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Metro Rage

I just had to post this, to extend a little praise and on the possibility that maybe we can figure out who the wise Blue Line woman was -- or better yet, who these two morons she prevented from fighting were.

It comes from Annie, posted in yesterday's comments:

"This doesn't actually have anything to do with the Wilson Bridge, but I had to write it somewhere. I just wanted to say thank you to the woman on the Blue Line last night who broke up what was a rapidly escalating fight between two grown men.

One of the men had pushed (or bumped) the other as the train became full. This lead to an argument full of swears and "Oh, you think you're a big tough guy?" The problem was, not only did it look like they were going to come to blows, there was also a child right behind them, listening wide eyed and looking scared. The woman, sitting in front of the child and barely looking up from her book said: "You may not realize this, but there is a child right behind you. Grow up."

One of the men whined: "I'm not doing anything; he started it." She replied: "Well, both of you just knock it off." And they did. She deserves some praise for being the only one to speak up and for effectively ending a fight (I wasn't brave enough to say anything!)"

This would have been Monday night on the Blue Line. Anyone else see this incident? Know of this woman? Care to share other tales of Metro rage?

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 12, 2006; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

About a year ago, I witnessed a somewhat similar situation with two men on a crowded platform at Farragut West. I'm pretty sure there was some bumping going on and each guy got annoyed with the other, and the next thing you know, they are tangled up and throwing punches. Out of nowhere, this mountain of a man in a suit and tie (had to be 6'8", 300 lbs) grabs the both of them by the collar and separates them, and the two quickly went on their separate ways. I've since noticed the big guy several times at Farrgut West...

Posted by: todd | July 12, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, I see more tension on Metro as it becomes less reliable and increasingly overcrowded. The occassional poor or non-functioning air conditioner doesn't help. Unfortunately, our elected officials continue to pour billions into expanding Metro, rather than looking at other options, like bus rapid transit, that can carry more people more comfortably, and at a lower cost.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised this doesn't happen more often. The potential of altercations increases everyday as I see more people eating and drinking on the train. I'm not talking about tourists, but commuters who ride everyday. I have witnessed near misses with coffee cups, mugs, bottles, etc. that almost spill during the stops and starts. I would be hard pressed to forgive someone if they spilled something all over me, knowing they intentionally ignored the rules. Smokers on the open platforms are another potential flare point. If people are fighting over a few bumps on the platform, then wait until someone blows smoke in their faces.

Posted by: Surprised | July 12, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, but Bus Rapid Transit isn't the best thing on earth like some play it out to be. Have you ever been on a Metrobus? Supporters talk a good game about how nice the buses will be and how they'll have dedicated lanes and all that, but all it takes is one or two funding cuts or politicians to downgrade the bus quality and put them in a HOT lane somewhere. Not to mention, buses are nowhere near as smooth as a train, and trains can carry 10x as many people. And, what makes you think a BRT system wouldn't be just as crowded as Metro?

Posted by: Dan | July 12, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I saw a similar thing a few years ago on the Metrobus. The driver and a passenger started scrapping with each other, over the fact that she was pulling away when he ran up and banged on the door. That led to a verbal altercation about whether she had to stop for him, etc. The passenger had gone to the back of the bus and was moving forward toward the driver, still yelling. At that point, a woman near the front stood up, placed herself in front of him and said, very calmly, "Please don't do this. We all just want to get home." The passenger started to protest, when the woman repeated, again very calmly, "Just let it go. Let's just all go home." She completely defused a situation that had the potential to be very unpleasant. I always regret not thanking her for her courage - the passenger was at least six inches taller and 50 pounds heavier.

Posted by: Bus rider | July 12, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I have been witness to several acts of incredible immaturity- usually by men (are we seeing a pattern here?) who think they are entitled to an "annoyance free" ride on the metro. One particular incidence involved a man attempting to get off the train at Rosslyn. A woman (who did not speak English) on the platform boarded before he got a chance to get off, delaying his exit by a few seconds. He let out a big sigh of annoyance and then, after exiting, he turned around- came back on the train and went up to the woman, wagging his finger in her face and shouting expletives, saying that he was going to "get her". After the initial shock of the situation wore off, we shooed the man off the train where he remained on the platform pointing his finger at this poor woman.

I have also been witness to men inappropriately touching women (including myself) when the trains were crowded- in fact just last week I thought a woman was going to slap a man that kept grabbing her back side each time the train lunged. I wish she had.

