Monday, October 31, 2011

Endangered Species: Orange Line Station Managers

A source told me the other day that four Orange Line station managers have been suspended in the last several months, three of them after testing positive for illegal drugs.

Here are their versions of the stories:
  • A Ballston station manager left a woman stuck in an elevator for 90 minutes, and in the subsequent investigation popped positive for drugs and was suspended for 90 days.
  • In Vienna, a station manager popped positive for drugs for the second time and was suspended for six months.
  • A Dunn Loring station manager fell down on the job for no reason and subsequently tested positive for drugs. I'm not sure of the punishment.
  • Finally, a station manager at West Falls Church was busted for locking people in the station for the second time. He was "fired," the source said, but lawyered up and was able to get reinstated for promising to never do it again. This particular station manager, was apparently clean.
More on drugs later.

Other items:
Fewer complaints. Is Metro better or complaining futile? (Examiner)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tonight at 10, Metro Turns into this

Via @twentytwo Sad #wmata pumpkin. :(

Track work this weekend

Lemon Lemon

Sarles in Charge

Yesterday, the Metro Board finally addressed Metro's reckless and inexcusable response (and here, here and here) to the Oct. 11 Clarendon suicide.

Sadly, there was a more thoughtful discussion about, of all things, station names.

Seriously, Board, I realize that without properly pithy station names, passengers might die, but even that discussion led to nothing more than kicking the can down the tracks.

One of the biggest takeaways of Rosslyn debacle discussion was that Metro graded itself on the handling of the incident, and they gave themselves pretty good marks! The Board seemed to buy it and move on.

And that's it! No one else can come in and call them on their B.S. That's that for yet another Metro fail--until next time. Everything, for now, is neatly swept under the rug with all the other forgotten miscues, cover ups and recklessness.

Metro's way: Hunker down, let it pass. Don't change anything. Never be accountable, not even to its own Board.

Here are a few choice quotes from the whole ridiculous affair (Sorry, I don't know which Board member was speaking in most cases as I listened to the recording.):

Barbara J. Richardson, assistant general manager of customer service, communications and marketing (Stessel's boss):
  • "The in-system announcements were sufficient."
  • "The takeaway is to try harder to promote e-alerts."
Below are Board members asking questions. In my opinion, Metro gave absolutely no good answers to any of these issues.

Board member:
  • "I don't understand who the accountable Metro official on the ground is. Is there a process for a senior enough manager at an incident like this to have an on-the-ground person who's accountable?"
  • "Is there a current ops (operational) plan for every major rail station for incidents like this that is worked through with the jurisdiction responders?"
Unknown Board member:
  • "After a couple of incidents [like this], WMATA set up a team to be dispatched. I guess that twas abandoned for some reason. It was a response to exactly this set of issues."
Mary Hynes, Board member from Arlington:
  • "There were many many Arlingtonians who were very, very frightened by what went on in Rosslyn, and there were issues at Ballston that haven't risen to the top about egress from that station onto the street level by the way things have been built out."
  • "For Arlington, the fastest way to alert our emergency response system is to call the emergency communications center. I suspect that's true in most jurisdictions. That was a call that didn't happen. That would have putt police fire and traffic all on alert. When does that call get made?
Unknown Board member:
  • Basically, Twitter is good for a segment of the population, but "[I] was watching it on TV in horror. What is really happening? Why are people so confused? I would have liked to have seen that person of authority speaking there."
  • "If you have a chief spokesman, it seems that the chief spokesman should be speaking." (He did later here, which shows perhaps why Metro didn't want him at the scene.)
Unknown Board member:
  • "We should have evacuations plans for the stations, particularly where we know there are issues like that. We should have something thought about ahead of time."
Unknown Board member:
  • "I didn't even know there were e-alerts! How do you tell a friend to tell a friend?"
Finally, it was pretty evident that Metro GM Richard Sarles has a temper.

When pressed ever so slightly about whether he, or another senior Metro official, should have been on the scene, he got downright testy as he stated that higher up Metro officials should stay back at fortress Metro,where, it would seem, EVERY decision about EVERYTHING Metro does is made--remotely--without any sense of what is happening on the ground.

