Photo by Ellen Balin Mullally
Photo by Ellen B. Mullally

Like many people who live in Maryland and work in DC, I ride the Metro to work. If things go smoothly, it takes between 50 and 60 minutes from the time I leave my house to the time I arrive at the office, including 35 to 40 minutes on the train itself.

Unfortunately, things don’t usually go smoothly. More and more these days, I’m hearing the words that every Metro passenger dreads: We’re experiencing delays. Even worse are the days when I hear this dreaded sentence: We’re single tracking between [1st Station Name] and [2nd Station Name]. In case you’re not familiar with this phenomenon—and consider yourself lucky if you’re not—it’s when the track in one direction is shut down, causing trains in both directions to share a single track.

Believe it or not, two entire lines are currently single tracking. I don’t ride either of them, but my time is coming later this summer. And I’ve definitely had my fair share of delays and annoying incidents recently.

A couple of weeks ago, for example, passengers were directed to get on one train because a second was out of service. (Because the station closest to my house is the first stop on the line, trains leave from both sides.) Just as I was getting settled into my seat, the doors to the supposedly out-of-service train opened and they announced it was about to leave. Not everyone realized what was going on since, you guessed it, the PA system sucks. I made it, but a lot of pissed-off people weren’t as fortunate.

While it’s no surprise this is a big story here in the DC area, it’s actually received attention from outlets such as The New York Times and U.S. News & World Report, especially in the wake of a system-wide closure on March 16 for emergency repairs.

There’s even a Twitter feed called UnsuckDCMetro with more than 53,000 followers. I don’t tweet, but I do belong to a small Facebook group dedicated to riding the Metro called Commuting with Applesauce. My friend who started it is actually thinking about accepting advertising.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Wide-spread repairs are clearly needed. But, how did they let it get this bad? And how long is it going to take to fix? Hopefully it will be sooner, rather than later, but I’m not holding my breath.

Anyone have a helicopter I can borrow for a few months?

Photo by Ellen Balin Mullally
Photo by Ellen B. Mullally

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