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Metro GM Richard Sarles apologizes for Red line problems

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Metro's Red Line experienced delays for the second consecutive morning rush hour and now WMATA's general manager is publicly apologizing for the commute woes.

Packed platforms at Gallery Place popped up in the midst of the delays. Photo: @ListenUpWMATA/Twitter

Thursday's delays were originally brought on by locked breaks onboard a Glenmont-bound train, which stopped just north of the Brookland-UCA station. Around 8 a.m., Metro began single tracking between Fort Totten and Brookland-UCA when a track switch malfunction further snarled traffic, Metro officials said.

The headache quickly caused a ripple-effect throughout the troubled Red Line, which operates a train every three minutes during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

"I was delayed about 70 minutes. It's the wrong way to start your day, I can tell you that much," U.S. Department of Labor employee Ken Szigety, who rides the Red Line from Rockville to Judiciary Square, said.

"I sent (my boss) a note as soon as I got in this morning saying another incident on the Red Line," Szigety added. "He knows."

Shortly after Thursday's delays emerged, and as platforms throughout the system teemed with frustrated riders, Metro GM/CEO Richard Sarles said he knows that service, specifically on the Red Line, has not been good.

"I want to apologize for the delays and inconvenience you have experienced recently," Sarles said in a statement posted to WMATA.com. "Be assured, we are focused on these issues and are taking steps to improve service."

Around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, a radio cable snapped from a corroded brace in the inbound tunnel near the Woodley Park station. Because of concern trains would rip the cable down, Metro began single tracking between the Dupont Circle and Van Ness-UDC stations. Inbound and outbound delays were well in excess of 30 minutes along the oldest and busiest portion of the Metrorail system.

"A ride that normally takes me 30 minutes ended up taking 90. I'll be making up that time after work. That's all you can do," D.C. Superior Court employee Darwin Dave, who rides the Red Line from Glenmont to Judiciary Square, said.

In a series of six tweets, Mayor Vincent Gray expressed his frustration with Metro and urged riders to speak out about the continuing problems hampering the agency.

"WMATA, despite facing budget pressures, needs to do better," Gray tweeted. "WMATA is critical to our regional economy and getting to work and school on time is essential to your livelihood."

Gray went on to tell riders to share their angst with both Sarles and D.C. Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, the city's representative on the Metro Board.

Metro says although this week's delays were "totally unacceptable," on-time performance along the Red Line is improving. In 2012, trains were on time 88.4 percent of the time. As of June 2013, Metro reported on-time arrivals of 91.5 percent, a nearly three percent increase. "That huge in terms of passenger experience," a Metro spokeswoman said.

Wednesday and Thursday's mechanical issues were cleared by 10:30 a.m. 

"Just in time for the post rush hour," one commuter snarked on Twitter.

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