Why people are willing to put up with crowding on our Metro system is beyond me. Save for heading home on the Orange Line or Red Line during rush hour, there are ways to mitigate many of the annoyances in our transportation system.
Here are six tips that Metro should tell you about, but doesn’t:
1. Sick of crowds? Walk to the front of the train. Every time. Yes, I know you are lazy, but the front car is generally the least crowded, most quiet and most pleasant. Plus you get that sweet view out the front window.
2. If the train car you are on is hot as hell or incredibly cold, there’s a good chance the A/C or heat isn’t working on that car. Rather than bearing it then complaining about the problem later on Unsuck DC Metro, why not just switch cars? It’s free! It’s easy! It’s fun!
3. Avoid transfers if possible. There are a lot of occasions where a few blocks of walking will save you time, money and aggravation. Like basically anywhere downtown. Check a map real quickly if you are unfamiliar with your destination.
4. Generally speaking, if you travel late at night, the headways are going to be really long because this is often when track work is in effect. If you spot one of those types that will start immediately complaining about how the trains are so slow and that he/she now has to wait eight minutes, just call them a cab. We are all sick of listening to this same-old line of complaints; the reality is that the system is falling apart and needs to be repaired. Sorry to inconvenience you.
5. At the end of the night, they hold the trains at transfer stations to make sure there are no stragglers. This is both good and bad. The good: If the station managers are paying attention (and sometimes they aren’t), riders will generally make it to their final destination at the end of the night, even if they have to transfer at 3 a.m. The bad: Sometimes trains will sit at the transfer stations for 20 minutes, waiting on riders to get on their final trains. This can be a bit nerve-wracking (WHEN are we leaving?) but makes sense. Got to get everyone home.
6. Scenario: It’s 9:27 a.m. and a train is coming as you dash into the station. Unless you are named John Boehner and are going to be late to a vote, you can probably afford to wait until 9:30 a.m., when most fares get sliced in half. Learn the off-peak hours, memorize the off-peak hours, become the off-peak hours –anytime other than 5-9:30 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and after midnight on weekends. It will save you a lot of money.
Next week: Tips on giving me your credit card number.