What happened to the subway on Monday?

A few readers have asked about the nearly hour-long delays on the subway on Monday afternoon and early evening.

There were two issues: first, at about 4:30 p.m., there was an issue with a switch not working properly near Union Station that had to be verified and fixed.

Then, at 7:30 p.m, there was a medical emergency on a subway train at Union Station, which interfered with trains getting back on schedule.

Obviously, these are very busy hours for the subway, particularly at Union Station with its connections to Metrolink, Amtrak, the Gold Line and many bus routes. We hope folks weren’t too inconvenienced by the delays.

22 replies

  1. I agree. The font on the info tickers at Union Station was too tiny and only in English (so no help to those on the ground who had difficulty hearing all the instructions as it was with those distorted speakers). Shame on the two old white shirted Fare Inspectors on duty. They laughed, shook their heads, and shrugged, saying they weren’t Metro employees. I waited and waited, then was told to get off the Red Line and catch a bus, but no one was on scene to direct us to which bus. DASH D to B to 7th & Metro, but we had to pay another fare because DASH doesn’t take TAP. Couldn’t get any cell/internet reception inside. Once I did cell/wifi outside, no info on Metro website. Then got to 7th & Metro where there were too many people pushing and shoving very hard, so I caught the Purple Line from 7th and Metro back to Union Sta so I had a chance to be first on the train there. Finally got to Van Nuys at 8:00 after leaving at 4:15 from DTLA.

    You need a better plan. There was a lady in a wheelchair who could barely speak by blowing in a tube and no one was guiding her or helping her read the signs. What if it were an earthquake or terror alert?

  2. All good comments here.
    At the very least, Metro should have had a representative with a walkie-talkie on each of the affected downtown platforms to answer questions.

    When I decided the Red Line at Union Station wasn’t worth the hassle (I can get home by buses), I went upstairs to ask a question. Customer Service was closed. Customer Relations was closed. Only person around was a Metro security officer with a dog who couldn’t have cared less.

    Really, Metro, having boots on the ground and walkie-talkies is basic disaster control.

  3. I appreciate the fact the there will be time when the trains are delayed. However, during the delay on 10/3/11 no annoucements or alternatives were given to those passengers waiting for the North Hollywood/Red Line train. There is also no bus route map on the platform level. It would have been helpful to have that information at the platform. Many passengers were nervous about going up to check on alternative routes, afraid they would miss the next train.

  4. Yes, I was stuck in that mess as well, and agree with you folks – MTA has handled this situation extremely poorly, by leaving passengers in the dark!
    My suggesions: let’s all write to MTA, their e-mail is: CustomerRelations@metro.net
    Our voices should be heard, and hopefully next time they will make announcements (with CLEAR voice) and inform us better.

  5. The train operator was very helpful in explaining the situation and discharged all of the passengers at Westlake/Mac Arthur because he had to take the train into maintenance. The following train ended up being a Purple line train and was shorter, leaving a stampede of people rushing to the doors.

    Metro should announce alternate routes to major transfer points should events like these happen in the future. For example- that Union Station is accessible via lines 487/489 and Wilshire/Western via line 720 etc.

    Also, having those tv screens in plain sight near the entrance to stations would be helpful. I saw a number of passengers rushing down to station platforms eager to meet a train, only to find out that there would be a huge delay.

  6. and also, I agree with having screens outside stations. I bought a ticket for a train i wasn’t able to take. wasting my time and money is not cool.

  7. You guys need to give more information to the passengers in the stations. Tell us that there is a medical emergency and a switch failure and an estimated time trains will arrive. also make sure to remind folks that when a delay happens the next train will be packed to the brim and if they can use alternative methods of transportation to do so immediately. it’s really that simple. otherwise I love the metro! thanks!

  8. Stuff happens, we deal with it. I’m not mad, but I have a suggestion. The in-station announcements at Civic Center were continuously drowned-out by the sound of an idling train. Announcements on other days have also largely been overpowered by the sound of moving trains. It would be extremely helpful if the LCD screens could display the same text as the verbal announcements (simultaneously, or at least within a few moments).

  9. On the platform at Pershing Square around 4:30 the Metro systems alert audio message was unintellible. No message on the video monitor was forthcoming. Noone new what was going on or when the next train to Union Station would arrive. Why can’t a video message be sent out simultaneously with the audio?

  10. I thought the communication from Metro was helpful, and heard ETAs while waiting on the platform at 7th/Metro between about 6 and 7pm. I had to let a few trains go by because I had my bike and things were too crowded.