Fortunately I witness more acts of kindness and camaraderie. People giving up seats, helping lost tourists out, and just generally being congenial in what are often less than optimal circumstances.

Posted by: downtown | July 12, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

A little less than a year ago I boarded a blue line train at Pentagon City going towards D.C. It was pretty early in the morning, about 5:30AM. There was someone across from me that was asleep in his seat. The train stopped at the Pentagon station, and what appeared to be a homeless man got on board and started preaching his interpretation of the Bible out loud. His voice was low at first, but then he started talking louder and louder. He woke the man up across from me who started arguing with him loudly about his interpretation. The two men ended up screaming at each other, but never quite looked like they were going to hit each other.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

When I first moved to D.C. I worked on Capitol Hill. One day I got on to the red line at Union Station to come home from work. The car was fairly crowded, but with plenty of standing room, and I was standing near the end of one car. On the other end an african-american man got on board, then started slowly walking down the car as more people got in. The doors closed and the man kept walking towards me. Finally he stood right next to me and screamed at the top of his lungs "The bigger the white man is, the harder that mother[expletive] is gonna fall." Then he continued to just stare at me. Needless to say, I got off the train at Judiciary Square. Welcome to DC I guess.

Posted by: Newbie No More | July 12, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I gather from your comment that you have never ridden a bus rapid transit system. If you had, you would not make the comparison to Metrobus. There is no comparison to Metrobus.

Posted by: To Dan | July 12, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I remember an incident that occurred back in 1994 on the Orange Line on July 4 after the fireworks. I'd like to forget it, but I never will. I was with some friends on the way home on a jam-packed Orange Line train that came to a stop in the tunnel under the Potomac between Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn. It sat there for an hour and a half. Near the end of the delay, two guys up at the front of the car started yapping at each other over something, I forget what, and started pushing each other. Now, bear in mind that the train was packed like a sardine can (other posters have mentioned people copping a feel on the train....well, it was so crowded that everyone was crammed so close that you'd find out more about each others' bodies than you might care to know, even if you kept your hands in your pockets). So someone called the train operator on the PA, and right as we pulled into Rosslyn everyone basically shoved these two guys out the door onto the platform, the train operator closed the doors on them, and then announced an apology to anyone else who wanted to get off and explained that a fight had broken out and that the train would go on to the next stop to ensure that the brawlers couldn't get back on.

I've never forgotten that one in part because one of the friends with whom I was riding was from Southside Virginia and had never ridden a subway before (and had not even been to a two-story shopping mall). I don't think she was too anxious to ride the subway ever again.

Posted by: Rich | July 12, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

To the woman discussing the frequency of inappropriate touching on the Metro. In India's far more crowded mass transit this is also a big problem. There, women often carry a safety pin to retaliate against "backside grabbers." Not sure if tit-for-tat is the safest response, but it sure has some visceral appeal.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

One solution to discourage people from behaving badly on public transit is to record it with your cell phone camera and post it on youtube.com. This Hong Kong ***hole is now infamous:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=EsYRQkmVifg&search=bus%20uncle

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"Not sure if tit-for-tat is the safest response, but it sure has some visceral appeal."

That may be the pun of the day.

Posted by: Rich | July 12, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Yknow, I've always heard about ass-grabbing on other subway systems (Tokyo is *notorious*) but never experienced, seen, or even heard of it here. I wonder why that is? Maybe we just haven't made it to that level of squished-together-ness yet.

Posted by: h3 | July 12, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

You can eat and drink anything you want on the subways and trains of Japan yet they are cleaner than ours. Even a beer. People don't leave newspapers lying around, or trash...mostly. It happens once in a while. Also, perimeter seating increases the amount of people to be carried, and you don't have to ask someone to get up when you get to a stop and you are at a window seat..you just get up. Also, every station has public restrooms. The trains also have a schedule listing every arrival from 5 am until after midnight..no guessing. I can't see our trains getting to this level but it seems like we set the bar quite low on what is expected and offered.

Posted by: Dave | July 12, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

You can eat and drink anything you want on the subways and trains of Japan yet they are cleaner than ours. Even a beer. People don't leave newspapers lying around, or trash...mostly. It happens once in a while. Also, perimeter seating increases the amount of people to be carried, and you don't have to ask someone to get up when you get to a stop and you are at a window seat..you just get up. Also, every station has public restrooms. The trains also have a schedule listing every arrival from 5 am until after midnight..no guessing. I can't see our trains getting to this level but it seems like we set the bar quite low on what is expected and offered.

