- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Bus, rail and airline service is rebuilding toward normal schedules as the Washington region digs out from the snowstorm.
Metro, Amtrak and airline officials told similar stories yesterday of frustrated passengers and harried efforts by work crews to clear away ice and snow.
"Mother Nature had quite a time of it," said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
All Metrorail stations reopened yesterday but trains ran at half-hour intervals. During a normal rush hour, they run as fast as every three to five minutes.
Bus routes were realigned to operate only on major thoroughfares that have been cleared of snow and ice.
"Once the snow hit about a foot, we really started having trouble," Miss Farbstein said. "When it relates to buses, you're only as good as the roads are clear."
Some riders on Metro trains and buses yesterday morning were crammed like sardines in a can as more commuters chose public transportation. By afternoon, the crunch eased as traffic and transit patterns returned to near normal.
"On the bus it was very crowded," said Vinincia Dorsey, a nonprofit foundation human resources manager, who used a combination of bus and Metrorail to arrive at Union Station.
The Metrorail trains were more tolerable, she said.
An elderly man getting off a Metrorail train agreed.
"It's not nearly as bad as Sunday," he said as he told about trains operating only on underground routes at one-hour intervals. Doors of the trains had difficulty closing as crowded human bodies pressed against them, he said.
Suburban transit agencies encountered even greater difficulties.
Maryland Rail Commuter, Virginia Railway Express, Omniride and Loudoun County Commuter bus service were closed yesterday. The Dash, Fairfax Connector and Montgomery County Ride On bus services were operating on Sunday schedules with reduced service.
Lines of Amtrak passengers stretched across the Union Station concourse as they waited for delayed trains.
"We're running some trains out of here with over 600 people," said Dan Stessel, Amtrak spokesman. Normally, Amtrak trains average about 200 passengers.
Maintenance crews worked through the snowfall to run empty trains with plows along the Northeast Corridor. Other workers made certain heaters on track switches operated properly to avoid stalling train service.
"Our preparations have paid off," Mr. Stessel said.
Nevertheless, passengers at Union Station expressed frustration at long lines and delays.
Lisa Beth-Lambert, a Philadelphia resident visiting her family in Washington, had to wait for the 2:30 p.m. train because her 12:05 p.m. train was overbooked.
"There was a really, really long line," she said as she walked toward her train.
Amtrak train service between Washington and Boston is expected to return to normal schedules today, Amtrak officials said.
All three of the region's three major airports reopened to some flights as runways were cleared.
Flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport operated at 80 percent of their normal capacity yesterday.
"Service is returning," said Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages both airports. "The big issue is people not getting onto flights in the last two days getting rebooked. That's going to take a couple of days for the airlines to accommodate them."
Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which endured more snowfall than Washington, was operating at only 20 percent of normal capacity.
"We're only operating one runway," said BWI spokeswoman Melanie Miller. The airport has two main runways and a third commuter airline runway.


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