Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bus 1; Pedicab 0

Via @segaljen:

While on an N4 bus heading westbound on Friday, the bus hit a bike cab with a passenger in it on the corner of P and Connecticut, right outside the Dupont Circle.

The bus was stopped at a light waiting to turn right, as was the bike cab.

When the bus operator turned right it clearly underestimated the amount of space it needed to make the turn and literally ran into and knocked over the bike cab.

Sitting on the back of the bus, I luckily (unluckily) saw it all.

After the bus operator hit the bike cab, he got off and yelled at the cabbie saying he shouldn’t have been there, instead of, oh I don’t know, asking if they were okay.

I got off, went over to the people asked if they were okay, then asked if it was okay to take pictures of them and the accident to post on Twitter.

The passenger, a tourist, was injured and EMS, police, and the whole shebang showed up.

All I was trying to do was get home before 5.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rider Hall of Shame: Graffiti Fail

Via Anna:
Saw this gem of an individual on the Blue Line headed toward Franconia from Capitol South at around 2 p.m. yesterday. He didn't seem to car there was a train full of people. I tried but couldn't get a shot of his face before I had to get off the train.

The top line said "Riverdale" and "Michigan Park." Under that it said "Hellpark for..." and then some word with a W and something else (the other shot I got showed more but was blurry). He later wrote "53rd" on top. I was definitely hoping it would at least be something a little more clever.

See the full Hall of Shame

Other items:

Monday, August 29, 2011


From Tim:
I don't get all the people thanking Metro over its performance during the "disasters" in the past week. I pay them nearly $10 a day (plus my tax money), and I feel that's thanks enough for the service they provide. For the record, when I see a Metro worker performing above and beyond, I go out of my way to thank them.

The earthquake was nothing, and the hurricane was, pardon my pun, overblown." Metro did what they should have done, and we shouldn't have to be surprised by it.
From James:
I really think Metro has stepped up its game in the past week. Service was relatively unscathed, and the communication was great. Hats off to a newly unsucked Metro.
Through a relatively minor earthquake and over-hyped hurricane, the Metro hate was pretty minimal.

Not sure if that's because people opted not to take Metro at all, or if Metro stepped up their game.

Did Metro dodge a couple bullets and then make PR hay? Did Metro perform at praiseworthy levels? Did Metro provide the basic level of service we should have been expecting all along?

Curious to know what you think.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene? Metro's Got This.

Shop via Andrew. Original pic via Flickr.

Shop via Andrew. Original pic via Flickr.

Yesterday, Metro announced the preparations it was taking for hurricane Irene, saying in a press release that "chainsaws are being deployed in Metro motor vehicles for use in the event of downed trees."

While they later clarified the chainsaw statement, the notion of chainsaw-wielding Metro workers is pretty funny.

Wonder how many chainsaws Metro owns.

Other items:
Farragut North repairs--DELAYED (WaPo)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

'Twas a Morning on Metro

via @floridagirlindc

Proof that Metro can be inspiring.

Wanna drop some Metro verse? Use the comments.

