Greater Greater Washington

Where has Metro done most weekend trackwork?

Ever get the feeling that WMATA is working on your line every weekend? You might be right.

I took a look at WMATA's weekend work over the 12 month period between May 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013. What sections of the system get saddled with work the most?


Top 10 sections suffering weekend disruptions. Graphic by the author.

WMATA is undertaking a major rebuilding campaign to bring the system back into a state of good repair. Because of that, many parts of the system see frequent single-tracking or temporary closures. The Red Line is getting the brunt of the work, as part of an intensive project to rebuild it.

But the section of the system most affected by work over the last 12 months is actually on the Orange Line. Because of work involved in linking the new Silver Line into the rest of the system, the tracks between East Falls Church and West Falls Church have been closed outright 10 times and single-tracked 13 times. Those 23 weekends of work amount to almost half the weekends in the 12 month period I monitored.

Work between Stadium/Armory and Cheverly, also on the Orange Line, has also resulted in lots of disruptions on a total of 19 weekends. Some of that work involved stabilizing a section of track displaced by construction on an adjacent property. Other work has involved rebuilding the platform at Deanwood.

Construction of a test track for the new 7000 series railcars between College Park and Greenbelt has also been disruptive, putting that section of track in 3rd place, with 18 weekends worth of disruption.

In 4th place is the section of track between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten, which has not experienced any single-tracking or closures over the past year, but which on 17 weekends, has had reduced service because the Yellow Line has been cut back to Mount Vernon Square.

The eastern end of the Red Line, between Rhode Island Avenue and Forest Glen has suffered frequent work as well, with sections holding 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th places.

While the map above shows the top 10 disrupted sections of the system (it actually shows 11, since two places are tied for 10th), many other places faced disruption over the 12 months in question.

A few places were spared, though. There was no work on 4 sections of the system, including between Waterfront and Southern Avenue on the Green Line.

While this work can be frustrating, it is necessary to get Metro back to where it should be in terms of maintenance and safety. Unfortunately, the end is not yet in sight. Much work remains to be done, and weekend riders will probably continue to face the most pain in the coming years.

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Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 

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How about updating the graphic to show the raw number of weekends, rather than the rank? It's a bit confusing in its current format...

by andrew on Jun 4, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

I agree with @andrew; the number of weekends would be much more useful information to display.

But this shows why even though I specifically moved to a place within walking distance of the metro (SS), I have pretty much given up on taking the metro on the weekend. I feel like if WMATA has lost transit-loving people like me, it's pretty easy to see why ridership is down in general.

by Gray on Jun 4, 2013 11:43 am • linkreport

Also, how about throwing all of the 9-5 commuters on buses for a week? I'd have to imagine that they'd be able to get a ton of work done (arguably many weekends' worth) if they were able to have 8 consecutive days to do it.

Metro's late-night and weekend service is terrible, and it's killing the system, and the erosion is even beginning to be seen among weekday commuters as well.

Even with all these closures, it doesn't even seem like Metro's doing a great job of keeping basic maintenance up to date (lighting and insulators being the most notable examples, to say nothing of the never-ending escalator debacle).

With the number of delays/incidents that Metro encounters due to faulty insulators, you'd think they'd take this fairly basic item more seriously. While I was riding the Blue Line last night, I looked out the window, and saw numerous sections of third rail without an insulator, and numerous others that were cracked, half-missing, or bowed to the point where they were nearly touching the rail.

Lighting's a big problem too, and in many cases can be worked on while the system's open. Figure out how to install lighting fixtures that are bright, last long, and can be easily cleaned/washed (and then actually do that cleaning/washing). Judiciary Square looks awesome with the new lighting installed, and similar upgrades should be procured and installed throughout the entire system ASAP.

Underground cell service? Many years late. Still not done. Above-ground cell service is also surprisingly spotty along many lines.

I know that Metro need to maintain their system, and I've defended a lot of their actions in the past. However, I'm no longer confident in saying that they're getting the job done. These extended closures are being used for routine maintenance, and are a convenient excuse to provide inadequate service all week. Metro can (and should) provide frequent short-turn service outside of work areas so that closures at Falls Church don't affect people riding from Potomac Ave to Metro Center.

by andrew on Jun 4, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

I understand why Yellow Line trains turn around at Mount Vernon during peak hours, but why on weekends when there is not track work on the Yellow Line or on the shared portions of the Blue and Orange Lines?

by Brad on Jun 4, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

my fav is when they close upper yellow line but don't make any announcements. i know you can take green, and that's fine, but you need to know about the closure before you can plan for it.

is there a specific reason that yellow between mt vernon and ft totten needs to be cancelled? or are they doing it just cuz they can? does DC get any of the money back that they paid for that extra service?

by guest1 on Jun 4, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

+1 Brad

by guest1 on Jun 4, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

@Andrew:

couldn't have said it better myself.

