Saturday, October 30, 2010

Metro Represents at Rally

Thanks Andrea.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Love Yourself

From Matt:

This guy was making out with his reflection on the Red Line on Tuesday morning. This went on for at least two stops, but could have been more.

He was open mouth kissing his reflection, then would alternate with smooches. He did this up until his stop, and was doing it as the train pulled in the station. The doors opened on his side., and I would imagine the passengers waiting to board got a great view.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where's the Line?

The news of an alleged terror threat against Metro stations (indictment here) will likely rekindle the debate about how much security is needed in the system, even though Metro says the public was never in any danger.

Back in 2008, with no specific threat cited, Metro announced it would conduct random bag searches, but it's unclear if any searches were ever done.

We asked Metro about that, and this was their answer: "[Metro Transit Police] Chief Taborn said today the possibility always exists that we may deploy some random screening."

Is that the way to go? Should there be more police presence? More cameras? More stings? Does anything else need to be done? What do you think is an appropriate level of security?

Other items:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sorry, these Doors are Manual

Illustration. Do not do this. Pic courtesy Keri

From Phil in Arlington:
Like so many days on the Orange Line into DC, the whole trip was stop and go, testing people’s stomachs by the time we got to As we were trying to leave Foggy Bottom, the train doors began to act up--typical Metro morning fun.

After the doors were opened and closed a half dozen times or so, the train operator got on the PA and said “we have a door problem, please stand clear of the doors.”

When that didn’t solve the problem, the operator got back on the PA and said “Passengers, the error is on the front car, please assist in standing clear of the doors.”

When THAT didn’t work, the train operator warned everyone that the train was going to be offloaded if they couldn’t fix the doors.

From where I stood in the second car, I looked through to see if I could see the door problem. I spotted a young lady give the malfunctioning doors a full on shoulder check followed by a big kick.

They shut. It worked!

It wasn’t until three stops later that a Metro technician showed up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rider Hall of Shame: Party Down

Is drunkenness a problem on Metro? What have you seen?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shattered Image

From a reader:
This is the glass door at the Shady Grove Metro station, exiting the parking garage and going toward the station. It's been smashed and has been held together by masking tape for months now.

This is actually an old pic, and the tape is now coming off.

A month ago, I sent this picture to the Red Line Metro manager, and below is the response.

The glass hasn't been replaced yet!

Subject: Your Reply
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2010 08:40:55 -0400

Dear M*. D*******:

Thank you for contacting Metro and for sharing your picture of a safety hazard at the Shady Grove parking garage. The information and picture you provided have been forwarded to our Plant Maintenance Department for corrective actions. Thank you for bringing this important matter to our attention.

To speak to a Rail Transportation Customer Service Representative for Comments, Complaints or Suggestions, please call 301-562-4605 weekdays between the hours of 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. You can leave a message at all other times or complete the comment form located on our website at

If you ever need to speak with a Customer Information Agent for assistance with general questions, please call 202-637-7000; 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Web site is also a valuable resource for customers to find out more details about trip planning, bus and rail fares, service disruptions and other information.


Jeannie Greene-Barr
Rail Customer Service

Case # 582047

"Safety is our number one priority"
Related post

Friday, October 22, 2010

Metro has Gone to the Dogs

As the poster said, we also hope he found his owner.

Other items:
Technological glitch costs Metro $500k (Examiner)
Does the Metro map need updating? (City Paper)
"Metro preps for winter" (WMATA)
Yellow Line turnaround explained (Schumin Web)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Will Anything Happen?

If safety is really a "number one priority," why do these stories keep emerging?

From Varun, who cc'ed Unsuck on his interaction with Metro:

[On Sept. 15], I boarded the Orange Line to Vienna, train run 925, at about 8 p.m. at Farragut West station. I was in the lead car, number 3045, standing immediately behind the operator's cabin.

The operator, of whom I have a low quality photo, made a personal call about 30 seconds after we emerged from the tunnels, continued talking through East Falls Church, West Falls Church (unbelievably, in front of another Metro employee, possibly a supervisor) and continued talking when I exited the train at Dunn Loring. As I was existing via the escalator, he picked up his belongings and also proceeded to exit the train.