Via @daveg34 (
'Twas a morning on Metro and our hero was nervous
He had come to expect Metro’s lackluster service.
A quick trip he desired from his home to his desk
Without facing a journey some might call Kafkaesque.
Our hero was injured, and he walked with a crutch.
And so soon found himself in the Metro’s cold clutch.
Out of service signs hung on the elevator with glue
Because only a permanent posting would do.
So he sat by the station, for a shuttle he waited
And he soon grew offended and exasperated.
Ignored by the staff, he felt helpless and trapped
By Metro’s indifference toward the handicapped.
The shuttle picked him up, but he was perplexed
At the long time it took to the stop that was next.
When he got to the station, his frustration erupted
For the service, it seemed, was so badly disrupted.
The trains weren’t coming, the platform was packing
As scant whispers warned of the feared single-tracking.
The passengers boiled in the summer’s full throes
With thirst in their throats, and sweat through their clothes.
They came through the station, like lambs to the slaughter
As Metro informed them they couldn’t drink water.
“No drinking!” was shouted, not a moment of lenience
Or respect for their customers, or a hint of convenience.
“Well, why?” they were asking. “We do not deserve this,
A system that’s broken, with horrible service!”
There was nowhere to go, they were rats stuck in cages,
“This is sick!” someone shouted, yelled another: “Outrageous!”
As the train soon approached, they all strained while standin’
And aggressively pushed toward the tracks with abandon
The train car was hot, the AC wouldn’t blast out
An elderly woman was the first one who passed out
As young, healthy folks, sat down in preferred seating
Our hero reached for his phone and started tweeting
He labeled the Metro a “broken down vessel”
And wrote to WMATA’s PR man, Dan Stessel
He then drank his water, he then got a ticket
He then told the officer where he could stick it.
Then delayed, he arrived, at his final destination
And climbed out at Dupont, a hot, crowded station
He soon grew confused, and then angry, then fed up
The escalators were out, there was no way to get up.
He was stuck on the platform with no way to the street
In the grasp of the crowd and the tension and heat.
“We must fix this!” he shouted, “Let’s get Metro unsucked!”
And he sat, hot and helpless, and totally f……

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Post-Quake Open Thread

Via @lampertj First time seeing this service advisory in my 4 years using metro. #wmata. @unsuckdcmetro

Via @quinny141 @unsuckdcmetro metro bus going the wrong way on Connecticut, don't see how you can chalk this up to the #dcquake

Via @biancayg: Foggy bottom towards franconia springfield @unsuckdcmetro

Via @TheHornGuy Earthquake damage at Dunn Loring Metro. #earthquake #wmata

Via the Metro website.

How was your commute home after the quake?

The reviews were mixed on Twitter.

For what it's worth, I pulled the plug early on work and DC and hopped on the Metro back to Va. It was slow, but there were no problems, and the crowding was similar to rush hour.

Where are the Cops?

Remember this boondoggle?

From CS:
There's a lot of talk these days about security on Metro, whether Metro police are visible enough, whether they do enough to contain the young thugs in parts of the system, etc., etc. So I decided to do a little experiment.

For a month, I kept an eye out for whether I saw any cops on my daily commute -- Orange Line from Vienna to Metro Center; then Red Line to Judiciary Square -- plus the occasional trip for lunch. Here's what I found:

7/22: Lunchtime Red Line: Cop boarded at Metro Center, immediately shut himself in vacant operator's cab and began texting. (I looked in the cab and saw his thumbs a-twitter when I got off two stops later. Head down, he didn't notice me.)
7/26: Morning inbound: Cop boarded at Vienna; rode in train operator's cab until Farragut West, frequently yucking it up with the operator. (Laughter audible in the first car.)
7/29: (No info -- took the day off)
8/16: Morning inbound: Cop walking along Red Line platform at Metro Center.
8/17: Two-fer -- morning inbound: cop walking along Orange Line platform at Metro Center; lunchtime Red Line: cop exiting platform at Metro Center.

Of course, my ride doesn't take me into all parts of the system, like parts of the Green Line, the eastern end of the Orange Line, or where the school hooligans run wild on the Red Line.

Nevertheless, what I observed doesn't exactly strike me as a robust presence.

I see my local Fairfax County police more often when I'm out and about at home. But whether you think five touches over a month is good or bad, what I found remarkable was that in each instance, the officers were doing nothing to engage with the system, the passengers, or their surroundings.

In two instances, they literally walled themselves off from contact. They could have chosen to move through cars, be visible, or talk with passengers, but didn't. They also could have been on the lookout for what seems to be a growing problem of eating/drinking on the trains. In the other three instances, the cops were just bustling from one place to another and looked like any other passenger. In all, there was plainly no effort to act like a cop on the beat.

Why does any of this matter? As Metro police have said repeatedly, the key to disruption is unpredictability. Confronted with the unusual, or encountering authorities where they don't expect them, would-be terrorists will retire for another day, police said.