    The experience got me thinking — who are the people who speak over the PA? How much can they see through the CCTVs? What happens at HQ and on the trains when something like this goes down? Maybe that could be a little behind-the-scenes feature. What do you think, Source-erers?

  11. A few questions based on my red line experiences last night:
    1. Why were there no (red line) train times on the screens? I understand there are delays, but is live updating of times not possible? This was around 9pm.

    2. Is it not possible to transmit more information on the screens? I waited in the station for 20 minutes and the only time an announcement was made was when a train was arriving in the other direction, which meant we couldn’t hear anything. The only message about trains on the screens was that there were delays from earlier events.

    3. When the train did arrive, it was on the wrong track (perhaps that was the announcement no one could hear?). If a confused tourist hadn’t already asked me for help in getting on a North Hollywood train, I wouldn’t have known to inform him that the train arriving on the “To Union Station” tracks was the train he wanted.

  12. Riding the Red Line yesterday when my train stopped at MacArthur Park station; conductor announced the train would return to North Hollywood. Only I got out of the train, the other passengers couldn’t understand. Doesn’t METRO have a bilingual communication policy?

  13. I agree with Chuck. For that matter, the TV screens should show real-time information, altogether, instead of endless public service announcements. Instead of scheduled departure times, screens should show the genuine projected departure time of the next train. At Universal City yesterday, I waited 20 minutes past the scheduled 4:31 p.m. departure time of my regular train, as the screen mindlessly continued to show departures at 4:31 and 4:41. In my Red Line train yesterday, accurate information about the likely length of the delay–rather than the motorman’s repeated, incorrect announcements about “an emergency at Union Station; we’ll be moving in a few seconds”–would have helped passengers plan alternate routes. Instead, these announcements did nothing but fuel speculation, as people stood for 45 minutes in an overheated train.

  14. At 6pm, I was heading towards Union Station in Downtown. We had to stop for 3-4 minutes at each station, but the conductor and other customer service agents made announcements on the train that they had contacted Metrolink attempting to hold trains. A few minutes later, they let us know that Metrolink would, in fact, be holding the trains.

    I think the service was absolutely great… updates from more than one party, letting us know exactly what we were waiting for (trains to move ahead of us at the next station) and that they were doing what they could to hold connections, then updating us when that was done.

  15. One of the biggest issues was at the Civic Center platform, when our train arrived from North Hollywood, the doors opened and everyone waited for the doors to close as they had before and the train to continue on. When the train operator made an apparently last-minute announcment that the train was returning to North Hollywood instead of continuing to Union Station, you ended up with a mad dash of people trying to get off the train and run across the platform to the train apparetnly going to Union Station, and those on the platform makig a mad dash to get on our train to get to North Hollywood. You really needed at least one person from Metro on the platform making announcements and helping to direct people. As it was everyone ended up pushing and shoving to get where they needed to go at the last second.

  16. I understand these things happen but I have a big issue with the lack of communication by Metro. At the Civic Center station, the PA system is completely illegible. After every PA announcement, people were asking what they said. No one had any idea what was going on, when a train might come, if they should leave the station, or which train to take.

    The PA system and the notification process in general needs to be fixed.

  17. I agree with the previous comments. Stuff happens so you roll with the punches. However, messages should be easier to read on the TV screens. This would help everyone decide whether or not to buy a ticket for a train than may never arrive.

  18. Explains why the 4:26 to North Hollywood came in exactly at 4:26 and on what is normally the northbound side of the platform, dropped off arriving passengers, immediately loaded us up and took off at around 4:28.

    Though it’s likely completely unrelated, that train was just weird too. Upon arrival, the doors didn’t open, requiring the emergency door release, and the whole train jolted when the conductor eased off the air brakes, among other oddities like a weird sound at a point along the ride.

    By the time I reached North Hollywood at about 5:00 the service alert was on the station displays. It’s funny though, all those things added up to a sense something was going on. Just wasn’t sure what.

    Lucky me.

  19. I must agree with Anne. And if train operators are too busy on radio communications coordinating with control at One Gateway Plaza to make announcements, then folks from OGP should be using the in-station intercoms to broadcast announcements, and use the CCTVs to print the same details.

    ETAs would help passengers get upstairs to SMS employers, teachers, family and friends that they will be delayed, and for how long.

  20. I totally understand that there was a delay and what have you. But it would have been extremely helpful if the train conductor would have explained that the Metrolink..etc. etc. were going to waiver 5 minutes.. just so that we wouldn’t be frantic and trampling over people..

    But other than that, glad to hear everything is okay!


  21. Thanks for the explanation…so glad everything is back to normal: not a fun ride home yesterday after work.