Monday, January 31, 2011

Should they be More Candid?

A Wee-Z bond similar to those used by WMATA. This is from the Charlotte North Carolina CATS Lynx Light Rail

On Jan. 22, Orange and Blue line trains were single tracking through the Rosslyn tunnel for pretty much the entire day because of "unscheduled track maintenance." That was the only description we could find from Metro at the time of the event.

A source inside Metro revealed a few more details.

Basically, a piece of track equipment--a diesel mover--got caught up in some other equipment, and that equipment was dragged and knocked through the tunnel destroying or badly damaging 11 track circuits along track 1, they said.

Track circuits, also known as Wee-Z bonds, are vital pieces of equipment that, for one thing, convey information about the whereabouts of trains along the tracks.

After wreaking havoc in the tunnel, the diesel mover eventually derailed, they said. No one was injured.

According to the source, the incident led to "a lot of work and territory to cover."

How was something causing this amount of damage allowed to go on for as long as it did?

The source did not know, but said it's likely that in Metro's Central Control, where trains are monitored and guided, someone "should have seen a row of indications on their main display telling them that track circuits were showing occupancies and staying occupied."

That apparently did not happen.

Over 24 hours, an internal email said, Metro track crews scurried to fix the damage, which was characterized as an "emergency." According to the source, lots of overtime was racked up as well.

Unsuck asked Metro about the incident, and after several days of prodding, this is what they said:
"A track buggy that was being used to transport rail parts to various locations Friday night was returning to the yard when it derailed early Saturday. There were no injuries. We single-tracked Blue and Orange Line trains while we removed the vehicle and made some track repairs. The equipment will undergo a complete inspection before it is returned to service."
When now permanent GM Sarles was appointed interim GM, he said "I don't want to hide problems. That's the worst thing you can do."

Do you think Metro should have been a little more forthright with the public about what appears to have been a costly breakdown of Metro's "culture of safety?"

Other items:
Goodbye paper transfers passes (WaPo)

Friday, January 28, 2011


Has anything like this happened to anyone out there?

From J., a new reader to the site.
I would have laughed at the time, but that would have meant publicly acknowledging the existence of the male genitals positioned roughly a foot from my head, with a barrier of mere tinted Yellow Line window glass separating the two.

As it was, my eyes might have widened slightly, as my sleepy brain registered what I was seeing.

Of course, I tried not to react, to give no satisfaction to the man who'd decided his privates needed some air. To leave the confines of his trousers and ... wave (?) hello at the passenger occupying the window seat toward the middle of the train car, which happened to be me.

I wasn't at my stop, so I didn't get off the train to report him. And as far as I could ascertain, nobody else had seen anything.

It is entirely possible that when it happened again, over a year later and at a different stop, that it was the same person. Different line, though, and different stop. I'd switched to Orange in the interim.

I can't be sure, though, as I wasn't paying such close attention to remember any details of the, erm ... individual's appearance.

I've been in the area for close to 10 years (this happened roughly three and two years ago), so I figured I was due for a good flashing - I remember all kinds of nonsense just like this on the trains in NYC and Paris.

A quick poll of friends and coworkers reveals that only one other acquaintance has experienced a flashing incident on the DC Metro, which leads me to wonder if even our sexual deviants are underperforming.
Other items:
Sarles in charge (WMATA)
Benjamin out as Board chair Hudgins in (Benjamin's remarks--WMATA)
Where's Google Transit? (GGW)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How'd Metro Do?

Via @jessy6341 Where stranded #WMATA buses go to die. #McLeanGardens

Via @BeeZales 3 buses stuck on Connecticut Ave @unsuckdcmetro #wmata Glad I decided to walk instead.

Metro got off to a shaky start during yesterday's storm, but by the end of the commute, it was better to be on the rails than on the roads.

From Frustrated (Usually, but not Tonight) on the Orange Line:
I complain about Metro a lot, but tonight Metro was positively a breeze compared to what happened (is still happening) on the roads.

Leaving Farragut West at 6:15 p.m., it took less than an hour to get to Vienna.