It's the first time I've ever heard him lose his cool in a public forum. Maybe he's starting to feel some of the frustrations the people who pay his $300,000+ salary have. Enjoy, buddy.

What is he going to do to prevent another meltdown?

Probably nothing.

Who can make him?

The same people who don't even know there are e-alerts.

There was something even more revealing said at the meeting, but I've got to do some more reporting on it. Stay tuned.

Oh, and if you're wondering what "lemon lemon" means, it's code for overcrowded platform.

For you Metro geeks, here's a list of other codes that used to be used at Metro but have fallen by the wayside:

amber amber = fire
gray gray = smoke
lemon lemon = crowded platforms, crowd control
purple purple = jumper
tan tan = bomb threat
white white = hostage situation
silver silver = police situation
black black = collision, derailment

Other items:
Virtual Farragut tunnel opens today

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Got a Favorite Metro Performer?

From Brian N-P:
Alright DC, I know there are a lot of bad things about the Metro, but I just moved here last year, and I have to give the Metro system credit for having some of the most amazing street performers at the stops.

This video is of the guy who plays at Federal Triangle most mornings. He's occasionally there during evenings as well.

I think I've seen him on the Red Line, too.

I've also seen some guys by Foggy Bottom doing four-part harmony.

Sound off if you know of some other ones!

Next time I see this guy, I'll throw him some dough and post a video of him jamming to a more upbeat song, because I can honestly say, I enjoy his performances!
Other items:
Metro finally getting around to analyze Rosslyn clusterf*ck (WaPo)
Suitland robbery suspects arrested (WMATA)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fecal Matters

From Joseph:
I ride the Yellow Line every day from Huntington in Alexandria to work. When I park and enter the station I use stairwell no. 3.

In all of the years that I've used this stairwell--the closest to the station--it has always been filled with garbage and urine. It's disgusting.

Months ago, the stairwell was renovated. They parge coated the steps and sealed everything.

I noticed that it was open the other day, so I decided to take a look.

I was pleasantly surprised until I noticed the nasty pile of stinking crap that was sitting right next to the door. I almost stepped in it. That was the final straw.

What's the point of spending the time, money and effort to fix the stairwell if it's just going to be filled with urine and feces again?

I park and ride everyday and use Metro throughout the day for work. It costs me $12 a day. With Metro's earnings, can't they send one employee to check on these things?

I'm disappointed to say the least.

The more I look around at the declining state of Metro's facilities, the lack of visible WMATA staff, and the fact that the escalators I have to use everyday are habitually down at Huntington, I start wondering what kind of an operation is this?

I work in the management services division for an agency locally. From an administrative standpoint, if I ran my facilities the way they do, I'd be sent packing.
Other items:
Arrests in Metrobus slaying (WTTG)
$4.5 million wasted on MetroAccess mismanagement (report) (WMATA/PDF)
Meeting held to discuss Bethesda escalator woes (WTTG)
Station name changes proposed (WMATA/PDF)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Broken, Fixed, Broken, Fixed ...

Via @ walking up dupont circle.
From Cindy:
*"They don't know what they're doing."

View "Do Metro's Escalator Workers Really Know What They're Doing?" on Storify

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is this the Best Operator in Metro?

Via @brownpau

I hear this guy on the Orange Line from time to time. Does he make it to other lines? Any other candidates for the best voice on Metro?

Other items:
Metrobus accidents on the rise (Examiner)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rider Hall of Shame: Where's the Remote?

Via @temposteve1 @unsuckdcmetro Nah, no one needs these seats on the 5A #wmata

Complete Hall of Shame

Other items:
Track work this weekend (WMATA)
CUA's pleas to WMATA ignored (The Tower)
What kind of SmarTrip swiper are you? (DCist)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Common are Unwanted Come Ons?


From Cheechy:
It's more of an annoyance than any major thing. I was walking towards Catholic University the other morning, and as I was walking over the bridge that goes over the Metro tracks, a driver of the 80 Kennedy Center bus slowed the bus down, honked at me, and said "damn you're fine ... looking good sweetheart!" and drove off.

