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Letter From Fed-Up Metro Rider

This letter came in on Aug. 1 from an Arlington commuter who gave up on Metro. He starts off describing a particular incident, but it wasn't this one thing that led him to switch to his car. I'm a big fan of transit, but I know that day-after-day crowding and delays on Metro wear people down. See what you think of a fellow commuter's thought process.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Tonight on my commute from Navy Yard to Clarendon, I saw an altercation on the Orange Line. As we approached Rosslyn, a male rider started to try to get to the doors a few seconds before the train stopped. As the train was packed, I can't say I blamed him. More than once I've missed exiting my train at Clarendon because of the number of folks clustered around the doors.

Unfortunately for this gentleman, he stumbled and bumped into a woman. I'm fairly sure part of the reason he stumbled was the woman's large purse sitting on the floor while she clutched the pole. As the man tried to apologize, the woman yelled at him that you "aren't supposed to move until the train stops" and then she slammed her foot into his leg. He was stunned, looking like a deer in the headlights, and ran for the door.

I couldn't ignore it. I told the woman in a calm voice that her action wasn't called for. She yelled at me, and I calmly questioned her maturity. I dropped it as I wasn't prepared to defend myself from this crazy woman.

It might have made me cranky for awhile, but I had an edge I wish I could have told her. I only have two more days as a Metro rider. On Friday [Aug. 3], I'm signing a contract to rent a private, secure parking space as close to my office as Metro. I will gladly risk 7 miles of traffic rather than continue a 2 hour round trip with crazy people on an overcrowded Metro system.

Metro is wonderful if you live a walking distance from the same line you work on. Otherwise, it's broken. And over crowded. Next Monday, if traffic makes my 7 mile drive up to a half hour, I'll bask in the knowledge that it's still half the time of a Metro commute. (If I had missed the Green Line at L'Enfant this morning, I'd have had an 18
minute wait for a 3 minute ride.)

And no, I'm not paying more. I was already paying for parking at Clarendon. I'm paying a bit more for my new parking, but my car gets close to 30 MPG city so driving will cost me about the same for gas as I've been paying for Metro. The few dollars a week more will be well spent to avoid the nightmare Metro has become at rush hour.

Dennis A. Coyle

He wrote back last week:
"After three work days, my commute is about 12 minutes plus a 3 block walk to my office. Crossing a major street in SE makes it just over 20 minutes. Compared to about an hour each way using Metro, I'm much happier as a driver than a Metro commuter. My combined commute, even if I make a wrong turn or two in SE, is less than one-way using Metro. Plus, more than half of the commute is the beautiful drive on the GW Parkway. I do not miss Metro in the least."

By Robert Thomson  |  August 17, 2007; 5:17 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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