Tonight’s commute was definitely more exciting than most…

May 14, 2013, 10:09 PM

Yes, tonight’s commute was definitely more exciting than most.  You may have heard about the Red Line train that caught fire this evening at Silver Spring.  That was my train.  Apparently the Metro gods thought we all needed a little excitement in our commutes this evening.  And that’s exactly what we got.

The ride started out pretty normally.  I got the train at Dupont Circle, boarding Breda 3147 – the lead car.  I was doing Facebook, and noticed this man who looked like a very serious businessman in a suit with his tablet computer and all that…

...but he's playing Angry Birds.

…and then I noticed that he was actually playing Angry Birds on his tablet.

When we got to Takoma, the train operator powered the train down and left the cab.  My first thought was that he was being relieved to use the restroom, and that a supervisor would be taking over the train shortly.  But no supervisor arrived, and I was starting to get a little bit concerned about when we were going to leave Takoma station.

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Categories: Commuting, WMATA

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have just defeated Metro’s bag inspections.”

December 12, 2012, 10:40 PM

As summed up in this tweet, this evening’s commute was definitely a memorable one for me.  The ride itself was uneventful, but the events leading up to it demonstrated major flaws in Metro’s random bag inspection program (which has been discussed in this space in 2008 and in 2010) and proves that it will never catch anythingEver.

My evening commute got started as it usually does.  I packed up my stuff, walked over to Dupont Circle station, and went down the brand new south escalators.  Coming down the escalator, I noticed signage at the bottom that indicated that Metro was doing its random bag inspections.  That was a first – I’d never seen one of those happen in person before.  There were two Transit Police officers standing behind a table, swabbing people’s bags.  No one said anything to me.  Then as I headed toward the faregates, the female Transit Police officer standing in front of the kiosk stopped me and said that I had been selected for screening.

I was a bit surprised about that.  I figured this would be just walking by and watching as Metro unnecessarily slowed people down on their way home from work.  I never imagined that I would be the one getting chosen for extra scrutiny.  I knew that I wasn’t going to take this one lying down.  My exact words to the officer were, “I am refusing the search,” and I went back up the escalator.  According to a quote from Metro in a 2010 Washington Post article on the subject, a person who “refuses to submit their carry-on items for inspection will be prohibited from bringing those items into the station.”  Note that.  Since I refused the search, I was, based on information provided to the public, prohibited from bringing my blue work bag onto Metro, which contained an umbrella, my by-then-empty lunch container, my transit log book, a set of keys, and a few various odds and ends (mostly junk – I really need to clean out my bag).

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Categories: Commuting, Security, WMATA

So I got to ride Metro in the dark tonight!

November 16, 2011, 1:03 AM

First of all, yes – it is in fact 1:00 in the morning as I write this. Right now, I am sufficiently pissed off to the point that I can’t sleep until I get a few things off my chest.

So after a wonderful evening out with my coworkers in Adams Morgan, I headed over to take the Metro home. Because of where I was, I walked over to Woodley Park. By the way, now that I’m in so much better shape, the walk through Adams Morgan and out to Woodley Park station was like nothing. It used to be quite a hike.

So I got my Red Line train to Glenmont at Woodley Park, and to my surprise, the third and fourth cars in the eight-car train, Rohrs 1261 and 1260 respectively, were in service and dark. I boarded 1260. There were only two lights on in the entire car – over the left-side end door at each end of the train when facing the bulkhead door at each end, i.e. over the 5-6 door, and the 7-8 door. In other words, Rohr 1260 looked like this:

Rohr 1260 with lights out.  Most of the light you see here is from station lighting at NoMa-Gallaudet U station.

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Third time’s the charm when it comes to Metro, apparently…

March 29, 2011, 10:00 PM

I certainly had an exciting commute home this evening, that’s for sure. My commute took 35 minutes longer than usual, and involved three Metro trains and one Ride On bus. Of those, one train and the bus are considered normal for my commute. I have a one-seat train ride, you see, going from Dupont Circle to Glenmont in the evening (and vice versa in the morning).

