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Did Metro fail Saturday?

Yes. But that was the easy question. The more difficult questions are whether different planning could have produced a different outcome and whether some of the most frequently recommended solutions would be worth the investment.

Why is it so easy to say Metro failed? Because something clearly happened on Saturday that neither the riders nor transit officials wanted: Metro could not get people where they were going in a timely and efficient manner. It isn't even a close call.

Riders everywhere reported packed platforms, long lines at fare vending machines and trains so full that no one at inner stations could board. A common solution -- ride a few stations up the line and board where trains are less crowded -- didn't work at all. The trains were packed at their departure points.

I always recommend Metro as a best bet for getting to a big event. Many people who experienced the Saturday service on their way to the Stewart-Colbert rally on the National Mall won't take that advice again.

Here's a comment submitted for my online chat today that captures many of the themes -- and a lot of the anger -- that riders expressed:

"Metro really rose to the occasion this weekend ... of proving it is the most ridiculous transportation system in the country. Fine, you know a huge number of people are descending onto the city and you don't want to add service because, apparently, you weren't asked.

"But, come on. The Red Line was essentially inoperable ... fine, the track work was scheduled in advance, but what is so darned frustrating is that there was no information regarding when the next train was coming. Not that you could get on them because they were running (at least) 20 minutes apart on the western leg.

"But, give it to Metro, where every single station I went to on Saturday had their escalators out. Rhode Island, Judiciary Square, Navy Memorial, Gallery Place, Dupont, Court House (with the added awesomeness of having the working escalator going down against traffic flow).

"A friend from Portland, OR, asked "why do you guys put up with this" and I looked at her and said, "there's nothing you can do and they don't care."

Well, they do care. Metro's leaders take pride in the transit system's ability to move hundreds of thousands of people -- to be the backbone of the transportation system in the U.S. capital. They'll tell you that Metro's best days include Sept. 11, 2001, when the transit system stayed open and got everybody home, and Jan. 19, 2009, Inauguration Day, when the trains took people on 1.1 million trips.

This was nothing like that. I got more complaints about Saturday's service than about Inauguration Day service, when the system was stressed to the max.

What should have been done differently before Saturday happened? Now things are not so clear cut.

Reader comment: "Saturday's Comedy Central event would have challenged any public transportation system, no question. But why couldn't Metro have adjusted the frequency of its trains and buses in order to compensate somewhat for the crowds?"

Metro has plenty of experience planning for big events, and transit officials did what they've often done quite successfully. They routinely survey the D.C. scene to figure out what's coming up that could create extra demands on transit service. They talked to the Stewart-Colbert rally planners. They were figuring on a crowd about the size of the one for the Glenn Beck rally on Aug. 28. That day, about 200,000 more trips were taken on Metrorail than on a typical summer Saturday.

There were many crowded stations and trains that day, but the system handled it. And that was on the west side of the Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial. There are just a few Metrorail stations within range. Basically, the options were Smithsonian, Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery, all on the Orange and Blue lines.

The Stewart-Colbert rally was on the east side, near many more stations on all the lines. That should have eased the stress on the train system.

Metro did as it usually does and asked the sponsors if they would like to pay for an early opening or extra train service. The rally sponsors didn't do that. That's not at all unusual. The sponsors didn't know what size crowd would show up. People didn't have to register to attend, and they didn't have to pay a fee that could have gone toward paying the extra transportation costs.

To say Metro didn't prepare isn't right. Based on its anticipation of a Beck-sized rally, the transit authority had 20 additional trains ready and eventually placed them in service throughout the system. Also, it had 31 administrative employees spread throughout the system to help first-time riders buy their fares and navigate the system.

To say Metro was overwhelmed, that would be more like it. That was no where near enough equipment or personnel to help the people who showed up. Metrorail wound up providing about 475,000 more trips than on a typical Saturday.

Once the additional trains were thrown into service, there wasn't much more Metro could do in time to meet the demand.

What about next time?
The most difficult question is how to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Reader comment: "in light of its financial troubles, I think Metro should charge more for big events."

If Metro charged more on days when big events were scheduled, it would help defray the cost of extra service. Then Metro wouldn't have to ask event sponsors whether they wanted to pay.

