The Metro shutdown impacting six Yellow and Blue Line stations south of Reagan National Airport until Sept. 8 is still testing patience and extending commute times for many riders.
Randy Lilleston usually takes the Metro from the Huntington station to Gallery Place. On Tuesday, which marked the start of the workweek impact, Lilleston arrived at the station and waited for his shuttle. He eventually boarded but said after a few blocks, things started to go downhill.
“The bus driver turned around and said, ‘I’m not sure how to get to the Pentagon. Can someone give me directions?'” Lilleston said, recounting the commute.
He said a sense of doom and audible moans swept through the bus as the unexpected drive through the District, Maryland and Virginia began.
“She turned up Telegraph Road and headed toward I-95, and people were trying to give her directions, but then she took the wrong on-ramp and started heading on 95 North toward Baltimore,” he said.
Eventually, Lilleston said riders began to yell for her to get off but they ended up on the other side of the Anacostia River. “Considering it was a packed bus and it could’ve been an ugly situation, people were mostly calm about it,” Lilleston added.
Commuters eventually got off the shuttle, but not at the Pentagon station. Instead, they were left at the Anacostia Metro station.
It worked out for Lilleston; he was closer to work, but that wasn’t the case for many other riders on the bus or those who were stuck in traffic along I-395, or left standing in long lines at other stations.
“I think Metro has gotten significantly better … but this was pretty bad, I think kind of embarrassing,” Lilleston said.
NBC Washington’s Adam Tuss told WTOP that many of the shuttle bus drivers are contractors from other states who are unfamiliar with the routes.
Metro has since responded to the day of mishaps, acknowledging some drivers were not on their intended routes, saying, “There have been some operational issues that will generally be smoothed out during this first week … we will continue to make adjustments where needed, including additional buses, staff and resources.”
Metro is also encouraging riders to consider travel alternatives.
Overall, Lilleston said he will make it work until Metro gets it right. “You know, I get why this has to be done, and I’m basically going to build this into my life.”
WTOP’s Jennifer Ortiz contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: Randy Lilleston is the husband of WTOP reporter Kristi King.