This is unsafe. He should not have been on the phone while operating the train, and he should be reprimanded.

Metro's response:
Dear Varun XXXX:

Your email was received by Metro's Rail Transportation Customer Service. Please excuse this delinquent response due to workflow back-log.

Thank you for taking the time to report your observation of the rail operator talking on his cell phone. This incident will be investigated and appropriate action taken. It is a policy violation for employees to use any electronic device while operating the rail.

Marjorie Strother
Rail Transportation
Customer Service Representative
Case number 58###

"Safety is our number one priority"

Other items:
Rescue video (

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This Halloween, Really Scare your Friends

Photo courtesy ScottSAllen
"It won me a pair of Wizards season tickets. It's a shame they suck this [last] season more than the Metro."

Photo courtesy angela n.

Photo courtesy

Finally, if you're too lazy (like me) for the above ideas, you could just get one of these and cut some eye holes in it. Just be sure to be a surly ghost--no friendliness at all--to complete the ensemble.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Crumbling Red Line

Ft. Totten


Reader David sent in the above videos from a unique vantage point on the Red Line--looking out the back window at the end of a train.

As you can see, some of the crumbling areas are buttressed, some aren't.

Here's the Tri-State Oversight Committee's response to the videos:
State of good repair is obviously a major concern, both at WMATA and at rail transit agencies across the country. During our 2010 Triennial Audit we noticed a number of issues similar to the ones depicted in the video.

In the short term, using wooden shoring and rebar to support the platform edge does not pose an immediate safety hazard. I emphasize "in the short term" because it's clearly not a sustainable long-term solution. However, as WMATA would be quick to tell you, it's a question of money. Rehabilitating infrastructure such as station platforms (which is a scheduled part of their Red Line rehab, for example) requires time, incurs delays, and also demands a lot of capital dollars which aren't always readily available.

From an oversight perspective, we noted issues like these (as well as others) in our audit report. However, we can't require WMATA to spend money they don't have; all we can ask is that they take appropriate mitigation measures (such as the wooden shoring that was filmed) and that they have a well-defined process for channeling capital improvement dollars to safety-critical infrastructure improvements (which they also do.)
Even if the crumbling platforms aren't an immediate safety concern, it sure is sad to see the once proud Metro in such a sorry state.

Other items:
Major delays Nov. 5-7 (WMATA)
Ridership, revenues dip (Examiner)
Who should control the streetcars? (GGW)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grumpy Driver No Help

From Cannon:
While on the 53 bus (#6494) a little bit before 9:00 the morning of Oct. 14, a passenger did not have enough funds on his SmartTrip card. It was pouring rain, cold, and naturally, the passenger did not want to have to get off, so he asked the bus driver what to do. The bus driver did not respond. He completely ignored the passenger's request for help.

After the passenger's friend told him that he could load his SmartTrip on the bus, the passenger took $20 from his wallet, fed it into the machine and then re-scanned his card, but the machine would not process the transaction.

Again, the passenger asked the bus driver for assistance: "Can you write down my SmartTrip number? Can you help me, please? I just lost $20!"

The bus driver, again, ignored him. He said nothing. When other passengers pleaded with the bus driver to help the passenger, the bus driver did not say a single word.

Later, at 14th and U streets, a Circulator bus had broken down, so passengers from that bus began to board ours.

One of the passengers from the Circulator asked our driver if the bus stopped at P Street. The driver ignored him as well--silence.

Another passenger had to help the man out because the bus driver would not.

Finally, as the bus approached R Street, it was getting full, but there was enough room that the driver could have announced to passengers to move back a little bit.

Instead, he remained silent while a woman with an infant child stood in the pouring rain at 14th and R Street, unable to board.

Before I got off, I noticed the little sign above the driver's head that said something to the effect of "Please do not talk to me so that I can safely drive this vehicle."

Now, I see drivers having conversations with passengers all the time, not to mention I've had drivers help me out with directions or my SmartTrip, including a time when my card wouldn't scan, and the driver wrote down my number so that the next day the money had been credited.