But how big would an event have to be to kick in the higher fares? An inauguration? A Mall festival or rally? A Nats game? How would you alert riders in advance that they'll be paying the higher fare?

Would it be fair to have all weekend riders pay the higher fare when they're not all going to the special event?

Should Metro just eliminate the current three-tier fare system by discarding the "discount" fare (the off-peak fare) and go only with what we now call the peak fare and the peak of the peak fare?

This Saturday was really bad, but I doubt we should make long-term changes based on such an unusual day.

[Note: This posting was quite lengthy, so I've avoided getting into the worst transit event of Saturday, the collapse of the escalator at L'Enfant Plaza. Metro continues to investigate that incident.]

From the Post's archives:

Discussions with Dr. Gridlock

Four injured on Metro escalator

Full rally coverage

By Robert Thomson  | November 1, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: VDOT opens new service center
Next: Metrorail sets ridership record


What if metro were to charge higher fares for big events, but only for people who get off (and on) at pre-designated stations that are closest to those events? This would bring in the extra revenue needed to add more service while minimizing the financial burden for non-event riders. It is a pretty standard practice within public transit to charge more for especially popular destinations. (It's also standard economics of pricing.)

Posted by: kc20008 | November 1, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I think it is perfectly accurate to say Metro wasn't prepared, with the caveat that, perhaps it was impossible for them to be prepared with the amount of money they have.

It's not just a case of Metro being inefficient on Saturday. The extent of the problem was not that someone was inconvenienced or arrived late somewhere or that an escalator was out of service or that people didn't get seats. The situation was decidedly dangerous throughout the day.

I'm not sure what the answer is for figuring out which special events might merit a higher fare. Of course, sporting events and many of the festivals happen regularly and ridership can be predicted based on past events. There obviously don't need to be higher fares every time there's a neighborhood parade.

My point, I suppose, is that *something* should be done to reduce the riskiness before someone gets killed, rather than just making excuses. Does that statement betray my bleeding heart? :)

From what I've read, some low-cost ideas that come to mind are:

-For goodness's sake, don't switch the on/off switch on an escalator when people are on it.
-Have signs indicating whether the huge line is for the entrance turnstile or the farecard machines. (The rally was full of signs. I'm sure there were some people there who would have happily helped with sign making.)
-Encourage able-bodied people who live within a few miles to walk. Encourage biking.
-If, in this economy, there truly are no Metro employees who would jump at the chance for some spontaneous overtime pay to come help alleviate the crowding, at least run eight-car trains once it's clear how crowded the system will be throughout the day.

I also can't help but think of all the local businesses who should be benefiting from this influx of visitors to the region. Every hour spent on a platform waiting for a train, or in line, or stuck in a single-tracking zone, is an hour not spent in restaurants and gift shops. Is it preposterous to wonder if businesses might like to help cover the costs of minimizing people's time spent languishing in Metro?

Posted by: DOEJN | November 1, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: kc, I think a possibility, and Metro does have the tech to make a higher rate for one station or another. In fact, Metro does have plans to charge higher rates at certain stations where the extra money would be used to finance improvement projects.

But I'll bet that if you're talking about special event pricing, you'd still be dealing with the fairness issue I mentioned in the posting. For example, if we're talking Mall events, you'd almost always be charging a higher rate for people using Smithsonian. And you'd get riders saying, Hey, I'm just taking the family to Air & Space. Why should I be subsidizing people going to this rally I don't support?

And you'd need a way to announce the higher rate for the event so that riders wouldn't feel blind-sided when they found they had to pay it.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | November 1, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Dr Gridlock you suggested that Metro should raise fares on such a day. However they did just that. A normal Saturday fare from Grosvenor to Gallery Place is $2.75 each way, $5.50 roundtrip. However, they had a sign at the Grosvenor station that read all fares downtown to the mall were $6.00 roundtrip. Hmmmm.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | November 1, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"What if metro were to charge higher fares for big events, but only for people who get off (and on) at pre-designated stations that are closest to those events?"
Posted by: kc20008

Hmmm... that might be hard when there are ten stations that are closest to the event. And those using the stations closest to the event might actually be going to work or religious services or museums or a Halloween party...

But the idea is certainly worth considering (I can see your logic). However, I will also say that, as someone who used Metro on Saturday to go to work rather than the rally, I still would have paid more for more service. With the crowds on Saturday, the inadequate service was an issue of safety, not just convenience.

