Mourning the Metro Crash, Updates on Washington Post’s ‘Get There’

The Post is housing all articles and info compiled about the crash, tomorrow’s commute and streaming video on ‘Get There’ – the transportation section of the Post online.

I sincerely hope that you all have been able to connect with your friends and family. My deepest sympathy if your news has not been good. I know we’re all thinking about those six persons that died, their families, and the 76 or so persons that were injured (50 of whom are “walking wounded,” according to Mayor Fenty’s press conference.)

We’re shaken by this, more than if a similar tragedy had occurred on the Beltway or other transportation mode. The Metro is emblematic of Washington, DC. For those of us that grew up in this area as children or young adults striking out on our own, it is how we discovered the city. And the jammed cell phone lines, worried e-mails and mobs of people walking home can’t help but remind us of 9/11.

I feel like so much of my 11 years of DC life have been lived on the Metro. When I moved here in 1998 from San Francisco for a job on the Hill, I arrived with only an unfurnished apartment found over the Internet, two suitcases, a cat and a Metro card sent by my employer’s office manager. I picked up the keys to my place, dropped off the bags and cat, and jumped on the Red Line at Dupont Circle to time how long it would take me to get to my job the next morning. When I reached Union Station and burst through the doors framing the Capitol Dome, I felt just like Jimmy Stewart. I was scared to death, but getting a handle on my Metro route made me feel like I could take this town. The familiar pattern of my walk to and from the Metro each day made sense of the new chaos.

I didn’t own a car until I was 24, and even after I finally sprung for one I rarely used it. Purchased new in 1999, I sold the car in 2006 with 26,000 miles on it. The car was used almost exclusively for weekend dating and I jokingly referred to it as the “booty mobile.” [Sorry Mom and Mom McF.] The Metro provided all serious transportation. The Metro was how I got to work, to the airport to visit my family, where I ate breakfast every morning (back when you could still bring food and drink on the train) and started marking up “the clips”, how I accessed all the cultural events and places DC has to offer.

Though I’d been a San Francisco area BART card holder for over five years prior, I remember finding the Metro exponentially more special. It has something to do with the views from the escalators of the monuments and buildings, first seen in my elementary school textbooks, now visible against the sky when emerging from underground.

These days, my kids seizure with excitement for any chance to ride “the M train.” They know all the stops and love when we need to transfer. The brightly colored graphic inside the train doors is how they’ve learned to read a map. [Sorry Dora.] They love sticking a Metro card with only 10 cents remaining and an image of Tai Shan on their bedroom bulletin board, where it awaits the next city adventure.

My kids and I take the Red Line through Takoma and Fort Totem all the time. We’re Red Line groupies. As an intern and then staffer on the Senate side of the Hill, for years I began gathering my things at Judiciary Square before exiting at Union Station. I made a brief detour to team Orange Line as a newlywed living in Rosslyn and working near Foggy Bottom-GW, but then I came home to my Red Line roots when we moved to Silver Spring. That the tragedy occurred between familiar Red Line stops Takoma and Fort Totem, where so many people commute through every day, makes this especially jarring.

For those of you that need the Red Line to get to work tomorrow, service has been altered and Metro has posted the commute options here.

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