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Signal problems

Robert J. Terry//February 15, 2011

Signal problems

By Robert J. Terry

//February 15, 2011

Responding to a rising chorus of complaints about rush-hour crowding and service breakdowns on the MARC Penn Line, the Maryland Transit Administration unveiled a plan to group the trains into six- and seven-car sets — compared with six, eight or nine cars — and run them more often.

The result would be about 1,000 additional seats per rush hour, MTA officials said. And given the negative fallout from the “hell train” incident last summer — when a Penn Line train broke down en route to Baltimore, trapping about 1,200 passengers aboard MARC 538 as temperatures approached 90 degrees — you could see where the MTA would be anxious to get the word out.

An e-mail hit my inbox Monday at 9:41 a.m. about a “significant Penn Line schedule change” effective March 14, pending approval by the Maryland Board of Public Works. At 10:09 a.m., I got another e-mail — this one about the MTA website “operating very slowly or not responding at all” thanks to heavy traffic to the site sparked by the Penn Line announcement.

Sure enough, #marcfail tweets filled Twitter in short order. “#MARCfail = not making prior arrangement for extra server capacity for the @MTAmaryland website prior to a major schedule change email,” wrote @insidecharmcity, a persistent MARC critic.

A tweet by @mtamaryland at 10:16 a.m. informed followers — and @insidecharmcity specifically — that the site was back up and running.

Sometimes the Maryland Transit Administration must feel like it can’t catch a break.


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