So, kudos Metro! This almost makes up for all the commutes you've screwed up for me in the past.
The buses were another story, but there were several mentions on Twitter of bus drivers doing their absolute utmost to battle the elements and deliver their passengers safely.
@huetteman Metro bus driver just stopped, got out, and helped push a stuck car out of the way on an icy hill. What a woman!
One has to wonder if OPM, which seems decision averse, is at least partially to blame for Metro's initial suck spasm. Did they give Metro enough time to prepare for early release?

How was your commute?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is the Red Line Haunted?

Photo courtesy HMdb

We joked this morning on Twitter that the Red Line must run through that burial ground from the movie Poltergeist because of all the fires, malfunctions and disruptions.

Thanks to information provided by @fuzzface01, it turns out part of the Red Line is actually built on the site of a former cemetery.

If you're not familiar with Poltergeist, evil spirits haunt a house in a subdivision that was built on a burial ground. The subdivision developer said they'd relocated the cemetery but in fact, they just moved the headstones to save money. The grounds were desecrated to make room for the homes, and the spirits were none too happy. Creepiness ensues.

Apparently, the Rhode Island Ave.-Brentwood station is built on top of a decommissioned cemetery.

According to the Historical Marker Database, "Many distinguished Black citizens including Civil War veterans were buried in this cemetery. These bodies now rest in the new National Harmony Memorial Park Cemetery in Maryland."

Wonder if Metro just moved the headstones...

Who Takes Metro?

RED LINE ALERT: dcfireems Metro - btwn Woodley Park Station & Dupont Circle Station - 2400 blk Conn Av NW - fire reported in tunnel

mowend Van ness is chaos. @unsuckdcmetro

This tweet got a reader thinking:

@HashimMiles I think POTUS should take @wmata from Farragut West to Capitol South for the #SOTU just to see how F*cked up it really is...

From Robert:

The problem with Metro and other subways in this country is that people like Obama, OK, well maybe it wouldn't be prudent of safe for him to take the Metro (which is sad on another level), but what I'm getting at is that the influential people in this country don't take transit. I'm not talking mega-rich celebrities.

Think about it. Have you ever seen anyone in the military above a major--maybe a colonel--on the Metro?

Senior federal workers get parking spaces, and many higher ups in private companies do as well. Do our politicians ride Metro?

People on that level all get parking spaces or have drivers, so why should they care if Metro sucks? I live in Maryland, and my senator, Barbara Mikulski, pays a lot of lip service to improving Metro, but as a Red Line rider, I don't really see any fruit borne of her efforts. Does she even take Metro? I don't know, but I doubt it.

Until that mentality changes, neither will Metro.

Oh, and by the way Mr. President, we're not far from pat downs on Metro.

Here are the relevant passages from the State of the Union speech:

The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.

Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a “D.”

We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, and constructed the interstate highway system. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Via @Jazzyfeldzle @unsuckdcmetro never a dull moment aboard @metroopensdoors #dc

Turns out it was just smoke:

@metroopensdoors Further investigation found there was no fire onboard the train; smoke onboard was caused by a brake malfunction.


@metroopensdoors As of 4:05 p.m. the Forest Glen and Wheaton Metrorail stations have reopened and normal service has resumed on the Red Line.

Food and Drink Violator or Not?

Via @KaeSaid Yup, that's a transit cop with food and drink on my train. @unsuckdcmetro #wmata

Yesterday, we retweeted the above image. It was retweeted several times, but it also elicited many comments that the officer is not breaking the rules because he's not actually eating or drinking. *

*Unsuck was once sternly scolded by a station manager for trying to bring pretty much the same looking food/drink combo into a station. Had to ditch the cup ("because it had a straw"), but could keep the food.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where have All the Manners Gone?

ALERT: Red Line riders should expect longer than usual commute today due to cracked rail. Single tracking between Shady Grove and Twinbrook.

From Takoma Mama:
I commute with my one year-old son in a front carrier (i.e., "wearing" him, not in a stroller). I should not have to ask other riders to let me sit. It's the same as being pregnant except there is NO QUESTION that I am carrying a baby!