But it's a little hard to shake up the routine if the cops aren't doing much to start with.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet You Poolside at the Copa Vienna

Via @olsonchr @MarkLeMunyon:

My car has flooded bc the top of #wmata's parking deck at Vienna doesn't drain. / There's an inch or two of water in my car. #wmata

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rider Hall of Shame: If You've Got it, Flaunt it.

From Christina:
My roommate was coming home from work from Dupont Circle Monday night and had to look at this the entire time. What a sight to see. Not to mention a few passengers tried to wake him up, as this was the last train to service Glenmont that night. It's probably safe to say he missed his stop. By the time my roommate got off at Silver Spring, this guy was still in this comatose state. Get it together people. Not only is this ... er... embarrassing ... it's unsafe and inconsiderate.
View the complete Hall of Shame

Other items:

Weekend track work (WMATA)
Motorcycle ride could delay buses (WMATA)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Anoyone Seen the Yellow Line Spitter?

From Repulsed Rider:
Have you had any reports about the Yellow Line Spitter?

There is a woman who my colleagues and I see all the time on the Yellow Line in the mornings.

She rides from Mt. Vernon to Pentagon City around 8 and constantly snorts, clears her throat, hocks up loogies, sticks her finger in her mouth to get them, and them flicks them on the wall of the car.

She always sits in the last car near the back on the right side.

People get up and move to the other end of the car when they see her, and she gets more dirty looks than you can imagine, but she's always seemingly oblivious and often engrossed in a crossword puzzle.

When she leaves, there is snot all down the wall by her seat.

We've started calling her the Yellow Line Spitter for lack of a better name.

It's really repulsive, but I guess we're all too polite to say something to her, and/or morbidly fascinated that someone would do something like that.

Just curious if you've heard other people talk about her.

Sadly, I know her by face now, so I know when to find another seat.
Other items:
Overtime a 'cost of doing business' (Examiner)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Car Vandalized? Tough Luck.

From PC:
Last Thursday, 12 cars were damaged at Southern Ave. Metro parking during the day.

There are no cameras in the parking lot, and when I went to the Metro station booth to inform the attendant, of course both of her phones didn't work to call the Metro Police.

Plus, I still had to pay to exit the parking lot with the tow truck.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Photoshop Fun

From Andrew

From T.K.

From Peter

From Bearsong Sample

From anonymous

From Brian

From Jane

From myeki

From anon

From anon

From DMC in DC

From Scott

From John

From Brian

From "the Ratt"

Have a go! Here's the original.

Email: unsuckdcmetro[at]yahoo[dot]com, or, if you want to host your creation on your blog or Flickr, you can embed the photo in the comments using image tags linking directly to the image.

The winner gets their name in bright pixels.

Monday, August 15, 2011

This Morning

Metro Update on Blue/Yellow flooding: It does not appear that rail service btwn DCA & Braddock will be restored during the AM rush. ^DS #wmata

Friday, August 12, 2011

Metro Surfing

From Carl:
Did you all know of a new fad that has been happening at the Dupont Circle Metro station? It's called 'Train Surfing.'

I watched some kids do it a dozen times last month.

I told the Metro kiosk guy, but he didn't do anything about it.

The kids saw me filming and surrounded me. I got on the next train. Here's what I got.
Other items:
Metro #2 gets $30k housing bonus (Examiner)
Track work this weekend (WMATA)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is this what Happens when you Lower Standards?

Back in May, Metro lowered its standards. That's the dip in the solid line above. (Not sure why the line dips in February-March, but they announced it in May.)

Some thought Metro's performance would sink accordingly.

Are those people right, or is it a fluke?

Regardless, Metro's still getting an A.

Graph source: Latest "Vital Signs" report

Blinding Transparency

I'd always sort of admired Metro for posting their disruption reports on their website.

I've not seen anything like that on other transit websites, though I admit my search was not exhaustive.

Sure, the reports painted a sometimes ugly picture (sometimes funny), but in those reports, in black and white, was Metro coming as close to baring its soul as it has ever has: a quiet but refreshingly frank admission that things are not right.

