Has the Red Line Been Worse than Usual Lately?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Beau Finley

“Dear PoPville,

What’s been going on with the red line the last couple weeks? And before the barage of comments about how much the red line sucks, it seems to be REALLY bad right now. I know they were single tracking last week, but I think that stopped, and trains are still sardine-packed at rush hour. Again, I know that it’s always packed, but it has been extra packed lately, with fewer trains. Did they reduce the number of trains or something?”

I wonder if it’s related to the door troubles on the 4000 series cars getting fixed?

40 Comment

  • The 4000 series has been taken completely out of service because the doors were opening while the trains were running. The means that Metro does not have the rolling stock to run 8-car trains at rush hour. The end result is sardine like, or as someone I heard this morning say “ass-to-nuts,” conditions.

  • Yeah, it’s related to the 4000-series. With those out of commission for now, they can’t run 8-car trains (save that single #newtrain). So every train only has 6 cars and it literally isn’t enough to handle to crowds.

  • The time between trains has increased under “normal”. And when there are problems (as there inevitably will be), the waits between trains becomes that much longer, which means packed trains and even longer waits.

  • A bit tangential, but when I got off the Red Line at Dupont Circle on Monday evening, I and several other people had problems with the fare gates not taking our Smartrip passes. No station manager to be found anywhere. I waited about 10 minutes, then finally gave up and let myself out.

    • BTW I rarely ride the Red Line anymore (I now take the Green line downtown) but when I do, it’s nearly always a nightmare.

    • Wow, you waited 10 minutes? I would’ve waited about 10 seconds!

    • I saw a guy just stroll between the broken gates and not one station manager noticed. I was so impressed with his casual style.

      But f’real – if you swipe on entry, but not exit, your pass card gets screwed up. it’s so annoying.

  • I’m on the Blue/Orange/Silver and was thinking the same thing. There are 4000 trains on this line but, I figured it was just seasonal, maybe a summer glut of staffers etc. It reminded me of my typical commmute back when I was on the Red line 🙂 Sorry it’s gotten worse for y’all.

  • My wife and I both have noticed it as well, commuting between Cleveland Park and downtown. Based on the headways I see each time I go down, I think it has to be because of fewer trains, not just fewer cars on those trains. I noticed it starting last Tuesday morning, when there was a “switch problem” at Dupont (see https://twitter.com/Metrorailinfo/status/608377447025938433). Perhaps that switch problem is forcing them to run fewer trains for safety reasons? Just my idle speculation.

    • I agree with this. I moved to CP a few months ago and was surprised at how fine the Red Line was. Trains were coming every 2-3 minutes during rush hour, so if I had to skip one train due to crowding, it was no big deal. Now trains are definitely ever 5-6 minutes, meaning each train is more crowded and really increasing wait times.

  • I’ve noticed it transferring at Gallery Place towards Shady Grove the past few weeks. I usually have to wait for at least 2 trains before being able to get on. It’s the worst when a train lets off upstairs juuuust as a ton of people are coming up from the green/yellow line downstairs. Some mornings you cant even move.

  • Intern season.

  • I ride the red line every day and lately there have been literally fewer trains particularly in the afternoon I’ve had to wait 5-6 minutes when normally it’s 1-3 minutes between trains.

  • west_egg

    As others have said — the stated reason is that the 4000-series is out of service, which means many fewer 8-car trains. But I agree that it also seems that there are fewer trains overall and headways are longer.
    Tangentially related: Nowadays there’s an average of 5 minutes between Green line trains during rush hour in the morning. WMATA’s web site states that this is normal. Am I going crazy, or is 5 minutes longer than it was a few months ago?

    • I do not think you are crazy. Metro’s definitions of “normal” and “on time” defy common sense.

    • You’re not crazy. Green Line trains have been full when they pull up to Columbia Heights going south the last couple of weeks (at least for me)., which is ridiculous with a few busy stops left before Galley Place.

    • I’m fairly certain they did this a few years ago too- cut back service, extended wait times, but didn’t ‘fess up to it. I believe the former GM was known for doing this in his position before coming to WMATA, but I might be making that up and I’m too lazy to Google.

      Additionally, trains are technically “on-time” if they arrive within half of their projected time- meaning a train that is supposed to arrive in 20 minutes and actually shows up in 29 minutes is still marked as “on-time.” I think they take advantage of that as well.

    • I read in the Express today that there aren’t any 8-cars running and it’s not supposed to change any time soon because the 4000 doors still won’t close fully. Le sigh.

      • I had been thinking the same these past two weeks, but, I rode an 8 car train this afternoon in the Glenmont directionh. Weird.

  • I think Metro as a whole has been worse than usual lately. I usually bike less in the summer due to the heat, but I may start showering at work just so that I can avoid the Metro. I’m not optimistic that things will improve soon, either, especially given federal budget cuts.

  • After several hour-plus commutes between Columbia Heights and Dupont Circle, plus numerous recent problems with my SmartTrip card eating fares, I finally just gave up and bought a car. Parking is really expensive but the Red Line conditions have become absolutely horrible. People in my office are late to work literally every day because of Metro. I have had enough.