I would like to point out that I had a sweater and jeans on since it was still cool out.
The other day someone tweeted that they'd been hit on by a Red Line operator. The tweet has been deleted.

This seems like a recurring problem (here) among some Metro employees. Has it happened to you? How have you handled it?

Other items:
Passenger fatally shot in face on Metro bus (NBC4)
Dulles rail could run $150 million over budget (WaPo)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who Else Loves the Yellow Line?


From Jamie:
I have recently become hopelessly enamored with the Yellow Line. It’s better than all the others put together (wait, that’s a low bar to set). I want to write it poems and send it flowers. I want to stand under the elevated tracks at Huntington and hold a boom box over my head. That is how much I have come to love the Yellow Line.

I live at Van Dorn and work at Union Station, so for the past two years my commute has been Van Dorn to Metro Center on Blue and then Red Line to Union Station. I always sort of knew that it would be faster to change to Yellow at King Street and skip the whole Rosslyn-Foggy Bottom-Farragut loop, but the thought of transferring trains TWICE instead of once was appalling. I liked getting on the train and zoning out with my newspaper for a solid half hour before I had to do anything.

But one day I saw that there was a service disruption on Blue and Orange, and I decided to bail out and give the Yellow a whirl. I waited on King Street platform for two extra minutes til the mostly-empty Yellow Line train came along. It chugged along at a solid pace and pulled into Gallery Place eons before I would have gotten there on Blue+Red. Then I hopped the Red Line and got to work fifteen (15!!!) minutes earlier than I would have normally. How in the hell?

Oh yeah, that’s right – I didn’t have to deal with the Orange Line merge at Rosslyn, where Blue usually gets shafted while two or even three Orange trains pass in front. I didn’t have to deal with the throngs getting on and off at Farragut West and McPherson Square while the doors chime over and over and the driver starts threatening to offload the train. And I didn’t have to deal with the dreaded Metro Center.

Oh glorious Yellow Line--where I can always easily find parking at Huntington (there are SO MANY GARAGES there!), where I can give the Green Line the finger pulling into L’Enfant Plaza because we get priority; where I can always get a seat because the line is so short during rush hour that the train never gets very full. I just hope the Yellow Line feels the same way about me, and we can be together forever and ever.

Two transfers to let me ride in bliss? I’ll take it.
Other items:
Metro doesn't want to pay tax, threatens to sue (Examiner)
Commuters would like public transportation option (WTOP)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'Excelent' Job, Metro

Click for larger. Via Matt: Not only did I get this baloney, (and yes, I filled it out) but see the attachment for a classic Metro fail at the end.

From Danny:
I wrote the post the other day about the dangerous conditions at Rosslyn last Tuesday.

Today, I got an invitation to take a Metro survey on the event.

My first thought was "great, Metro is trying to figure out a way to avoid that from happening again."

Then I took the survey.


Look, Metro's communication with riders was terrible that day, but to me, it seemed like the communication within Metro was the key factor for putting so many lives at risk--unnecessarily!

Adding insult to injury, the Metro Board did not even discuss this dangerous event at their meeting. Believe me, as a victim of their negligence, I listened to every minute waiting for someone to step up and ask 'who was responsible?' for endangering so many paying customers so needlessly.

I've attached the survey questions, which I cut and pasted from the survey:

On Tuesday, October 11, 2011 during evening rush hour, Orange line service was suspended between Rosslyn and Ballston. Emergency responders rescued a man who placed himself in the path of a train. While incidents such as this during rush hour cause unavoidable major delays, we want to learn how we can help you better in the future. Please give us your feedback from the experience.
  • Did the incident affect your afternoon commute?
  • Were you on the train that struck the man?
  • How did you first learn about the incident and the subsequent delay?
  • When did you find out about this incident?
  • If you would have known this was happening in advance, would you have changed your commute?
  • How would you have changed your commute if you had had known about the incident?
  • Did you know about the bus shuttles that Metro was running during this incident?
  • What is the best way we can get information to you when incidents like this happen?
  • How much longer did your commute take than a "normal" commute would have?
  • How did you get home the day of the incident?
  • Are you registered for Metro e-alerts?
  • Do you follow WMATA on Twitter?
  • Where do you live?
  • What is your gender?
  • What is the highest level of education you have completed?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you of Latin or Hispanic Origin?
  • What is your race?
  • What is your household's annual income range?
My question to Metro: WTF?
From "SaveMetro:"
I was selected for a WMATA survey about the event last Tuesday. Wow, Lucky me.