So what's this guy's excuse?
Other items:
Debunking SmarTrip myths (
Funny Toles cartoon (WaPo)

Friday, October 15, 2010

To Ticket of Not to Ticket?

Curious what others think of this. Or, share your Metro parking stories.

From Gina:
As you probably know, Springfield parking garage is under construction, so it's missing a lot of spaces.

The other morning, it was packed solid--not a space to be found at 8:45 a.m.

Lots of cars were wandering around, so a lot of us gave up and parked at the end of the rows, NOT in a handicapped space and NOT blocking traffic, just not in a marked space.

The end of every row on the 6th deck had already been filled with overflow cars, so I parked on the 5th deck in the same way.

I got back that night to find a $50 parking ticket. When I looked around, I saw every other car parked the way mine was also had a ticket.

It just seems ridiculous that I paid to park there, AND I paid to ride Metro AND then I got a parking ticket.

I'm not really sure what we are expected to do if there are no legit spaces left in the garage during rush hour (It's not like there is a larger garage around.)

I recognize I wasn't in a real spot, but during construction there should be some leniency.

It's like someone thought, hey here's a way to make some extra money. It's like biting the hand that feeds you. They just don't get it.

What do you gain by punishing your regular customers?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can we Get a Clean Sweep?

The shelter at the East Falls Church Kiss and Ride has been this way for well over a month, ostensibly because the right side pane of glass was shattered.

Granted, one pathetic shelter is far from the biggest problem in the Metro system, but apparently, the reason it has been roped, gated and coned off is that there is glass on the ground.

In our litigious society, it's easy to understand how someone wouldn't want to expose riders to potentially dangerous shards of glass, but here's the thing:

The amount of glass that's still on the ground does not remotely equal what was in the pane, so someone made a cursory sweep of the area when the glass was first broken.

But a few pieces remain, and one can surmise that they are the reason the entire shelter is STILL out of service and has been for weeks.

No consultants needed, no studies, no public comment, no pilot programs, hell, don't even replace the glass if you don't have the money, but how about this:

Get a broom!

Finish the job. Get this embarrassing eyesore tidied up!

In the time it took to string the crime scene tape around the shelter, pull the little accordion gate thingy out and then strategically place the cones, the area could have been swept clean, leaving at least a partially usable shelter. (Any of you East Falls Church riders know the shelters on the platforms are as leaky as sieves, but they're better than standing in the driving rain.)

A few days ago, when it was pouring, there were more than a few people waiting for rides who would have gladly taken a gimpy shelter to no shelter at all.

C'mon! There are some major issues facing mass transit in the DC area, but little things count, and this is an easy, no cost one to "fix."

PS. Maybe the guy who seems to like to mop the platforms DURING evening rush hour could be enlisted to help out. Just a thought.

Other items:
Triennial report by the Tri-State Oversight Committee (PDF) Examiner take/Post take

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Caption Contest XVI

If you can't make it out, that's the Style section. Photo via @bruingirl2001

Previous caption contests

Other items:
Bus passes coming to SmarTrip (WMATA)
Metro workers afraid to report hazards, Board unfazed (GGW)
Surprise, surprise! There are problems with Metro's escalators (PDF/WMATA)
Metro's 30-year transit plan (PDF/WMATA)
Metro's monthly "vital signs" report (PDF/WMATA)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

COPS comes to Metro

Original Youtube

Update from Metro:

"This video appears to show a Metro Transit Police officer forcefully arresting a woman at the Gallery Place Metrorail station. I can tell you that the incident occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m., Sept. 16. However, the video did not provide a complete story of the events that occurred.

The officer initially observed the woman acting disorderly near the fare card machines. He asked her to leave the station. She exited the station and returned a short time later. The video begins when the officer approached her for the second time. She was continuing her disorderly behavior and was asked to leave by the officer. The woman refused to leave and began to argue with the officer. The officer decided to place the woman under arrest. While attempting to place handcuffs on her, she pulled her arm away, and when the officer reached for her other arm, she tripped over the officer’s foot, and they both fell to the ground. The officer dropped his handcuffs during the fall and attempted to restrain the woman as he reached for the handcuffs. He eventually handcuffed the woman and placed her under arrest. The woman was charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful entry. The case is scheduled to go to trial.

