I always use metro rail whenever I have business somewhere along the Red Line; the same for the Orange Line, too.
I recently started a route of epic proportions – from North Hollywood to El Segundo – the Red Line to the Blue Line to the Green Line.
In a way, this commute tops the one I did back in 2001 when I traveled from North Hollywood to Irvine via the Red Line and Amtrak….three lines vs. two.
My one way door-to-door trip is 90 minutes. That’s literally from my front door to the client’s office. However, there are occasional delays which lengthen the traveling time, but no more than 15 minutes. That was true until today.
There was police action that shut down the Red Line segment between Hollywood/Highland and Hollywood/Vine today. It cost me 30 minutes, but that wasn’t the worst of it. It was how MTA failed to deal with the fiasco that followed.
I swiped my TAP card and proceeded down the stairs to the NoHo station platform about 7AM. It seemed more crowded than usual.
There were no messages on the video screen, only a muffled announcement about the police action. It took a few times, but I was able to finally learn the full extent of the problem and the proposed workaround. Metro would transfer passengers from Highland to Vine via regular bus service. Actually, it’s a fairly short walk, so that is what I planned to do.
It sounded like a decent plan. There was only one problem – it didn’t happen.
Instead, a train sat with its doors closed. No announcements were made as to when it might be leaving. Patrons were getting frustrated.
All the while, more bodies piled on to the platform as the Orange Line emptied its loads on the surface.
Another train pulled in. This one kept its doors open and people boarded en masse. Still no announcement from Metro as to which train would pull away.
After the cars filled up, there was still a throng on the platform. Finally the doors opened on the empty train. It was then people sensed it could be the first one out. That triggered a mad rush as the passengers from the other consist pushed and shoved through the doors and surged across the platform. More people streamed down the stairs from above. It reminded me of a scene from World War Z where hordes of zombies rush through crowded streets in pursuit of live human beings.
It was then that I finally heard a muted announcement about regular service being restored.
The overcrowded train finally pulled away.
Throughout the entire event, there were no MTA personnel or County sheriffs in sight.
It was a total failure in crowd control.
To my knowledge, no one was hurt, but another ten minutes could have changed the picture as more riders entered the station.
I complained to County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s office. I received a call from an MTA representative the very next day. The person promised it would be investigated.
I also complained about the lack of parking at the NoHo Red Line station. A few years ago, Yaroslavsky promised additional parking. If anything, more spots were switched to permit status, meaning that average working people were crowded out from the lot.
Before MTA spends a dime on the subway to the sea, East Valley residents should insist that Measure R funds are used to double the size of the unrestricted parking at the station.
It would be nice if Zev addresses this before he leaves office.