Metro's communication abilities are already suspect, particularly at the front line level, and the snowy mess hasn't helped things.
Saturday night, my girlfriend and I were planning on going to a late dinner and drinks in Chinatown/Gallery Place. I saw Metro was closing rail service at midnight instead of 3 a.m., since it was clearly posted in stations and on their Web site.
Metrorail is the best way for me to get home to Silver Spring, but there are plenty of bus options.
But the press release made no mention of buses. Not wanting to get stuck downtown late at night, I decided to call Metro and ask their customer service agents to clear things up.
The employee I spoke with was friendly, but didn't seem to know the answer. She reasoned that if it wasn't posted on the Web site, then the buses must be running normally. At best, it sounded like an educated guess, so I figured I would ask the station staff on my way downtown.
At Silver Spring, the people in the kiosk seemed genuinely annoyed I had interrupted their conversation. They opened the door, told me they didn't know the answer, and closed the door to resume their conversation.
I had never seen a Metro employee smile so wide, and they seemed to take real pleasure in their inability to answer my simple question.
Maybe they were just having a bad night, I thought, and decided I would ask the Metro staff when I got to Chinatown.
This time, the person in the glass booth told me they 'figured' if Metrorail was closing early, the buses would close early as well--the opposite of what I'd been told before.
Again, it sounded like a guess, so we decided not to take any chances and ended up taking the train before midnight rather than hoping for a bus that may or may not have come.
Closing early wouldn't have been a big deal had they been able to give me an answer or even treated me decently if they couldn't answer the question.
Imagine if they had said something like "I'm sorry, but I don't know. Let me call headquarters and see if I can find out ..." or "I'm not sure. Why don' t you try..." instead of making up answers and/or being rude.
What a novel idea!
Going home a few hours early was hardly a tragedy, but lately I've found myself taking extra steps to accommodate Metro rather than the other way around.
Oh, and I never did find out about the buses.
Snow deepens Metro budget gap (Examiner)
Metro's e-communication could be better, too (GGW)
Many Metro parking lots still snowed in (WaPo)