Metro concludes commute nightmare was handled well

Police and emergency responders assist distressed commuters at the Rosslyn Metro station (Photo: Jamie Scott/ WJLA)

Metro examined the recent rush-hour gridlock that resulted when a man jumped in front of a train at the Clarendon Metro station, and concluded the agency had handled it well.

The 39-year-old man from McLean died a week after he was struck by a train. The suicide led to a chaotic situation at the Rosslyn Metro station, where westbound Orange Line trains were loaded off. The station quickly became crowded, and as hundreds of people pushed toward the exits, the escalators were automatically shut off due to overcrowding.

Additionally, riders complained of confusion inside the station, while many had trouble walking up the immobilized escalators.

The transit agency rerouted buses to get shuttles running throughout northern Virginia.

After reviewing the incident, from response time to communication, Metro claims it was handled well. The General Manager said his staff did a good job restoring the system within two hours.

“That's ridiculous,” said rider Joe Zielinski. “It was absolute chaos here."

In their report, Metro outlined the circumstances. The man was struck shortly before 5 p.m., and by 5:10, a bus shuttle between Rosslyn and Ballston had begun. But as new trans kept arriving at Rosslyn, the station became crowded, and by 5:50 p.m. both escalators had shut down.

Ashley Demby was among the tens of thousands who were stuck in Rosslyn, a handful physically overcome by the frenzied scene.

"It was not handled well, there was no direction,” Demby said.

"It was actually getting more dangerous because as more trains came in,” said Nick Brooke.

The Rosslyn station had to be closed at 6:05 due to overcrowding. However, Metro points out that full train service was restored within two hours of the incident.

As part of the WMATA review, passengers were surveyed. Among the top concerns mentioned were platform crowding, escalator outages and a lack of direction from personnel.

More than 80 percent of respondents said if they had known how severe the delays were, they would have delayed their travel.