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Orange Line to New Carrollton…

May 2, 2010, 11:06 PM

That about sums things up for Saturday, along with “Orange Line to Vienna”. See, I went railfanning with Matthew Tilley on Saturday, and our goal was to railfan the heck out of the Orange Line, with the goal of getting good photos of a lot of the stations for Transit Center and Wikipedia.

In doing this, we planned to cross the Orange Line twice. Once out to New Carrollton, and once back in to Vienna. On the run out to New Carrollton, we concentrated on the outdoor stations. The idea was that since we needed daylight to get good shots of the outdoor stations, we would do those first. Then we would do the underground stations after that, since they would look the same regardless of what time of day it was.

So starting with Vienna (I drove out to Vienna to start), we did Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, and East Falls Church, and then jumped over to Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Cheverly, Landover, and finally New Carrollton. We took a break at New Carrollton, and then turned around and did Potomac Avenue, Eastern Market, Capitol South, and Federal Center SW. Then we skipped over to Court House, Clarendon, and Virginia Sq-GMU. Then we went over to Ballston for dinner, and then back to Vienna.

We were on the Orange Line for approximately nine hours, and took seventeen rides – all Orange Line trains, even in the sections shared with the Blue Line (though we had several cars on the same trains, and rode two different cars twice). That gave me an interesting perspective on the Orange Line’s service. First of all, a blown headlight is not enough to cause a train to get pulled out of service. Breda 2042 was running with only one headlight all day. Additionally, two cars were locked off in service (meaning they were running the line, but closed to passengers): CAF 5087, and Alstom 6065. 5087 was pretty much locked off all day, and then I believe 6065 was locked off later on in the day, because I noted the car locked off only on my second ride of 6065 late in the day. On the 5087 pair, it was quite unpleasant on CAF 5086 when we rode it into New Carrollton. The air conditioning was out on that car, and as a result, it was really warm in there. Not a good thing on a day when the high temperature was around 90 degrees. We avoided that pair for the rest of the day, despite that the operator of the train indicated that she was going to try and fix it on the spot at New Carrollton. Whether they fixed it or not, I don’t know, because we didn’t want to chance it.

Additionally, by the end of the day, the trains really started to feel like old friends, because by the end of the day, we were seeing the same trains over and over again, and I was starting to learn which cars were in which consists, and knew if I saw such a car, that such and such other cars would be in that consist. The whole cars-feel-like-friends thing was something I didn’t expect, but then again, I’ve never railfanned to concentrate on a single line like that before. I usually hop around a bit when I railfan, traveling to two or three different terminals in a day on several lines. So that was an interesting feeling.

And otherwise, photography on Metro is alive and well. We had no problems with photography until we got to Virginia Square-GMU, when the station manager figuratively wet his pants when he saw me photographing from the mezzanine. I noticed that I’d gotten a funny look from the station manager when we were exiting, and wondered if something was up.

When Matthew and I railfan, our rule on photography confrontations by Metro employees is like this: I do all the talking. After confirming from multiple sources that any assertions from employees that photography is prohibited on Metro (outside of Pentagon station) are complete and utter fabrications on the employee’s part, my strategy has been to throw the confrontation back at them when confronted. Basically, confront them back, and put the burden on them to prove that it really is prohibited. After all, I know my rights.

Coming back in after getting a few pylon and canopy shots, an employee wearing a dark blue WMATA polo shirt with a second logo on it that I’d never seen before stopped us at the faregates to ask if I was a professional photographer. I explained that I was not, and that amateur photography in public areas of the system is not regulated under Metro’s current rules, and use of tripods is prohibited. He said that I needed to ask the station manager before taking photos in the system next time. I knew that was total bull on his part, but I said “sure” to him, while thinking, whatever, because I knew it was incorrect and unenforceable. I was not required to get any such permission, and wasn’t going to, either. So whatever. It should be noted, though, that I do try to avoid photographing the employees as a courtesy to them, because they don’t all necessarily want to be photographed at work. So I do my best to avoid photographing them unless it’s unavoidable.

Then while balancing my camera on top of one of those bomb-proof trash cans with the lid for a long-exposure photo, a custodian came up to me and told me I can’t photograph in the system. I initially ignored him (holding the camera still on top of the can lid required my full attention), and when he continued, I gave him a polite “hold on” gesture (one raised index finger). Then when the exposure was complete, I gave him my full attention. He said that photography was not allowed, and I basically let him have it. I told him that I knew the rules and knew my rights, and that photography is allowed in the system despite what he might think, and that he would need to produce evidence to the contrary, in writing, in order for me to stop, and told him that I knew the rules, and knew my rights. He backed off, because he knew that I had him, because he knew no such regulation existed for him to produce except in his own imagination. If he had threatened to call Transit Police, I would have volunteered to call them myself (I have them programmed in my phone). All in all, score! I came out on top, though I would have loved to have made a big scene about it and gotten Transit Police involved. My only regret is that I didn’t get the custodian’s name so I could report him.