I am appalled by the number of people who don't offer me a seat. They either pretend I'm not standing in front of them with a baby, or maybe, they think I'm carrying him as a recreational hobby.

Ever since I was obviously showing--when I was six months pregnant--I have kept a log of who does and doesn't let me sit, often with pictures of what I was wearing--in case someone might think I was fat vs. pregnant.

Sometimes, the "offenders" seemed to think they warranted their "right" to sit over a woman carrying a baby because they were reading a paper, texting, holding their purse on their lap, were obese, etc.

It's become a fascinating daily sociological study at the expense of my slowly compressing spine.

Most incredible are the people who grab a vacated seat as I'm trying to get to it. This while other seated passengers see me struggle to maneuver to a vacant seat, lose my footing, then try to balance myself and baby on the moving Metro!

I travel quite a bit, and the only place that is worse is NYC--not something DC should be proud of.

The best place: Prague, where rude riders who don't give up a seat to a woman and baby run the very real risk of getting loudly berated by elderly passengers.
Other items:
Victim of L'Enfant attack speaks out (WaPo)
Sarles chosen behind closed doors (Examiner)

Friday, January 21, 2011

At Metro, Even the Ads are Broken

Or maybe it's a way to get people to actually notice floor ads. Mostly likely, it's just a new ad, but it's still oh so Metro.

Via @carlylenews Seen at Pentagon City #metrorail Does #wmata really need a barrier to protect a floor ad?? #justsayin

Other items:
Logic of Silver Line funding questioned (Examiner)
GOP plan would eliminate Metro funding (WaPo)

Washington Post "breaks" no confidence vote story 2 days late; Examiner goes different route. This has been corrected.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gunmen Storm Orange Line Train, Beat and Rob Passengers

UPDATE 3: City Paper article cites MPD report, saying a gun was involved in an incident similar to the one described below.

UPDATE 2 From Metro:
On Dec. 23, Metro Transit Police responded immediately to a report of a robbery that had just taken place, and within 30 minutes the suspects were positively identified, arrested and the stolen property recovered.

In an effort to address crime in the Metro system, the MTPD recently reassigned sworn officers out of administrative functions and office buildings into stations, trains and buses to better protect our customers from crime and to increase their ability to respond as quickly as possible. Here is a good example of how that redeployment makes a difference.


Police responded immediately to a call for robbery on an Orange Line train between Stadium-Armory and Minnesota Ave stations on Dec. 23. Two victims reported that while on board a train, two males stole a cell phone and a shopping bag containing recently purchased clothing and exited the train at Minnesota Avenue. The victims exited at the Cheverly station, where they reported the crime.

Metro Transit Police stopped the suspects in Northeast Washington, DC, near the Minnesota Avenue station a few minutes later and were able to get positive identification from the victims.

Police recovered the stolen property and charged the two 17-year-old males with robbery.

The victims did not report the use of a weapon during the incident. The victims were treated for minor lacerations at the station.

Correction: Witness is not a minor.

Also, see comments regarding lack of media coverage.

The following was witnessed by a minor who wishes to remain anonymous and does not want to talk to the press. The witness related the details below to their parents who passed them to Unsuck DC Metro. Metro confirms the incident took place, but would provide no details other than saying they'd taken two juveniles into custody.

On Dec. 23, 2010, between 6 and 6:30 p.m., six masked, armed men boarded a New Carrollton bound Orange Line at Stadium Armory and proceeded to rob--at gunpoint--passengers of their wallets, cell phones, iPods, shoes and other valuables.

Three of the men entered through the front door of the car, and the other three entered through the last door of the same car.

Some of the male passengers were ordered to the ground, and some of the robbers kicked them repeatedly. Some were kicked to the point that they were bleeding from their wounds, primarily head wounds.

One woman tried pushing the emergency button several times, but never got a response from any Metro employee.

The car was pretty crowded, and even had children on board. The witness said some people didn't even seem aware of what was happening. The witness said there was a couple with children who where letting the kids play in the aisle. They had yet to notice the robbery taking place. The witness quietly told the mother what was happening and said she needed to get her children to come over to her and keep them quiet. The mother did so, and that family was not harassed by the robbers.

