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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 07/12/2009

Transit and Taxi Shortcomings

By Marisa Katz

By Bill Brown
Takoma Park

I subscribe to "Alert DC," a service of the District government established after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The service is supposed to alert subscribers via e-mail or text message whenever there is an emergency situation in the city.

Mostly, however, it sends out reports of "severe" weather warnings (thunderstorms, high winds, snowstorms) and road closures.

I've tolerated these reports because I've figured that the subscription was still a good source of immediate information in case there was an emergency worthy of an alert. Then came the June 22 Metro crash, in which nine people died, 80 were hurt and public transportation ground to a halt in the middle of rush hour.

And how did I find out?

From the radio.

It took 35 minutes after the accident, which occurred at 5:02 p.m., for Alert DC to make an announcement at 5:37 p.m. The media aired the story within about 15 minutes.

Certainly someone in the city knew about the accident before 5:37 p.m. I now have zero confidence that Alert DC will give me timely information in the event of another serious incident.

By Peter McMahon

Whether the number of taxicabs in the District declines or remains the same, and whether or not inspections become more rigorous, what really should be improved with D.C. cabs is the dreadful response rate.

Four out of the past five times that I have booked a cab for a specific time to go from Capitol Hill in Southeast to Reagan National Airport, the taxi has either not shown up or arrived more than 20 minutes late. I was using the most well-known companies in the District. Apparently these companies have trouble comprehending that when someone's cab does not arrive in time for a trip to the airport, it can mean missing a flight.

This kind of service is appalling and can be attributed only to incompetence.

By Marisa Katz  | July 12, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  transportation  
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