- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Commuters who subscribe to Metro’s e-mail alert system, which is designed to give riders early warning of trouble on the tracks, weren’t informed of a crash on the Red Line until more than 90 minutes after news broke online and on local television.

The crash occurred about 5 p.m., and news organizations — including The Washington Times — went live with the story about 30 minutes later. But as late as 7:02 p.m., Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s e-mail alerts were attributing the Red Line delays to “mechanical difficulties” outside the Fort Totten station.

Here’s a copy of that WMATA eAlert:

——Original Message——
From: METRO Alerts [mailto:MetroAlerts[AT]enews.lists-wmata.com]
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 7:02 PM
Subject: Metro Red Line alert
(ID 55699) Disruption at Fort Totten. Trains are turning back at Rhode Island Ave & Silver Spring due to a train experiencing mechanical difficulties outside of Ft. Totten. Shuttle service has been established.

WMATA’s Web site had a story on the crash posted at least a half-hour earlier, at 6:22 p.m. Like so many other major stories in recent months, news of the crash was also disseminated over cell-phone-friendly social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.