ll be jammed and hot. Well worth it.

    • I live near the Stadium Armory station but ever since they added the Silver line, my commute doubled in time. I started driving into work and it’s been heaven, even though I’m surrounded by Maryland drivers.

      I used to live in Ballston and the orange line is a hot mess on the Virginia side. I’ve never encountered so many rude, pushy people on a daily basis in my life. It’s the complete opposite on the DC end of the orange line train. Lots of space, I always, ALWAYS, have a seat, never had a train offloaded, and people for the most part aren’t such d-bags. Metro is just not able to handle large quantities of people on their trains.

      • “I’ve never encountered so many rude, pushy people on a daily basis in my life.” — I’ve noticed a lot of VA people are like that. I rarely took the Metro when I lived out there, but often encountered the rudeness and pushiness at places like grocery stores (where it is even less called for IMO).

  • Metro is truly awful

  • I’ve been late to work every day for the last two weeks due to Red Line delays (announced and unannounced). And had delays getting home several times. There were even delays last night at 10 pm, when my Glenmont bound train offloaded at Takoma. Completely infuriating.

  • Can’t we just talk about shoes?

  • The Red Line has been just awful the past 2 weeks. Delays almost every day during rush hour. I’d like to start getting alerts when there are NO delays for a change.

  • I used to think criticism of Metro was unfair until I read the top-linked article found by googling “Metro derailed by culture of complacence, incompetence, lack of diversity”

    Really infuriating and incredible.

  • Maddening. We demand better.

  • The Blue line had gotten so bad by last Feb, that I bought a Smartcar and now drive in to work. Even with obscene traffic, it has almost never taken me as long as Metro did. I could no longer assume I would actually get to work (or home) if I took Metro.

    Now I am paranoid to take it anywhere I need to be (like the airport).

    I am not sure what it will take for adequate appropriations (we need at least one new tunnel, new cars, new tracks, etc, so billions), but you would think thousands of people not getting to work on time would spur action.

    You would also think businesses are not coming here or leaving because of inadequate transportation infrastructure–why be somewhere that prevents workers from getting to work.

    But year after year, all jurisdictions decline to make infrastructure investments, and so here we are (stuck on a platform or in traffic!).

    • Your post brings up a lack of money, but I think what many people are pointing to is not a lack of money, but a gross mismanagement of the system. Case in point: the $100+ million that was given to Metro by Congress after 9-11 for an improved radio system. Not only is their radio system not fully functional, they admitted to DCFD a few months before the lady was killed on January that they knew it was not operational, and they were hoping to get around to it sometime in the next year or so. They’ve received billions in maintenance/rehab funding, and I certainly don’t have confidence the money has been or is being well spent. I’m not even talking about the escalator nonsense, which appears to be a giant racket. Forget giving them more money unless you like throwing money down a black hole- this operation needs to be cleaned out, from top to bottom.

      • Agreed. They need a buttload of money, and then to fire everyone and start over. I am sure there are examples of a corporation, agency, municipality that has been broken down and started over, in essence. We just need to see what entity that was and how and who did it.

  • Yea, this is crazy. I’m a cyclist who’s taken Metro through the winter because of health reasons and am shocked at how bad Metro is.

    What’s our recourse? Is there a nonprofilt advocacy organization representing riders? If not, there should be one!

  • I was stuck in a very tightly packed group last week while waiting for a red line train in Chinatown. When I gave up and decided to get a cab, it took me a solid 5 minutes to get through the throngs of people to the ONE escalator that was going in the right direction.

    This HAS to be a safety issue. Forget the trains for a moment, if there’s that many people crammed into such a tight space, and some emergency happened, good luck trying to get out of there…If they can’t redesign the metro, then at least turn off escalators for common congestion spots like Chinatown, Farragut and Metro Center.

    • Not sure if this applied to your situation, but for safety, when a platform is full, the station manager is supposed to turn off all escalators going down. This is “prevent” a situation in which someone gets on an escalator but there is nowhere to go on the platform. It will also make those escalators useful in case of a evacuation.