Posted by: Dave | July 12, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Newbie No More - you owe me a new keyboard. Your post made me spit my coffee on mine.

h3 - maybe your butt isn't worth grabbing. I know mine isn't. Someone might use it for a pillow if there was a really hard stop or something.

Posted by: Momma Daria | July 12, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

This one wasn't on metro but on a Ride On bus. The bus had arrived and people had queued up to get on. As I got on the bus, I got stopped on the stiars of the bus as the person in front of me asked the bus driver a question before boarding. Out of nowhere, this little hispanic woman pushes her way past me and the person asking a question. Not only was there hardly room to do this, I nearly fell off the step from the surprise and force of it. No excuse me, no polite squeeze by, just a full on knock-me-out-of-the-way push. Now I know I gave her a very rude look and a rude "excuse you" but held my tongue otherwise because it appeared she was carry a few bags and she wasn't the youngest spring chicken. I simply chocked it up to an older person doing what they want because she didn't have the strength to stand there holding bags.

Once I got on the bus the funniest thing happened. The woman who was apparently standing behind me, who was probably in her late 60's, also got pushed out of the way by this hispanic woman. Once she got onto the bus she started scolding the woman for being so rude telling her "You wait your turn. You don't just push people out of the way like that. That is rude! You are rude!" The hispanic woman retaliated by yelling something in spanish. Of course this brought on comments of "go back to mexico" from the older woman, etc. etc. They pretty much argued like this, yelling at the top of their voices for about 5 full minutes. What surprised me was that the bus driver was just laughing at it all (as were most of the riders) instead of trying to stop it.

Posted by: Laura | July 12, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I have noticed an increased amount of hostility and inconsiderate behaviour since gas prices have gone up and people who usually drive are forced to take public transportation. People are not giving up seats for elderly riders, are "hogging" two seats by putting their belongings next to them and are hostile if you indicate you would like to sit down, and do not "play nicely" when it comes to entering and exiting trains and buses. I heard a woman chastise two riders who were having a conversation in a polite tone of voice for disturbing her reading with their conversation. People looked at her dumbfounded. She really thought she was in the equivalent of a public library on the red line at rush hour and that people have no right to speak on the train! I hope gas prices go down soon, either that or these people need to start a carpool. They are a drag!

Posted by: Takoma Park | July 12, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Newbie No More, you can't take that kind of thing personally. If that story isn't giving you a good laugh by now, like the rest of us, it should be. Do at least give the guy credit for being unusually poetic and articulate, at least among subway screamers. At any rate, thanks for sharing a great + memorable moment.

Posted by: Sorry I missed it! | July 12, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

To Dan and your point about Bus Rapid Transit -- consider this:

As to the question of Bus Rapid Transit, I have had to opportunity to ride on a couple of BRT lines in the San Francisco Bay area, and overseas in Europe. They aren't everything that they are cracked up to be because of poor implementation of them. For starters, they need a dedicated Right of Way badly. The buses will never be given the full dedication of a divided lane here in DC in each direction that doesn't allow traffic to mix in with it. It won't happen because they'll never eliminate a car lane on the streets of DC. It also means a lot of overpasses and underpasses to be built to speed the buses along tough traffic spots, and priority signalling that is timed to the buses so they idealy will only have to use the brakes to stop for BRT stops. We also don't have the room to built station-like BRT stops on our streets, so people will still be delayed boarding because they'll have to pay up. Yes, you can use the honor system to make sure people bought a ticket from a kiosk outside the bus with random spot checks, but I don't think this model will fly in DC where people already jump the fare gates on Metrorail every now and then...and that's a really controlled environment. Without stations, there is no way to make sure people who enter the BRT system will have paid up in advance to access a fare zone area. Another problem with BRT is that to be efficient it has to have a high volume and frequency. It should be an accordian bus which holds roughly 80-100 people per bus that comes every five minutes during peak times. To accomplish this, you'll need a control center that uses GPS to monitor the location of the buses in real time and make adjustments as needed to keep the buses spaced appropriately. This also means bus stops that are five to six blocks apart, not every block. BRT might be a great model for the suburbs in the DC area to try, especially along heavily traveled straight shot corridors like Rt. 1 in PG County, or the Columbia Pike in Arlington...but you need a fully sperated area like K Street to make it work through downtown, and the K Street businesses will never go for giving up the service lanes on each side of the street for this....plus, with Metro's track record of bus supervision to ensure people are staying on route, on time, and making sure their time tables are followed -- I see BRT as a failure prior to it really even going anywhere here in DC. At least with Light rail, or especially with Heavy rail, you can justify the need to create seperated right of ways, tunnels, underpasses, overpasses, and making it speed along and only apply the brakes for the stations and stops along it routes...it has tracks and not just another road that could be filled up with cars. Plus, when building heavy rail, we maintain the most flexibility in the future whenever DC decides to re-think some of it's transit plans because by using all one type of system, they can swap this and that out to make a new route out of the existing trackage with a few new track connectors and stuff to be built. It may be more expensive up front, but it lasts substantially longer and is far more reliable over time than some buses that run under human control and not a computerized controlled railway. We'll never build BRT the way it's supposed to be built -- but we'll go politically there because it has a cheap, cheap price tag when all things are considered. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Hopefully WMATA will operate it with an entirely different set of people than those who currently run Metrobus.

