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Posted at 12:31 PM ET, 02/12/2011

Metro after Midnight: 17 minutes

By Annys Shin

This weekend, Washington Post reporters fanned out through Metro's trains and platforms after midnight to capture the sights and sounds of the region's transit system in the wee hours--the time when the whole train system might shut down if Metro budget-cutters have their way. Watch for their reports Saturday and Sunday, and a full account in Monday's Post and here on washingtonpost.com, and add your own thoughts and experiences on our comment boards below.

At Gallery Place, just before midnight on Friday night, a few dozen people mill about on the eastbound platform of the Red Line. Track work, the station display explains succinctly, means delays in both directions. The wait is averaging 20 minutes.

Telling people when the next train is scheduled to arrive is designed to eliminate the feeling of wasted anticipation. Everyone on the platform has made his or her own calculation of what can be accomplished - or tolerated -- in that time. Seventeen minutes, it turns out, is just enough time to call your mother, make out a little, throw up three times, or drunkenly digress on why you never eat your french fries at the same time as a Big Mac because of some childhood trauma involving your grandparents and a Happy Meal.

Not everyone, however, is prepared to wait.

A young woman in a red peacoat glances up at the display in horror. "Seventeen minutes?" she says to her companion in a sober-looking dress coat. "That is almost a half an hour."

"I know," the friend says. "I'm saying, it's not New York."

By Annys Shin  | February 12, 2011; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Metro after Midnight  
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