Posted by: DOEJN | November 1, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: DOEJN, thanks for all the good ideas. I don't see why Metro couldn't have run eight-car trains on Saturday. It does cost more to do that. (More power, more maintenance.) But doesn't that seem like a reasonable hedge when you're dealing with an unusual and somewhat unpredictable event?

Also, I think you're right to spotlight the personnel issue. It's not just a question of having more trains. Many riders commented that it would have helped to have more Metro staffers out helping people at the fare gates and vending machines, or directing them on the platforms.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | November 1, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

it reminded me of the 2009 summer vacation season, on Metro. (does Metro have a GM yet?)
Metro should recieve more Federal funding, since people from around the country, and even the world, use it & gripe when they get lousy service.

Posted by: Hattrik | November 1, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

BTW I will say that although the line for tickets was out the door all the way to the parking lot at Grosvenor, they did have people working the machines, who were helping everyone buy their tickets as quickly as possible and that really helped move the line.
We left the rally early because we knew otherwise we would never make it home.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | November 1, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Hattrik, I was thinking about how Saturday was clearly an example of Metro's role as the US capital's subway. But the feds do seem to have bought into the plan to contribute $1.5 billion over 10 years to Metro. And then there's that big indirect federal subsidy that comes to Metro as the feds cover the cost of their employees' commutes.

Here's another issue about that, just for the sake of discussion: It's one thing to ask the feds to reimburse Metro for the cost of an event like the presidential inauguration. It's another to ask for a subsidy to help people get to events that promote Comedy Central or Fox News.

Posted by: rtthomson1 | November 1, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

If Metro's position is that it is only obligated to provide M-F rush hour service, then they should stop losing money on weekends and just shut down. Stop service at 8pm Friday and don't start up until Monday morning.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 1, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the points you all raised regarding my suggestion of higher fares at stations near events. I recognize that such a plan would not be perfectly fair, but I think it would still create a far better situation than happens now at big events. Perhaps one way to improve the "fairness" is to reduce the additional fare for smartrip users. As for families going to a museum, I have no qualms about charing them extra, sorry. Florida charges users of the turnpike significantly more for the exit for Disney World, and I think metro needs to make adjustments too.

Posted by: kc20008 | November 1, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock,

Metro did charge more on Saturday than normal. Like countless other passangers stranded at the Dupont station, I paid $1.85 to stand on the platform, watch 7 trains come and go (without us), and then exit the station. Thanks, Metro, for taking our money without rendering any service. The Dupont station manager wasn't interested in our requests for a refund, he was too busy looking down on the platform (and doing nothing) from on-high.

Posted by: williamhuxtan | November 1, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Metro was a colossal failure on Saturday. I finally gave up and left via the emergency exit (after scanning my card to get in). I wonder what I'll be charged next time.

A few suggestions: get rid of the multiple fare system. Figure out one fare and use it 24/7. That way we don't have 1,000 people standing in front of the user-interface-from-hell card machines trying to figure out what it will cost...checking the clock...doing slow math in their heads to see what a return trip will be...etc.

Pick one fare and go with it. Streamline the card machines. Then, run the trains on time and on schedule and if you hear at station A that there's no room on the train coming from "B" announce that to the crowd. And don't use that stupid announcer that was doing Saturday. I don't know who would be able to understand that gargling mushmouth.

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | November 1, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Metro didn't fail on Saturday; it was strained to capacity along with a lack of common sense by tourists. That day provided with a clear example of how Metro trains are poorly laid out, with an archaic design from the days when it was meant to act as a commuter rail system, not a rapid transport network. All trains should have four doors per side and transversal seating. If the latter is too much of a problem, then the doors should be slightly staggered so as to enlarge the amount of standing room.

Posted by: PhilRyan66 | November 1, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

We all get frustrated by escalefters and escalumps, but in what specific ways did tourists lack common sense and cause the debacle on Metro on Saturday?

Posted by: DOEJN | November 1, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Metro sucks. When I moved here in 1986, it was an adequate system. It has gone downhill since then. And yes I was here for 9/11. It is a bloated bureaucracy that has no clue how to run a system. And they killed two good friends of mine in the big crash. Why are we not raging more against the stupid, inept, idiots? This weekend was one more example of their impotence and lack of any capability to lead. We are the capital of this country, and we have idiots in charge of Metro. Their cities are being deprived of a village idiot. Send them back.

