Metro power outage causes problems

Metro says it held trains in stations as a safety precaution on the Red, Orange and Blue lines. More track work will be done this weekend. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON – Metro passengers trying to get home late Thursday and early Friday found it took hours longer than normal because of a power outage at Metro’s control center and because of scheduled maintenance on the rail lines.

The combination of the outage and maintenance extended commutes in the very early morning hours.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told WTOP the problems started at 11:54 p.m. Thursday and lasted about 15 minutes, although passengers told WTOP their commutes ended up being two hours long.

Because of the widespread communication outage, Metro trains could not communicate with each other. Metro’s website also went down.

“Systems came back online at 12:08 a.m.,” Stessel writes in an email. “Radio and signal systems are independent and remained online, but desktop consoles and computer systems were affected.

“Preliminarily, the cause appears to be linked to a particular UPS (uninteruptable power source).”

The problems affected the Red, Blue and Orange Lines. Metro says it has an investigation underway and apologized for the inconvenience.

“Because trains were already single tracking, customers on these lines experienced significant delays during this time. Green and Yellow line service continued without interruption,” a Metro news release said.

“Metro apologizes for the inconvenience experienced by customers during this time,” Metro said.

Metro said Friday morning drive service is not affected.

Riders called WTOP and tweeted their frustrations.

David Garber, advisory neighborhood commissioner for the Navy Yard neighborhood, spent an hour stuck on Metro’s Orange Line between the Capitol South and Eastern Market stations.

Garber said after there wasn’t any communications on the train for about a half an hour. The conductor then told everybody “all communication had shut down at the central office” and that because “no messages from headquarters,” the trains couldn’t move at all.

He said for the most part people were calm.

“I was sitting across from a young mom and her two baby children who were starting to get a little anxious they weren’ going to get home,” Garber said.

Another caller told WTOP he was stuck for more than an hour waiting for a train at Union Station.

“I sat on the Red Line for over an hour. It’s 2 a.m. and I literally just got home,” Julie Kinzer tweeted. “I would have GLADLY paid the $40-$50 for a swift taxi ride home tonite instead of an uncommunicated HOUR metro delay!!” DiavoJinx tweeted.

“In just two hours, Metro killed any goodwill they have earned over the last year,” another person tweets.

The early morning problems occurred after Red Line riders found their Thursday commutes disrupted by a cracked rail outside the Tenleytown station.

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WTOP’s Adam Tuss, Michelle Basch and Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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