Metro Riders Hope for Better Commute After Day of Problems

Metro customers are hoping for a easier commute after delays and closures plagued the system all day Monday.

Metro Center on the Red Line reopened Tuesday morning after a power outage and smoke in the tunnel closed the station for several hours the previous evening. The closure happened just as the Washington Wizards playoff game ended, giving basketball fans a taste of what morning and afternoon commuters put up with Monday

But the evening delays were nothing like the morning event, when commuters packed onto crowded Metro platforms, spilled onto street corners and jammed into shuttle buses as they struggled to get from Northern Virginia into D.C. after smoke was spotted in a tunnel.

Service was restored after more than three hours Monday morning, but trains were single-tracking into the afternoon.

Many riders expressed frustration.

"And we're offloaded at Clarendon, and then we're reloaded again, and then we get to Rosslyn and we're offloaded, and they said, 'Go upstairs; someone will tell you what's going on,' but Metro has not told us anything," said one passenger late Monday morning.

Service was stopped between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery and between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon for three hours after smoke was reported in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom, under the Potomac River.

Metro attributed the smoke to arcing insulators, which caused smoke, but no fire. The problem area was located mid-tunnel under the river, and crews had to walk to the spot to replace consecutive insulators, Metro said.

Service was suspended around 8:15 a.m., during the height of the morning rush. The closure led to crowds of commuters who had to find alternative routes to work. The crowds were still thick past 11:30 a.m., when trains gradually began single-tracking.

Some turned to Uber for rides, and found themselves dealing with surge pricing because demand was so high. Some riders tweeted screen shots of Uber pricing at 4.7 and 4.9 times the usual fare.

Some riders said there were not nearly enough shuttle buses, and the system was confusing. A man who is disabled said he'd been waiting more than an hour to board a shuttle bus.

"I can't get near them buses because people are pushing to get near them," he said.

Another rider said she felt riders had little guidance on which shuttle buses to take.

"They told us to come upstairs and catch shuttle buses to where we wanted to go and they did not tell us which shuttle bus we had to take," she said.

Monday afternoon, Metro published an online apology for "the significant delays, crowding and inconvenience."

The statement continued in part:

"Please know that the actions taken this morning were with your safety as our highest priority. Despite the fact that there was no significant smoke in any station, Blue, Orange and Silver line service was suspended between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom out of caution, resulting in significant delays in service on all three lines."

Riders inconvenienced by the service disruption can call customer service at 202-637-1328.

In a separate incident Monday morning, Blue and Silver lines trains also single-tracked earlier between Addison Road and Stadium Armory due to a track problem outside Addison Road.

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