As soon as the video was brought to the attention of the Metro Transit Police on Sept. 20, the department launched an internal investigation. The investigation has been completed and it was determined that the officer acted lawfully and complied with departmental policies and procedures."

Another Fight at L'Enfant

According to Metro, "MTPD took a report for simple assault Oct. 7. A man reported being assaulted by a group while waiting for a train."

From Nicole:
I was at the L'Enfant Plaza a little before 6 p.m. on Oct. 7 when a fight broke out.

It was on the Yellow/Green line platform in the direction of Branch Ave./Huntington. It was rather quick because other riders stopped it before it got out of hand. I would say the whole thing lasted 5 minutes at most. No one was seriously hurt, but there was the potential had riders not stepped up to stop it.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the clearest view to provide good details. It was a group of 10 to 12 teenagers, and it appeared they were waiting for the kid they attacked. It was at least five minutes after things were broken up before anyone from Metro appeared.

I also witnessed a man get hit at L'Enfant in August.

I wish Metro would provide more security at L'Enfant because I'm fearful the next time won't be punches but a shooting.
Nicole wasn't the only one to witness the event, and the next day, she noticed Metro had at least four employees on the L'Enfant Plaza platform. She wondered if it was a result of the previous night's fisticuffs.

Other items:
SEPTA leading the way? (

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dear Mr. Sarles

From Scott, who CCed us on a letter to Metro interim GM Richard Sarles:
Dear Mr. Sarles,

I am an avid Metro rider, both bus and train. I have in the past called WMATA both to compliment and to complain. Now, I am unable to do either as phone calls hit automated responses and the newer red buses no longer advertise a compliment or complaint telephone number on them. There is only the standard automated customer service number beside the front door.

In interviews, time and again, you have stated that Safety is priority one. Well, I need to share with you because nobody else at WMATA seems to want to hear complaints any more. On Sunday, October 10th, at 1:33pm as I was stopping at a yellow light going north on Wisconsin Avenue, a Metrobus, (Route 96, Bus Number 6494, License plate number B43579) coming south on Wisconsin Avenue, NW, and turning left onto Woodley Road, NW, passed a car (on the left side into oncoming traffic) that was also turning left. The car instead of being able to make his left turn, had to hit his breaks to avoid hitting the side of the bus which was illegally passing him. Now I do not know if the driver just wanted "to make the light" or was late to watch the Redskins game, but he is dangerous and should not be behind the wheel of a public transportation vehicle until properly trained.

The driver performing unsafe and actually illegal driving habits is not being reprimanded because nobody is willing to take down the report. The negative organizational culture of WMATA at this point has to strong a grip on the employees and this should not have to be accepted by anybody. I ended up following this bus down Woodley Road, NW, left on Cathedral, until it turned right on 29th. Not once did the driver come to a complete stop at any stop signs. Also, while they did use a blinker at Cathedral, no blinker was used when turning right onto 29th Street, NW. The complete stop verses no complete stop and blinker use is irrelevant to my complaint, but it shows the bigger issue at hand of the driver's lack of concern over safety.

I have copied the blogs Greater Greater Washington, UnSuck DC Metro, as well as Dr. Gridlock at the Washington Post and the television station WJLA ABC 7 on this email. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. If you have the Compliment and Complaint numbers installed on the red buses, this would be appreciated as well.

Scott S.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Definition of Accident

click for larger
From Kristin:
Through a few random clicks from other Wikipedia pages, I landed on the page for "accident" (Http:// What should the picture used to illustrate the definition be? A picture of the 2009 Red Line crash.

MetroAccess Driver Excels at Parallel Parking

From Josh:
I was circling the parking lot of the Falls Plaza shopping center in Falls Church Oct. 1 at around noon and noticed this MetroAccess driver parallel parked across three parking spaces.

