Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time for Revolution?

Via WMATArage:
I’m sick of it. You’re sick of it. Metro has reached levels of critical disrepair. Constant offloads, door malfunctions, closed stations, skip-stop service, etc. have rendered Metro maddening during commutes and essentially useless on weekends and off-peak hours.

But you know what? We don’t have to just sit there and passively take it. There are solutions. Consider New York in the 1980s:
By the end of 1980, complaints about subway and bus services replaced inadequate sanitation as the number one issue complained about to City Hall. On January 8th, 1981, over 1,000 angry passengers refused to leave a Manhattan-bound CC train at Hoyt/Schermerhorn Streets that was ordered out of service due to door trouble. Many complained that they had already been ordered off other trains that had also been taken out of service due to mechanical problems. Police were called, yet passengers refused to leave (and may have been unable to leave, because the platform was extremely crowded). Finally, token clerks handed out free transfers good for other subway or bus lines. The following day, about 2,000 passengers refused to leave a downtown IRT Broadway local that also had door problems and was ordered out of service. However, the crew was able to resolve the door problems and the train continued on its route running 18 minutes late. These were just two of many similar incidents that occurred in the early 1980s, where during rush hours, 25% of the scheduled trains, on average, didn’t run.
But such a revolt is not unique to New York. Hell, we’ve done it here before - and that’s how you get the awfulness of WMATA back in the news. From 1999:
On Wednesday, when Metro ridership hit an unprecedented 617,000 trips and broke Tuesday’s record of 600,061, passengers aboard an already delayed Blue Line train reached the boiling point and refused to obey orders to exit a train with door problems, first at Smithsonian and then at L’Enfant Plaza. It took transit police to clear the train, which is still being examined by mechanics… 
When the mutiny train pulled into the Smithsonian Station shortly after 5:30 p.m., it was the first eastbound Blue Line train witnesses said they had seen in nearly 45 minutes.
Now, that particular article goes on to attempt psychoanalysis on the passengers who stayed put, and to get spokesmen from SEPTA, the CTA, and the MBTA to claim that they’d never expect such a display from their passengers…but then again, an authority that actually respects its passengers issues apologies like this one yesterday.

The 1999 mutiny seems to have accomplished little. But how did the New York one fare? Just ride the subway there. You’ll see how reliable it is.

Next time you’re ordered to get off the train…don’t. Let’s make some noise. Let’s literally take this sitting down. Because I’m just absolutely fed up with it, and I know you are too.
Other items: 
Metro doesn't always bring development (WaPo)
More controversial ads could be coming (WTOP)
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