Posted by: dcbart | November 2, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

why would Metro single track EVERY SINGLE line in the system on a day when they KNEW hoards of people would be depending on Metro to get them to the rallies?

Ineptness, poor management and a million other negatives explain why this clueless organization needs to be rehauled and either denied federal funds, or have the federal government oversee it's competence...replacing management if it fails, like it did on Saturday. A recent article said that Metro's bus ridership was down "because of the economy." Are you kidding me? Metro's bus ridership is down because you can't depend it on from one day to the next. Anyone who tries to get to work on time finds out very quickly that the bus just isn't coming. Why? Because the drivers who make six figure salaries have no reason to run the routes. Their salaries are guaranteed, whether they show up or not. Oh yeah, did I mention that the union negotiated that no NEW DRIVERS could be hired? So you see, the overtime salaries are locked in for the limited number of drivers which is how they make six figure salaries. This company should NOT BE GETTING ANY FEDERAL FUNDS. Let them function as a private company, and maybe when their profits tumble they’ll be forced to make the necessary changes to be an effective metro system again. The Metro DOES NOT serve this community at all. It just collects money from the government and funnels it to the workers, instead of repairing elevators, escalators, providing security and all the other necessities that SHOULD be addressed.

Posted by: crlchs1 | November 2, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Metro can't really blame the event for this. They've handled many larger events with little effort. I've been to inaugurations, 4th of July, Marathons and other rallies, and have never seen this type of mess. Just getting into Vienna was a mess for me, then seeing the people packing the platform and lined up on the skybridge and beyond, then to see the same lines at the next 4 metro stops, yeah something broke.

Posted by: pramseycom | November 2, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

What would be the point of an early opening for a rally scheduled to start at noon?

If there were additional trains, I saw no signs of them on the Red Line. Even one additional train, travelling between Silver Spring and, say, Dupont Circle, would have done wonders to clear platforms in a safe and orderly manner.

And I still don't understand why weekend after weekend, year after year, repairs need to be made on the same stretches of Red Line track. Why can't Metro get it done right the first dozen times?

Posted by: edallan | November 2, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

It was clear early on (9 AM or so) that no one was prepared for the size of the crowd that descended on the Mall ... not the organizers (sound, etc.) ... not MPD or the Park Service and certainly not Metro. Unfortunately, Metro was broken before the massive crowds arrived.

Posted by: mitlen | November 2, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I ran Marine Corps on Sunday and we spent a lot of time figuring out the fare to return to our hotel. Here's an idea: a flat fee of $2.00, no matter where people were going, and the lines would have moved MUCH faster.

Posted by: carolineC1 | November 2, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Listen, I will be the first to agree that everyone, the rally organizers, attendees, metro was surprised by the number of people.

HOWEVER, when did they realize their mistake? It was pretty obvious by 7:30am that metro was overwhelmed. Lines an hour long just to get into the stations, let alone the trains. Metro had to consciously realize by 8am at the latest that they needed to do something. Then the next question is, how long does it take to get more trains in motion? One hour? Two hours to get more trains in the Que? Heck, if you didn't want to call in more operators then at the VERY least you needed to add 2 cars to every train to make them 8 car trains. Really, how hard would that have been.

The point I am trying to make is that any conscious person would have realized by 8am at the latest something was amiss, and any halfway competant transportation organization could have increased their capacity within a couple hours after that...MAX.

But no, Metro just put their fingers in their ears, closed their eyes and went "lalalalalalal" for the rest of the day.

Depsite what, 3 fare raises in the past 18 months, a couple billion dollars donated by the feds out of the stimulus bill, all we get is whining from Metro about hwo they don't have enough money, or people just don't understand them, or "they are trying".

BS, this system is brand spanking new in comparative standards, the oldest parts of the system are ~32 years old yet it is "always" broken down, they are "always" single tracking and every single weekend is a half service disaster with 20 minute headways.

Why is it that every other comparable system in the country that is a minimum of twice metros age can maintain full service all the time?

