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Report Metro Hot Cars and Other Problems. Join WUSA9's Debra Alfarone's Army!

10:09 PM, Jul 18, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- If it feels like 110 outside, how hot does it feel when you ride in one of Metro's hot cars? 

To find out, we rode the Red line armed with our digital laser thermometer. We set out from Brookland- CUA, and took several readings in random cars, and while 77 is warm, we wouldn't consider the car we were riding in a hot car. That's why we're happy there's people like Lee Mendelowitz, a computer science PhD candidate and programmer, "So, I thought it would be pretty straightforward  to write a program that a couple times a minute scrapes Twitter and looks for hot car reports. I thought this would make a fun side project." 

Mendelowitz asks riders to tweet him at @MetroHotCars with the car number, time, and color of the line. His program replies and forwards the tweet to @wmata, and it also compiles a report that you can read at http://www.dcmetrometrics.com/hotcars

Not surprisingly, reports have shot up this week. 

Metro Spokesperson Dan Stessel explains, "Anytime the temperature is about 93 degrees, the HVAC systems on some cars has trouble keeping up.  More hot air in than cold air produced, over time, gives you a hot car.  Think of the volume of cold air that has to be generated to cool a car that has 25% of its surface area (doors) opening every 2-3 minutes, to say nothing of all the people aboard generating heat."

Mendelowitz says the oldest series in the fleet, the 1000s, are the most likely to be reported, "They account for 40% of the hot car reports and they account for 26% of the fleet."  

Those cars are almost 40 years old. Metro says the new 7000 series cars that will replace them will be able to withstand the heat. But, you'll have to wait for the first one to hit rails in the 2nd half of 2014. 

Mendelowitz says the Orange and Red line are reported about the most frequently.  Metro says they are the busiest. 

So, what should you do if your car is too hot to handle? 

Metro asks you use the intercom to notify the train operator. Car maintenance technicians can hop on, try and fix it, or isolate the car. They also say reports are down this year over last, but who could forget last summer's sizzling heat?  

So, next time you're on a hot car, Mendelowitz asks that you tweet him, "Hopefully, Metro is listening, but my Twitter account is definitely listening and we're compiling a list every minute"

WUSA9 wants to help our viewers get the answers and help they need. So, if you ride Metro, we want you!  

We are looking for 10-20 people to join "Alfarone's Army." For your first assignment, we are looking  for frequent Metro riders to keep us in the loop when you encounter a hot car. We'll even give you a thermometer, and ask you to snap a pic of it. 

Sign up by tweeting me at @DebraAlfarone or emailing me at dalfarone@wusa9.com. 


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