Anyway, it seemed a little useless. It kept asking me the same questions over and over, just phrased differently. Silly questions. And a waste of time.

But I do hope that they learn something from this experience.

I stayed at work for a while, and left when things were clearing up. It still took me over two hours to get home.

I just wish that the survey allowed me to submit some comments because, I would tell them to make the information uniform.

From the train operators to the PIDs to the Twitter feeds. It was obvious that day they all varied.
Other items:
Metro to spend $250,000 on anti-suicide training (Examiner)
Va. seals deal on Metro Board seat (Examiner)

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Blind Leading the Blind

Metro reached out to get Denise's contact information. I passed theirs to Denise, and in reply, she said:
I filed a complaint with Metro and have been emailing and calling them repeatedly since the incident, with no resolution. It took this blog to get their attention.
Original Post:
Getting trapped in Metro (and here) seems to be more commonplace.

From Denise:
I am blind and travel with a guide dog.

I left work at 6:00 the other evening. At the Foggy Bottom station, where I wanted to exit Metro, I discovered that both elevators were broken.

Of the three entrance/exit escalators, one was under repair, one was going up and one was off. I am unable to ride moving escalators.

The station manager said he was afraid my guide dog would get stepped on if we tried to walk up against the massive flow of people walking down the off escalator, so he told me to go to Farragut West and request a Metro shuttle bus to bring me back to Foggy Bottom

There were announcements on the Metro loudspeaker saying that due to the broken elevators at Foggy Bottom, a shuttle bus was available upon request at Farragut West.

I went back to Farragut West, and when I arrived there, I requested a Metro shuttle bus from the station manager.

The station manager repeatedly phoned bus central. It appeared they were basically ignoring her. I asked to speak to bus central, but she said she wasn't permitted to let me do that.

A supervisor then arrived on the scene, and she also wasn't able to get a shuttle bus.

They spent almost 90 minutes trying to get me a Metro shuttle. Bus central repeatedly informed her that they did not have a shuttle to send and couldn't find one.

Finally, I was finally sent back on the Metro to Foggy Bottom at 7:45, where the station manager showed me to non-moving escalator, which I could climb to exit the station. Kind passengers moved aside so my guide dog and I could pass.

The Metro employees were helpful, but seemed powerless faced with Metro chaos.

A trip that would normally have taken me about 30 minutes took me two hours. I have experienced Metro disorganization in the past, but never anything so deplorable and pathetic as this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hey Metro Board! We Found your Shoe!

Via @tkukovich Officially the strangest thing I've seen on @wmata - a clown shoe. #happythursday

Different clowns, same circus.

Other items:
Wonder how Blue Line riders feel about this. (WMATA)
Can you say fare hike? (Examiner)
Track work this weekend (WMATA)
Board scales back on lavish lunches (Examiner)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fail Compounded

From a Metro employee:
Staging [the reaction to the Clarendon incident] wouldn't be a problem if Metro made a decision and then stuck with it.

Instead, someone makes the initial decision, then someone a step higher up changes it, and then the next higher up changes it yet again.

So, in reality, a train operator can be told three different things to do within a 5 or 10-minute period.

Another issue is the chain of command on the scene.

When fire department arrives, they immediately take over the scene in terms of either body recovery or removing the injured person. From what I have been told by those on the scene, the jumper was trying to crawl out from under the train.

The fire department told him to stay put and let them remove him.

Also, the fire department had third rail power removed from the opposite side of the platform.

This was totally unnecessary.

They could have run trains thru the station without stopping--at 5 m.p.h.--with a flagman there at the interlocking in case of personnel there.

Yet the fire department took all power down.

Someone told me that a fireman started crawling up under the train without any verification of the removal of third rail power.