      If the escalator isn’t turned off, press the stop button to turn it off, and then walk up it.

  • Honest question – what exactly is up with the red line? That is my closest metro, but I have avoided it the last couple weeks in favor of the 42, but only because of the cold, not the delays. I didn’t realize what I was missing until reading a lot of these comments. So does anyone have a good guess as to why the red line has been especially disastrous the last couple weeks? Is that weather-related?

    • The Red Line is the oldest and (IIRC) the most heavily used of all Metro lines, so it stands to reason that it has more problems than the other lines.
      But I’m sure Metro’s poor management, poor maintenance, etc. contribute.

    • The red line is the oldest of the lines, so I think it suffers from the lack of maintenance over many years even more than the others.

  • I was at Judiciary Square this morning at 7:45 and it took me three trains to go four stops to Brookland. Needless to say, it’s more than unacceptable that train operators announce that all of a sudden they are not servicing a certain station.

    • this is done to get more trains through the single tracking area faster. It will add time and inconvenience some, but it will save time for many more… a net benefit in the end.

  • Metro is split between three jurisdictions: DC, MD, and VA, and I’m not sure how we even begin to demand accountability. No elected officials (whether it is DC Council members or Virginia Senators) really have to feel the heat, since they can easily shift blame to WMATA, or the fact that another jurisdiction is in the way, etc. Mark Warner can pontificate on his Twitter account, but what can he actually do? No one has shown any inclination whatsoever to start talking about firing people- a lot of people. Instead, everyone is passing the buck and making excuses. This whole issue is frustrating because I can’t even think of a solution to get the powers that be to act. Bottom line: they have a captive audience, and they’re taking advantage of it. Metro really doesn’t have to do anything because they have a guaranteed source of income. Raising fares and cutting service is all on the table because they don’t have to show accountability or understand economics. I’m constantly surprised that the most powerful city on earth is held hostage by a corrupt and incompetent public transportation system, and there’s no inclination to change things at all. When did we decide that this was ok?

  • That sucks for people on the red line. My new hatred of the metro is lines to get through the single working fare gate. Had it yesterday in Ballston and today at Petworth. Making it worse, some of the gates would seem to work, but won’t actually scan a smart card. So people try them then jumble the lines. Obviously the station manager does nothing …

  • Aglets

    Serious question:
    What do you do if you’re in there and you have a panic attack. My heart is racing looking at that picture.
    It’s easy enough to say ‘cab’ or ‘uber’ but what if you’ve forgotten your wallet or don’t have $15 bucks to throw at the problem.

    • You can just put you credit cars info in the uber ap so its always usabe without the actual card. If you can’t afford $15? Better have good shoes.

  • I think metro would be doing a good thing in the long run by eliminating a lot of escalators. everyone is aware they are unable to keep them running. In the long run the maintenance savings would really add up. I’m partially biased as I was riding an escalator that broke and sent me flying into the guy in front of me, but really, besides a few stations that are very deep they should cut back on the number of escalators.

  • Wow – infuriating! That pretty much explains the idiocy that is Metro. Was planning to take metro this evening, but will probably opt for car just to avoid giving another penny to such corruption. Need to bring on a Japanese or German team to re-do Metro operations. I thought German systems were best until I observed bullet train operations in Japan, particularly the cleaning of trains; pure clockwork that was as good to watch as theatre.

    • Was replying to anon’s reference to the Times article.

    • Agree, the efficiency of the Japanese train system (from bullet trains all the way to single lines running through forests and mountains) is remarkable. I spent considerable time there just watching them operate.

      You really want to weep for how deficient our operations are relative to Japan, google “pointing and calling”. It’s the method that Japanese train operators use to improve their safety and efficiency. I traveled halfway around the Yamanote line at the front of one of the trains mesmerized watching the conductor point and call as she arrived and left each station.