Posted by: Jason | July 12, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that rude or annoying behavior inside Metro trains is rather limited, fortunately. Metro stops are a different story though. There is the somewhat unavoidable fact that some people are moving too slow (the perennial pet peeve of people standing on the left side of escalators) or moving too fast (and thus knocking over other folks and even strollers). But there are also some Metro stops where riders get insulted or harrassed by individuals or groups hanging around the entrance, especially Union Station.

Posted by: cpwdc | July 12, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Between the escalating incivility on the Metro, the shocking increase in murders and crime, and the inability of the politicians to do much more than sit around talking about it, Washington is becoming increasingly uninhabitable. I can't be the only person thinking about leaving here and moving someplace smaller. Maybe that's the only thing that will save DC--if a bunch of people move away and relieve the overcrowding.

Posted by: Scott | July 12, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Dear 'Takoma Park' & 'Sorry I Missed It':

You are why living in DC is a nightmare for anyone with a fully functioning brain.

Tell me Takoma, how many of these supposed ex-automobilers did you interview? Have you quantified this? When someone does something rude do you interview them about how long they have been riding the metro and what their previous mode of commuting was? Of course not. You make a totally uninformed assumption (the general mode for setting liberal policy) and base it on your presuppositions about auto-commuters. That is the very definition of 'prejudice.'

As for Sorry I missed it. Excuse me? You think that making a violent statement against all members of a particular race should not be taken seriously! Are you going to tell me that if a large white person were to walk up to black man on public transportation and make a racially threatening remark you would advise that it be taken with a grain of salt? Come on. I know that if the races were switched in that charming anecdote, your reaction would be horror. Grow up.

Posted by: Round Peg Square Hole | July 12, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

1) When you take the metro for an extended period of time and notice a new trend, it is human nature to reason out the cause of the trend. We hear through sources like WMATA that Metro ridership is at an all time high and we hear from the Washington Post that a lot of former drivers are taking the metro to save gas money. At the same time, we notice many more rude, irritable, angry or obnoxious riders on the metro than we saw previously. I'm not saying the analysis is correct, but I wouldn't call it knee-jerk, either.

2) Yes, because I would make the same assumption about the white person as I do about the black person -- that something was off. Your first point is that we shouldn't jump to conclusions about a wide variety of people based on the actions of a few. Please apply to point 2. Rinse, repeat.

Ta!

Posted by: Dear Round Peg | July 12, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting the link to the Hong Kong [bus rider]. I can't believe that no one on the bus, let alone the bus driver, said anything! "Let's shake hands to seal your apology. Oh, and I am going to f*** your mother!" Wow.

Posted by: Stacey | July 12, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Takoma Park said: "...I heard a woman chastise two riders who were having a conversation in a polite tone of voice for disturbing her reading with their conversation."

One time, I was on the Metro bus on the way to WFC Metro, talking to someone I see all the time. A woman said: "would you please be quiet, some of us want peace and quiet in the morning." I responded with: "If you want peace and quiet, maybe you should drive to work instead of taking public transportation." Maybe it wasn't the most polite response, but it is PUBLIC transportation and we weren't being loud at all; just verbal.