@Gray

Same here. I moved to this city because I could live here without being forced to own a car just to get around. But now I'm finding that harder and harder (I live in Logan Circle but I have to commute out to the Mark Center, so stuff like CaBi is impossible.)

It's actually gotten me thinking about looking for work somewhere else. Metro is unusable for me outside of rush hours (and even then...)

And for you two - and anyone else who cares about our transit system - are you attending the RAC meeting tomorrow?

by MetroDerp on Jun 4, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

@guest1:
my fav is when they close upper yellow line but don't make any announcements. i know you can take green, and that's fine, but you need to know about the closure before you can plan for it.
I've experienced this a lot too. Do they just feel like it's perfectly fine to cancel this service on the weekends? Do they think that when they cancel it, there's no need to let anyone know?

All of their scheduling documents seem to claim it runs during nights and weekends, but this is not actually the case pretty often.

by Gray on Jun 4, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

Like others, I'm not happy about what's happening with Metro-- I live near the Bethesda station, which has had (I'm guessing) more than its share of dysfunctional escalators, elevators, and emergency repairs. FWIW, I think it's fair to suppose that the Metro powers-that-be are not just willfully making life difficult for weekend passengers. This suggests, for me, that Metro had reached a scary level of disrepair.

by MattF on Jun 4, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

I think the yellow line closure north of Mt Vernon Sq is just because Metro can't be bothered to figure out how to schedule trains properly during track work so they can turn around at Fort Totten without causing delays.

by MLD on Jun 4, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

Thank you for doing this analysis, Matt.

Why on earth did WMATA choose to build a test track between College Park and Greenbelt in such a way that it disrupts service for 18 weekends (and countless nights)?

Also, I still haven't heard an adequate explanation as to why Yellow Line service is truncated at Mt. Vernon Square when the actual track work is occurring elsewhere. I'm starting the think the agency is doing this because it can, not because it has to.

by Eric F. on Jun 4, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

The thing that really annoys me is that when they do track work that has single tracking on one end of the system, they run trains at the single tracking headway on the whole line. Why not do short-turn trains so that the rest of the system doesn't have terrible headways?

Example: Last weekend, orange line had 22 minute headways even though the single tracking section was over on the East side. Couldn't they have run a train from Vienna to Potomac Avenue and turned it around at the crossover near there?

By the way, Metro's reported on-time performance metric does not include anything from weekends, so the Board doesn't see any reported numbers that reflect how bad the service is on weekends.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 4, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

@Matt

"While I was riding the Blue Line last night, I looked out the window, and saw numerous sections of third rail without an insulator, and numerous others that were cracked, half-missing, or bowed to the point where they were nearly touching the rail."

I think what you're describing are the protective covers on top of the third rail and not the insulators. I've seen my fair share of these blown off too.

Regarding the YL at Totten, MLD is spot on. When there's single tracking anywhere on the southern BL/YL end, or any other shared part of the line, Metro seems to always short turn at Mt. Vernon.

I haven't seen anything by way of a written rule, but if I had to guess Metro does this to maintain a semblance of headways along the line. They probably like to get the train off the line and into the pocket so it can hold (if needed) to maintain headway in the opposite direction. Without a pocket track, they can't hold the train at Totten.

This week should be interesting with single tracking around Mt. Vernon but still using Totten for the YL. (Yet I know, it kinda blows my theory out of the water...)

Metro has done weekend work down around Braddock Rd in the past and announced off the bat that the YL would only go to Mt. Vernon - which makes all the more peculiar nobody realized to include that in the PR last week.

As to the test track -- the trade off will be no single tracking during the day/weekend in the future when the 7K's are delivered. I don't think CSX would let construction impede on their wayside too much - so the only option is to force single tracking in the area.

by Mainland on Jun 4, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

@MattF

I don't disagree at all.