Those reports were, by far, the most honest thing ever to come out of the Jackson Graham building.

But they're gone.

The same "We are currently exploring ways to use technology solutions to allow us to provide disruption information in an online format" message has been there for months.

For a while, the old reports lived on, languishing unupdated, but with the new transparency, those too, appear have died a quiet death.

Let's be real here about the bureaucratic, impenetrable "Vital Signs" reports that appear to be the replacement. They don't come one tenth as close to painting a quick, accessible, accurate and brutally honest picture of the state of Metro as the disruption reports did.

But disruption reports aren't the only thing that's wilting under the intensity of the new Metro transparency sunshine.

The police blotter, a daily tally of crime on Metro and another piece of basic information riders can really use, hasn't been updated since March.

Want to know what station has recently been a hotbed of criminal activity? Good luck.

I can't begin to imagine the conversations that were held among Metro's crack team of very highly paid communications professionals, but their decision (or acquiescence) to toss these two important pieces of data overboard robs all of us of information we have a right to know--about a transit system WE PAY FOR!

Additionally, the apparent shiftiness of removing/not updating the information without announcement further damages (if that is imaginable) Metro's reputation among the riders--the very people that pay those bloated six-figure salaries.

Instead, we get "MetroForward."

It's a shame.

Other items:
The Social Subway (City Paper)
Man hit by train recovering (WaPo)
Sleeping station managers still on duty (WJLA)
Bye bye benches at Gallery Place (DCist)
Metro gearing up for MLK dedication (WMATA)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Communication Problems Run Deeper than Twitter

Metro's social media outreach has gotten a lot of attention from the press, but Metro's communication at critical times so often fails. Even Metro employees don't know what's going on a lot of the time.

Has anything like this happened to you?

From K:
The other night around 7, I was heading home from Ballston Metro. When I arrived, the information sign showed the train toward New Carrollton (my train) was boarding, but no train was there. The next ones behind were two and five minutes away.

A minute or so after I got to the platform (with the sign still the same), the station manager announced that the next train to New Carrollton would be boarding on the side of the track where the train to Vienna boards.

Everyone moved to the other side.

Some got on the train that was on the platform with the Vienna sign, thinking it would offload and turn around. However, the train operator did not seem to receive the same message the station manager got, and that train went on to Vienna.

Then, RIGHT when that train pulled off, the train to New Carrollton pulled in, on the OTHER PLATFORM!

Naturally, everyone rushed to the other side, but by then, the train had shut its doors.

Other customers screamed for the train operator to hold, but to no avail, and the train went on its way toward DC.

By then, a lot of people had gone to the kiosk, looking for the station manager, who was nowhere to be found.

Others were snapping shots of the manager's nameplate in the window. And others were being loud and angry and complaining about Metro.

Two transit police officers arrived, and everyone bombarded them with questions they couldn't answer because, well, no one knew what was going on.

A few minutes of this went on and then another New Carrollton train arrived, taking all the frustrated customers away.

I waited for the next one because I didn't want to be among angry people stewing on the train, and by then, the station manager returned.

Turned out Metro central control had let him know that a train malfunctioned and the trains were single tracking, which later proved erroneous.

He went on to say that in the four years that he has worked there, this has happened (at Ballston) three other times.

Apparently Metro likes playing practical jokes on its customers and station managers--who unfortunately HAVE to be the face of that, even when it's not their fault.
From Michelle:
The other night, I was leaving work pretty late, at about 10:15 p.m. I arrived at the West Falls Church station to board my train toward Arlington, when they announced that the train needed to offload because of a fire on the tracks, and service between West Falls and East Falls was on hold.

They told us they would be sending a shuttle.

We all trudged up to the bus area where we proceeded to wait ... and wait.

Another train headed to New Carrollton came and went below us.

Obviously, the problem wasn't serious enough to stop that train from going in our direction.

The shuttle bus still hadn't come, and we'd all been waiting about 20 minutes.

Two "Not In Service" Metrobuses had passed us.

Of course, we couldn't get any answers.