Now, I know it may be a tight fit, but a standard cargo van will indeed fit into a regular parking space, and this was hardly done for the van's occupants because--clearly--the passengers' doors are on the other side facing the bushes.

And besides, I'm pretty sure either the handicapped spaces or the curb in front of the store would've been better choices to drop someone off than a wood chip-filled parking island 50 meters from the nearest storefront.

I saw the driver walk from the shopping plaza and get in the van (which appeared to be empty), so I'm a bit skeptical that he was dropping off a passenger.

It was van #4080.
Other items:
Exercise on the Metro? (WaPo)
Apped out (City Paper)
Have you taken the Metro survey? (WMATA) SURVEY CLOSED

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You should have Chased the Bus!

From Andrew:
On Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m., I was involved in a hit and run while driving on 16th Street, NW. The Metrobus, S1 number 2150, cut me off and clipped the side and front of my car, causing some minor damage, and kept driving!

I called the transit police, and they said it wasn't their jurisdiction.

I have filed a police report with the DC police, who couldn't be more friendly and cooperative. (This was totally different than what I expected.)

They told me Metro will not give them the name of the bus driver, even though I gave them the bus number and route number.

Less than two hours after filing the police report last week, the DC police told me Metro called them twice to try to get them to not file the report.

It has been a week since I talked to Metro's risk management office to file the claim. They keep saying someone will get back to me in a "day or two."

When I was able to reach someone there, they told me I should have chased the bus down and confronted the driver to find out why he cut me off and hit me!

The DC police told me that would not have been a very good idea.

I'm going to let my insurance fix my car and have them chase Metro down for damages. I cannot believe how uncooperative Metro has been. I can only imagine if this had been more serious.

Other items:
Is Metro too big? (Examiner Letter to Editor)
Sounds like a service cut (WMATA)
As with other weekends, prepare for delays (WMATA)
Give this driver a raise (City View blog)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Metro Greeter gets Mixed Reviews

We heard from several people about the Metro employee greeting riders at Farragut West. It drew mixed reviews.

According to Metro, "The expectation is that all station managers greet and communicate with customers during their shifts."

From Colin:

What is this Walmart? Yesterday morning at the Farragut West station, a Metro employee was standing on the other side of the turnstiles wishing everyone a "good morning" or a "happy Tuesday" in much the same way that the greeter at a big box store might welcome you.

As nice as this is, my first reaction was to say, as I passed by, "Good morning, make the trains run on time."

A fellow Metro prisoner in front of me heartily agreed in a heavy German accent, expressing his outrage with the system which stranded us between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn for about 10 minutes this morning.

"The system sucks and what do they do?," he asked. "They make the effort not to fix anything but to have someone wish us good morning."

The question posed to us in the Express yesterday was "What can Metro do to make the system better without spending additional money?" I've got a few suggestions and putting greeters in the stations is not one of them.

I realize that putting the trains back on automatic control may be too much to ask, but it would be nice if they tried to figure out where the trains are in relation to one another. That would make my mornings much more enjoyable.
Matt had a different take:
Yesterday morning, at Farragut West, the manager was greeting every customer at the faregates saying good morning. It was really nice to see.
JW was mixed:
1) around 7:10pm last Wednesday I arrived at Clarendon. Of course, when I tried to leave, my Smartrip card had the "see station manager" error. After not being able to find a station manager or any other Metro employee for several minutes, I just went through the exit gate.

2) There was a Metro employee at Farragut West yesterday morning greeting all the passengers almost like a Walmart greeter. "Good morning everyone," "smile," etc. It may be a nice thought, but it seems like there are plenty of other things that the station employees should be doing. See 1 above.
Other items:
Va. bid for more Metro board seats appears likely to be defeated (WaPo) Examiner
Metro ridership declining fast (TBD Video)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Proactive Rider Steps in where Metro Worker Won't

From an anonymous reader:
When leaving the platform from a Huntington-bound Blue Line train at Crystal City, several customers noticed that a woman was sprawled out on the platform floor unconscious.

Some of these customers, myself included, went to tell the station manager of this medical emergency.

