Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who's Driving this Train?

From today's Kojo Nnamdi show

Metro named Richard Sarles its a new, permanent leader last month.

He's got a long background in transit management and is paid handsomely for his experience and expertise. One would think his opinion would be sought out and trusted. After all, he's ostensibly not only the general manager, but also the CEO.

Well, now is the time to be a leader, Mr. Sarles.

A hot topic in the DC media echo chamber is the notion that Metro might start closing at midnight on weekends as opposed to 3 a.m., a practice started in 1999 at the urging of the Board.

The midnight closing idea was floated weakly by your assistant, Dave Kubicek, at a recent Board meeting.

It has been a divisive issue to say the least, and since then, there's been an eerie silence from you.

On one side, you have people claiming DC nightlife would be harmed, that it would put drunk drivers on area roads, that Metro would be irreparably damaged and that DC would lose its reputation as a "world class" city. Some even think more politicians should be more directly involved in Metro's operations than they already are!

On the other side, at a high management level, your assistant GM, Kubicek, said Metro could use the extra maintenance time. At the working level, a retired track worker said Metro should just give up the late-night hours completely because it's not built to handle it. (Unsuck DC Metro has confirmed this person's views are not uncommon among those who do track maintenance.)

A Washington Post story found most late-night users were drunks.

All of this leaves most people who know nothing about how to run a railroad, like Unsuck, confused.

Is staying open late a safety concern?

Is it something that can be dramatically better managed with increased efficiency and improved planning of track maintenance?

Does Metro make money or lose money on late-night service?

Is late-night service a budget issue?

Who knows?

You do.

You've been around for a while now. Metro has been running until the wee hours on the weekends for over a decade.

Can that schedule be maintained or not?

What's the answer?

People want to know. Indecision only further damages Metro's reputation.

Don't wait for the Board to lead. The politicians that make up the Board aren't inclined to reduce service to constituents without good reason. It's on you to make a tough call.

The Board showed it can be swayed by your opinion, no matter what riders think--see bag searches.

If Metro really needs the extra, late-night weekend hours to ensure better maintenance and safety, speak up. If not, allay fears some have that continuing late night service will reduce safety and increase commuting chaos.

Decide something.

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