The witness managed to clandestinely call 911 while they were still on board, but hung up on the 911 personnel because they wanted to call someone to let them know where they were because they felt like they were going to die on the train.

The men jumped off at the next station and ran.

Many of the passengers got off at that station, too, but the witness stayed on the train, thinking they didn't want to go where the perps had just gone.

Metro police did not get in touch with with the witness. After they spoke with the 911 operator, the witness never heard from anyone.

Other items:
Sarles likely next GM (Examiner)
Escalator relief coming to Foggy Bottom (WMATA)
DC area has worst gridlock (WaPo)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Transit Police Officers Vote No Confidence in Chief

Metro cops have lost confidence in their leader, Chief of Police Michael Taborn, sources familiar with the force said. Taborn has been chief since March 2008.

Two, separate sources confirm an overwhelming no confidence vote was made last Wednesday at a union meeting at the Fraternal Order of Police's DC Lodge #1.

The vote comes as security on Metro has been scrutinized in the wake of bag searches, high-profile assaults and fights in the system and an 18 percent spike in serious crimes.

When asked if the vote would lead to any real change, one source said "Probably not. Taborn does a really good job of making those above him believe everything is hunky dory on the Metro."

The source added that the Metro Transit Police Department is "not a comfortable place to work" and that "camaraderie is gone."

The source painted a bleak picture of the force's morale and effectiveness. It's a picture, they say, Taborn should have been conveying to the Metro Board of Directors for a long time but has not.

"There are a lot of numbers being fudged," the source said. "The manpower they say is there is not there."

The source said for such a small department, reported by Metro to number 420, the Metro Transit Police Department is extremely top heavy, with six people effectively working as deputy chiefs. The DC Metropolitan Police Department, which is many times larger, has four.

"[That structure] removes Taborn from responsibility," the source said. "There's too many chiefs and not enough Indians, literally."

Having so many highly-paid deputy chiefs takes up money that could allow more cops to walk the beat, the source said, adding that effectively, at any given time, there's only one patrolling cop per four stations inside the Metro system.

The source said because cops are spread so thinly, criminals know very well where the cops are and where they're not. Making it worse, the source added, is that Metro is too slow to analyze crime statistics (Metro stats) and fails to react with alacrity when trends are spotted.

The source also said that the force is pressured by Metro to focus too much on a customer service facade as opposed to policing. This undermines effectiveness, the source claimed.

"They look at us just like bus drivers and train operators," they said. "For example, when we stop or give a summons to a juvenile, the parent will often call and complain, and instead of letting that parent know what was going on, the officer who cited the kid will be questioned, which is like a slap on the wrist. It also eats up resources."

The source said the force is desperately in need of fresh ideas and leadership from people who have not been brought up all the way through the Metro Transit Police, adding that current leadership is "not smart, fit or experienced enough to make the Transit Police in to a real police department."

Taborn spent 28 years as a Metro transit cop, then did a 6-year stint with the Federal Transit Administration before coming back to Metro as chief.

The source was quick to point out that some of the problems facing the force are outside its control, saying "in DC, the judicial system is so messed up that [criminals are] getting slapped on the wrist for violent crime. They'll lock a kid up, but before we can finish the paperwork, the kid is back on the street."

Other items:
Metro sues its own insurance company (WaPo)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another Communication Fail this Morning

From Todd C.
So, this morning I'm thinking, I should check the DC Metro website to see if there were any alerts, the weather being what it was . . . and Metro being what it is.

Of course, no alerts.

What was I thinking?

Although I signed up months ago for Red Line alerts, I've never gotten one . . . not one.

So I went to the Unsuckdcmetro blog . . . where I should have started. (Again, what was I thinking?) And there was "atomicyodel," bless his heart, advising that the Redline was FUBAR. And how.

I got to Tenleytown and saw a fire truck and four Metro Emergency "Management" trucks (you'll understand why the term "management" belongs in quotation marks when used in reference to DC Metro).

I didn't even want to go down to the kiosk to find out what was happening, much less to what I expected would be a crowded platform with angry commuters jostling to get on the infrequent and already crowded trains. (Could it be more dangerous?)

