Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 3:53 PM ET, 03/ 3/2009

Sorry, But I Don't Feel Sorry for Metro

By Gina Acosta

Six years ago, I wrote a column for the Close to Home page on a then-new scheme to get more people to ride Metrorail. Now, with ridership up — thanks not to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority but rather to the economy and gas prices — we’re supposed to shed tears over a $29 million budget shortfall (despite several rate hikes) and endure earlier closing hours, among other cutbacks [Metro, Feb. 27].

Oh, please....

Since my piece was published, Metro has spent megabucks on goofball trivia:

1. Electronic clocks and signs announcing arrival and wait times.
2. Overly elevated bumper strips for the blind that send customers (including the blind), luggage, strollers and small children sprawling.
3. Safety messages embossed onto tile floors, telling people what they already know: not to run, sit on escalators, etc.
4. Fences and plants that obscure oncoming traffic and force patrons to walk further from parked cars to trains.
5. Irritating recordings ordering customers to “stand clear of the doors” and “move to the center of the car,” which virtually everyone ignores as they turn up the volume on their headphones.

Back in 2003, monetary incentives were provided (via taxpayers) to home buyers who moved near bus and rail stops. Then-Metro General Manager Richard A. White called the added expense “worth it to attract more long-term riders.” Government employees such as myself were handed free or sharply discounted Farecards, even while Metro was raising prices to meet what was then a $48 million budget deficit. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) praised a plan to provide mortgage credits to those who moved closer to public transportation, alleging that doing so addressed “the unaffordable housing problem in the District” and long commutes on congested roads.

Well, that turned out well....

Don’t get me wrong. I love public transportation. In 1984, my husband and I deliberately bought a home equidistant from three Metrorail stops. But government bureaucrats are not good business people and corporate managers aren’t innovators. Money was showered on nonsense instead of being put into equipment. Profitable ideas were shelved — such as one to launch a fleet of minivans operating like airport passenger services, picking up and dropping off customers in their neighborhoods for a fee during rush hours.

Now the window of opportunity has passed. A pity ....

Beverly Eakman

By Gina Acosta  | March 3, 2009; 3:53 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Do You Know About Malcolm X Park?
Next: D.C. Voting Rights and the Poison Pill


I have to disagree with Ms. Eakman. I'm not from metro DC, but I am there on business 2-4 times per year, and have been for the past 10 yrs. I like the electronic clocks stating arrival times; they are lacking on most systems. I travel with rolling luggage, but I have rarely had problems with the bumper strips. Do NOT assume everyone has the knowledge to follow the safety messages embossed in tiles or spoken on intercoms. I didn't notice the fences and plants at the Metro stations I frequent in the District, Maryland, or Virginia. I like Metro, and it is better than heavy rail sytems I have ridden in Atlanta, the Bay Area, New York, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Paris, London, and Rome, and light rail systems in Salt Lake City, Sacramento, and Houston.

Posted by: buckgw | March 9, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Another thumbs-down. The 'waste' Eakman lists is both useful and almost certainly cheap. The 'embossed safety tiles' would no doubt only be installed when the floor needed regular maintenance anyway. Setting up access barriers to the platforms prevents (1) trampling, (2) the rushing of the doors that slows us all down, and (3) multimillion dollar lawsuits from, say, the parents of a child that runs onto a track because there was no barrier. Eakman might just be the kind of economic genius that thought interest-only mortgages were a good idea.

Posted by: merkytimes | March 9, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company