The fire department comes out to local [Metro] shops for a half-day class on what the components on the train do. They learn to remove third rail power and other basic things. Problem is when they arrive on the scene they really do not have a true understanding of the track configurations or the power distribution at the scene. So they just kill ALL the power.

Metro has never stepped in to say there is a better way.

Also, Kubicek [Metro's #2] did not show up at the scene.

There was some junior flunky safety officer who had never worked a jumper scene before, so we was useless. All he kept doing was question and confront people about having an improper safety vest or an older model "hot stick" (a tool used to test whether there is electrical current).

In other words, he was in way over his head and instead of stepping back and trying to learn standard operating procedures, he kept trying to micromanage the scene.

I first heard about the incident from a supervisor. I hadn't heard about it on the Metro radio. Neither had he. He said he heard about it on a local radio station because they usually tell us before Metro does.
From Adam:
During the meltdown Tuesday, the station manager at Court House was ripping people off.

I got to Court House about 20 minutes after the incident. I didn't know that there was going to be at least a 2-hour delay until I was down on the platform and saw it on the message board.

Neither did damn near everybody else.

Rather than wait two hours, I went back up to find alternative transportation.

So did most everyone else.

But here's the question: Why weren't people informed about the delay until AFTER they had paid their fare? '

The station manager on duty said nothing about any delays, and since Court House is an Orange Line only station, surely she should have known.

I sat there and watched her for about ten minutes as people paid their fare and went down to the platform, only to come back up again five minutes later.

She said nothing to any of them.

That's kind of horsesh-t behavior on the part of the station manager.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


"Heads Should Roll"

Full disclosure: I rode my bike yesterday and was spared this particular Metro nightmare.

As late as 6:30, the Key Bridge was full of people fleeing back into DC from Rosslyn, and along the bike trail near Rosslyn, I struck up a conversation with a handicapped man in a motorized wheelchair who had given up on Metro and was slowly motoring his way all the way to Ballston. He said it'd take him over an hour and that he was glad it wasn't winter.

Here's a couple of accounts from Rosslyn. Thanks to all who wrote.

If you want to read about what it was like on the train that hit the jumper, check out this Twitter feed.

From Danny:
Let me start by saying my thoughts go out to the family and friends of the person who was hit by the train.

I'm a long-time reader of your blog, and to be honest, I've always taken some of the complaints with a grain of salt. However, today I'm compelled to write because of my complete and utter disgust with how Metro handled the situation at Clarendon.

Where to start?

First of all, I get it. It's an unexpected, tragic situation at the worst possible time of the day, but whomever decided to keep pouring trains and throngs of people into Rosslyn once the severity of the event was apparent deserves to be fired at once. I mean shit canned, axed, dispatched. Whatever. Gone! They're incompetent and stupid. Heads should roll.

This decision, I believe, had to have been made by someone in the upper levels of WMATA, perhaps even the general manager. Whomever it was has never been to Rosslyn and has NO IDEA of the bottleneck it is even during a regular rush hour. This is in larger matter to--you guessed it--the escalators almost never work.

That's my second point. There were NO ESCALATORS working at Rosslyn. One stopped while people were on it, giving them all a little extra rush of adrenaline, I'm sure. I saw several older people who looked to be having a really rough time climbing that mega escalator. Thing is, they couldn't stop, there was a FLOOD of people backed up behind them pushing them on against their will.

I'm surprised no one was trampled or collapsed. It took me over a half our to get out of there. UNACCEPTABLE!

Third, Metro workers were nowhere to be seen. Well, I take that back. I saw one at the top of the big escalator barking at the trudging herds of distraught people. Thanks, guy. I'm not in the Army. Believe it or not, I paid to be here!

Fourth, the shuttles were a disaster. There was no apparent coordination and no one there to direct people. I finally gave up and walked to Ballston down the bike path.

Fifth, the communication from Metro was horrible. I saw someone on Twitter praising it. Are you kidding me?

You really got no indication of how terrible the situation really was. Instead, its Twitter feed was full of generic Metro-speak, the subtext of which was "don't blame us" or " just be a little patient and all will be fine." B.S.

Residual? Please. Better word, guys.

