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Metro Leaders Need to Get Out More

It was a good start: Metro staffers were out at some Red Line stations Friday afternoon handing out pamphlets titled, "Red Line Accident Investigation ... What we've learned so far and what we're doing to keep Metro as safe as possible." The black and white picture on the cover could have been taken that day. It shows a large crowd of people waiting to board a Red Line train.

accident handout.jpg Metro handed out flyers Friday. (Thomson)

Some of the commuters at Gallery Place would just rush by and say, "No thank you!" when offered the brochure by the staffers is yellow safety vests. Others were tourists, who really wanted directions to "Dupont Square" or the nearest movie theater.

Glynda Parker, one of the Metro employees who had volunteered to do the pamphlet distribution, said she had figured out that it was best not to approach people with an "accident investigation" brochure. "Safety efforts" got a better response, she said.

Metro needs to do a lot more outreach to its riders, and in a hurry. It needs to get more people like Parker -- courteous, well-informed, helpful -- out by the station entrances and on the platforms to talk to riders.

And how about some board members and Metro managers, too? It's not enough for them to be holding press conferences, issuing statements and sending a handful of volunteers down to distribute brochures.

And it's not all about the crash investigation. Riders most certainly want to know what happened on June 22. But they also want to know what's going to happen today.

Example: Are the regular turnbacks at Grosvenor and Silver Spring on or off? Some are showing up on the electronic message boards, and those trains do terminate at the stations before the ends of the lines, as they used to. But they are not consistent. You really have to look at the message boards and the train signs to know where they're going.

... And then, a train might be unloaded early anyway, if the Red Line is getting backed up. Metro isn't keeping riders current on service conditions.

Riders on all the lines had gripes about poor communications before. The heap of old grievances has gotten a new pile dumped on top of it during the past month. Metro leaders can deal with a lot of this by showing their faces in the stations and explaining things directly to their customers.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 27, 2009; 5:21 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr.Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Another rough morning on the red line. Normal time from Grosvenor to Gallery Place, 24 minutes. Today, 55 minutes, due to multiple problems. These may be individual incidents, but it does feel like the system is collapsing. Can't wait for the trip home...

Posted by: Chaucer2 | July 27, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

An example of the inconsistency of the Grosvenor's and the lack of communication was this morning when a train got stuck down the line from Grosvenor. The way we knew this was the announcement from the Glenmont train stuck in the station. At the same time the Shady Grove station was saying he was stuck for "schedule adjustments." And of course there was no system wide announcement. It is my understanding that only happens if original cause of the delay last 10 or more minutes. Of course a delay of less than 10 minutes is enough to cram the trains. We waited 20 minutes at Grosvenor to get a train that wasn't already packed to the gills when it arrived.

Posted by: ehardwick | July 27, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

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