Monday, August 31, 2009

Fast Pass Swindle?

UPDATE: I’ve been in email contact with Metro. After a few emails back and forth between Ms. Bessy and myself (she had a couple of questions that I had to answer), she informed me that she would send me a couple free Fast Passes.
I can’t say I’m happy that the situation occurred in the first place, but I’m happy the way it turned out.
I think all Metro employees could learn a thing or two about business etiquette and customer satisfaction from Ms. Bessy.

From Christopher:

My wife used to receive weekly Fast Passes every month purchased with money taken out of her paycheck. At one point, she had to go to the hospital for pregnancy complications and during that time, she received a double order of Fast Passes.

We tried to return the extra passes because they had taken double the money out of her paycheck. WMATA and the benefits company her work uses both say it wasn’t their fault. We decided to let it go.

That was over a year ago.

I found the passes recently and started using them. I’m still losing money in the long run, but, if I’m going to have the passes, I might as well use them.

Everything was fine until I got to my last pass. It didn’t work.

I went to the Metro Center sales office to see if I could get a replacement. The lady at the counter informed me that my pass was purchased for $32.50 and the price had risen a while ago to $39, and that is why it didn’t work.

I pulled out another pass in my pocket and informed her that I had been using these passes all month with no problem, and that the only reason I had the passes was because someone made a mistake with my wife's benefits.

Here’s the kicker: The lady informed me “Metro doesn’t make mistakes.”

Seems to me Metro has been making a lot of mistakes recently, especially the one on June 22 that left 9 people dead.

The Metro employee told me she could give me another pass, but I would have to pay the difference of $6.50.

“You’ve got to be “You’ve got to be “You’ve got to be “You’ve got to be “You’ve got to be “You’ve got to be “You’ve got to be “You’ve got to be $&%*#@! kidding me!!!!” I politely said.
amp;%*#@! kidding me!!!!” I politely said.
amp;%*#@! kidding me!!!!” I politely said.

“You need to honor the price I paid for the pass since there is no expiration date on it!” I replied.

But since she had my pass in her hand (the pass states that it is subject to confiscation by WMATA) I knew I could walk away and lose $32.50 or let the issue drop and lose $6.50.

I chose the latter.

She told me to take it up with customer service. I told her everyone knows Metro customer service is a joke, since they still haven’t responded to the first time I complained about the original double dose of Fast Passes.

I wrote WMATA an email, but I know that won't yield any results. I’m currently looking for any law that says they have to honor the pass they sold me because it didn’t have an expiration date.

I’m not too proud to fight for $6.50!

Other items:
A look back at the crash (WTOP)
Fairfax judge validates key funding for Dulles Rail project (Examiner)

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Milking it?

Submitted by Anne. It was taped to the barricade of an under-construction escalator at Archives/Navy Memorial Station.

"I love that somebody was so steamed about the situation that they went back to the office, typed something up and then managed to remember to bring Scotch tape with them to the station!"

Other items:
Metro workers injured (WaPo)
Crime spikes at Rhode Island station (WJLA)
Metro trip planner gives wacky itineraries (GGW)
Weekend track maintenance (WMATA)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Escalators-to-Stairs Idea 'Shot Down In Flames'

Broken escalators are a costly problem for WMATA and a near constant source of irritation for many riders.

Back in 2006, WMATA said it cost $51,000 per unit per year to maintain its 588 escalators.

Some have questioned why WMATA just doesn't rip out some of the escalators and replace them with, gasp, stairs.

Our first reaction to the notion that WMATA would ever consider something like this was 'yeah right,' but to our amazement we found that WMATA actually looked at replacing 23 escalators throughout the system back in 2006, going so far as to draw up a formal presentation.

