“Remember,” he said, “this is rush hour. Trains are arriving every two minutes.”
I remember that being true when I first arrived in Washington almost 20 years ago. The Red Line trains, almost without fail, arrived every two to three minutes during the morning and afternoon rush. This hasn’t been the case for a while, though. Metro has not said anything about cutting service, but lately, four-minute waits between rush-hour Red Line trains have been more the rule than the exception.
At least, that’s been the case when I enter the Metro system at Van Ness around 8:30 a.m. each morning. It might not seem like extending the wait time by a minute or two would make much of a difference, but when the trains arrive every four minutes instead of three, they are usually packed full, leaving little space for the riders steadily pouring into the station.
I’ve often thought that if I could spare the time, I’d spend a few mornings at the Van Ness station timing the trains to check my experiences against reality. Another Forest Hills resident had the same thought – and actually did it!
While many riders often gripe about late trains and long waits (myself included), their thoughts are only anecdotal and provide just a small snapshot in time. Therefore, I recorded some actual data to assess Metrorail performance.
Travis Maiers didn’t hang out at the station, however. He used real-time arrival information from WMATA.com. He wrote about his methods and findings for Greater Greater Washington.
Maiers confirms that it’s not my imagination. Metro’s Trip Planner shows 20 trains scheduled to travel through Van Ness toward Glenmont during the peak morning rush, which would mean an average three-minute wait between trains. Maiers says that during 19 days of observations in July (12 of them monitoring Van Ness), this happened just three times. On four days, only 14 to 15 trains passed through.
What do you think of Maiers’ findings? What changes have you observed on the Red Line?
– Tracy Johnke