Metro Crowds Prompt Fear, Diminish Sanity

By Kriston Capps
|  Sunday, Oct 31, 2010  |  Updated 2:08 PM EDT
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    Two people were seriously hurt at the L'Enfant Metro station Saturday. As News4's Darcy Spencer reports the Metro system appeared overloaded by a surge of people rushing to get to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

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    Crowds hoping to use Metro to travel to and from the National Mall for today's Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear faced many inconveniences.

    At least four people faced injuries.

    A little after 2:00 p.m., there was a Metro escalator accident at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. There was a malfunction with the escalator while people were riding it. Four people were injuried. None of their injuries were life threateing.

    John Tufarolo, a Metro rider who said that he was on the escalators at the time of the malfunction, said that the down escalators suddenly began moving very quickly.

    "It made a mechanical sound and released, suddenly accelerating much faster than normal, piling people up" at the bottom where people get off the escalators.

    According to Tufarolo, people were unable to leave the escalators as fast as they were being conveyed.

    "It was a pretty big adrenaline rush," said Tufarolo. "I got flung off to the floor and pulled my wife out."

    Metro officials opened the turnstyles to let people leave the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station more quickly.

    Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokesperson Angela Gates confirmed that people were seeking medical assitance. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Pete Piringer said that Fire and EMS was working to transport injured people for treatment.

    The 9th and D Streets NW entrance to the the L'Enfant Plaza Metro is closed.

    For many rallygoers, the best option for getting down to the National Mall today may have been a dragon.

    Abraxas the Dragon, frequently spotted in the deserts of the American Southwest at the Burning Man festival, has descended upon the District. Unconfirmed reports place Abraxas and its attendant guard of samurais -- because what dragon doesn't have a complement of samurais? -- on 14th Street NW heading toward the National Mall.

    Making considerably slower progress in that direction were Metrorail trains and Metrobuses.

    Riders have reported huge crowds at stations, especially at the ends of several lines. Parking is exceeding capacity at commuter stations like Shady Grove.

    A Metro spokesperson reported crowding at the Pentagon and Pentagon City Metro stations. But Facebook and Twitter users are reporting crowded Metrobuses and Metrorail platforms throughout the city.

    One Twitter user captured the scene at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station, where riders were lined up outside the station waiting to get in. Pictured above is the line outside the Vienna Metro station.

    A Metro spokesperson said that Metro added extra personnel to help with crowds and farecard purchases. Metro also said they have extra trains available.

    Hundreds of people appeared to be queued up at various stations, waiting to take Metro to the National Mall, when The Roots took the stage at 12:00 p.m. to kick off the rally.

    Both the Columbia Heights and the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro stations were closed temporarily due to suspicious packages.

    Metro is not the only system to experience problems today. Rallygoers had trouble uploading cameraphone pictures to taxed wireless networks. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel treated several injuries and illnesses among the thousands of people gathered on the National Mall.

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