The first day back to work after the second major snowfall to hit the Washington, D.C., region went from bad news to worse Friday once drivers hit the roads -- and commuters got a repeat during the evening rush.
Traffic on I-395 and I-66 came to a standstill for 30-minute stretches Friday morning, while commuters crowded the Orange Line waiting for trains that ran as far apart as once every hour. A few Metrobus drivers had no idea that the East Falls ChurchMetro station was open, telling riders not to get off at the stop, which may have contributed to the Ballston station getting so crowded that police temporarily closed the station’s entrances to new passengers.
The commute from Vienna (no Metro at the end of the line) into Washington took the carpoolers three hours and 10 minutes this morning, while the commute from Kensington into the District down Connecticut Avenue was a two-hour ordeal, according to drivers who complained to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
“It was probably one of the worst commutes in the Washington area since 9/11,” said a AAA spokesman.
Things got worse after a six-car Red Line train bound for Shady Grove derailed at the Farragut North station. Metro said the train was headed in the direction of Shady Grove with 345 people on board when the front wheels of the lead car came off the tracks Friday morning. Fortunately, there were only minor injuries reported from the incident, but authorities blocked traffic outside the station for a couple of hours as they evacuated the train.
There was a two-hour delay for federal employees and fewer people than usual were traveling during the normal rush hour, but not every part of the area's road network had fully recovered from the two storms, making it difficult to get around, the Washington Post reported. With sidewalks still covered in snow, pedestrians used the roads to get to their destinations -- which was not helpful for drivers.
Metro ran fewer trains and buses than usual, as well, with trains running on a 20-to-25-minute interval schedule above ground and on 10-to-15-minute intervals below ground, and most buses sticking to streets along snow emergency routes.
Meanwhile, in several places people stood in lines that stretched down the block waiting for buses, while there was a 45-minute wait for taxicabs in parts of heavily populated Northern Virginia, sources told The Hill.
Stay tuned to NBC4 to get the latest on the afternoon commute and see traffic on your route.