Metro encounters few bumps after smooth inauguration day

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The Metrorail system sailed though President Obama’s inauguration with relatively few breakdowns, considering it ran more trains than ever during 22 straight hours of service and logged a record 1.12 million rides.

But as the system returned to its more routine ridership on Wednesday and Thursday, riders saw delays as the transit system restarted its regular maintenance schedules and experienced some train malfunctions.

Early Thursday, a train with mechanical difficulties at the Wheaton station on the Red Line caused delays. Then a train at the Twinbrook station had a brake problem later in the morning, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said, slowing trains headed inbound on the same line.

A train had to be taken out of service at the Bethesda station before noon on Wednesday because, he said, it had problems with the air bags that cushion the ride. Another train had trouble at the Wheaton station that evening.


And riders saw some slowdowns on the Red and Blue lines late Wednesday because of track maintenance. This weekend, riders can plan on additional delays on parts of the Orange and Red lines for scheduled maintenance work.

The transit agency had postponed major track work on the weekend leading up to the inauguration, instead opting for inspections during the system’s closed hours.

Metro officials also had delayed major repairs to the system’s many escalators so that the mechanical stairways wouldn’t be disassembled on Inauguration Day; the system needed even broken escalators to serve as “walker” staircases because the biggest bottleneck in the system was getting the inaugural crowds in and out of stations.

On Inauguration Day, Metro had 10 trains with door malfunctions, Taubenkibel said, which often occur on crowded trains when riders try to block doors or pry them open like on an elevator. But seven of those trains were able to return to service to shuttle around the large crowds.

Now the crowds have been leaving town and the system is returning to normal schedules. By Thursday morning, an escalator leading to the mezzanine at the McPherson Square station was blocked off and partially dismantled as crews worked on it.

“We will go and do what we need to do now,” Taubenkibel said.
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