We wanted to take a trip to the other side of the DC area Friday and Saturday for SPX. A ride on metrorail, according to various trip calculators, involves one transfer and will take a little over an hour each way.
Before our trip, I conscientiously checked wmata.com for any advisories or warnings or disasters.
According to the site, our local Yellow line would only be running to where it runs during rush hour (which is more than far enough), trains would be fewer (unfortunately common enough), and there is a schedule adjustment in effect. On the Red line, trains will be slow exactly where we wanted to go. And some riders, only some, mind you, would experience delays if they happen to travel North of the Southernmost point. Well. Amusingly Orwellian, but apparently only going to cost us like twenty minutes during the transfer between the two. Not bad for a weekend.
After paying and standing inside the station, a loudspeaker surprisingly further explained that “adjustment.” Starting Friday night, the Yellow line isn’t running trains in or out of our town. It’s a limited, delayed run to nowhere. No airport, no DC, no rest of the train system. Buses will be provided to fill the gap.
Oh…OK. That shouldn’t have been last on the list and it certainly shouldn’t have been Bowdlerized. We’ll have a much more complicated ride back, I guess.
Arriving at this sudden new end of the line, we found a mob. Nats fans. Stranded people. Whatever. At midnight. Lines for the escalators. Confusion at the trains turning around. Lines for the shuttle buses. Buses packed as tight as possible. A long, long drive down a long gap in the system. And, at the end, another long line and crowd waiting for those delayed trains that went nowhere but our house. No real buses running, because, hey, who goes home on a Friday night? So we hopped in a cab. 29 miles total. Over two hours of unpleasant travel. And we cut it short.
The next day, the real busses were running, so we bypassed the gap. Slowly. Our fare cards didn’t work, because the whole shuttle bus thing the night before confuses the 1970s computer system into thinking we never left. We still had to transfer, but it went OK. We had seats. Things made sense. Two hours.
Going home…my card didn’t work again? The train went one stop. The train lurched and limped. The train sat in siren-filled darkness. The driver didn’t know how to use his broken intercom. Totally mysterious to us. And we still had a transfer and a long bus ride to go. My wife made a pessimistic joke tweet before we began. 100% accurate. Two and a half hours. Spirit broken.
It’s been a recurring thing, how Metro will essentially shut down unless it is rush hour and you are on a popular train. But the information provided this time was just lies and omission. Even the next bus and train info was blank half the time. I am furious. This was not an emergency. This was not an unstoppable force of nature. This was someone’s plan to fix like three switches. They’ve since updated the site to mention the fact they’ve closed stations. But it’s still mentioned last.
I don’t know how anyone could have made it back and forth from SPX and National Airport. Like, you know, a convention goer might.
Don’t use metro on a weekend. Don’t use metro if you visit DC.