Thursday, January 19, 2012

Metro is Accessible?


How hard is it to announce elevator outages in a timely and effective way? There are a lot of people who desperately need this information to travel safely in Metro.

Maybe a study about what if there were no elevators would be beneficial. Of course, it would have to cost at least $200,000 to be worthwhile. Maybe Metro should hire a staff to tweet, and Facebook about elevator outages.

I mean seriously, Metro can already be a pain for the able bodied, but when you hear stories like this, which are becoming all too common, you just have to shake your head.

From Denise, who has written before:
I am a Metro rider who is blind and reliant on a guide dog. The other morning, beginning at 8:50, I was stranded in Metro's Smithsonian station for 45 minutes. I was on the Blue and Orange platform in the direction of Largo and New Carrollton. The platform elevator was broken, as is often the case.

There was no announcement over the loudspeaker that the elevator was broken and no information of where a shuttle bus was being made available for those with special needs.

The station attendant refused to stop an escalator so the guide dog and I could walk up. (A moving escalator can break a guide dog's back feet, and some guide dog users prefer not to ride one.)

In the past at Smithsonian, an escalator has been stopped after rush hour, which, by this time, it was. That would have allowed me to exit the station.

In addition to refusing to help, the attendant actually walked away from me. She said that she sent for a "supervisor," but she did not know when, or even if, that person would arrive.

Fortunately, a sighted colleague showed up and helped.

We took the train to L'Enfant Plaza and finally Left Metro. I then walked seven blocks to work, which I would not have had to do had I exited at Smithsonian.

A commute that takes me usually under 30 minutes took over 90, with no assistance from a Metro bureaucracy that is becoming more and more disorganized and chaotic by the day.

There were two other colleagues who helped me that day. They said they wanted to write to you as well. We believe you do much more good than the Metro ADA Office, which appears to take no action on written complaints.
I did hear from Denise's co-worker:

From Becca:
As this is not the first time this has happened, I thought it was time to bring this to your attention.

I have a blind employee who navigates the treacherous streets of DC with her trusty seeing-eye dog. (Quite brave if you ask me!)

Sometimes, she can get to work with no problem, and other days it's quite an adventure.

The other day, like several other days in the past, the elevator [at her station] was broken, and since moving escalators are too dangerous, she has no choice but to be stuck on the platform until she can either flag someone to get a Metro employee or call someone and ask them to come and [turn the escalator off long enough for her to get out].

This particular morning, she was on that platform for 45 minutes before she could get someone to find a Metro employee.

She could have gotten out of the Metro station if they would just shut off the escalators for a minute while she and her dog walk out, but several times now, Metro employees have refused to shut them off (interesting since they are often off anyway so any claim about inconveniencing multiple customers couldn't apply here).

She has had no choice but to get back on the Metro and go to another station where she can take an elevator and then has to walk (across four lanes of rush hour traffic) or hail a cab (which also isn't an easy thing to do being blind with a big dog) to work.

Often, she has to call a co-worker to come help, which now means that two people aren't at their desks.

As an employee working in legislative affairs, she is counted on for handling urgent and high-level issues, so her inability to get to work for a reason that could be easily dealt with is completely unacceptable.

Metro needs to get some policies in place and make sure all of their employees know how to handle these types of situations.
Related (and here and here and here)

Other items:
Metro employees accused of stealing thousands (WaPo)
Dulles stop could be scrapped (Examiner)
Metro adding $7.1 million worth of cameras to train cars (Examiner)
Metro may install shields for bus drivers (WaPo)
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