MARC Train is a popular commuting option for Maryland residents commuting into D.C., but it can occasionally suffer tough days like the ones we’ve seen this week.
Cold weather and snow has forced delays and the cancellation of some trains, leaving commuters scrambling for options. As someone who spent nearly four years using MARC to commute into D.C. from Odenton, I can offer some tips on how to deal with delays and cancellations.
Wait out the delays. From my experience, any delay of under 30 minutes is usually worth waiting out. In many cases, you may be able to catch an earlier train that was also delayed. For example, let’s say you normally catch a train that leaves at 7:40 a.m., but that train is delayed by 20 minutes. That’s a bummer. But perhaps the 7:25 a.m. departure is also running 20 minutes late, and is expected to pull in at 7:45 a.m. This means you may only wait five minutes for your train. Just be aware that when this happens, trains get get very crowded and you may be forced to stand.
Remember that there are three MARC lines. If you normally ride one line but are faced with big delays or cancellations, see if it’s possible to head to a stop on another line. This is especially true if you ride the Penn or Camden Line. It helps to be aware of comparable stops that are reasonably close. For example, if you normally leave from Odenton, consider heading over to Laurel or Dorsey. MARC does allow you to use tickets for one line on another comparable line. It helps to have a good understanding of the train schedule and parking situation at other stops.
Head to the nearest Metro station. Sometimes it makes sense to just take Metro, and when there are big problems on the MARC lines, Metro will usually honor MARC tickets. It may require a bit of a drive to get to a Metro station if you live in the outer suburbs, but it will get you into work and may be more predictable than waiting for MARC service or dealing with traffic driving into city. Riders of the Camden or Penn Line can look to head to New Carrollton to get onto the Orange Line, or Greenbelt for the Green Line. Remember, however, that Metro charges you to park, and you will need a SmartTrip card with money loaded onto it. And when it’s time to go home, don’t forget that you took Metro in!
Work from home. If you have a sympathetic employer, you may be able to convey to them that it’s not worth it to struggle your way into the office when you can head home and begin working sooner. If you would be more than an hour late for work and stressed out upon arrival why not just stay home if you can?