Heard on the Hill

Senate subway system partially conked out

Dirksen-Hart trains went offline for part of busy Wednesday

Parts of the Senate subway system were out of commission on Wednesday. (Katherine Tully-McManus/CQ Roll Call)

The subway between the Dirksen and Hart Senate office buildings and the Capitol went out of service Wednesday afternoon during votes, forcing lawmakers and lobbyists alike to hoof it down the long tunnel.

Architect of the Capitol employees worked to get the train back on schedule, but had to interrupt their work to alert dozens of people heading into the train that it wasn’t operational. Some made it on board before being shooed out of the cars.

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin was one of them. The Illinois Democrat made his way toward the train and froze for a moment after being told it wasn’t working. He used the pause to talk to reporters about reprogramming funds.

A helpful “Subway Temporarily Out Of Service” sign was initially tucked between a wall and a pillar, not visible to anyone who didn’t know where it is stored between breakdowns or regular maintenance.

Senate pages stationed near the subway told Roll Call they were not authorized to move the sign to a more helpful location when it was pointed out to them.

(Katherine Tully-McManus/CQ Roll Call)
(Katherine Tully-McManus/CQ Roll Call)

Someone eventually got the message, and the signs were moved to a more visible spot to make sure the Durbin situation did not repeat itself. 

The trollies to the Russell Senate Office Building, an older line, operated smoothly throughout the day. So there’s that. 

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