Sorry, But I Don't Feel Sorry for Metro
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].
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 ....
Posted by: buckgw | March 9, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: merkytimes | March 9, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse
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