Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Guest Blogger: Dan Stessel, Metro's New Chief Spokesman

When we learned Metro had hired Dan Stessel to be their new chief spokesman, we reached out to him over Twitter to welcome him to DC. We also invited him to write a guest post for the blog, which he did--on the first day he was at Metro.

Here it is:
Why I’m Here

Over the past few weeks, a few of my close friends have tried to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into as I assume the role of Metro’s chief spokesperson. You can probably imagine the typical reaction: “Oh.” [pause] “Really??” [pause] “METRO?!”

For my introductory Unsuck blog post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to not only introduce myself, but also to explain why I believe being here is a unique opportunity that, for me, was impossible to pass up.

I first fell in love with DC during my college search back in 1994. I knew immediately that no other place would compare, and ultimately, I applied only to one school (GW) because I was so determined to be here.

Metro, of course, was one of the things that made the city stand out. It was safe, efficient, modern, clean and reliable.

Most readers of this blog are well aware of the changes that followed. Age, deferred maintenance and other factors all seemed to catch up with the system. When I came back to visit Washington earlier this year, I was dismayed to see how the system had deteriorated. The first very train I boarded at Union Station experienced door and brake problems and had to limp toward Judiciary Square at walking speed. It was obvious that the system was not what it used to be.

I’ve been a communicator in the transportation world for more than a decade now – first at Amtrak, then NJ TRANSIT and now Metro. One of the things I learned early on was that, in order to do this well, you must be absolutely passionate about that which you are communicating. And that’s really why I’m here. I believe that Metro is America’s transit system. I believe it deserves to be restored to what it used to be – the system I remember. I believe Metro customers deserve clear information, using a multitude of channels (including social media), to enhance their experience. I believe in the efforts by our Board and GM Rich Sarles, now underway, to return the system to a state of good repair over the next few years. And I believe that we can do it.

I am under no illusion about the challenges that lie ahead. The next several years – the “era of rebuilding” at Metro – are going to require patience, dedication and focus. I am committed not only to doing whatever I can to keep our customers informed of these efforts, but also to listen and advocate on their behalf.

Let the conversation begin.
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