So I asked a Metro dude on the street by one of the Emergency "Management" trucks what the story was. An exposed wire down below, was the gist of his reply. (Wire or high voltage cable, I wondered.)

Trains were single-tracking, he said, although he couldn't say with what frequency. I asked why there was no alert posted on the Metro website. They'd just learned of the problem, he said.

Well, to his credit, he was candid, so that's to be appreciated.

But clearly, once again, Unsuckdcmetro and its faithful followers were ahead of the curve!

Oh, how did I get to work? Took a taxi -- an option that folks living further out the line wouldn't have, so I can't complain about that.

Email Alerts Fail

Anyone else get caught off guard because of lack of word from Metro?

From Dave:
So I really wonder what the point is of the Metro email alerts.

This morning, after scraping all of the ice off of my car, I headed to the Rockville Metro station to head into work. When I got there, a cone was blocking the gate to the parking lot, which seemed unusual.

Normally, they'll do that when the lot is full, so you don't enter and waste your time looking for a non-existent parking space, but in this instance, the lot was clearly not full.

The woman in the parking kiosk said that train service between Shady Grove and Twinbrook had been suspended, but she didn't know why.

Well, that's just great.

You'd think that would be something Metro would email out to customers, since it's a major service disruption and delay.

I checked my inbox, nothing from Metro.

They emailed about delays earlier in the morning, but nothing regarding this.

How can there be a suspension of service at three stations and NO email alert has been sent?

I went to Metro's website and sure enough, it shows the Red Line as being on time but under that it says "Red Line: No service btwn Twinbrook & Shady Gr. due to Pepco wires hanging over roadway. Delays both directions."

So it says the line has no delays, and then under it says delays in both directions. And on top of that, WHY DIDN'T THEY EMAIL THEIR CUSTOMERS AND TELL US THAT?!?

My solution to the problem? Work from home and not give those bastards my money. I swear Metro thinks if they don't REPORT the problem/delay, then it never happened.

What a joke.

New Revenue Model?

Maybe Metro will rent out skates and charge by the hour.

Original pic via @SophieBegonia #wmata didn't even *think* about salting the Greenbelt parking lot. Solid ice. cc: @unsuckdcmetro

It's Not Just the Customers they Ignore

From A.N. Onymous:
The other day at Bethesda, as I came down the escalator from street level and headed toward the turnstiles, I heard someone asking loudly and distinctly "What is your name?" As I got closer, I saw that it was a man with a jacket with the word "Police" on the back.

I think the jacket was blue and black, but I may be wrong about that.

Anyway, he was speaking to someone in the kiosk, and he repeated his question perhaps four or five times. He then went around to the back of the kiosk and again asked, loudly and distinctly, "What is your name?"

I had gone through the turnstile by this point, but I turned around and could see that the woman working in the kiosk was totally ignoring him, not even turning around to acknowledge his presence.

Is this standard operating procedure for Metro employees?

I would like to suggest that when someone who appears to be a police officer is addressing a Metro employee, that the employee respond. Metro employees already have a reputation for being lazy, sullen, and rude, and this incident does nothing to make anyone think otherwise.

At a time when Metro is making a show of concern about security with random bag searches, it certainly undercuts the message to have a Metro employee simply ignoring what seems to be a reasonable question from anyone, let alone someone who seems to be a police officer.

I can’t help but wonder what had happened previously that prompted the police officer to want to know the Metro employee’s name in the first place.

I have reported this incident to Metro as well.
Other items:
Will Metro get the messages on governance reform? (WaPo)
Metro still investigating body found on track over weekend (Examiner)
Can we build transit systems with our phones? (HuffPo)

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Senseless Violence

Oddly familiar. From an anonymous reader:
Yesterday morning, I was sitting on a bench at Stadium Armory awaiting my Orange Line train. I was engrossed in some reading material and listening to music.

All of a sudden, out of NOWHERE, I was hit, hard, in the back of my head. It was very painful.

I turned around to see who did it, and I saw a young woman jumping off the end of the bench.