My concern is that Metro isn't making process in the uphill battle against the system's ongoing deterioration, or taking preventative steps to make their assets more robust in the future.

The maintenance program appears to be woefully ineffective in many areas, and is conducted with seemingly blind ignorance to the system's actual operation. Steps that could be taken to mitigate its negative effects have not been taken, and 9-5 commuters are often considered the only stakeholders in the system who matter.

Really, though, we have no way of knowing what's going, because all of Metro's communications are filtered through so many layers of PR and governmental risk-avoidance that they're completely meaningless and devoid of detail by the time they reach our ears.

by andrew on Jun 4, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

I pray for a day when a seperate blue line will produce enough redudancy that they can just close a couple stations for a week to get this done without it becoming a nightmarish saga.

by Alan B. on Jun 4, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

Construction between NoMa and RIA is due to the NY Ave bridge rebuidling by DDOT. Just wanted to point that out.

Fascinating. This study should be done for the entire rebuilding period.

by Mike A on Jun 4, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

@MattF, I agree that Metro is probably not "willfully making life difficult for weekend passengers." It seems more likely they are just staggeringly incompetent, mismanaged and lazy. I don't think they're organized or smart enough to make like difficult for us; if they tried, they'd probably screw it up and actually improve the system. But those things are a huge threat to the system as a whole. The article refers to continued pain "in the coming years," I think that's a pretty generous assessment. I have seen nothing in how Metro works (or rather, doesn't work) that suggest things will ever improve. I don't think they have the capacity to do it. Surely it would take an overhaul of the entire organization to change the culture that has created this current mess. And like others, I say this as a vociferous defender of public transportation, I think it's one of the most important aspects of society. But I've pretty much given up on Metro. It's my absolute last alternative for going anywhere, weekdays or weekends; If I can't get there by cycling, walking or driving, I would still rather not go at all than take the Metro.

by Joe on Jun 4, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

I think what you're describing are the protective covers on top of the third rail and not the insulators. I've seen my fair share of these blown off too.

Wait. I thought those *were* the insulators... Are there multiple uses of this terminology?

Why not do short-turn trains so that the rest of the system doesn't have terrible headways?

They have occasionally done this on the Red Line during daytime hours only. Occasionally, this actually results in *significantly* shorter headways than normal weekends. However, no explanation is given for why they don't continue it into the night to at least preserve the (still-terrible) ordinary level of weekend service downtown.

One thing to Metro's credit: Metro's bus substitute services are almost always far more frequent and convenient than the trains that they replace.

by andrew on Jun 4, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

Thanks for this analysis. I too find myself among those who no longer bother with Metrorail on weekends.

I understand that the system is in a state of serious disrepair, and that it will be painful to get it back to what it should be. What I don't get is why after shutting down a portion of a line to do "repairs," there are often track or signal problems on the same stretch of track once normal weekday service resumes. It makes me question what, if anything, WMATA is actually doing to repair the tracks. Furthermore, the "platform rehabilitation" seems to take absolutely forever - they have been working on the Silver Spring platform for like a year now.

by Rebecca on Jun 4, 2013 1:29 pm • linkreport

@andrew: the "insulators" are the white objects that hold the 3rd rail up off the ground so that the voltage doesn't inadvertently leak out into the ground.

by Michael Perkins on Jun 4, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

One thing to Metro's credit: Metro's bus substitute services are almost always far more frequent and convenient than the trains that they replace.
I have found this to be the case, which is why I wish they would use them less as bridges and more to actually cover an entire leg of a line.

For example, multiple times they have taken out the portion of the Red line between Takoma and NoMa. So to get home I would need to take the red to NoMa. Next I would switch to a bus which winds its way through the city, stopping at RI, Brookland, Ft Totten, then Takoma. Finally, I would have to wait around for a train from Takoma to SS. Those trains are running every 24 minutes if I'm lucky and they're holding to their schedules, but of course they can't be matched up to the bus bridges. I could try taking yellow/green to Ft Totten, but they're almost certainly not running the yellow past Mt Vernon (see above), and I'd still have to switch to a bus and then wait for the train again.