So on this evening’s commute, I went down into Dupont Circle station at exactly 5:44 PM according to the clock on the SunTrust building in Dupont Circle, as per usual. I got down into the station, and missed catching Breda 4018 (best known for being the struck train in the Woodley Park-Zoo accident) by seconds. Seriously, if the mezzanine-to-platform escalator had been running, I would have made that train, and ridden Breda 4018 home. But since I missed it, I had to wait on the platform for the next Glenmont train, sitting out one Silver Spring train in the process.

When my Glenmont train came, it was headed by Breda 3021 (I ride in the lead car coming home). This was pretty normal so far. I got in, got a seat right away, and got comfortable for my ride home. We made it from Dupont Circle all the way to Takoma station without incident. Then at Takoma, we started having a door problem. The train operator started going around and around and around with the doors, opening, closing, opening, closing, etc. trying to get the doors to do what they were supposed to do. Once I saw the train operator get on the radio, though, I knew what was likely coming next.

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Categories: Commuting, WMATA

Wednesday’s commute home was perhaps one of the most challenging driving experiences I’ve ever had…

January 28, 2011, 9:09 PM

It was also the most unpleasant, for that matter. Wednesday, January 26, you see, the DC area was hit by a fairly large snowstorm. I think the area got about eight inches of snow, which, by last winter’s standards would be just a dusting, but by this year’s standards so far was a major snowstorm.

I think my biggest mistake was that since I had the car with me (due to work-related errands that I needed to run), I decided to wait to leave until it was likely too late. So I ended up getting a six-hour snow tour around Washington DC, watching transformer explosions light up the sky and testing every nerve in my body in the process. And both the car and I came out just fine, thank you.

I left the office around 5:30 on Wednesday, sending a tweet to announce my departure:

I’m outta here: LSMFT @capitalweather: Heavy snow overspreading entire region
January 26 5:27 PM

It was in the early stages of being dark, and I figured I was doing fairly well. Traffic was heavy, but moving, albeit slowly.

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This morning’s commute was a time that I would have liked to have been Luigi.

January 18, 2011, 11:08 PM

Yes, that Luigi.

You have to realize, you see, that when it comes to Mario games, I am in the minority on which one I like best. My favorite of the early Mario games is Super Mario 2, which, based on what I see on the Internet, most people don’t like. So when I say that today would have been a good Luigi day, I’m thinking of that version of Luigi. I’m talking about the one who kicks his legs when he jumps way further and higher than everyone else.

See, coming to work today, it was icy, being on the heels of a bout of sleet, snow, and freezing rain (in that order) overnight. And so getting to the bus and then to the office were both a little treacherous this morning. So if I were Luigi, you see, I would look like this going to the bus on a morning like this morning:

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“I’ll be home a little before 7:00.”

October 22, 2007, 8:06 PM

Famous last words.

I got home at 8:00, and we can say there’s never a dull moment when riding Metro. First of all, my morning commute went swimmingly, and I had a good day at work. However, the evening commute was another story. Normally, going home, I walk to Dupont Circle, I take a Red Line train to Glenmont, and then Ride-On’s 51 bus. But today, due to a fire at Union Station, it took three trains, a bus, and a two-block walk to get home.

So I walked to Dupont Circle, talking to Mom on the phone as I walked. Then I got my Red Line train to Glenmont at Dupont Circle. CAF 5140. So we’re off. Farragut North. Metro Center. Gallery Pl-Chinatown. Judiciary Square. Stop in the tunnel. Sit. Hold. Meanwhile, I was somewhat absorbed in the game of Scrabble that I was playing on my phone, while listening to Randi Rhodes (with Lionel sitting in), so it took me a while to even realize we were stopped. I realized, wait a second, we’re not moving. Then the operator came on the PA. “Due to a fire at Union Station, I have been instructed to bring this train back to Judiciary Square.” So then the little interior LED, which until now said “RED” on it, went blank. The operator gets out, and walks through the train to the other end. Then the interior LED comes on again, and it says “RED” on it, which means the operator is on the Shady Grove end of the train, and he’s turned the train back on.  Which means we’ve gone from this:

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Categories: Commuting, WMATA

The things you see at Dupont Circle…

September 26, 2007, 8:19 PM

Here’s why I love working near Dupont Circle. It’s because you never know what you’re going to see. And this isn’t even political – it’s sometimes just downright off the wall. Seriously.