Posted by: Stacey | July 12, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

sad but true.

there are a bunch of a-holes in this city.

and then there are the people who become jackasses in their attempt to "regulate" the a-holes.

4 groups of people, basically. The overly antisocial and abusive people with thin skin, the people who will tolerate anything as long as they can get through their day right up to the point where they explode, and the previous two. I dare say that the city is going to the dogs, literally, in one form or another.

But there is a bit of a "dog" in all of us. Just a question of what breed.

Ultimately to survive we all have to learn when to bark, when to bite, and when to put our tails between our legs and run away. Such is life. The more that you have to lose, the less that it is worth it to do anything more than just get home. And a great incentive to drive or ride a bike to work.

Posted by: cc | July 12, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

...for, really, gas is pretty damm expensive, nowdays. Even if you only fill up once or twice a week. But on the bright side, I doubt that it's going to triple in price in the next 3 years, like it has over the past 3 years.

Posted by: cc | July 12, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

My question: What causes what? Poor manners by riders causes Metro employees to not give a damn, or the poor attitudes of Metro employees causes poor manners among riders?

I've found that the blue and yellow lines are by far the most civil. I have stopped riding Metro recently, however, since my commute is a mere 15 minutes from one end of Alexandria to the other now. I thank the Lord daily :-)

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | July 12, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I live off of the Green/ Yellow and notice such a difference between the two lines. The Green is always packed, people are often rude, irritated and intrusive (lots of unwanted attention). The yellow is less crowded, and even when it is, most people are just trying to get home with the least amount of hassle, like me.

Yeayy for Yellow!

Posted by: dewa | July 12, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Round Peg Square Hole - funny that you interpreted the statement as "violent" - I wonder why? Believe me, I know from personal experience that a few angry words are far from the worst thing that can happen to a person here. Pardon me for keeping things in perspective.

It's indisputably true, DC is not a good place for individuals who naturally fear black people. If that makes you feel unwelcome here, I'm sorry.

Posted by: Sorry I Missed It! | July 12, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

This problem of men not being able to keep their hands to themselves on crowded trains was also a problem as far back as the early 1900s. I suggest women do what the young woman did in the novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." She carried a hat pin and jabbed the hand that inappropriately touched her. That put a stop to it.

Posted by: Phil Fick | July 12, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I wasn't on that Blue line train but I give props to the lady for speaking up, though. Maybe one of the guys fighting was the one who posted a few days ago at
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/getthere/2006/07/dont_block_the_metro_box.html#comments
Check out the comment "Posted by: Vic Hugo | July 6, 2006 01:17 PM" there, the hostility about backpacks, threats to throw something under the train, etc. (Skip over the part where Vic tells someone to "put" a handbag "in" a tote (huh???), doesn't make any more sense than "putting" my backpack "into" a jampacked duffle bag when I'm travelling to the airport. That handbag/tote part left me scratching my head but the threat about getting jostled by backbacks is clear.) Doubt either of the guys fighting would ever post here to explain why they felt they had to go at it and scare the kid.

Posted by: Downtown rider | July 12, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I've been riding the Metro for 6 years and had my first groping experience just this week. The train was pretty crowded, but with a decent amount of standing room. There was a man probably in his early 50's standing behind me. When the train was moving between Foggy Bottom (that's apt) and Farragut West, I at first assumed he was leaning down to pick up his briefcase, but before he did so, there was a full open palm wipe across my rear. No way it was an accident. He wasn't that close to me initially. I was so stunned, and I actually turned around. He, of course, was studiously avoiding eye contact by that point. Wish I'd had the guts to whack him with my briefcase.

Posted by: arlington | July 13, 2006 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The New York Times had some interesting articles, columns and letters published in late June about groping on NYC's subway. If you go to http://www.nytimes.com and type the words groping AND subway into the search box, you'll see them. Of course, much of the NYT is premium content these days. I happen to be a subscriber; your local or workplace libraries should have hard copies.

The Metro is a public gathering place and as such, attracts its share of people who take advantage of close proximity to others to exhibit all kinds of unattractive or abusive behaviors. Sigh.

Posted by: Longtime Metro Rider | July 14, 2006 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Have you read Zachary Schrag's THE GREAT SOCIETY SUBWAY: A HISTORY OF THE WASHINGTON METRO (John Hopkins University Press, 2006)? Dr. Schrag is a professor at George Mason and himself a Metro rider. Pretty interesting book.