I would be much better off if they either (a) ran the Red to Ft Totten so that I could switch to and from the yellow/green (while still running the yellow to help with this), or (b) just ran buses for the entire Red line beyond NoMa. At least in the case of (b) I would only have one additional transfer.

by Gray on Jun 4, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

I've lived in the DC area since the Metro first opened in the 1970's. The only thing that has happened is that the service gets alittle bit worse every year. People move in and out of the area so much that most people don't notice it. Nothing is going to change unless the culture of the Metro workforce is changed. Changing an organizations culture is very difficult and almost impossible with an entrenched unionized workforce. I've given up on anything getting better and avoid the metro whenever possible.

by Jim on Jun 4, 2013 1:38 pm • linkreport

Mainland,

Your analysis is pretty spot on. Fort Totten was really never designed as a terminus, and as it lacks the pocket track, when there are situations where the Yellow and Green don't have the same headways, the Yellow is sent to Mount Vernon to keep the Green main line clear.

Short trips can't always be inserted to intermediate points for this very reason. Even when they can, they almost never can fall directly in between the headways.

by A. P. on Jun 4, 2013 1:41 pm • linkreport

Short trips can't always be inserted to intermediate points for this very reason. Even when they can, they almost never can fall directly in between the headways.

It doesn't have to be prefect. Anything would be better than 22 minute headways on weekends.

There is little doubt that Metro can do better with headways on weekends with track work via some combination of single-tracking and short-turning trains.

For some reason, this is not a priority.

by Alex B. on Jun 4, 2013 1:47 pm • linkreport

@Gray, agreed. Real estate nearest to Metro stations commands a premium, yet the benefit is not always there. If someone is willing to pay more rent in lieu of a car, weekend and evening construction presents some real challenges.

@Andrew: An "insulator" is the porcelain or fiberglass stand the third rail sits on that helps prevent current leaking in to the ground. "Cover board" is the hood that sits over the third rail to keep foreign objects from settling on it.

@Everyone else. So tired of hearing about escalators. I could not care less about having to walk (or take elevator if unable to walk) to/from platforms. I'm more interested in rail car, track, and signal systems reliability. Besides many major systems around the world don't even have escalators, most notably NYC.

by dcmike on Jun 4, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

Few surprises. Most of the work is in older parts of the system. This is all happening because maintenance never had a constituency before the deadly crash (and I'm not sure that DC's dweeby white collar workforce really pays attention now) and it was never adequately supported. Having lived here twice, I'd say there are more problems now than in the 90s, but frankly not much has changed, pro or con, over the last few years. It is easier to anticipate disruptions to service and work around them although coordination with overlapping bus service and additions of service in major corridors like Connecticut Avenue would help.

Metro is hardly alone in making up for past neglect. As a frequent visitor to NYC, I've noticed that they have many of the same kinds of disruptions, and although their system has more redundancies, mitigation often isn't very good. Chicago has gone through hellish periods of renovation, but much of it has benefited from redundancy as on the North Side lines. It's a shame that despite the complaints here and elsewhere, public meetings are poorly attended and complaints outweigh thoughtful suggestions here and on other blogs.

by Rich on Jun 4, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

One thing I don't understand about the weekend work, but perhaps there's an operational justification:

Why doesn't WMATA focus on one particular line or area each time, throw all resources at it, shut down as needed until that project is done, then move on to the next? At least then the people using the affected line would know what they were in for, and the others could actually find a usable system. This would avoid situations like the upcoming weekend, when all lines are operating at drastically reduced levels, every 24 minutes on the red and every 18 on the others.

I understand that sometimes there are emergency projects that come up, but surely most if not all of these projects have been known for a while:

  • between Shady Grove and Twinbrook for rail, fastener, insulator and third-rail work
  • between Rhode Island Ave and Takoma for ongoing platform reconstruction, tie replacement and track maintenance.
  • between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly for platform reconstruction
  • between Mt Vernon Square and U Street for switch replacement, rail renewal and joint elimination
  • between East Falls Church and West Falls Church for Silver Line testing

Could they not focus on finishing the rehabilitation of platforms on one of those lines (each with multiple platforms to work on, apparently) instead of splitting the crews across two different platform rehabilitation projects?

by Gray on Jun 4, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

There is little doubt that Metro can do better with headways on weekends with track work via some combination of single-tracking and short-turning trains.

For some reason, this is not a priority.

It's not a priority because not doing it is A) easier for them and B) cheaper for the agency.

So tired of hearing about escalators. I could not care less about having to walk (or take elevator if unable to walk) to/from platforms. I'm more interested in rail car, track, and signal systems reliability. Besides many major systems around the world don't even have escalators, most notably NYC.

