New Tales of Transit Troubles

Two incidents frustrate commuters again

By John Wist
|  Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010  |  Updated 7:26 PM EDT
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MARC Problems Addressed at Meeting

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MARC Problems Addressed at Meeting

Officials meet to discuss recent problems with MARC train service.
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It’s been a rough summer for both MARC and Metro, and the punches to the gut just keep coming. Two separate incidents in two days this week make one wonder if the transit systems are learning from their mistakes.

On Monday a MARC train missed the Odenton station on its way from Washington to Baltimore. Unfortunately for the transit system, Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley was on board.

Swaim-Staley contacted Amtrak and demanded an explanation. According to Amtrak, the train engineer overshot the station platform by almost three car lengths. They tried to back up but another train was behind them, so they had to continue on. Passengers were then unloaded and brought back to Odenton by another train.

On Tuesday Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman made his way to the Odenton station to apologize to riders. This latest slip-up comes only a week after the same train stranded almost 900 passengers for several hours in 90-degree weather.

On Wednesday, Boardman attended a "Meet the Managers" event at Union Station to discuss actions being taken to put passengers first and make sure their needs are taken care of in the event of breakdowns.

And it seems like Metro can’t escape a week without a black mark, either. Early Tuesday morning two riders were locked into a station on the Orange Line.

Denise Sudell and one other passenger said they got off at the Cheverly station around 12:50 a.m. only to find that the station manager had locked up and left for the night.

“I’ve lived in the D.C. area for over 20 years, and I’ve never encountered this before,” Sudell told the Washington Post.

Sudell attempted to contact Metro but couldn’t get through. Then both Sudell and the other passenger called 911, ultimately getting through to Prince George’s County Police. Sudell also posted a note about her ordeal on Facebook on her phone.

It wasn’t until about 1:15 a.m. that a Metro employee arrived to let them out. Metro told the Washington Post that the station manager made a mistake in locking up early.

“Our preliminary findings have determined that the station manager misread the last train arrival and thought the last train has passed through and closed the station around 12:30 a.m.,” Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel told the Post. “It was an unfortunate situation for which we apologize. The women did the right thing in calling 911.”

The last time riders were trapped in a station was just this past September when eight passengers were trapped in the Van Dorn Street station on the Blue Line for about a half hour before Metro Police released them. 

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