Posted by: OT Question for Steve Ginsberg | July 14, 2006 7:15 AM | Report abuse

another option to deal with subway gropers... public humiliation. i remember being on a totally packed train a few years back, when I suddenly heard a woman's voice say loudly but calmly, "SOMEONE. IS GRABBING. MY A$$." She didn't have to say it twice.

Posted by: aa | July 14, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

In my case having to pay gas and at least $45 a month for parking is led me to accept transit subsidy and start riding metro. Since then (I started in March), I have opted for not wearing my heels while commuting, but instead change my shoes in the office. My gym shoes are now known as the "run over in the metro". Why? because you either get run over in the metro by those you think they are in a marathon, or you have to run over others in the metro since they like to pause and look around, stand on the left side and simply not move while you are saying "that's my train". I would have to say 30% of the riders are rude. I like to have headphones on and ocassional read a book or study during my commute. In my opinion, it is very obvious I am not interested in a conversation with strangers, yet some people have started talking to me. I like to help people out and if you are interrupting me, I'd think its because you are lost and need directions, or you need something, but not ask me my name. It is then, that I join the 30% of rude riders, for my patience can wear thin with the incredilous things people do on the metro.

Posted by: New to the Metro | July 14, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Last fall we went to Copenhagen to visit our daughter studying there and had an opportunity to ride the public transportation there. It was a revelation! The buses are clean and on time. There are dedicated bus lanes and bike lanes eveywhere in the city. The same fare system works for buses, subway, and intercity rail without transfers. The subway is computer operated with no humans at all. There are no turnstiles at the subway stations, the subway is an honor system, but they do check your ticket on the bus and the trains. Eating and drinking are allowed, there are litter bags on the back of every seat, and the trains are spotless.

Posted by: It can be done | July 14, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Interesting info on Copenhagen, I just googled and found
http://urbanrail.net/eu/kob/kobnhavn.htm
which include some pictures and data. Fully automated? So it seems. I'm not clear on whether that phrase means there is no transit employee (such as a conductor as opposed to an operator) being on boad.

All in all, in our DC area setting, I prefer having an operator on the train to having it be fully automated. Sometimes track problems require manual operation, of course, as we saw recently with the flooding in Federal Triangle. And it gives you someone to call on the callbox in case of a problem. I remember people having to do that once when a parent and child were separated by a door closing too fast.

I know, I know, some of the operators are taciturn, to put it mildly. But there is one on the Orange Line who has the most confident tone of voice imaginable, plus the savvy to give us enough information to keep us relaxed and patient during delays. He's a jem!

Posted by: Longtime Metro Rider | July 14, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I consider myself to be an old school "Met Vet" (Metro Veteran for the uninformed). I've been a Metro rider since I caught the Red Line from my house near Fort Totten to St. Anthony's Middle School at Brookland Station. That was back in 1980. In all these years, I've seen many things and many acts of rage aboard the Metrorail. One particular act of rage stands out. It occurred around noon on a weekday aboard the Red Line departing Metro Center Station. The door chime had, uh, chimed and the doors were closing. Despite this, a thirty-something woman made a mad dash to get aboard "The last lifeboat off the Titanic"...<-- that's what I call it when a person just "HAS" to catch a particular train that's about to depart, as if it was, you guessed it, the last lifeboat off the Titanic. Anyhoo, the woman managed to dive between the closing doors unscathed. The problem was, her plan obviously ended abruptly with getting on the train, having given no thought as to how she would land or stop her forward progress once aboard. As it would happen, there were two teenaged girls standing on the train just past the doors. The diving thirty-something plowed directly into them. For the next 10 seconds (I'm sure it seemed like 10 hours to thirty-something), the two teens unfurled a profanity-filled verbal attack on the train jumper who had absolutely nowhere to go and no choice, but to stand there listening, red-faced. One of the teens, fists balled, stepped to the business suit-clad woman in a very threatening manner. It wasn't until teen #2 restrained teen #1 that this ordeal ended. Needless to say (but I'll say anyway), thirty-something made a hasty exit 1 millisecond after the doors opened at Gallery Place. No doubt, she refrained for diving aboard trains from that point on. http://miltizme.blogspot.com

Posted by: milton | July 14, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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