I said "excuse me" very loudly to get this person's attention.


A blank stare.

I said "excuse me" again, this time louder. (This person was also wearing headphones.) She then responded, leveling obscenities at me including "f*ck you white bitch. Maybe you were in my way. Don't act like you can just own this place and tell me what to do."

I was very stunned and tried not to get angry.

My train was arriving, so I calmly turned around and walked to it.

As I was doing so, this woman continued to yell at me, with quite a bit of vehemence and obscenity.

As I got on the Metro, she took her soda--which she shouldn't have had, according to Metro's rules--and threw it at me.

It narrowly missed me and landed on the floor between several other patrons on the car.

The entire time this was happening, this woman was yelling and swearing loudly, and making extremely racist remarks towards me.

I have NO idea what prompted this woman to behave in such a way.

Other items:
There's going to be a lot of rail work in 2011 (WMATA)
Metro unveils budget (WaPo)
Soft profile of interim GM Sarles (WaPo)
Metro will keep pay phones (WMATA)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Metro Considering Selling Station Naming Rights

During this morning's budget meeting, it was revealed that Metro is considering selling naming rights for stations.

What would some likely sponsors be?

Here are some from Twitter:

Caption Contest XVII

Via @murmurmel: There is a middle-aged woman passed out in a pile of Teddy bears on my metro train. o_O #wmata

Previous caption contests

Other items:
More bathroom news from Metro (Examiner)
Metrobus crash sends 11 to hospital (Examiner)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

From an anonymous reader:
This morning, on an Orange Line toward Vienna, I boarded at Eastern Market which is usually a quiet, subdued station. The ride itself is usually uneventful unless a tourist jams the doors or someone gets sick, which happens quite infrequently.

This morning, however, was a different story.

I took my place near the center of the car when I heard a young black male arguing aggressively with the person sitting next to him, which appeared to be a slightly older young black female.

After she vacated the seat, a white man in the aisle next to me told the young man to settle down, saying it was early and people just wanted to get to work peacefully.

The young man did not want to hear this and became very aggressive with the rider.

Then, out of nowhere, a large black male stood next to the rider that was being harassed. He told the younger rider to settle down.

After the young guy became even more enraged, a third person, a tall black male came out of nowhere and was holding a collapsible baton. He told the younger rider "you picked the wrong train mother f***er, were trying to get to work!"

The young man stood up and got in the guy's face.

The man still had his baton in hand and told the younger rider that if he hit him he would make his day.

The three guys, which I refer to as the band of brothers, were standing side by side and really put the younger rider in his place by telling him they would remove him from the train if he didn't get off at the next stop which was, of all places, L'Enfant Plaza.

There was no physical altercation, this looked to be three alert riders that saw a kid looking for a fight and stepped up to prevent anything from happening.

Was the baton a bit much? Yes, but the younger rider wised up quickly.

A passenger alerted the driver of the train who called MPD. The passenger left the train, and we continued on our way in peace.

Crime Spikes in 2010

Ridership is down, but "part I" crimes--serious crimes, which include aggravated assault, arson, burglary, homicide, larceny, motor vehicle theft, rape and robbery are up nearly 18 percent, according to Metro's latest released crime statistics which compare incidents from January-October 2009 to January-October 2010.

See the chart below:

(The chart is down there. Not sure why there's so much space)

Crime 2009 2010
Aggravated Assault
79 112
Arson 0 0
Burglary 0 4
0 0
Larceny 642 805
Motor Vehicle Theft
133 106
Attempted Motor Vehicle Theft
69 59
Rape 1 5
Robbery 701 823
Total 1625 1914

1,063 of these crimes occurred on the rail, while 628 happened in parking lots.

Part II crimes, which include disorderly conduct, simple assault, vandalism and alcohol/drug offenses, rose 3.5 percent over the same time.

Other items:
Metro reform plan outlined (WaPo)

Monday, January 10, 2011

How About Holding It?

Last week, it was revealed that Metro workers use the tunnels as bathrooms. While revolting, here are a couple of examples of riders taking it to a new level.

Seriously, what is wrong with people like this?

