A 37-year-old woman waylaid Red Line traffic briefly Wednesday night by standing in the middle of Metro's tracks at Metro Center in an apparent attempt to get to the other side.
The woman was spotted in the tracks around 9:30 p.m., said Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato. It's not clear how long she was there but it was at least six minutes, according to a video that a rider shot of the incident.
The video posted on YouTube shows the woman in a dress standing on the middle light panel between the two sets of tracks. Crowds formed on the platforms watching. The woman gestured with her hands, while holding a bag.
"Please do not get into the track bed for any reason," a voice on the public address system announces after she has been there for several minutes.
The woman is French and apparently there were some language challenges, Asato said.
But she was not suicidal or obviously mentally ill. The woman just wanted to get to the other side of the Red Line tracks, Asato said.
She had jumped off the platform for Red Line trains bound for Shady Grove and tried to run to the other side. Yet the woman stopped halfway across the tracks. Metro took down the power to that area for four minutes so that Metro Transit Police could get her back to the platform safely, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.
Metro crews got down onto the rails, helped her down from the center light panel and then up onto the platform.
She was not hurt.
Authorities spoke to the woman and let her go on her way, without any trespassing charges or mental evaluation, Asato said.
Getting into the tracks is an unconventional and ill-advised method of getting to the other side of the tracks, which are electrified with a deadly third rail. It was not immediately clear if the escalators that are used to get riders across the pedestrian bridge were working at the time.
But Metro is clear: "It wasn't smart for her to be anywhere down there," Asato said. "We would never advise anyone to be down in the track."
Riders who see someone there should not go help the person themselves, she said. Instead they should find a Metro employee, either at the station kiosk or by calling an emergency intercom on the pylons along the platform that connect with the kiosk.