FINALLY, a woman with WMATA told us that the shuttle wasn't coming and we could go back downstairs and take the train.

Then, it still took another 15 minutes for that one to come.

I'm sorry, but that's absolutely ridiculous.

It's irritating enough that the trains barely run past rush hour, but to needlessly inconvenience a bunch of people late in the evening like that is ridiculous - and, of course, we still had to pay.

I can only imagine the hell that would've broken loose if this happened during rush hour.
Other items:
Metro employee's racist FB rant (TBD) (more on this coming)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Safety Can Wait

From Seth Bergin:
How seriously does WMATA take the security of its riders?

On April 13, I reported that nearly all of the overhead lights were out on the covered side of Greenbelt platform at Prince George's Plaza Metro Station.

I took the above photo on August 7. (My apologies about the quality.)

I believe it's unrealistic to expect WMATA to respond and fix reported concerns within 24 or 48 hours (unless it poses an immediate life safety risk), but I would expect that something as simple as changing a light bulb would not take nearly four months--and counting.

With all the recent crime reports occurring at various Metro stations and parking facilities, one cannot help but wonder if inadequate lighting played a part in the perpetration of those crimes.

Adequate lighting is not only a security issue, it is also a safety issue, especially for riders with diminished eyesight or mobility.

In my opinion, it is also an aesthetic issue that makes a profound statement about the quality of service you can expect to receive when using the Metro system.

So what is the message that is being received by Metro's riders?

While I can not speak for every Metro rider, the message I have received is indifference.

My second question is this: What is the policy for the replacement of lights within Metro's facilities?

Is there a threshold that must be reached prior to action being taken?

Do 20 percent of all station lights need to be out before they are addressed? 30 percent? 40 percent?

And if that threshold isn't met, but the lights that are out are all concentrated in a specific area, do they remain out until the threshold is met?

I realize that it would be an inefficient use of resources just to change a single light that's out. I can even get on board with the notion that lighting is probably not at the top of the list while Metro is overhauling its infrastructure.

But there has to be a point where the risk to the safety and security of the riders becomes unacceptable and triggers an immediate response to rectify the situation.

I would urge my fellow riders to use the customer comment form on Metro's website to report your concerns or questions or to provide constructive feedback to Metro. It only takes a few minutes and it could positively impact you or one of your fellow riders. We cannot be part of the solution if we remain silent. I have included the direct link to Metro's customer comment form for your convenience.
And CC unsuckdcmetro[at]yahoo[dot]com

Other items:

Metro hiring three with the sole purpose of sending bus alerts (Examiner)

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm Only Sleeping

From Collin K.:
I snapped this photograph at Columbia Heights Metro at 12:15 a.m., Saturday, August 6. The employees name is A. Gold. It is truly a disgrace that our tax dollars are being used to pay a bum to sleep.

Via @ABrooklandHero @unsuckdcmetro ballston station manager sleeping. Must be taking his negotiated union nap?

Other items:
Metro from the handicapped perspective (WaPo)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Metro is so Full of Sh*t

July 25 and August 5.

Elevator Hogs?

via @brownpau #WMATA #fail - PUSH FOR DOWM

From CommutingMom:
As a commuting mom with a minimalist stroller, I would like Metro to post signs on elevators about the priority for who should ride an elevator.

Clearly, the disabled get priority over all others, but what about otherwise able-bodied people who take the elevator leaving those with limited ability to navigate non-working escalators (e.g., people with strollers) to wait and wait and wait for an elevator?

It is especially important for Metro to post people at elevator entrances when escalators aren't working so they can control the crowds of people trying to use the elevators.

Of course in DC, this will also raise the inevitable question about whether obesity qualifies one as disabled.
Other items:
ATU 689 press release about their pay raise (ATU 689) Examiner article

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rider Hall of Shame: Drunks

From Connie: I watched this man walk over and lay in this position...

From anonymous: People woke him up a few stops later in case you were wondering.

Has Metro been your designated driver within the past month?

Complete Hall of Shame

Other items:
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