For a Better Commute. For Better Connected Communities in Prince William & Stafford, Va.

Slug Tales: Metro a Wrench in Commute

For commuters in Northern Virginia, there are several different options of transportation available. People who work in Washington or surrounding areas can choose between different bus lines, Metro, Virginia Railway Express, or they may choose to carpool or Slug.

Slug lines are often located along commuter bus routes or near Metro stations, as the bus or Metro can serve as an alternative when Slug rides are scarce. In order to get to certain Slug or bus lines, sometimes commuters may have to ride a couple of stops on Metro, of which I am not a huge fan.

Everything about Metro tends to infuriate me. Just last night the system had a minor derailment causing delays for hundreds of commuters. I could be having the best day of my life, laughing and skipping around town, and Metro has the power to take the wind right out of my sails.

First of all, I have yet to spend a day commuting where everything in my Metro station is fully operational – there is always at least one broken escalator, sometimes down for months at a time, or the elevators are out of order, or the electronic sign that displays train arrival times isn’t working, or the train is malfunctioning and delayed. It never fails – there’s always something.

Not to mention the tourists who stand on the left side of the escalator, ignorant of the “stand on the right, pass on the left” rule understood amongst those who use Metro regularly. They all seem to be perpetually lost and blocking traffic, wearing their matching t-shirts and fanny packs as they cautiously study the colorful Metro system map.

A typical long line of Slugs at the Pentagon wait to catch a ride to Tackett’s Mill in Lake Ridge.

Then, there are the teenagers, out for a good time with friends after school, sometimes completely harmless, but other times downright obscene and seemingly oblivious of other passengers. Even other commuters can be a source of frustration; with everyone wanting to board immediately during rush hour, as opposed to waiting four minutes for the next train, there tends to be some crowding and shoving as people hurry home in the evening. Funny, considering no one seems to be in such a hurry to get to work during the morning commute.

And these are just a few of the challenges we face in attempting to Metro just a stop or two to the Pentagon or other Downtown Slug lines or buses. After all that, the last thing I want to find is a line of 3,495,873 people waiting in the same line that I need to get home.

Do I sound bitter? Maybe. I guess sometimes a long or difficult commute can make anyone feel that way. I find it almost unbelievable that it can take so much time and energy to get home, when home is only 30 miles or so away.

Slugging is a fairly easy and convenient system overall, and the best part is, it’s free! Still, there can be obstacles along the way, so as a commuter, it’s important to be aware of all the options that are available in order to choose which method works best for you.

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