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January 6, 2010 7:01 AM   Subscribe

OrangeLineFilter: Will shifting my commute by 1/2 hour make an appreciable difference in my commute?

I live in the DC Metro area, and commute to work by Metro. I work and live on the Orange Line. I just moved from the Clarendon stop to the Courthouse stop- only one stop but it seems so much worse at Courthouse!

I have found that at my commuting time (8:30 ish am), the trains are so crowded by the time they get to Courthouse that I am regularly getting passed by 2-3 trains before I can squeeze onto one. I only have 2 work hour options- 9-5:30 or 8:30-5. I would like to switch to the earlier one in hopes that it will alleviate the morning rush even by a little bit. So Orange Line riding MeFites, is the 8:00 train through Courthouse less mob-like than the 8:30? Or is the rush hour pretty evenly distributed?
posted by whodatninja to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Earlier is better on the orange line, generally speaking, and you also may do better to aim for the very first or very last car (my usual strategy is to go for the very first car.) Seems to me the orange line is always packed, but I don't have a problem getting on when I catch the train around 7:40 AM, though it is always crowded.

Since I live between the Courthouse and Rosslyn stops, I usually walk to Rosslyn to catch the train, since I can get the blue line or orange line there, and the blue line is a lot more civilized. The orange line is also easier to get there, as it is a transfer station so some people always get off there. How far are you from Rosslyn? Is that stop a feasible one for you? You could even get the blue line there and switch over to orange once the orange decompresses a bit at the downtown stops.
posted by gudrun at 7:25 AM on January 6, 2010

I have no idea on the actual answer, but if you're working the 9am shift now, try leaving a half hour early for a week and go grab a cuppa coffee near your work. It will be an annoying extra half hour, but better than changing your schedule first and finding it's worse / no better.
posted by CharlesV42 at 7:43 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

It depends on where you are going in DC but the 38B bus touts itself as the Orange Line with a view as it covers the same area but most people dont know about it because buses are for poor people.

Otherwise just try to get in much earlier and maybe switch to a gym near work so you have something to do before you start your day.

I am glad I live on the green/yellow lines and have a reverse commute.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:45 AM on January 6, 2010

Hi neighbor! I live at Courthouse, and I took the train at about 5 til 8 for awhile, and it was pretty damn terrible. I also took the outbound train for several months, arriving at Courthouse at 8:30, and the people headed into town looked just as miserable as the earlier folks. I don't think there's much difference. gundrun is correct, the first car on that inbound train at Courthouse is nearly always the least crowded.
posted by little e at 7:47 AM on January 6, 2010

Yes, but bear in mind that people getting on at Vienna get on at the front (as that is nearest the entrance), people getting on at Dunn Loring get on at the back and so on, so there is not necessarily any great advantage at picking front or back. I used to leave at 7.30 from Dunn Loring and I can tell you that even there and that time it was often difficult to get a seat. Early is better but early means before 7.30.
posted by TheRaven at 8:01 AM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: A few points:

1) The bus sounds like a good alternative- do you know if it gets crazy crowded at peak hours though? I used to have to take the busses on the 16th St corridor at a minor stop and at rush hour, busses would fly right by if no one was getting off there because they would get so crowded.

2) I do not care about getting a seat- I'm only on for about 4 stops. I don't even care about getting crushed once I'm on a train. Just the past fews weeks, I haven't been able to even get on a train, and the platforms are overflowing with people.

3) I live directly behind the Courthouse stop, about an 8 minute walk of it. Rosslyn would be probably a 20 minute walk. I do currently sometimes grab the blue line to Rosslyn on the way back when I have the same problem coming home, and switch to the orange line there.

Thanks for all the input so far, keep the tips coming if you have them!
posted by whodatninja at 8:24 AM on January 6, 2010

What's your destination? If you're going to any station between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory, I think you can catch the 4B/4E or the aforementioned 38B Metrobuses to Rosslyn and try your luck with a Blue Line train (per gudrun's suggestion). If there's a bus at Rosslyn that takes you into the city, you could try that.

FWIW, I live 10min from Clarendon, but usually take the 3A/3B or the 15L to Rosslyn to catch a train to L'Enfant between 8-8:30 and I can almost always fit if I get on one of the last few cars, regardless of Orange or Blue.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:25 AM on January 6, 2010

My wife and I used to live near the West Falls Church metro and commute into downtown around these hours. Even though it's only the 3rd stop from the end, at the times you mentioned, it was still a craps shoot as to whether I would get a seat - that should give you an idea as to how crowded the trains get even a bit out.

From what I remember, though (and I commuted at both of the times you mentioned), there really was little difference between those two times as we passed through Courthouse. It was shoulder to shoulder all the way in past Clarendon, it always seemed.

I never tried to the bus, but you should. I'd switch it up and try different ways of getting in to see if there is any more efficient way.

And also: thank you for not wedging you way into an already packed car. There's nothing like the feeling if standing near the door, and seeing someone with that determined look in their eye try to crush that last inch of air out of my lungs as they squeeze on.
posted by SNWidget at 8:47 AM on January 6, 2010

whodatninja, you may also want to investigate the Arlington Transit buses . Route 61 looks like it goes back and forth between Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations, so in the morning you could maybe take it from Courthouse to Rosslyn and then pick up the blue line Metro at Rosslyn? Just a thought.
posted by gudrun at 9:04 AM on January 6, 2010

Buses suck. They're late, or early, and there's no keeping track of them and they make you feel awful. IMO leave a bit earlier or bike to Rosslyn. I used to commute out the orange line and there did seem like an appreciable difference tween 830 and 9 when I saw the inbounds go by.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2010

Buses suck. They're late, or early, and there's no keeping track of them and they make you feel awful.

Uh, what? First of all, there's the NextBus tracking service--which, I should note, was unofficially endorsed by WMATA--that offers real-time bus locations for both Metrobus and ART. It even has apps for both the iPhone (which works so well that I haven't bothered with the official schedules since I installed it) and Blackberries, the mainstays of the DC-area professional.

And second of all, we're talking about the bus system in one of the most upwardly-mobile areas in the country. In my experience as a daily rider for the better part of 5 years, there's never been evidence of various bodily fluids, seriously mentally ill riders are extremely rare, and the drivers and riders are hardly ever rude, all of which I have seen in other metro areas (I'm looking at you, NYC). Unless you were raised to be some sort of dainty Disney princess, the only way to "feel awful" on a bus is to make yourself feel that way.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:00 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

You have people like Potomac Avenue to thank for the 38B usually being pretty manageable crowd wise. The only times I have been on it and it has been crowded were when I was coming home during the summer and when there was a problem on the Orange line, otherwise you will probably be able to get a sea, and compared to some of the lines that service less exclusively white areas of the city it is really posh. The only issue you might have with it is that it ends at Farragut Sq so you would have to walk a bit at the end if you don't try to get on a train in Rosslyn, but we are only talking about a few blocks, and its would be easier to squeeze onto a train at Farragut anyways.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:30 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

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