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“This is a Yellow Line train to Stadium-Armory!”

February 12, 2012, 7:47 PM

Yes, you read that right. This weekend, Metro ran an unusual Yellow Line service due to the need to shut down the Fenwick Bridge over the Potomac River to do track maintenance. Because of this, the Yellow Line ran between Huntington and Stadium-Armory, following the Blue Line’s normal route through Arlington Cemetery and Metro Center. And the destination signs for northbound/eastbound trains appeared as such:

Yellow Line to Stadium-Armory

Thus going through the downtown area, you had three services running along the C and D Routes through downtown: Orange Line, Blue Line, and Yellow Line. There was no Yellow Line service along the E and F Routes in the downtown area (so it was Green only through there), and service was suspended entirely in both directions on the L Route (the bridge).

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Categories: WMATA

Something funny about shooting photos in the Metro of people with no pants on…

January 8, 2012, 7:09 PM

Yes, today was the day of Capitol Improv‘s annual “No Pants Metro Ride”. It was exactly what it sounds like: people come in and ride Metro with no pants on. Basically, people have shoes on, are fully dressed from the waist up, and are wearing their underwear, but the pants are missing.

Now you may recall that I went to this event last year and covered it for Schumin Web, though the photos never got any further than a Journal entry for various reasons. This year, I went again, and I was once again out to photograph the excitement, while keeping my pants firmly on my body. Considering that I covered the event pretty well last year, I decided to make the photography more interesting for myself. Thus I shot everything in black and white. Black and white, you see, makes you look at things differently, and think differently as a result. Black and white photography makes you look at lightness and darkness and the play between them, while color photography obviously focuses more on colors. And like Big Mavica, the Canon won’t stay in black and white if you turn it off. You have to set it to black and white every time you turn it on. Trust me when I say I got really good at quickly setting the camera to black and white every time I powered it on.

So at 2:00, everyone met up at Hancock Park, which is a small open space in DC across the street from the north entrance to L’Enfant Plaza station. There, they laid out the course and gave some advice on how to do things.

Bruce (with the bullhorn) discusses the course, explaining how Dupont Circle is probably the furthest west that participants should go on the Red Line.
Bruce (with the bullhorn) discusses the course, explaining how Dupont Circle is probably the furthest west that participants should go on the Red Line.

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Categories: Events, WMATA

So I got a follow-up message from Metro about my photography incident…

November 28, 2011, 11:26 PM

You may recall that a couple of weeks ago, I was harassed by a Metro Transit Police officer regarding photography while riding on Rohr 1260. Today, I got a response:

Dear Mr. Schumin:

Thank you for contacting Metro. Every Metro employee is responsible for professional and accurate information. Metro does not tolerate conduct that falls short of that standard. The detailed information you provided was forwarded to a Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) Superior for review and investigation. Thank you for bringing this important matter to our attention.

[I am deliberately omitting the standard paragraphs about calling or using the site]

Sincerely,

Jeannie Greene-Barr
Rail Customer Service

Case # 669011

“Safety is our number one priority”

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Categories: 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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My first Breda ride…

October 11, 2011, 10:22 PM

So I was scanning again on Sunday, since I brought all the old photos up from Stuarts Draft a few weeks ago.  Among other things, I scanned in the photos from our family’s first trip to Washington DC, which we did with friends of ours visiting from out of town, on June 21, 1994.  The night before, all of us had stayed with another friend in Tracys Landing, Maryland, and then drove over to Pentagon City Mall, where we caught the Metro at Pentagon City.  We rode into DC from there to McPherson Square.  That first ride was on a Rohr (1000-Series) car, since I specifically remember the red door release covers from that ride.

Getting off the Metro, we toured the White House, went to the Natural History museum, and then saw the Air and Space Museum.  Not too bad.  We were definitely all tourists on that trip, and so we did the tourist thing.