    • You could have just taken the bus. Would have saved you a ton of money. It’s even cheaper than Metro!
      PS – I am SO a fan of the bus now. So much easier and less crowded than Metro.

      • maxwell smart

        shhhh….. don’t tell everyone about the bus. Then they’ll get more crowded then they already are! And seriously – aside from the bus, you could also very easily bike that commute.

      • That’s great if you live near a bus line with frequent, reliable service. And one where the traffic doesn’t disrupt service such that it’s just as bad as Metro. Some bus lines are great, but I’ve found that I can walk faster than the X2 and S lines at rush hour, and I’m not willing to wait 40 minutes and/or transfer (and take a circuitous route where I still might have to wait 20 min for each bus) so that I can use the buses that run near where I live.

      • Hail to the bus! It can suck a bit during rush hour, but it’s still better than metro. I’m so glad I have the option and still close enough to metro when I just have to take it.

      • Meh. When I lived in Petworth our busses ran every 25 mins at rush hour and 75 mins on the weekends. It’s not great for everyone.

        I live in Van Ness now and only take busses on weekdays between 7am and 8am since they actually come on time. Took one this morning at 8:05am and it had to pass four stops because it was full.

      • At the risk of outing myself as a complete nerd: I love the bus. There’s a snafu maybe once a month, as opposed to once a week or more on the train, and you can look out the windows! I recently got a new job and was so relieved that I could get there easily on the 14th Street lines. But I’m also in a pretty good situation, geography-wise; I’m one stop north of the CH metro, so while it’s completely packed when I get on, it empties almost completely at the next stop, so I always get a seat. (I know not everyone is this lucky.) Biking would be even faster, but I haven’t ridden one in decades, and the idea of doing it in this city scares the bejeezus out of me. Yup, I’m a nerd.

    • Why not just bike? It takes about 10 min to get from Columbia Heights to Dupont (whereas it can take 15 min or more in traffic if you drive), and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.

      • Maybe they’re like me and barely know how to bike. Or they can’t shower at work.

        • maxwell smart

          Meh – I bike 5 miles to work and I don’t have a shower either. Bring a change of clothes and some wet-wipes and a little deodorant and your good to go. Considering most commutes in DC are downhill towards work it’s an easy ride.

        • Learning how to bike is easy, and this person’s commute is short and all downhill on the way in so it would probably require less exertion than walking. You would sweat more getting to the Metro or bus. I bike a bit further than this and just change for the ride home and shower in the evening.

    • I’ll second op. Bus/circulator to p st & take the g2. Runs right to DuPont.

      • Or the S9 from Irving to P street and walk into Dupont. Granted the S line can be awful, but it’s on the whole probably more efficient than that metro ride.

  • I commute from Woodley Park to Chinatown and it’s definitely been noticeably worse that past few weeks. Crowding and headway times have both been abnormally terrible. This morning when I got down to the station around 8:35 the times towards Glenmont / Silver Spring were 6,12,19….. 6 -7 min headway’s is atrocious during the morning rush, not to mention the huge crowd on the platforms and every train being packed to the brim.

  • The volume of Red Line Alerts i get from metro daily are astounding. Just this past Saturday, there was a track problem, a switch problem, a malfunctioning train, and fire department activity all in quick succession. The area around Friendship Heights seems to have an inordinate number of switch and track problems in particular.

    And as I typed:

    Red Line: Expect delays in both directions due to a signal problem at Farragut North.

  • Bike to work! I realize this is not an option for everyone and would probably be too far for many coming in on the redline, but everyday that I bike I’m so happy to not be on the metro. Much better way to start the day, IMO.

  • Daily Red Line rider. Number of cars seems fewer. OTOH, fewer delays of late, no real change in rush hour frequency. I get alerts for other lines and they have increased while Red has seemed. Red was more of problem a month ago.

  • I have been commuting via red line from Glenmont/Silver Spring direction for the past 15 years. I am shocked at how much the WMATA transit system has deteriorated since 2000. Lately, I have noticed that trains are arriving on the platform every 5 minutes during peak rush hour period. Five minutes! This is an incredible downgrade from 10 years ago when I only had to wait 1 minute and 30 seconds on average between trains during peak rush hour. Of course, the tragic train crash in 2009 changed how WMATA managed train traffic flow through out the system.

    The 5 minute arrival interval is a serious safety issue! Metro platforms can get super congested in a matter of minutes during rush hour. It’s only a matter of time before we have a terrible tragedy of commuters getting crushed to death on platforms or people falling onto the tracks. Not a matter of IF but WHEN at this point. Disasters are waiting to happen at Gallery Place and Farragut North in particular.

    It would be a good time for red line commuters to seriously consider alternative methods of getting to the office. Bus, bike, carpool with neighbors and ask if your employer can grant a telecommute day or two per week. Or if you still prefer taking the red line to/from work each day, you should explore changing your work hours in order to avoid peak rush periods–i.e. enter the WMATA system at 7:00 AM or wait until after 10:00 AM. Of course, all of this depends on the kind spirit of your employer.

Comments are closed.