Monday, December 12, 2011

Excuses, Excuses

Last week, as first reported by the Examiner, the American Public Transportation Association issued a ridership report saying that subway use around the country is actually INCREASING in all but three cities: Atlanta, L.A. and here.

Boston? Up. New York? Up. Philly? Up. Chicago? Up. Even Cleveland was up, way up.

Metro officials are full of excuses about why flagging ridership is not their fault.

On one hand, they blame the economy.

On the other hand, they're suing their insurer for $13 million because, as the Examiner reported, it hasn't paid for a "drastic drop in rail ridership and consequential loss of revenue" following the June 22, 2009 Red Line crash.

So which is it?

Fundamentally, I don't think it's either.

First of all, the economy in the DC area has been quite strong relative to the rest of the country. People are actually moving here because job prospects are better.

In my day job, I recently did a story about how a foreign business chose to open their first U.S. outlet here in the DC area because the economy is so much better than anywhere else in the country.

Hey Metro, it's not the economy, stupid.

And the Red Line crash?

I think it's doubtful that disaster alone would have caused riders to avoid Metro over a period of years had it been an isolated event. People don't stop flying because of an airline crash.

However, the crash didn't take place in a vacuum. It happened during a period of long-term, incredibly poor, unreliable and often unsafe service at ever increasing premium prices, with no accountability to the riders who pay for everything.

And it's not getting any better, just more expensive.

In that environment, people are going to eventually, and rightfully, look for other options.

I'm not optimistic Metro can turn things around while in such a stuporous state of denial, and after nearly three years of blogging about how badly Metro sucks, I don't know what it will take for them to finally get it.
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