Metro apologizes for Green Line Jam Wednesday Night

8:02 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Passengers are still steaming after a meltdown Wednesday night left thousands of them stuck in a tunnel for hours. 

Metro's  initial investigation suggests the Metro worker who shut off the power failed to alert central control.

Between 50 and 150 panicked passengers finally pushed open the train doors and walked down the tunnel to an escape hatch. They'd spent hours stuck in dark and powerless cars --- and when they finally got out, their fury exploded on the internet: "Dear Green Line, we hate you," and "I want to go home!"

"Somebody opened the emergency exit," said Eric Mitchell. "So we jumped out on to the rails and ran to the nearest emergency exit."

It started as a fire in an insulator that keeps the power in the third rail from energizing the other two tracks. A Metro worker shut off all the power, and that left two trains stuck in the tunnel between the Navy Yard and Anacostia.

"I apologize to our customers," says Metro GM Richard Sarles. "It was unacceptable to our customers. It was unacceptable to me."

A lot of the passengers stuck in the tunnel felt Metro could have done a heck of a lot more to let them know what was going on. With the lack of information, panic set in, and that's when people felt they had to go out on the tracks to escape.

"I've been on a train that sat in the dark in a tunnel," says Sarles. "I understand the feeling. But you're much better off, unless there's an immediate danger, to stay on the train."

At least three people suffered such serious panic attacks. Medics took them to ambulances.And there were far too few buses to safely move the big crowds.

Off the train, a lot of people found it faster to walk home. 
Sarles says if workers had alerted Central Control sooner that the power had been tripped, it might have been able to clean up the mess faster.

He's just sent out a mass email to riders apologizing and promising to improve emergency response.

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