Commuter Hell

If you don’t live in DC… you probably don’t know that somebody (apparently) tried to commit suicide yesterday by jumping in front of a moving subway train at a Virginia metro station. During rush hour.  Yeah.  (Actually, the incident happened around 4:50 PM.)   Because of him, train service on one line was stopped for several hours between five stations.  People were trapped in trains underground for hours, without A/C or even bathrooms.  Those lucky enough to be above ground couldn’t get home at all… without hoofing it.  And the sad thing is, the man isn’t even dead (yet)… he’s in intensive care at a local hospital.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

What we did learn is that the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is in intensive care as well.   Because of the metro system’s incompetence, thousands of people had a hellacious commute home yesterday, served with a slice of indignation.  I was one of the lucky ones…

I was in Arlington yesterday, in a neighborhood called Ballston.  My meeting was over, and I boarded a bus to Rosslyn (my home) around 5 PM to go home.  All of a sudden, the Ballston metro started spurting out people and they boarded the bus too.  “There are no trains, and nobody’s telling us when the next one will come,” somebody said.   I was able to sit… in the second to last seat available.   At least 30 people were standing… it was frankly the most full bus I’ve ever experienced.  Everybody, of course, got on their smartphones to see what was up… but none of our brilliant local news sources were reporting anything yet relating to the Metro stoppage.  Finally, I went to the Metro’s website, and learned that someone was struck by a train in Clarendon,  (two stops east of Ballston), and that all stops were closed between Rosslyn and Ballston.  (Five stops total.)  I announced it to the entire bus.  There was one humongous pause… and then someone blurted out, “if I’m going to off myself, getting hit by a train is not the way I’d choose to go.”  The entire bus burst into laughter.  (Why??? I don’t know… now that I’m writing her words, they don’t seem as funny to me as when they were first spoken.  It was probably her tone.  Yeah.)


We drove by the Clarendon Metro stop, and in typical Arlington County fashion, every police car, firetruck and ambulance was parked outside, sirens blaring – blocking two major thoroughfares.  Another round of snarky comments ensued…  “Overkill, eh???”   “I hope nobody’s house burns down tonight.”  “This is a good night to go on a robbery spree…”

The bus was filled to capacity and then some, and my claustrophobia was getting the best of me.  Frankly, I got tired of smelling my fellow passenger’s butt.  I decided to get off halfway and walk home.  Too bad I did not bring my jacket, as I shivered the entire mile and a half…

That’s the end of my story… but not for thousands more.   Because of this man’s actions, everybody’s metro commute went south.  As I was walking home, I could hear sirens racing towards Rosslyn, VA.  (Rosslyn is the last stop in Virginia  before you enter Washington, DC, and it’s also where two subway lines converge.)  After my bus got off in Rosslyn, my “people” were mobbed by other commuters trying to go home:

Picture from WJLA

Oh… and just to add insult to injury, ALL of Rosslyn’s escalators that bring you to the street from the subway platform decided to go out of service… AT THE SAME TIME!!!


 If you have never experienced the Rosslyn station, it’s WAYYYY underground.   The Rosslyn station is, in fact, the deepest station on the Orange/Blue Line, at 97 feet (30 m) below street level. The station features the third-longest continuous escalator in the Western Hemisphere at 205 feet (62 m); an escalator ride between the street level and the mezzanine level takes nearly three minutes.   There is only one elevator… and it fits maybe ten people at a time. In short, this was the wrong station to dump thousands of people at at once.  And then have the all the escalators fail… can you imagine climbing the stairs just over the length of half a football field???   With a thousand of your closest friends?  Senior citizens, the disabled and people with suitcases had a fun time evacuating the station.  Of course, passing out, asthma attacks and mass vomiting ensued.


What in the hell happened, Metro?   I understand when one person falls or intentionally jumps in front of a train, stoppages will occur.  We don’t want to pulverize the poor man just so others can get home.  What I DON’T comprehend is why we could have not just evacuated the gentleman as quickly as possible, cleaned up, let that poor train disembark as soon as they were done (these poor folks spent hours trapped in their train at the Clarendon metro stop), and then got the trains running again… it was not a crime scene.

And what the hell happened in Rosslyn?  I deal with your incompetence on a daily basis… but this situation was frankly dangerous.  You are very lucky only one person was injured gravely…

I’m actually scared now.  It’s pretty obvious that the WMATA doesn’t have an adequate emergency evacuation plan; they just fly by the seat of their pants.   And this was just one person disrupting the entire line… what will Metro do if/when there is a mass emergency requiring the evacuation of thousands, if not millions?   Shut down the station again and throw up their hands in defeat?  Geez.  What a question to start the day.




About No Disrespect

A little schmuck in a big world
This entry was posted in Complaints, Current Events, DC, I'm annoyed, technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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