I'm more interested in the other things too but comparing it to NYC or other extremely shallow systems is ridiculous. In New York the platform is literally directly below the street; walk down a flight of stairs and you're there. Even the shallowest Metro stations are much deeper.

by MLD on Jun 4, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

It'll be interesting to see what the track maintenance schedule will be for the new portions of the Silver Line. A lot of us have been asking about what "normal" track work would look like, as opposed to "rebuilding" track work. Perhaps the Silver Line will give us some insight into that question.

by Silver Fox on Jun 4, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

Regarding short turns

When Metro sets up the special short turn trains they typically run right to the spot of the construction or single track to the next available pocket track or terminal.

For the RL there are more options: Farragut North, NoMa, Silver Spring, or in a pinch I suppose the B&E connector at Ft. Totten. RL gets its fair share of weekend work, but it would seem to me to be the line most able to adjust for the short turns.

It's slim pickings for the rest of the lines. Metro literally took apart the usefulness of the National Airport pocket track years ago, and seems to be loathe to think about using the pocket outside of Stadium Armory for any kind of regular use. All that remains by way of pocket tracks are WFC and Mt. Vernon.

To your point Michael about short turning OR at Eastern Ave (where the interlocking is)... Could they do it? Yes. But I can only guess that Metro planners are too afraid of the added schedule complexity or fouling two track operation down the line further to actually implement.

I don't think I've ever seen Metro run special short turn trains where both ends were not a pocket/terminal.

by Mainland on Jun 4, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

By the way, Metro's reported on-time performance metric does not include anything from weekends, so the Board doesn't see any reported numbers that reflect how bad the service is on weekends.

And undoubtedly our disengaged, unaccountable Board hasn't bothered to ask.

I don't think they're organized or smart enough to make like difficult for us; if they tried, they'd probably screw it up and actually improve the system.

+1

So tired of hearing about escalators. I could not care less about having to walk (or take elevator if unable to walk) to/from platforms.

I wish it were that easy, but because there are no stairs as an alternative and few elevators, when escalators go out of service and Metro blocks them for repairs (or to wait for repairs), the delay to change levels and get out of stations (and the resulting platform & mezzanine crowding) becomes a serious issue.

by CaBi Driver on Jun 4, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

@mainland: If you're running trains every 5-6 minutes to support single tracking, and you short-turn two in a row (an orange and a blue) and let two continue, is that something that's not technically possible (i.e., it's outside of the technical specs for the interlocking, train control system etc.) or is it something that makes Metro "uncomfortable"? Have we lost the ability to operate the equipment as it was designed to perform, and we now have to accept lower performance?

by Michael Perkins on Jun 4, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

Why is there so much track work on the Green line between Greenbelt and College Park? Those are among the newest sections of track. Or is it just closures for rail car testing?

by Greenbelt on Jun 4, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

@Greenbelt
Metro has been building a test track there for testing the 7000 series.

@Michael Perkins
Have we lost the ability to operate the equipment as it was designed to perform, and we now have to accept lower performance?
I suspect that this is the case.

by MLD on Jun 4, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

I don't think there's there's a technical reason the interlocking, train control, et al, couldn't perform in the way you describe. Others with a better WMATA background may know for sure - I only call what I see.

In your distinct case I think it's more of Metro being uncomfortable with such a schedule/layout. There's probably an aspect of this, as MLD pointed out, as well:

"It's not a priority because not doing it is A) easier for them and B) cheaper for the agency."

by Mainland on Jun 4, 2013 3:18 pm • linkreport

*In an ideal world that is* I wonder how much Metro trusts its own equipment

by Mainland on Jun 4, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

For some reason, this is not a priority.

Easy. Customer service isn't a priority. Convenience isn't a priority.

There's no need for 22-minute headways; hell, I'm not sure there's need for 15-minute headways, if it comes to that. And I'm tired of waiting on the platform for the late, late train (usually at L'Enfant) while track work is going on, on a weeknight, and not getting any sort of acceptable information from the LED board. They put a train up, and keep changing the amount of time given before it comes. And it never comes when it's expected, I swear.