      • Dreaming doesn’t cost a thing.

        We had a major tragedy a few years ago and another one a couple of months ago. WMATA’s response has been to increase fares and reduce service. They have received further funding and yet nothing happens.

        One has to wonder, what will it take for this to change?

    • 100% agree. Having lived in Japan and Europe I can’t imagine what people must think when they come to visit DC and see our 3rd world transit system. Absolutely shameful.

  • How does a city with some of the most educated and hard working people in the world not have an efficiently functioning subway system? Policy wonks–what can be done? Sit ins? (I think standins are already being done every morning) Demand a “town hall” to address concerns? Can other systems provide immediate guidance? Can it even change? 900K homes but you can’t take a subway 3 stops in less than an hour?

    Throw out the subways/tracks and make it all underground bike lanes!

  • Google “Metro derailed by culture of complacence, incompetence, lack of diversity.”

    the article says it all.

    And it’s a public union, they art not held accountable in major American cities.

  • If all who take the time to gripe on and read what seems to be a daily thread here on popville, we should all also be emailing WMATA. I sent my first email on Friday after being late to work 3 times last week. (Actually, I used the customer feedback form on wmata’s site: I don’t expect an individual response, but if we complain on the proper medium…I don’t know…something…*might* happen? Don’t get me wrong, venting and reading others vents on this subject I think helps me keep my sanity.

    • Don’t bother. Read the article mentioned several times here (google “Metro derailed by culture of complacence, incompetence, lack of diversity.”) to see why it doesn’t matter. It’s sad but true.

  • Anyone else hear the bizarre PA announcement this am in Gallery Place around 9:20am? A public reprimand of some Metro employee by the sounds of it. Something along the lines of ‘…you have exactly one minute to contact Central Control or you will be considered (unintelligible)….’

  • Every single rider should file a complaint and start asking for a refund when incidents like this happen. Although it is not a grand change, it’s the small efforts that might get the ball rolling to increase their accountability. The way in which WMATA conducts their operations is inexcusable and pathetic.

    • I Dont Get It

      I agree and just did otherwise we will get stats like “Complaints are down 15% in 2015.” People are giving upbut need to take 30 seconds and do this.

  • I’m in the Gallery Place picture. Sigh. I usually take the bus to avoid crowds. I “thought” the Metro would be faster this morning after getting messages about traffic congestion delays for both of my routes (64, X2). Imagine my dismay when I walked into this at GP. Not to mention, when I managed to squeeze into the first Glenmont bound train, and we almost got to Union Station when the train operator had to start rocking us forward and backward because of “circuit issues.”

    Metro HAS GOT to get their shit together. Their board should require regular ridership as a prerequisite for membrship. It’s embarrassing. Boston charges $75 for a monthly pass that includes bus and trains. For Metro, that would be over $300. And they want to increase fares… I’m ashamed of the bureaucratic mess that is WMATA.

  • I usually leave pretty early (like 6:00) in the morning and rarely experience major delays. I would recommend leaiving early like I do, but if everyone starts doing that the delays will start earlier. So just keep going to work the same time you always do!

  • I’m late to this thread but I ride the Red line everyday and like everyone else I am horrified. Can’t the Popville community band together and forward these pictures to everyone, and I mean everyone, who could exert leverage on Metro? I’m going to put together a list of agencies and elected officials and start tweeting this out whenever I encounter it. At this stage, only a large volume of very public shaming is going to affect change.

    • I don’t disagree with any of your points, but want to add that having lived in Boston and DC, the Boston’s subway system was actually way worse. As in, when I first moved to DC I was actually impressed at how much better it is here. When friends visit they say the same.

      Now that i’ve gotten into my Metro routine, I realize it’s still terrible. And I hate it. Only point is that Boston’s was somehow worse. Ugh.

  • I gave up on Metro a couple of years ago and got a bike. It was the best move I’ve made in a long time.

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