Whatever...I have had enough of metro. I've been driving to work all week and will likely continue just to recover from the disaster I wasted 4 hours of my life getting through last weekend.

Posted by: Nosh1 | November 2, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

I know this won't help with the number of trains running, but you could get more people into the system and eliminate the long lines at the farecard machines by declaring a flat rate, say $2, to enter the system with no exit fee. In Atlanta, with a flat fare system, with major events that could clog the system, they basically throw open the gates and put employees with secure bucket at the gates, and you just toss your $2 in the bucket as you go through. No queuing up trying to figure out how much money you need.

Posted by: ksu499 | November 2, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Seems like it would have been a pretty simple fix. After I gave up on Vienna and every station between there and Rosslyn, where I picked up an illegal $5 van ride into the city (minutes before completely giving up) I literally saw NO trains between Vienna and Ballston along 66. Not one in either direction. All I saw were lines stretching over the interstate, out the stations and into the parking garages. Metro easily could have brought more trains from the holding tank next to West Falls Church but must not have been able to get their unionized employees mobilized to do so. Comedy Central is also not off the hook for failing to do their research and ponying up a few more dollars to support the Metro system. It truly was a disaster.

Posted by: rocotten | November 2, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Metro fails everyday. 5 people drinking coffee this morning, one eating a McDonalds breakfast meal. Metro personnel did NOTHING.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | November 2, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Why should anybody pay Metro extra to do their job!?!? That is nonsensical. With all the track work, Metro couldn't even provide a basic level of service on Saturday. Had they run even their standard Saturday schedule the congestion would have been much alleviated. The least Metro could have at least run more buses from major transit points that run downtown. That would have gone a long way to alleviating the crush and saving themselves a whole world of embarrassment. Kudos, however, to Capital Bikeshare for running the most efficient transit system that day; they actually had extra teams out to ensure that bikes were located where they were needed.

Posted by: alewis4 | November 2, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Yeah... like many others who have posted, I'm not sure I buy the "we couldn't bring in any extra workers" excuse. All sorts of other agencies and companies manage to have people come in on their day off for a once-in-a-blue-moon emergency. No one wants to be routinely called and woken up and asked to come to work at the last minute, but when a situation becomes uniquely unsafe, there should be someone who's willing to step up and do what needs to be done--especially if they really are being paid six figures.

Posted by: DOEJN | November 2, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Here’s what I don’t understand and please, if anyone knows, feel free to let me know. The trains were running beyond capacity. From what I saw, people packed without breathing room, squeezing into every inch of space, so one would think Metro would be making money from this, if the trains are running at their most (or arguably over) efficiency. The same goes for rush hour.

Though I understand you can make more money by having higher fares when the trains are packed, shouldn’t Metro charge more for during the day when the trains are LESS efficient? Why do they alienate everyday commuters, who are already paying into the system through taxes, and give the midday riders (tourists) a break? I realize the service isn’t as consistent during the midday, but why charge more for better use and space on the trains? I used to rely on metro to commute from Ballston to Tysons, but I got tired of nearly $10 roundtrip fares, packed buses, and inconsistent service. I’m sure I’m not the only one who switched to a car for a similar reason.

Metro, please, stop placing the burden on everyday riders and charge more for weekends, rallies, and off-peak times. Also, please just consider a flat-rate. It would simplify the service, cause less back-ups at the exit fare, and save money by not having to operate and maintain exit fare machines.

Posted by: NOVAphilsFAN | November 2, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"What about next time?
The most difficult question is how to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Metro has had over 30 years to "Get it right". Don't hold you breath. Metro is the biggest embarrassment of Washington, DC.

Posted by: luvdc808 | November 2, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I would agree with the commenters who propose a flat rate (you know its not going to be as low as $2). Especially when going to an event where you can get off at any number of stations. If I got off at L'Efant, Archives or Gallery Place there were different amounts. I had a Smart trip but I know plenty of people were new to the system and needed fare cards.

After trying to get on at Van Dorn and finding no parking I drove 5 minutes up the street to Eisenhower parked for free and found an almost empty train station at about 12:30 the worker at the fare machine was polite and helpful. If you live in VA it might be worth the effort to drive to Eisenhower where the station was less crowded.