I'm another who refuses to ride on the weekends, now. I do it but rarely, and every time I do I'm reminded of what a lousy idea it was. And I don't even transfer. It's really pathetic.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jun 4, 2013 3:29 pm • linkreport

The few times I've seen them in action, the NoMA short-turn trains didn't actually use the pocket track. Unless I'm remembering incorrectly, the trains just reverse out of the station, and use the crossover north of Union Station to get back onto the correct track.

Yes, this significantly limits throughput, but that's not really a problem when headways are 30 minutes otherwise.

by andrew on Jun 4, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

Andrew, on these weekends, was the single track between NoMa and Rhode Island or Fort Totten? If so, the spare NoMa track may have still have power and was used as a makeshift pocket.

They have done that before when there was single tracking from Judiciary Square to the east, wherein the track made surplus still had power, allowing the operation of short turns from the Shady Grove side.

by A. P. on Jun 4, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

"So tired of hearing about escalators. I could not care less about having to walk (or take elevator if unable to walk) to/from platforms."

Well, that's good for you. But there are lots of folks who will have trouble getting up a flight of non-moving escalator stairs. It puts them at risk (heart attacks, falls, etc.) which puts Metro--and therefore all of us who pay for Metro through taxes and fares--at risk of paying out big bucks in lawsuits. It also slows down both routine entries and exits into stations as well as emergency evacuations (and remember, you're not supposed to use elevators in many emergency situations anyway).

Elevators aren't a full solution because so many of them are broken, and some stations don't have them at both exits. If you are a person who can do escalators but not stairs, and you are trying to use one of the seven stations that currently has at least one elevator out of service, you are going to have to reroute your trip or wait for a shuttle. Is running additional shuttles really cheaper than keeping escalators in good repair?

Also, if people can't rely on escalators, they may decide not to use Metro. One small example: my great-aunt and great-uncle (who are adventuresome world travelers but in their 70s) were in town last summer. We took the metro to an event downtown but the Woodley Park elevator stank of urine so bad we decided to do the escalator, which was broken. That's a looong trip down for someone with a bad knee. He did it, but we took a cab back...three fares less for Metro, and I'd be unlikely to take it with them or other elderly relatives in the future.

Finally, if I can't trust Metro to keep the escalators working, how can I trust them to protect my safety on a vastly more complicated train? Especially since the person in charge of elevator and escalator maintenance was recently rewarded for his "success" with a promotion to heading up train maintenance.

by sbc on Jun 4, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

@sbc: Reminds me of the tourist couple I met near L'Enfant a few weeks ago. They were looking for an elevator into the station. The only street elevator I knew wasn't working; I suggested the escalator, and the wife shook her head. (I got the sense that there was a phobia of some sort in play.) And really, then, the only other option I could think of was go all the way to Archives to use the elevator there.

It's really rather pathetic.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Jun 4, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

Technical question: is it possible to, say, run a train from Shaw into the Mt. Vernon pocket track and then send it back up? Or are pocket tracks one-way only?

by MetroDerp on Jun 4, 2013 6:03 pm • linkreport

@MetroDerp

Pocket tracks allow entry / exit both ways, so you could pull off what you describe.

by Mainland on Jun 4, 2013 6:16 pm • linkreport

Yes, you can do that at every pocket track except National Airport, where they took out some of the turnouts because Metro was too lazy/backward thinking to repair it properly after there was a derailment there.

The only issue is that since the pocket track is close to the one station, the train has to travel further to turn around. The pocket track is basically right after Mt Vernon Sq, so the train would have to go empty from Shaw almost all the way to Mt Vernon to turn around.

by MLD on Jun 4, 2013 6:21 pm • linkreport

WMATA should put info up on their site at the beginning of the month for the entire month; so people have notice well ahead so that riders can plan ahead via bus/rail, walk, bike, cab, get a ride from someone etc. They may give you a week almost for trains but when it comes to buses with events in downtown DC they literally put it up hours before the event.

When it comes to single tracking and shuttles why don’t they use the non-revenue tracks once in a while when it would make things easier? When stations like Metro Center or Ft Totten have detours and trains are limited to 15 or more minutes they could use the tracks with ease and no fear of an accident but don’t.

How much does anyone want to bet that there will be some type of single tracking or closures on the Orange or Silver Lines months after opening? For the testing on the silver line where exactly have they been testing I have never seen a train on the silver lines tracks moving and I travel the route of the silver line every weekend.