Candidate escalators had to meet the following criteria:
  • Could be no more then 30 feet high
  • Locations with multiple escalators where one escalator would be replaced with stairs, and two escalators would remain; one up, one down (i.e. Crystal City)
  • Locations with three or more escalators side-by-side, two would remain and one would be converted to stairs (i.e. Federal Triangle)
The following stations had viable candidates: Ballston, Courthouse, Crystal City, East Falls Church, Farragut North, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom, Friendship Heights, Glenmont, L'Enfant Plaza, Potomac Ave., Rhode Island Ave., Stadium Armory and Vienna.

Many had multiple candidates for replacement.

WMATA estimated that by replacing 23 escalators, it would save $1.2 million in annual operating expenses. The cost of replacing the escalators was estimated at $13.9 million. Some of that expense would have been offset by not having to perform a mid-life overhaul on 18 of the candidates for a one-time savings of $4.5 million.

The bottom line, WMATA said, was that they'd recoup expenses in less than 10 years.

What happened to the idea? According to the minutes from the meeting of the Customer Service, Operations and Safety Committee:

"The Committee members posed several questions regarding the financial analysis presented. The Committee did not collectively embrace this proposal; however staff was requested to look at escalators shorter in height than was proposed, consideration of safety related issues and their impact on escalators versus stairs, demographics of our riding population, identification of the specific areas that would benefit from adding stairs and accessibility, as well as other cost-saving ideas."

A Metro spokesman put it more succinctly: "It was shot down in flames."

Photo: Thomas Wilburn
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Twofer Foul Up Unleashes Rider Twage


Dear Metro,

Often, I chide you for your problems during evening rush hour. And, to be fair, those problems happen often and are particularly annoying! But let's not forget your morning rush hour problems either, OK?

Take [yesterday] morning, for instance. A downed train at Potomac Avenue had us stopped outside of Ballston for over 30 minutes. That's right -- stopped dead for half an hour because of a problem 15 stations away! That's the beauty of you, Metro. A problem anywhere on the line paralyzes the entire system! And let's be honest, Metro -- it's a rare day when you don't have a problem occurring somewhere. What genius in your design!

Then, naturally, as soon as we finally start moving again, we're stopped again outside Clarendon for another downed train that has to unload in front of us. Lucky for me, I managed to board one of your trains that was actually working this morning! It felt kind of like winning the Metro lottery!

I just want to say again, Metro, when I arrive at the platform in Vienna in the mornings, how much I enjoy not having any idea when I might show up to work that day. Today, I was only an hour late, but who knows what tomorrow might bring? It adds an extra element of spice and variety to my mornings, Metro, and I thank you for it.

Take care,

Many in the Twittersphere shared Frustrated's feelings and twaged on Metro, and well, we haven't done one of these in a while. If we missed yours, our apologies. There were LOTS.