In a crazy situation like this, Metro needs to speak in plain English, they need to retweet pictures form the incident and let riders know just how bad things really are so they'll avoid the mess in the first place. Bottom line, they need to admit they're not able to handle this and make sure as many people totally avoid Metro for a time. Utter and complete fail.

Unsuck's Twitter feed was way more useful had I the chance to take a look before I'd committed to Metro for the evening.

Sixth, my fellow riders. Wow. Do you really think pushing, shoving and being rude is going to make anything better? The DC d-bags were in full force proving again that Metro brings out the worst in people.

Today clearly shows that Metro has ZERO idea of how to handle something like this. I shudder to think how it would handle a fire or a bomb. Add panic to that situation, and it's lethal. If that were to happen, we're all dead. I really think that.

And because of that, today was the last fare Metro will collect from me.

Don't forget about this. Don't forget like we did the Red Line crash. Don't forget like we did the L'Enfant escalators. Don't let Metro continue to jeopardize your life.
From Brian:
I wanted to voice my concern with what happened on the Orange Line today.

First, I wanted to say that I've used the Metro for four years and know how the system works. This by no means was my first rodeo.

Apparently, there was a person that fell on the tracks causing the Orange Line to have to shuttle from Rosslyn to Ballston. All trains had to turn around at Rosslyn.

This created one of the most concerning scenes I've ever seen in D.C. and with Metro.

The number of safety issues that resulted from this delay was unacceptable.

The mess began with EVERY escalator in the station not working. This caused people to not be able to move in or out of the station and people to pile up in the station.

The lack of coordination and communication by Metro was appalling.

People were literally being dumped on to the platform, and nobody could move!

There also was no coordination with people that wanted to get ON to the trains to get to the Blue Line. This caused people to be moving in every direction including going in to the crowded platform and causing even more of a delay for people to get out of the station.

There certainly is no emergency evacuation plan and there clearly is no coordination among Metro and local authorities during an emergency.

Out of the hundreds of people that were in the station, I only saw two Metro employees and one police officer. All of them looked overwhelmed by the size and distress of the crowd and really were only capable of telling people where to go.

The most concerning issue out of the whole situation was the lack of preparation for an emergency.

Metro clearly had no communication with the station manager, Metro police or local police.

There was no plan for getting the large crowd out of the station and nobody making sure that the people coming in to the station would hold off so that the people in the station would get out.

As I said earlier, I know how things work at Metro. It does suck. It does do well at times. I can deal with having trains that stop and start abruptly, trains that are consistently late, the track issues, etc. What I can't deal with is a lack of thought towards the safety of the public.

The situation that resulted today was downright unacceptable and put the most serious issues of Metro on display.

There is no hiding from this. There really is no type of oversight. I don't know how it is possible to allow public transportation to run without some type of emergency evacuation plan.

After today, I honestly don't think it has even been considered.

Other items:
Metro looking at zone-based fares (WMATA/PDF)
Can you hack your SmarTrip? (Arstechnica)
Silver Line costs keep piling up (Examiner)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Doors Closing--Now!


Almost every day, there are complaints about Metro operators not allowing enough time for riders to get off and on the trains. This sometimes leads to potentially dangerous situations.

I asked a few Metro sources, and apparently, the reason is manual mode.

In manual control, everything runs more slowly. There's more stopping in the tunnels, and when the trains often inch up to the end of the platform, each stop can require more time, sometimes 10, 15, or even more seconds before the doors are even opened. Over an entire run, it adds up to minutes.

Here's the incredible part: After the trains went to manual operation--well over two years ago--the geniuses at Metro management never adjusted the run times, the time it takes the trains to go from one end of a line to the other.

This pinches the operators like this, wrote a Metro source:
I talked to several operators, and all have said that they are allotted the same amount of time to complete their crosstown runs. The differences have been taken out of their break time at each end. Some meal and bathroom breaks have been whittled down to 5 minutes. If you look at the schedules where it tells you how long it takes to get from one end to the other, they have not changed in many, many years.
No wonder the operators are in a hurry, aggressively trying to get the doors shut and the train moving as quickly as possible.