From Anna:
I've seen some pretty shameless Metro shenanigans before, but nothing like this.

I was coming out of Congress Heights station with my roommate and some friends at about 10:30 on Wednesday night when this lady in front of us just pulled down her pants and started pissing on the escalator steps.

No shame at all.

No effort to hide what she was doing. Seemingly no awareness of the four horrified people behind her.

One of my friends got the attached picture with his phone camera. It's a bit blurry, but you can more or less tell what's going on.

When other passengers asked her why the hell she thought peeing on the steps was a good idea, she just said "hey, I really had to go."

At least now I know one more reason why that set of escalators at Congress Heights is always broken.
And then there's this clown from March. (Thanks tipster.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

(DISTURBING, NSFW) Even More L'Enfant Violence

Have the Metro Cops just ceded L'Enfant? Perhaps "increasing patrols" is not enough at this point.

Addition: This was posted on the same FB page as the first video from L'Enfant. It was posted there Dec. 31, 2010

Metro's Official Statement on L'Enfant Violence

Here's Metro's response to the L'Enfant violence last Sunday.
"The Metro Transit Police Department is seeking assistance from the public and encourages anyone who witnessed or has information about an assault at L’Enfant Plaza on Sunday, Jan. 2, about 7:15 p.m. to please call the Metro Transit Police Detective Branch at 202-962-1792.

This was an unfortunate incident and the MTPD is following up with an investigation. After the assault, the man reported it to the station manager on duty at L’Enfant Plaza who immediately notified the police. A Metro Transit Police officer responded, immediately took a report from the man and began the investigation. The victim received minor injuries and declined medical assistance.

If customers witness a fight or are the victim of an assault, they should immediately report the incident to the Metro Transit Police by calling 202-962-2121 or notify a Metro employee. Customers also can use emergency call buttons on every rail car which connect the caller to the train operator. On platforms emergency call buttons on pylons contact a station manager.

The Metro Transit Police Department will increase its patrols at L’Enfant Plaza station, and be watchful of groups of young passengers approaching other customers."

Performance Artist Captures Metro Zeitgeist

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Potty Post No. 2: Pooprise

A former Metro operator wrote in with a grateful note for bringing the toilet issue to light. According to them, there's hostility directed at operators who ask for "personal" breaks, which might include going to the bathroom.
Sometimes, Central Control tries to intimidate operators by asking their name over the [radio] when they call for a bathroom break on the train. This may be recorded to see if you continually ask for a personal break. One operator I knew asked for a personal break daily because he took medication.

This is an intimidation method to deter train operators from asking for personal bathroom breaks.
But according to one purported Metro insider, it's not always a lack of time that leads to tunnel abuse. The below is from the blog, allegedly written by a retired Metro worker with 27 years experience. Warning: It's not good mealtime reading.

Case in point – after years of effort we were finally able to convince management to install an incinerating toilet within about 150 feet of where the inbound end of a train in the pocket track would be. It can be seen from the platform end gate (outbound end, outbound track). Some operators still used the pocket track as their personal toilet. I got so disgusted that I used some fluorescent orange spray paint to write “Bathroom – 150 Feet >” on the tunnel wall. My “sign” was removed but the problem continued.

I even considered buying one or two of those fake surveillance cameras and installing them in the pocket but never did.

At one point, after we had complained to the superintendent of A99 about the unsanitary working conditions, my coworkers found some newspaper stuffed into one of the “block boxes” at A11. [A block box is a red steel box with a Plexiglass front that is used to store equipment to mechanically operate and lock track switches in the event of a failure – so that trains can continue to move safely until ATC is given permission to work on them]. The ATC techs assumed that someone had just stuffed the newspaper in there to prevent it from blowing around and had meant to return and remove it. It turned out that a disgruntled operator had defecated near our switches, wiped his/her ass with the newspaper, and then stuffed it into the block box for my coworkers to find – and unknowingly remove with their bare hands.