Now coming out of the Metro through Dupont Circle station’s south entrance in the morning, you’ll normally see several people. There’s the guy handing out the Express, the guy handing out the Examiner, you’ll possibly see a person playing music, and sometimes people handing out flyers for the deal-du-jour. Today, there was a guy handing out flyers… wearing a chicken suit. Well, actually, I think he was supposed to be a rooster, based on the appearance. But regardless, there he was. Check it out…

A man in a rooster costume hands out literature at Dupont Circle station

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Categories: Amusing, Commuting

It’s raining…

August 21, 2007, 6:23 AM

I think today will mark the first time I’ll have had to wait for the bus in the morning in the rain. It’s raining this morning, and so this will be an interesting experience.

I think I’m also going to take a cue from some of my female Metro companions today as far as footwear goes. Some of them will make their commute in sneakers and then change shoes once they get to work. I’m thinking that with this weather, I’m going to commute in my Crocs, which I don’t care about getting wet, and then switch to my nice shoes once I get to work. The thought of spending all day in wet, nasty shoes is a bit beyond my tolerance threshold.

Otherwise, though, today’s my Infoshop day, which means that rather than going straight home after work, I swing by ye olde Infoshop after work and say hi to Maddy and whoever else is there. The Infoshop is a fun place. I’ve barely beaten the rain on a few occasions going over there…

Categories: Commuting, Shoes

Got my exercise first thing in the morning today…

August 16, 2007, 7:29 PM

This morning, I got my exercise early. I’m walking down my street, I’m getting close to the corner, and I saw a large, white vehicle ahead of me at the opposite corner. It’s my bus. Immediately, my walk turned into a sprint, as I totally started booking it to make my bus (the bus was early, as it wasn’t supposed to be there for another five minutes). I sprinted across the northbound lanes of Georgia Avenue without much difficulty, and then traffic prevented me from sprinting across the southbound lanes right away. I did, however, get the Metrobus operator’s attention while I was in the median, and considering the bus was early anyway, I’d hoped he would hold long enough for me to catch him. Instead, while I was sprinting across the southbound lanes, he shut the door and started taking off, nearly running me over in the process. Nice guy.

So I missed the bus, no thanks to the bus operator. Okay, though, we’re flexible. I ended up walking up from my street to the next stop, about a quarter mile or so up the road. I figure from there, since my regular bus (though this wasn’t the regular driver) kicked me to the curb, I can either catch the next Y bus, or catch Ride-On’s 51 (whichever comes first), which skips my regular morning stop (it turns a corner there coming from Norbeck Park and Ride), but does take the next one. So I ended up taking the 51 to Glenmont, and then from there I caught the Red Line for my normal Metro commute.

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Categories: Commuting, Ride On, WMATA

“May I send them through the bulkhead door?”

July 25, 2007, 6:53 PM

Today on my way home from work, I got Rohr 1064, the second car in an eight-car train. The car had relatively new carpeting (it was the newer CAF-style striped carpet vs. the solid orange carpet), but mechanically, unless it’s going to see a second rehab, its best days are behind it, I’m afraid.