Without spending any extra $$ metro could have transfered the helpful guy at Eisenhower to the Archives station. Stood on the platform for 30 minutes to leave the station. No employees were on the platform with the crowd. Could have gotten ugly (luckily everyone was in good spirits). Guiding the flow of people or closing the station to allow the crowd to pass instead of adding more people to an already crowded platform.

Posted by: Redial1 | November 2, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

BTW Metro has finally begun outpricing itself. We used to take Metro to all Wizards games. We NEVER drove. But now with the increase in rate, it is now cheaper for us to drive and park in a garage. So for the first time we have stopped taking Metro.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | November 2, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Here's the inconvenience I experienced on Saturday: I board the green/yellow at Shaw when I'm riding the rail. The yellow line is supposed to start its run at Fort Totten at all times except rush hour on weekdays, when its put in at Mt. Vernon. The green line was delayed between PG plaza and Fort Totten because of single-tracking. Not only did Metro not think to at least start some green line trains at Fort Totten to avoid the delay, but they ran the yellow line from Mt. Vernon all weekend for no reason! And boy, do I want a reason for not servicing that portion of the yellow line. I mean, it makes absolutely no sense not to service those first couple of stations on the yellow line, it would have done a bunch to ease the congestion at the inner stations. Instead, I stood on the platform with several dozen other Washingtonians, starring at the most crowded train cars we had probably ever seen. I couldn't get on a train, so I exited, paying a $1.60 fair for a ride that didn't occur, and walked the 20 or so blocks to the Mall. Dr. Gridlock, what spurred Metro to not run the yellow line to its regularly scheduled stations this weekend? Did they do it on a whim, or was it really all just to spite me?

Posted by: smart-aleck | November 2, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't just the Metro that failed. My husband, neighbors and I volunteered at the event and our shift began at 6am, meaning we would have to be there at 5:30am. Firstly, Metro didn't open early enough for us to take it that early Ithankfully, as it turns out). Secondly, there were NO PARKING LOTS OPEN to accommodate parking that early and meters had a 2 hour limit, period, then you had to move your car and hope that spot wouldn't be taken while you drove around the block - that's for those of us who are honest enough to do so. Lots could have opened early, charged a premium to do so, and we would have gladly still parked there!

Posted by: cajohnsonalex | November 2, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

If local governments can take over failing school systems, why can't Congress or DC, take control of the Metro system, until WMATA can prove it is capable of running its system in a efficient and cost effect manner.
Metro will never get better unless someone finally decides to step in and intervene.

Posted by: jonnie74 | November 2, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Why do you, Dr. Gridlock, continue to make excuses for Metro? Half the problem we have with Metro is that their 'management' doesn't believe they have any problems. They debate the findings of NTSB reports, they debate the results of surveys of their own employees, they fail miserably at providing even BASIC service much less for large events like this past weekend.

I don't care that they can't support large events. What I care about is that they can't even support DAILY service. They have a message sign in Rosslyn that is on average two minutes off from what the trains are actually doing. To the point of where a train can be boarding, yet the sign says it hasn't even arrived yet.

They run an incoherent 'schedule' that varies randomly from day to day, morning to evening, and it actually takes longer to wait in the tunnel between Courthouse and Rosslyn most mornings than the actual train ride itself would be if they could run trains on time.

The first step in resolving the myriad issues Metro has is: STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR THEM!

Posted by: mika_england | November 2, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I can't support more funding for Metro until there is a management overhaul - starting with a Board of Directors that actually uses the system on a regular basis to get around. I am a big fan of the rail system and it has been sad to watch its decline. Metro needs tough love.

Posted by: Pedalada | November 2, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Though I understand you can make more money by having higher fares when the trains are packed, shouldn’t Metro charge more for during the day when the trains are LESS efficient? Why do they alienate everyday commuters, who are already paying into the system through taxes, and give the midday riders (tourists) a break?


Perhaps commuter demand is more inelastic than tourist demand? You had a reverse commute. I don't know what parking is like in Tysons, but downtown, it costs significantly more than fare minus subsidy plus parking.

Put mathematically:
Pdt > (F-S) + Pm

S >= 0

So long as that's the case, people will metro. I suppose if the aggro factor of Metro got to high, people would start driving regardless of cost, but 395 is no picnic in the morning either.

Posted by: mason08 | November 2, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

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