globalsuit #WMATA you need to spend more on maintenance, 1 train malfunction messses up entire line. I rate you F-ail today. Thanks for making me late.
jgweston 40 minutes to get from Metro Center to Capitol South... at least I could listen to the entire Abbey Road album. Thanks WMATA!
BeccaClaraLove Blue line trains are barely moving. I've been stuck between Arlington and Rosslyn for a while now. #wmata
ryantcarney Our #Metro driver apologizes 4 "any inconvenience". The 40 minute delay. Or no explanation? Let me ask #ATR friends, is wmata unionized?
ems122 RT @aphraner: I feel like if metro is delayed I should pay a reduced fare #wmata #isitfridayyet | AGREED!
emilytbever Forgot to add: I'm 20 minutes into hour 2 of my commute #wmata
sarahedale apparently I made the right choice to get off the metro and walk from foggy bottom. it appears to be a mess at the moment. #wmata #metro
katie_stanton trapped on the orange line for god knows how long. siiigh. didnt miss this while i was on vacay! #wmata
hfienberg Apropriate that I'm reading article on WMATA incompetence while my metro car sits idle in a tunnel, awaiting train rescue ahead
milesgrant how long can @wmata stretch my 45 min commute? 60 min yesterday, 75 min today. is there a contest I don't know about?
dlj26 Ugh. Metro single-tracking orange and blue this morning. If ever there was a day for Bailey's in the coffee. #wmata
samerfarha I'm becoming intimately familiar with the concrete in these Orange line tunnels. #wmata #delays
megansimone Took me 1.5 hrs to get 2 miles to work today. #wmata #wmataFAIL
myriadian Thanks for the 2x long commute #wmata. Fuck you. 1hr 20 mins to bethesda from clarendon, should be 40 mins max.
FlyJP08 The metro yet again has enraged me: 1hr 25min to go 3.4 miles. In perspective, I did 6 miles this morning in 40min. WMATA FAIL #WMATA #fb
jim_jacobs RT @wmata: Blue-Orange Lines: Disruption at Potomac Ave towards Largo Town Center and New Carrollton. THIS SYSTEM IS FAILING, MORE EVERY DAY
theroux @unsuckdcmetro I wish metro wrote notes excusing us for being late, i.e. "Dear Jim's Boss, please excuse Jim's lateness. My bad. XOXO WMATA"
megansimone @unsuckdcmetro ONLY an hour from EFC to Fed Ctr?? Wow, it's really speeding up. #wmata
meggiepoo Ah Metro was not at the top of it's game today. 35 minutes for a 10 minute ride on the Orange line? No thanks!
maryellenburke Orange line has been SO glitchy this week. Stuck at Rosslyn wishing I already had my morning coffee #metro

And we can't forget the Red Line, which was plagued with fire on the tracks during yesterday's evening rush.

sweetbobby Fire outside bethesda? If you don't turn on the fucking AC I'll combust too, #wmata
mishamishap Dear WMATA, I hate you. DIE DIE DIE. I hope congress nationalizes you a la Chavez. With vitriol, misha
elbowglitter Epic fail of a run and now I am stuck on a stationary metro. I really hate #wmata and their lack of information.
BeautifuLuz When is WMATA gonna fix the red line for real for real...I'm tired of delays everyday
DArkMEATHOOK Sometimes i think it would be better to raze the dc metro and start again
SabrinaSiddiqui Fire on #redline tracks means stuck underground forever. DC metro has been losing at life lately...
torioreo I'm concerned with the frequency that dc metro has fires...spontaneous combustion should not have been installed on the tracks...
NatNatinDC That's a lie RT @metroopensdoors: Red Line: Disruption cleared.
pathseekerken Track Fire Delays Metro's Red Line. What's next, plagues of frogs? Rivers of blood? #unsuckdcmetro
oskolnik Conductor on Red Line: "There's an emergency up ahead. We will be moving momentarily... hopefully." Encouraging! #wmata #metro
aterkel 30-min. commute on red line took more than an hour today. We offloaded two different trains. Wonderful.
kandriulli Oh eff you red line...
quinniusmaximus red line commute home - FAIL
RT @toddeherman @DCMetro defined: it's sort of like a "train" but, with traffic jams, congestion + rush hour slowdowns.
djgiftedson Well what do you know. The red line is again fucked up today
katmceachern Dear friends: do not take the red line to shady grive tonight. Just took over an hour from Takoma to Metro Center
OKnox The Red Line, she is all bollixed up. "Fire outside of Bethesda station."
anthonydpaul Fire on red line at bethesda. Significant delays. Take bus.
nacec I hate the Red Line. The Metro used to be so reliable. Now it sucks. Shame on DC for letting it come to this.
tigermelp This summer's been gruesome for the Red Line... I've been taking my car more and more as a result.
_ladygoodman I will not be traveling on any parts of the Red Line on the Metro if I really don't have to. There is always something going on.
JosieDC stuck on red line b4 Medical Ctr- Fire-smoke, train ahead emptied - lady next 2 me needs to stop saying we're gonna die.

Other items:
Metro lost and found moves (Examiner)

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