So, in the last two weeks there have been two major, major problems on the Orange Line. Specifically on the leg of the Orange Line that I ride every day.
Last Wednesday, I got an alert during the height of the storms that said the line was “terminating at East Falls Church.” Which was a bit of a disappointment because well, that’s not my stop. Yesterday, I got alerts that there were major delays and shuttle bus service due to a “malfunction” at Court House.
But this isn’t going to be about me griping about the delays in my travel. In fact, I only have one gripe about both instances, and that’s the flow of information. I get the emails from Metro, but for some reason they’re unable to send text messages to my phone. Only email enabled phones can get alerts from Metro, and honestly, that’s technology they should have had by now. So once I leave for work, or leave work, I’m stuck relying on the overhead announcements for news. And the train car I was in yesterday I could hear that they were announcing something, just not what it was. So it just would be nice to have a little more knowledge.
It also would be nice not to read about what happened on the Express the next morning. The problem during the storms? Power lines across the tracks. I’m willing to let a lot of inconvenience go in order to avoid power lines so just tell me. Yesterday? I knew before I left work that it was a train derailment, but only because a co-worker saw a report on the local news station’s website.
Most people trying to board the orange line had no idea what was going on. I see in my email today that there were shuttle services that probably would have been a great solution for everybody but saying “shuttle service is available” on the sign doesn’t really tell anybody anything. Say “Shuttle service from Foggy Bottom to Virginia Square is available to anyone, buses leave ever 10 minutes.” Nice, concise, contains relevant information.
All that said, there was no need for me to bother with the shuttles. I arrived at my stop only 15 minutes after I normally do, and really, I wouldn’t call that a major delay. Even though I’m a slave to the bus schedule because I don’t drive to the metro most days, I can say 15 minutes is no hardship. I had three perfectly good options at that point for getting home.
So this is what I’m getting at: good job WMATA. It can’t be easy to deal with down power lines or derailed cars on your busiest line, during peak times. Especially since yesterday was a code red day and more people were on public transit. But neither one of these things actually caused me any problems, in the end, because they were cleared up so quickly. I left work a little later than usual during the storms so the line continued right on to my stop without a delay. And as I pointed out, fifteen minutes late is no big deal when you also consider that a train derailed right before rush hour.
Perhaps if I had been on the trains earlier, I would be more upset about the whole thing, but really the fact that both of these things happened with no injuries and the delays didn’t cascade to ruin the entire day? Thanks, WMATA. I’ll continue to gladly ride every day, wish I could hear the conductor’s announcements more than half the time.