Yep, that’s the union brotherhood/sisterhood you hear so much about.
Other items:
January night maintenance schedule (WMATA)
January weekend maintenance schedule (WMATA)
Man indicted in Metro bomb plot (WaPo)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another Triumph

via @scottslas I see fare hikes in our future. A boot on a metro vehicle...really? #wmata

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More L'Enfant Violence

UPDATE 2: Metro's official statement
UPDATED: the video of what would appear to be this incident is embedded in the comments.

From an anonymous reader. Metro confirms Transit Police are "working with the victim."
I got a call on my way home from work last night from my brother.

He doesn't generally like to talk on the phone, so it's kind of unusual for him to call me. I picked it up right away, even though I was driving (yeah, yeah). His voice sounded off. I asked how he was doing. He said, "Not too well."

Long story short, he had the crap beaten out of him on Sunday evening around 7 p.m., at L'Enfant Plaza by a bunch of young punks, some of whom actually stood around and filmed the goddamn thing with their cellphone cameras.

Nothing's broken (he went to the doc today for X-rays), but he's got a black eye, a cut lip, some other cuts on his face and his left ear, some bruising.

And all he was doing was coming home from the gym, reading a book, waiting for his train.

He's hoarse from yelling for help; no one came to his aid, though lots of people stood around and watched. He finally broke away and ran and pounded on the info kiosk and got the Metro attendant's attention and got them to call 911.

Metro police eventually showed up. I don't know if the kids will be caught; the main ones ran off, while other "eyewitnesses" offered to sell him their video footage evidence before they too, disappeared.

I am shaking with rage.

Rage that a roving pack of thugs feels like it's their right and their privilege to assault another human being, and film it for their sadistic glee.

Rage that the Metro "attendant" didn't call 911 until my brother was bleeding and pounding on the kiosk.

And frankly, rage at every single person who stood around silently and complicitly, while an innocent person was assaulted, and did nothing. Said nothing. Didn't even pull out their own smartphones to take pics of the attackers. Nothing.

Yes, I'm obviously biased because this happened to someone close to me. And you can tell me that I'm sheltered, naive, whatever, because I've lived all my life in North Carolina. I will respond by telling you that I know it's not right to stand by while someone is being hurt and not at least call 911 on their behalf.

You don't want to get involved because you don't want to get beat up, too? Hey, I understand that. Don't wade into the fray. But do at least whip out that iPhone (and don't pretend you don't have one). Take some pictures of the assault. Call 911. Stick around to say something comforting to the victim after the thugs have melted into the sidewalk. Be willing to be an eyewitness for the cops.

Because yes. Silence IS complicity. And all of you who were at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station on Sunday night and stood around silently while my brother was assaulted, I'm almost as pissed at you as I am at the perps.

Narcissus Spotted Again

via @s1ncer1ty: Weirdo spent the #wmata trip kissing his reflection. Gross!

Wonder if it's the same person from this post (pictured below).

Any psychologists out there with an explanation for this behaviour?

Other items:
Riders speak out against bag screening (WaPo)

Monday, January 3, 2011

How 'bout some iPotties Instead?

There was a lot of Metro news over the holidays.

Metro started random bag screening, they paid a communications firm $1.2 million to help market themselves through "guerrilla marketing," they managed to get the government to give them $150 million with no apparent additional oversight, and they doled out cash and iPads to executives on the finance team.

You really have to wonder if Metro cares about its public image at all any more.

Maybe instead of fancy iPads, Metro should invest a little bit of that $150 million something that will actually benefit riders and employees: iPotties.

The following excerpt is from a recent inspector general report that was passed along by an anonymous tipster:
I.4 Use of pocket tracks as a lavatory presents safety and health risks.
Participants voiced concerns that employees use the pocket tracks (an area where the train can park and permit the train operator to reverse ends and travel in the opposite direction) as a lavatory at Mount Vernon Square, Southern Avenue, and Grosvenor. This safety and health hazard is the result of inadequate time being allowed at the end of the line for train operators to have bathroom breaks. This practice causes delays in performing maintenance inspections on some ATC equipment.
So next time you get a whiff of what you think is sewage or some other malodorous affront, don't be so quick to blame your fellow rider.

Other items:
Metro adds position to escalator/elevator department (Examiner)
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Site Meter