Upon hearing the news, the person in the booth--an elderly black male with peppered hair and a mustache--simply stayed in the booth and did nothing. He even went on to take another customer's question unrelated to the medical emergency below.

After waiting around for 20 seconds and not seeing him do anything, I called 911 myself and had an ambulance dispatched as a precautionary measure.

I know Metro pretends to care about safety in a precautionary way; but this woman was obviously ill, and the station employee didn't seem to care and/or know what to do. For shame!
Here's Metro's response to an email this rider sent them:
Your email was received by Metro's Rail Transportation Customer Service. Please excuse this delinquent response due to workflow back-log. Contrary to your experience with the station manager when reporting a women laying on the platform in need of medical attention, our employees are trained on emergencies. The station manager on duty should have accessed the problem and immediately called our Operations Central Control who in turn would have dispatched a supervisor and called for medical assistance.

We appreciate you being proactive and calling 911. I forwarded a copy of your email to the supervisor of station managers at Huntington Metro to investigate and take appropriate action such as remedial training. Thank you for bringing this incident to our attention.

Marjorie Strother
Rail Transportation
Customer Service Representative
Case number 576746

"Safety is our number one priority"
Other items:
Man found shot at Va. Metro station (WaPo)
Pickup collides with Metrobus (Arlnow)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Area Rider Fights Metro and Wins

Reader Josh's SmarTrip card recently stopped working, so he sent it to Metro for a replacement.

Here's part of the initial Metro response:
We have received card ... Your old card had a balance of $59.95. Since the old card was found to be damaged there is a replacement fee of $5.00. Therefore, your new card will have a balance of $54.95.
Josh was not happy:
You must be kidding me! YOUR worker marked on the envelope form in which I sent the SmarTrip card that the card WAS NOT damaged. In fact, the card most definitely was NOT damaged. I would like proof from you that the card was damaged. The only problem with it is that it just stopped being read at the WMATA gates. My guess is that the chip inside for some reason stopped working, but this is not a result of the card being damaged in any way. In fact, that card was less than one year old! Why should I, the customer, have to pay $5 from my balance because YOUR card was faulty? I fully expect my balance to be restored to the FULL AMOUNT and would like to speak directly to a WMATA representative if there is an issue with doing so. It's enough already that my Smart Benefits will be interrupted for an entire month until I can get on the next enrollment cycle because of YOUR poorly manufactured card, so I don't see why you feel the need to rob me of yet another $5. Surely your ridiculous fare increases and cuts in cleanliness and service I have noticed will balance out to cover this cost for you somewhere.
Metro replied:
We will be mailing out a card to you with the full amount on the card today. Sorry for the inconvience [sic].
Other items:
Metro ridership plummets, officials not alarmed (Examiner)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love that Chicken from Popeye's

  • In what seemed like a huge backslapping fest (audio of meeting), the Metro Board celebrated a decline in rider complaints. Perhaps, Metro, the explanation is that people are tired of sending their complaints into what seems like a black hole.
  • But to be fair, things may, in fact, be getting better at Metro. In 2009, they were rear ending trains, while in 2010, they're just rear ending buses, injuring many, but thankfully, none seriously.
  • A Metro Board member slipped and injured his leg BOARDING A METRO TRAIN WHILE ON THE WAY to a Metro Board meeting. (While ironic, it's good to know that at least some Board members actually take Metro. We hope Mr. Euille will continue taking Metro after his experience with the slippery-when-wet tiles. Here's to a speedy recovery.)
  • And finally, who knew you could pay for the bus with chicken from Popeye's? Soon, you'll be able to fill your SmarTrip card with Popeye's, KFC or Bojangles', and rumor is that deals with McD's and BK are in the works. What else have you seen used as currency on Metrobuses?

Only on Metro, the best ride in the nation.

Other items:
Metro workers not reporting safety concerns (WaPo)
Will this help safety? (WMATA)
Metro to conduct rail repairs near Cheverly (WMATA)
Metro to introduce fewer-stop bus service (WMATA)
Weekend delays (WMATA)
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Site Meter