After the confrontation, we went down to the platform and continued photographing, mainly just to piss them off. I didn’t care what I was photographing, but I just wanted to be sure that the camera was running the whole time. They left us alone, though you could hear the custodian talking about us from the mezzanine.

And lastly, it was interesting to watch the people change as the day went on. We started out just before noon, and the place was packed with tourists. Then later, substitute tourists for sports fans, as DC United had a game at RFK. Then finally, you had the nightlife crowd, with the women all dressed up, and their male companions looking slightly less dumpy than usual. I’d never noticed that change in the composition of our fellow riders over the course of the day before, and so that was fun to see.

Meanwhile, here are some highlights from the photo take…

Obviously, no one has told this girl at West Falls Church that it is a fashion sin to wear short shorts and boots together. A skirt with those boots, sure, but not short shorts.
Obviously, no one has told this girl at West Falls Church that it is a fashion sin to wear short shorts and boots together. A skirt with those boots, sure, but not short shorts.

Apparently, the unused bridge pier for the eventual Silver Line (N Route) connection has been refurbished in preparation for its actual use with the line to Dulles. It was light gray in color, and the rebar coming out of the top was shiny. Previous photos of that stub (from 2004 and from 2006) showed that same object as being brown in color, and the rebar was dark.
Apparently, the unused bridge pier for the eventual Silver Line (N Route) connection has been refurbished in preparation for its actual use with the line to Dulles. It was light gray in color, and the rebar coming out of the top was shiny. Previous photos of that stub (from 2004 and from 2006) showed that same object as being brown in color, and the rebar was dark.

Major delays on the Blue and Yellow Lines due to track work near King Street, which significantly affected service on those lines. It should be noted that every westbound Blue Line train we saw was signed for Huntington rather than Franconia-Springfield.
Major delays on the Blue and Yellow Lines due to track work near King Street, which significantly affected service on those lines. It should be noted that every westbound Blue Line train we saw was signed for Huntington rather than Franconia-Springfield.

Here's something for Unsuck DC Metro, showing improvised signage on a faregate. I also noticed that a lot of stations placed masking tape over the card slots where the faregates showed a red light (i.e. don't use this one).
Here’s something for Unsuck DC Metro, showing improvised signage on a faregate. I also noticed that a lot of stations placed masking tape over the card slots where the faregates showed a red light (i.e. don’t use this one).

Cheverly, viewed from the mezzanine.
Cheverly, viewed from the mezzanine.

Broken bumpy tile, at Cheverly in this case. We saw instances of this at just about all of the outdoor stations on the D Route, from Minnesota Avenue to New Carrollton. There were also a few cases where the platform edges were uneven, nearly causing me to lose my balance at one point.
Broken bumpy tile, at Cheverly in this case. We saw instances of this at just about all of the outdoor stations on the D Route, from Minnesota Avenue to New Carrollton. There were also a few cases where the platform edges were uneven, nearly causing me to lose my balance at one point.

I photographed Matthew in front of one of the platform pylons in Eastern Market. He wanted to wear his sunglasses for the photo, as seen at left. I was like, "Why? There's no sun in here." But he insisted, so we shot it that way. Then I made him switch to his regular glasses, and got him again.  I photographed Matthew in front of one of the platform pylons in Eastern Market. He wanted to wear his sunglasses for the photo, as seen at left. I was like, "Why? There's no sun in here." But he insisted, so we shot it that way. Then I made him switch to his regular glasses, and got him again.
I photographed Matthew in front of one of the platform pylons in Eastern Market. He wanted to wear his sunglasses for the photo, as seen at left. I was like, “Why? There’s no sun in here.” But he insisted, so we shot it that way. Then I made him switch to his regular glasses, and got him again.

Clarendon wins the darkest-station award for the day. Seriously, a LOT of the center lights were out, and those that were working were really dim.
Clarendon wins the darkest-station award for the day. Seriously, a LOT of the center lights were out, and those that were working were really dim.

Kiosk at Virginia Square-GMU. One pack of Depends needs to go out for this station manager, please...
Kiosk at Virginia Square-GMU. One pack of Depends needs to go out for this station manager, please…

Darkened interior of the locked-off CAF 5087 at Vienna.
Darkened interior of the locked-off CAF 5087 at Vienna.

Matthew in front of Alstom 6013 at Vienna.
Matthew in front of Alstom 6013 at Vienna.

So as you can see, we had fun! And we visited every station that we had planned, even though I was pretty open about our plan being highly ambitious, and that we probably would have to start cutting stations at some point depending on how time worked out.

Web site: Someone rides a nearly empty 5000-Series car (CAF 5182, I believe) in the snow back in December...

Song: No Pants Metro Ride 2010

Quote: Amusing: When Matthew and I bought drinks at New Carrollton, without realizing it, we both picked beverages that were orange in color. How fitting, no?

Categories: Matthew, WMATA