Metro woes

This morning the Red Line was pretty bad. You don’t need to hear the whole story about how I was going to take the bus because it’s cooler in the summer than the train and it was going to go directly past where I wanted to get breakfast this morning (woman cannot live on Dunkin Donuts, along, sadly), but after I ran across the street in front of the oncoming bus, it didn’t stop because it was packed like sardines, so I ended up waiting for the red line for an hour because I didn’t read twitter until I was already at the station. I guess you just heard the whole story anyway.

I maintained a really positive attitude almost the entire time. I had my new phone to play with, and knitting, so I was occupied, and while I wish that Metro had been better maintained in the past so that it wouldn’t be falling apart every other day now, I also understand that things happen. If I drove to work, I might get stuck in traffic, or I might get a flat tire, or my fan belt could break. (The fan belt is one of the parts of my car that I know exists.) If I walked to work, I might get a sprained ankle. So I try not to complain (too much). If every train on every line broke every day, that would be a different story.

But I did have a thought, sort of a wishful thinking pipe dream, of how unexpected delays might be better dealt with. Keep in mind that I’m not a transit expert, a budget expert, or a planning expert, and I know that this idea would require tons of cash and involve lots of logistics. But bear with me.

Delays happen because there are only two sets of tracks, one in each direction, so when there’s a problem on one, trains going in alternate directions have to take turns on a single stretch of track. While this happens, riders build up along the line so that even after single-tracking has stopped, a less-pushy person might have to wait for 3 or 7 trains to go by before one passes with any space to get on. And it affects both directions.

What if trains were kept moving as usual at the affected location in the direction of most commuting traffic, with a turn-around if possible so that on one side of downtown there are still trains in both directions, and then a fleet of buses that are dedicated for this unexpected use run along the train route only in the direction with less commuting traffic. One direction of the bus route will then have stops; then a quick(er) return to the origin of the route. Key would be sufficient buses; you’d need something like one minute headways between them, and that’s probably not feasible. We know that shuttle bus service between stations on weekends is a kind of spotty proposition, so I’m not sure why I think this would be possible.

But that’s just me, thinking positive.


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