Another source said "the managers who come up with these run times probably haven't even been on Metro for years. They hide in the Jackson Graham building thinking everything is hunky dory."

Other items:
Bus driver stabbed (NBC4)
Metro's parking pinch (Examiner)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Metro Expands ... to Charlotte, NC

Photo via Susan Stabley

Check out the fake Metro station in Marshall Park in Charlotte, NC. Apparently, it's for the filming of the Showtime series "Homeland."

Films and TV shows often eschew the real Metro despite its occasional masterful performance.

Wonder if it's because producers fear being delayed and over budget.

Other items:
This weekend's track work (WMATA)
Va. closer to Board seat (WaPo)
Metro begins construction of 120-bike storage facility (WMATA)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bad Tech Finger Strikes Metro

Other items:
Dulles rail behind schedule (WaPo)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Customer Service Line Making Great Impression

What's up with the customer service line, Metro? Not a peep from you.

Anyone else experience this? Any good experiences?

From anonymous:
Even the Metro "help" line is near worthless.

Instead of a hold sequence like most places have--you know, "expected wait time: until hell freezes over"--it just says "all of our representatives are currently busy, please try your call again later.

Maybe 10 a.m. on a Tuesday is a federal holiday I was unaware of.
Other items:
Think SmarTrip transactions online are cool? Check this. (Japan Trends h/t @)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Faregate Fail

From Nick:
Last Friday, I was headed home on the Orange Line to West Falls Church. I arrived at 4:30 p.m., headed up the escalator, which was working (!!!) and turned around to go out the faregates.

Much to my consternation, ALL of the faregates were operating on inbound mode, with the exception of the handicapped, two-way gate.

Hundreds of people who just got off the train were filling the upper portion of the station, waiting to go through the one gate which, as you know, takes forever per person.

I said to myself "uh" and quickly hopped over one of the inbound gates and continued on my way.

No one bothered me, as the station manager on duty was yelling into his radio and running all around the manager kiosk and around the faregates.

On my way out to my bike, I saw a Metro employee sitting on a bench, having a smoke and texting. OK, it was probably his break, but still, LOL.

Meanwhile, everyone who really wanted to swipe their way out and not hop the gates like me was still waiting inside.

By the time I unlocked my bike--a few minutes after I hopped the gate--I finally saw large streams of people exciting the station.

That is an epic Metro fail - trapping your customers inside the station!

I rode home, wondering how this could ever possibly happen. After all, the gates weren't malfunctioning - they were all working, just in the wrong direction.
Other items:
Shaw, U Street and Columbia Heights to be closed this weekend (WMATA)
Silver Line: Delayed (WaPo)
Circulator extends east of river (Examiner)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Metro is Ghost

From James:
Where's Metro?

I work for a PR firm in town, and my specialty is reputation management. I know. It's a horrible name, but we can talk about that on another blog.

I'm writing because I really can't believe Metro's communications team doesn't engage the readers of this blog.

I'm a long-time reader, and I remember when they'd pop up here and there to defend themselves or clarify an issue. I thought that was a good job on their part. Respect!

I haven't seen that since PR chief Dan Stessel's horrible performance insulting the curator of Unsuck.

Since then, it's as if Metro is just pulling the ol' see-no-evil stunt and hoping it all goes away.

It's not. Just ride the Metro any rush hour.

I mean seriously. Are the radios that screwed up, for example? Metro's silence is deafening.

Perception change won't without some real work. Puff pieces in the Washington Post convince no one because the paper's influence is questionable. Ossified slogans like Metroforward don't really do much these days to sway riders. Maybe in the '70s. And painting the under construction escalator barriers green moves the needle zero with regard to the public's take on the escalator disaster that is Metro.

The real work of bettering your reputation is a lot more difficult and the results are incremental. I see Metro taking no steps in the right direction.

Honestly, I don't know how Metro is going to turn the conversation if they don't engage with its most vociferous critics.

And to be completely candid, I think there are a lot of people who read this blog who would really like to see Metro unsucked (Count me among them), not appear to be fiddling while Rome burns--which is exactly the perception that's dominating the conversation.

Just what is the total salaries of the comms team over at Metro? In my opinion, that money is being squandered.
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