- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sometimes, just getting into the station and onto the train is half the battle. But Metro is hoping new signs and announcements will speed things up and get the subway — and its passengers — moving faster. “Trains ideally should be waiting in the station no longer than 20 seconds, but it’s sometimes double that time right now in the downtown area because of crowding,” said Jim Hughes, Metro’s acting general manager for operations. So one step is placing signs on the platforms at Union Station, Gallery Place and Metro Center, directing those waiting for trains to stand to the sides of the doors, so passengers can exit. “We’re trying to get people not to block the doors — even when the platform is crowded,” Mr. Hughes said yesterday. “It sounds simple, but you’ll get on faster if you let people get off faster.” Metro also plans to test new door-closing announcements. The idea, Mr. Hughes said, is to stop people from treating them like a yellow traffic light and running to board the train. Metro also will ask escalator riders to stand to the right so others can walk on the left. Mr. Hughes said Metro also will test changing the direction of some escalators at some of the busy transfer stations to reduce crowding on the platforms. “At times, passengers were trying to get on the up escalator and the people were actually blocking the doors for those trying to get on the train,” he said. An experiment with the escalators at L’Enfant Plaza produced “a dramatic improvement” in passenger flow, Mr. Hughes said. Metro will look at escalators at other transfer stations, including Gallery Place. Metro said about 215,000 passengers transfer each day.

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