|(Courtesy of Wikipedia. Yes, it's Minnesota, but a pretty dramatic picture of a derecho in daytime.)|
On Friday, June 29th at about 10 p.m., the Baltimore-Washington region was pounded with a derecho (duh-raich-oh) that left more than a million residents – a great many of whom live in northern Baltimore – without power. In the last three days, we’ve read plenty of stories about how Maryland’s citizens are coping with the heat, humidity, noisome generators and sleepless nights they’re enduring. We thought you’d like to know how MTA employees helped (and are helping, as we write this) to keep Marylanders rolling, even when confronted with downed trees, near-record breaking heat and utility poles blocking the path at every turn.
Let’s start with those who depend on MTA the most. Once it became clear that electrical power wouldn’t be returning any time soon, Mobility moved its headquarters from Patterson Avenue to our Washington Boulevard facilities. With a new temporary phone number for customers to call – 410-468-4847 – Mobility made sure that our paratransit customers remained able to “maintain their independence” before, during and after our national 4th of July celebration.
Light Rail crews went to work almost immediately after the storm, clearing the tracks of trees that downed catenary wires along much of its northern route. Bus “bridges” connected riders to the stops that were knocked out by the hurricane-like winds.
There were dozens of diversions for Local Bus riders too, whose operators reached their destinations using lots of new paths – on the seemingly few roads that weren’t blocked by downed trees and utility wires.
Commuter Bus was relatively unaffected by the storm, and except for minor glitches, so was MARC Train Service, whose patrons deserved a break after the previous week’s safety-related slowdowns necessary due to the crazy heat.
Through it all, MTA email and text alerts kept riders regularly updated regarding delays and cancellations. And our social media team – those with electrical power, anyway – worked through the weekend to respond to customers via Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks to those of you who wrote to us with your suggestions and compliments. Dramatic events like last week’s derecho tend to bring out the best in MTA employees, and we thank those who worked extra long hours to make sure the vehicles kept rolling and our customers stayed well informed. When we can be of service to those who depend on us in a crisis, working at MTA is one of the best jobs anywhere.