Here’s what happened. I’m talking on the phone to Mom. The train pulled into Rhode Island Avenue station. *ding ding* Doors opening! Step back to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car. Doors remained firmly closed. *ding dong ding dong* Step back, doors closing! *ding ding* Doors opening! Step back to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car. *ding dong ding dong* Step back, doors closing! *ding ding* Doors opening! Step back to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car. Doors were still firmly closed. I tried to signal to the customers at the door to use the bulkhead door. They didn’t understand my signal. So I said, “Mom? I’ll call you back.” So now I got up, and headed over to the end of the car, and hit the intercom button. The train operator answered, and I told him, “The doors aren’t opening on 1064. May I send them through the bulkhead door?” The operator answered, “That is correct.” So I grabbed the handle and pulled open the bulkhead door on the “blind” end of 1064. Then I reached through and opened the bulkhead door of 1065, and pushed that door open. Then I addressed the car, saying, “Anyone who’s getting off here needs to go through this door to the next car.” About six or so people went through. “Anyone else?” Getting no further response from my fellow passengers, I gave the train operator, who was standing at the cab door of 1065 observing the operation, a thumbs-up sign to indicate that we were done, and closed the bulkhead doors. The operator closed the doors, and we were off.

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Categories: Commuting, WMATA

My birthday was good, with the exception of the morning commute.

May 30, 2007, 6:40 PM

So I had a good birthday. Thanks to all who IMed me, texted me, and left me messages on my Wikipedia talk page. And also thank you to all my coworkers who wished me a happy birthday.

However, the day started off like it was going to suck. My commute to work did not go very well. I think one could say it sucked. First of all, my regular bus never showed up. I usually take the Y5, which usually shows up right around 7:35 to take me to the Metro, give or take a couple of minutes. I get to the bus stop at 7:30, and the bus is there moments later. The Y5 never showed this morning. So 7:35 passes. Then 7:40. Then 7:45. Finally at 7:50, a bus shows up. It’s another Y5, and it’s Flxible 9769, which, interestingly enough, was the bus that took me home from Glenmont yesterday. So I got on, and rode into Glenmont station to catch the Metro. Then on the Metro, it was a slow ride aboard Breda 2066 – a rehab. It went well at first, though. We were going fairly smoothly until about Union Station. Then it was very much stop and go. I’m guessing that the trains got bunched up because of Union Station, Metro Center, Gallery Pl-Chinatown, and Farragut North – all very busy stations. At Farragut North, the operator for some reason turned off the train while we waited. So the little “RED” on the LED went out. That meant that we weren’t moving until that “RED” came back on. It did, and we took off again. Once we left Farragut North, it was smooth sailing as far as I was concerned. I was getting off at Dupont Circle – the next station. Then I got to work, and that was the end of my commute. Thank goodness.

Now the return commute was a breeze. I planted myself in a seat on Rohr 1100 next to a door partition, and the next thing I knew, we were at Glenmont. I kind of conked out for that ride. A nice late-afternoon nap always does a person good, and it’s a testament to the smoothness of Metro’s ride when I can go to sleep like that. Then I got Ride On’s 25th Anniversary bus on the 51 back to my house.

So, yeah, it was a nice birthday, except for the morning commute. Now I just have to iron clothes, make tomorrow’s lunch, and eat dinner (in that order), and then go to bed.

Categories: Birthdays, Commuting, WMATA

I realize that the 4000-series cars are 16 years old now, but still…

May 23, 2007, 7:30 PM

Let me say that my ride on Breda 4045 this evening on the way home from work was not pleasant. And it’s because the car was experiencing a mechanical issue, but not enough to pull the train from service. If you can imagine this, the car was vibrating pretty hard near the wheel truck on the “blind” (non-cab) end. And it was making a sound resembling that of a lawn mower. This from a car that’s normally supposed to make that nice buzzing sound that Bredas are known for.

And I had to deal with this from Dupont Circle all the way to Glenmont. All that vibration started to make me feel a little ill, too. After all, I was sitting on the right side of the car, facing the blind end, in the first row after the doors. In other words, I was right on top of it. Not fun.

And for those of you who are wondering, even though I now ride the Metro every day, I still take my little notepad with me and write down train numbers.

Categories: Commuting, WMATA