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The Blond Ponytail - What Metro doesn't want you to know......
What Metro doesn't want you to know......
A few Fridays ago I Metro'd into the city for some good times. I parked my car at Shady Grove and enjoyed my leisurely ride into the city. When my good times were over I hopped back on the Tro and enjoyed my leisurely ride out of the city.

At approximately 1:02 AM on Saturday morning, my leisurely good times ended.

You see, I am one of two people left in the DC area that does not have a SmarTrip Pass. Maybe it's because I'm not smart and therefore not qualified, but for whatever reason, I have never bothered to get one. In any case, I wrongly assumed things about parking rates and hours at the Shady Grove stop on Friday nights.

I thought the gates opened at 11 or 12 on Fridays. Oh no. They open at 3 AM on Saturday mornings. So there I sat freezing my ass off at 1:03 at this point trying to decide what to do with myself. Do I call a friend and leave my car here overnight? Is two hours really that long to wait? Is anyone around that would let me piggyback on their card? None of these ideas seemed satisfactory. You do not want to be a blond hanging around a Metro stop late at night. I wanted out in the worst way.

I drove around the perimeter of the lot for about 7 minutes. Cursing. People at work have crashed through the gates before and it didn't mess up their cars too badly. I decided against that and went back to the entrance. There was a spot between the two gates that I knew I could get my car through if I was careful enough.

No cops, no cameras, go for it.

I'd forgotten one key thing about the gates at work. Weight on certain areas of the pavement force them to open. Both gates opened right up and I went out through the in door without a problem.

Who needs a SmarTrip Pass now bitch?!
merujo From: merujo Date: November 15th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)


I find it almost offensive that you have to have a SmarTrip card to park in those damn lots. We have visitors to this area - an area that thrives on tourism - and they can't park in the dang Metro lots because they don't have a SmarTrip card?

Your discovery rocks.
blondeponytail From: blondeponytail Date: November 15th, 2006 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Brilliant!

Well thanks! I have yet to test it at other stations. I'm satisfied knowing that I beat the stupid system just once.
translucent_eye From: translucent_eye Date: November 15th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC) (Link)
dcseain From: dcseain Date: November 15th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Huh. I wonder if they do that for emergency vehicles instead of horn-activated gates for emergencies.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 15th, 2006 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
That happened to some friends and me once. We went out on a Friday night, knowing that parking is free on weekends. Yep, the gates were still down by the time we left. We ended up both (we were in 2 cars) piggybacking 2 people to get the hell out!

The ironic part is that we do have smartrip cards, but who thinks to carry one while going out?
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 15th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Metro Sucks

Need I say more?
blondeponytail From: blondeponytail Date: November 15th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the Metro, I just hate the parking restrictions. LOL. How did all of you find my blog? I didn't think anyone reads this thing.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 15th, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)


great discovery btw. will have to try that if i'm ever in that situation.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 20th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)


Sorry to deflate the joy of your discovery, but the gates opened because they were supposed to.

Metro gates often stay down even after they've been "opened" for the weekend; all it takes is the weight of the car on the concrete pad to cause them to go up...

On weekdays, the only difference is that you have to swipe your SmarTrip card -- the concrete pads and their weight sensors still activate the gate.

Incidentally, I drive a giant Suburban that usually has a mountain bike perched atop. This makes for a tall car. I've snapped THREE gates at Shady Grove, even after I swiped (and therefore paid for parking.) They were coming down to fast and catching on my bike. The first and second times, I went to see the Station manager, who, frankly, could not have cared less. The third time, I didn't even bother. Turns out that Metro has a zillion of those wooden gate arms laying around, and it happens all the time.

Though, I was proud to have made it "free parking day" for everyone that was leaving the lot after me in the rush hour.

blondeponytail From: blondeponytail Date: November 20th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)


LOL. That's awesome!! I'm in commercial leasing and management and irate customers snap our gates here all the time as well. I hope your bike is ok!
blondeponytail From: blondeponytail Date: November 20th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)


Didn't mean to imply that you were irate. OUR people are irate. We charge an arm and a leg here for parking.
woofiegrrl From: woofiegrrl Date: November 20th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)


For what it's worth, I don't think Vienna operates that way. Not once have I found the gates down when they should have been up.

Additionally, parking is not "free on the weekend" just because it's now technically Saturday. The daily parking at Metro stations page says:
collection hours (10:30 a.m. - midnight on Monday - Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 a.m. Friday)

Which is to say, fees are charged five days a week, 10:30 to close. Now, it happens that on Fridays they don't close until 3am. Technically 3am is still Saturday. But it's part of Metro's Friday operating schedule, so they do indeed still expect you to pay between midnight and 3am.

For more information you can view collection hours by station - again, note that "system closing" may in fact be the next calendar day.
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