Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bad karma? The trip from hell.

Passengers wait to board the train in SJC
Is it just me?

Last Thursday, it was a blackout that affected 5million people in the Southwest including all of San Diego County.

Then yesterday, my train home stopped in Oceanside because someone committed suicide by jumping in front of the Coaster train in Carlsbad.  I was able to get a ride from another passenger back to Solana Beach (appreciated, since the cab fare is $50).  I got home about an hour late.

Tonight, Amtrak #784  was 30 minutes late leaving LA-- 5.45, rather than 5.10.  That was bad enough.  As I got on it, I read tweets from another commuter saying that the previous train was annulled in Irvine, an hour south.  A quick look at MetrolinkOC showed that their trains were also held up.

As we limped south slowly, it turned out that at 4pm, a man  went to stand on a pier of the highway 73 overpass, in Laguna Niguel, and threatening to jump.  Both northbound and southband tracks were closed.

And remained closed.  We got to Irvine and sat there for a while.  Then they closed the doors and moved us along to wait further down the track.  I kicked myself for not getting off and trying to get on the last Metrolink, which was headed to the next station, Laguna Niguel, for a bus bridge to points south.  But I was worried abou the timing, and not knowing what track it was on.  Getting stranded in Irvine was not appealing.

Then we pulled into Laguna and they hustled us off the train, and onto buses.  These drove  the short distance to  San Juan Capistrano.  We passed under the overpass with the jumper, lit by lights, as police still tried to persuade him not to jump onto the rail lines.

In San Juan, hundreds ofus milled around .  In a few minutes, a Northbound Amtrak pulled in.  This one had been waiting with its northbound passengers just outside of the depot.  They were as cross as we were, as they got off the train and onto the buses which took them back to  Laguna to take our train back to LA. Their train then hooked up to another stranded northbound Amtrak and headed south with us on it.

We left SJC at 10pm. ETA Solana Beach, maybe 11?  That's  over 5 hours from LA.

Lunatics  are not Amtrak's fault.

However, what IS Amtrak's fault is that even 4 hours after the event started, they had no plans in place for a bus bridge.  remember, the jumper got up there at 4pm.  We were sitting in Irvine at 8 doing nothing.  Metrolink was running bus bridges from 6.30 on.

The conductors didn't even know what was going on until plugged in passengers told them.  They did the best they could (both conductors and  LSAs are generally salt of the earth good people who do their best.)  Amtrak's twitter feed was, typically, completely silent except for tweets from riders filling each other in on the progress (or lack thereof).  Just tell us what's going on, Amtrak.  Please.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will not set foot an another Amcrap S#!tliner beacause the service is consistently rude, loud (excessive announcements as if we're deaf or in first grade) and of course late. I have contacted Metrolink and asked if the 3:50 train that stops at Irvine could make the four stops to Oceanside. Ridership would increase, the train would reach Oceanside within a 5 minute confidence interval and there would not be announcements ever 5 minutes from LA all the way to San Diego!