Periodically the Farragut West Metro stop experiences a Mini Commuter Apocalypse. It’s always during the evening rush hour and after Orange/Blue line delays elsewhere in MetroLand have supposedly been resolved. It appears Farragut West is special this way. Take today for instance.
1. The Farragut West station manager closed all the turnstiles in the direction of Vienna/Franconia-Springfield sometime before my arrival at 5:48 this evening. The flashy flash Metro Sign Things were alerting commuters that Orange/Blue Line delays had been resolved and there were no other apparent holdups in MetroWorld. Keep in mind, I never got an eAlert from Metro about any delays (at all!) and I checked WMATA on my handy Place of Lawyerly Things Crackberry all during the Commuter Cataclysm for possible holdups. It appears the People At The Big Metro Office were acknowledging nothing. Anyhoodles, I am assuming the turnstile closure was an attempt at crowd control and more effective herding of Commuter Cattle onto the platform below. But really, it just meant people used the gates on the New Carrolton/Largo Town Center side to try to reach the Vienna/Franconia platform. For the one millionth time, the Metro Workers were out foxed by the commuter-savvy Washingtonians on a mission to get home. Of course the Station Manager was having none of that, so after a few minutes, all the gate-thingies were closed except for one. And to get through, a passenger had to have the magic passwords, “I am going to New Carrolton and/or Largo Town Center.” Like that was hard to figure out.
2. A massive group of tired workers eventually began to form in the Farragut West 18th Street entrance. They were waving SmartTrip Cards menacingly and saying angry things.
3. The crowd grew.
4. And grew.
5. And got Really Big.
6. Until finally, an Orange Line trained appeared from the Misty Tunnel and took five people off the crowded platform below.
7. Then, another train came. Line undetermined. More left the platform.
8. This was the signal for the Station Manger to open all the turnstiles at once. The Mob of SmartTrip waiving, deodorant needing, Metro Riders surged fourth in a manner similar to forth grade girls swarming the Jonas Brothers. It was ugly. And slightly brutal. And several people got pushed through gates without actually having their SmartTrip cards read. The Metro Peeps response: deal with it on the other end, yo.
9. Most people, including me, made about three feet of forward progress. After 15 minutes of wiggling my big bag between people and flat out ignoring the rules about Lining Up I learned in kindergarten, I actually made it to the escalator, where I stand on various stairs for the next six minutes. All the while, trains are sllllllllllllooooowly coming into the station and sllloooowwwwly leaving.
10. Finally. Finally. I made it onto a train which was fairly empty when it pulled out of the station. This again confirmed my theory that Blue Line Rocks.
11. The remaining passengers rioted. Well, not really. But I bet they felt like it.