Then on the way back, we took Metro from Smithsonian back to Pentagon City.  As chance would have it, either Mom or Dad took a picture of me on the return trip home.  And much to my surprise, in looking at the photo this weekend, it turns out that the return trip was on a Breda:

My first Breda ride, from June 21, 1994

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Categories: Washington DC, WMATA

When writing Metro’s customer service, remember: be polite, be specific, and keep it to the point.

October 3, 2011, 6:31 PM

So many people complain on the Twitter about having a bad time contacting Metro’s customer service. Take this exchange from earlier today between @jb_martin and myself, for example:

#WMATA‘s cust srvc dept needs a complete sandblasting from top to bottom…a child could handle complaints better than they could.
October 3 10:23 AM by @jb_martin

@jb_martin @FixWMATA WMATA customer service gives good service as long as you are polite, specific, and to the point. Doing that? #wmata
October 3 10:45 AM by @SchuminWeb

@SchuminWeb do you happen to have the coordinates for the gateway to the parallel universe you’re obviously referring to? @FixWMATA
October 3 12:08 PM by @jb_martin

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who has nice things to say about Metro’s customer service department. But if I have a concern that I need addressed, I am polite, specific, and to the point. I do not provide my personal opinion about what I may or may not consider the value and importance of what I am bringing to their attention. Obviously, if I am still thinking about it when I get to a real computer and go to Metro’s comment form to send Metro a note, it is assumed that it is important to me. However, while I make no explicit value judgments, I will try to give an educated guess as to what I believe the problem might be if I can.

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Categories: Social media, WMATA

My trip to Stuarts Draft… via Amtrak!

September 27, 2011, 10:41 PM

So this is actually a Video Journal entry. And here it is:

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Well, I’ll be darned – Metro passed the test.

September 10, 2011, 9:08 PM

Well, I did exactly what I said I was going to do in my previous Journal entry. I did some railfan photography on the day before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, expecting to be confronted so that I could give ’em the smackdown about not following the WMATA photo policy. And (surprisingly), Metro passed the test. 176 photos later, I left the system for the day at Glenmont without a single negative word from a Metro employee.

I was impressed. And I was being really blatant about my photography, on purpose. At one point, I was holding the camera in the air above my head and snapping photos on the platform while going through Gallery Place. I even specifically photographed the kiosk at all of the stations I visited – Glenmont, Fort Totten, and Gallery Place. Take a look:

Glenmont kiosk on the way in, photographed from the elevator.
Glenmont kiosk on the way in, photographed from the elevator.

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Categories: Photography, Security, WMATA

It is time to put WMATA’s knowledge of its own photography policy to the test…

September 9, 2011, 8:02 PM

Let me tell you… tomorrow is going to be fun. I’m heading into DC tomorrow for a Wikipedia meetup. On the way over, I’m going to be doing a little railfan photography.

The railfan photography is going to look something like this, I’m sure:

Gallery Pl-Chinatown station

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Categories: Photography, Security, WMATA

I am now part of the SmarTrip pass test group…

August 31, 2011, 11:20 PM

So I was waiting for the bus this morning, and was checking my Email on my phone. I got a message with the subject of “Pilot Invitation” from a sender called “noreply”. Turns out that “noreply” was short for “noreply@wmata.com”, and the Email was to notify me that I was randomly selected to participate in the load-your-passes-onto-SmarTrip program. Here’s the message:

To SmarTrip® Account Holder

You have been randomly selected to participate in a pilot of several new system functions.

We sincerely regret to inform our MTA customers that the MTA system does not yet support these new functions.
We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause our MTA customers.

These functions will enable you to use your credit card to purchase stored value and passes for your SmarTrip® card.
You will also be able to save your credit card information to use for future purchases, and to print detailed receipts.

The next time you log in to your SmarTrip® account, you will see several new links on your account pages. For example, on the page with the header “View Card Summary”, you will see the following changes:

– A shopping cart icon on the left side of the screen
– A new group of links under the heading “Online Purchases” on the upper right section of the screen; and
– Within the text in the middle of the screen, there are links to “Add value” and “Add Pass”.

Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the new functions, and the steps that you will need to follow to load your purchases onto your SmarTrip® card.

These new features are intended to make it more convenient for you to manage the balances on your cards and avoid the lines at ticket vending machines.

We encourage you to take advantage of these new features. If you have questions, or experience any problems when using these new features, please contact the Regional Customer Service Center at 1-888-762-7874.

Your SmarTrip® Account Team

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Categories: WMATA

In 24 hours, I still won’t (quite) be in Chicago…

August 3, 2011, 7:59 AM

…but I will be much closer than I am right now and closing. Yes, 24 hours from now, Mom and I will probably be crossing through northern Indiana on the Capitol Limited in preparation for an 8:45 AM arrival at Chicago Union Station.

This trip is going to be fun. It will be a cool 83 degrees in Chicago while we’re there (it’s been a bit warmer than that in DC lately, trust me), and we’re going to have a lot of fun. Among other things, we’re going to see the new Marilyn Monroe statue, and see a play that Chris (my brother-in-law) is acting in. That I’m particularly excited about, because in all the years I’ve known Chris, I’ve never seen him act, save for a short demo reel on his site. I’m told this will be a children’s version of The Wizard of Oz, which should be fun.

Meanwhile, victory – I was able to explain to Mom in a way that she understood about why the monumental task of converting the site to WordPress is better than what I do now. I showed her the back end of the site and how I can update everything via a Web interface (once I finish building the skin), and how easy this is going to be. I think that Mom was able to wrap her mind around it, at least well enough to get the general concept, and understanding that this WordPress site I showed her really will be Schumin Web when it’s all said and done.

Then I was amazed to find what difference a little water makes. I didn’t have anything to drink all day yesterday on account of being so busy at the office, and I really started to drag in the evening. Turned out that I was just a wee bit dehydrated. All my energy came back once Mom and I got home and I drained one of my steel water bottles.

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Categories: Chicago, Family, WMATA

Metro has officially let the cat out of the bag…

July 25, 2011, 9:43 PM

It’s true. The cat is out of the bag. Last week, because of the extreme heat, Metro relaxed its longstanding prohibition on consuming beverages in the system, allowing riders “to carry and consume bottles of water on the system.” Take a look:

Metro's press release allowing water on trains
(Click it to see the full view of it, screen-capped from Metro’s site)

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Categories: CTA, MBTA, Weather, WMATA

This is why the next-to-last station will show no trains on the inbound display screen, and why no trains on screen is often acceptable…

May 31, 2011, 9:45 PM

So I was perusing the Twitter this morning, and came upon this tweet by FixWMATA:

Inbound PID at Eisenhower during “Peak of the Peak” morning rush. #wmata http://twitpic.com/5500rj
May 31 7:34 AM

FixWMATA's image of the Eisenhower Avenue PIDS
Photo: FixWMATA

What you are looking at is purported to be the PIDS screen on the inbound side of Eisenhower Avenue station.  Other details in the photo seem to confirm this. The concern being raised here is that the PIDS screen is blank.

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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

Metro cars with black floors, wool seats, and overly “busy” patterns…

March 2, 2011, 10:57 PM

One of the people I work with, when taking the Orange Line, happened to get Alstom 6027 for their ride into Washington today, and was surprised about the seat patterns being employed there. For those who don’t know, Alstom 6027 is one of two Metro cars (the other being its mate, Alstom 6026) that have been outfitted with some new materials that Metro is testing for future use on rail cars. Specifically, Metro is testing out certain types of resilient flooring and different patterns for wool seat pad covers on this car, having first outfitted the cars like this in late 2008.

On the resilient flooring, Metro seems to be primarily testing colors across the 6026-6027 pair. 6026 has a black floor:

Alstom 6026

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Categories: WMATA