It would be nice since the trains are running every 20 or almost 30 minutes on weekends for them to have some type of schedule like connect at transfer stations like they do with the last trains of the night. For example have a Blue or Orange meet at Metro Center with a Red Line Train or have trains stop at the station on the hour and half hour mark so you don’t have to guess when the train will come especially when the PIDS show just Train on them.

by kk on Jun 4, 2013 8:17 pm • linkreport

Aren't all tracks revenue tracks?

by OLP on Jun 4, 2013 9:20 pm • linkreport

I have visited the section of the E Route Green line where the test track is to be built twice in the last 6 months. I have seen no evidence of any work being done. The only work that has been done is the installation of a temporary grade crossing south of the interlocking at the Greenbelt station to allow access to the right of way of the future test track. During my last visit in early April the temporary grade crossing showed no evidence of any equipment ever using it.

The commissioning facility in Greenbelt Yard is a different story. Part of tracks 16 and 17 have been taken out of service and part of track 18 has been removed to allow the construction of the commissioning facility shop building. The track that connects yard lead 1 to shop track 1 has been taken out of service the allow the construction of the parking structure.

by Sand Box John on Jun 5, 2013 12:01 am • linkreport

@kk, the Silver Line is a construction project, not a weekend maintenance job. I've first saw a test train running on the Silver Line over a month ago on a weekday afternoon.

The service interruptions from East Falls Church to WFC or Vienna have been frequent. Hope they can wrap up the testing of the Silver Line switching this summer so the tests after that can mostly be on the SL until it opens. What I wonder is how much weekend work is planned post 2013 from Rosslyn to Stadium Armory, because once the SL starts revenue service, weekend service outages there will disrupt 3 lines.

When they do simile tracking, what non-revenue track is there for them to use? The system should have been built with more (usable) pocket tracks, so they could maintain service frequencies more often on one side or the other of a single track segment.

by AlanF on Jun 5, 2013 12:08 am • linkreport

The Virginia lines are used with incredible frequency. Is this because there are three times any many Metro rail branches in to Maryland than Virginia? Obviously, the planners favored Maryland during the planning and design of Metro yet many of the stations east of the Capitol have not one new development near them or garage parking after decades. Virginia has pounced on their stations creating density at each one. The next lines in Virginia should reach for Annandale, Burke, Woodbridge, and Dale City not to places that don’t want it like Leesburg.

by AndrewJ on Jun 5, 2013 8:08 am • linkreport

Metro is an appallingly mismanaged transit system with a poorly executed, costly, time consuming rehabilitation “plan.” Meanwhile, the Metro Board just increased CEO Sarles’s salary when is he already is by far the most highly paid transit chief in the U.S.

by Rik on Jun 5, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

@ AlanF & OLP

The switch tracks between the Green and Red just before Ft Totten station and the between Metro Center and Farragut North for the Blue, Red and Orange lines.

There is no reason they could not be used when trains are cutting back before the terminal or only running every 30 minutes to provide some extra service.

For example when Red Lines are terminated before the terminal on some weekends why not send a few to Greenbelt.

@ Alan F

I remember not that long after Largo and Morgan Blvd opened they had single tracking, so I would not put any delays out of thought.

by kk on Jun 5, 2013 10:21 pm • linkreport

Tom Toles' cartoon in yesterday's Post said it all. I know that Metro lacks a dedicated funding source, which led to a lot of deferred maintenance. But six years of evening and weekend work is killing community and leisure activities, and it might even kill some businesses.

We live in a close-in suburb and used to go downtown often on the weekends. Not anymore. We work downtown but now we don't do anything there on weekday evenings because when Metro work is underway, the wait is agonizingly long. We would take the bus except that on the weekend, bus service is so infrequent in many places.

A friend recently invited us to join her at Arena Stage on a Saturday. It would have been an easy 25-minute trip from our nearest Green Line station down to southwest D.C. But because of Metro work and station closures, we battled traffic on North Capitol St. and got to the theater with three minutes to spare.

Why is it that unlike with road or building construction/renovation projects, Metro cannot put a target completion date on any of the lines, as in "The Green Line weekend/evening closings will cease in November, 2014"?

We were in New York City last December. In six days of riding the subway during rush hour, mid-day and on weekends, our longest wait for a train was 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, I can't ride a bicycle anymore, but maybe I'll have to consider a moped to get me through years 3 through 6 of the Metro Repair Marathon.

by LK on Jun 6, 2013 6:05 pm • linkreport

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