Arts Desk

Head-Roc’s Mouth: Metro Is “Lunching!” Joe! (But Music in the Stations Would Help)

headyAn occasional feature in which esteemed D.C. rapper Head-Roc shares what’s on his mind.

Metro is "lunching!" Joe! How many times have fares gone up since they killed like nine people on the Red Line not too long ago? Twice at least, right?  And just like clockwork, the escalators are broken systemwide, plus just last week 60-plus people were stranded for hours on Red Line tracks when a power line fell on it during thunderstorms. Is Metro suffering from just a sting of bad luck?

No, it isn't. This level of negligence was caused by a classic and all-consuming profit-driven management philosophy adopted strongly by our governments—local, state, and federal—since that George (Trouble U w/) Bush(it) was installed for an eight-year reign as King of the United States. Remember when Metro was government-controlled and -operated? It wasn’t perfect but it worked, and was actually at some time was considered one of the best public transportation systems in country, and maybe the world. But then again, maybe that’s when it was brand new.

The train I’m on right now is musty as a mug. There are obvious water-damage stains and just general nastiness on the rug throughout the train. When my fellow passengers and I stepped onto it, you could see everyone frown in inquiry, trying to figure out what the hell the smell is. First I was thinking mold; now I’m wondering if it's the chemical they use to “clean” the trains. Whatever, whatever—it smells toxic. Yuck!

There’s no mood music playing to help relieve the grind and pressures of daily commuting. The looks on people’s faces in the morning remind me of zombies. Even folks with headphones on, I would assume listening to music, don’t look any better. Everyone sits or stands very still and disconnected from one another as we ride the same tube to our respective plantation situations. Doing so requires a certain amount of consideration and patience. The crazy thing is how when it’s crowded and you have to cram tight on a train how folks wanna cop an attitude at having to be close together. Music playing throughout the subway system would change all that. I know metro can get one of them Sirius satellite setups for play throughout the system—on all platforms at all stations, on the trains while they roll, at the bus stops while we wait, hell, even on the buses. And depending on the location and routes, the music can reflect the community—only one exception: pop music.

I’d like to see is a hiring of hospitality workers—someone should be saying “hello,” greeting me, and thanking me for putting my money into this raggedy-ass system.

All that is a segue to what I really want to touch about, and that’s the bullshit of fares being higher for folks who don’t have SmarTrip cards. I have a Smartrip card. It’s actually my third one since they were issued several years ago. My first one lasted for quite some time before a crack down the center made it inoperable. Funny how the first of any new thing lasts for a good while before breaking, and then the replacement ones never match up.

My point on the Smartrip cards is that it’s nothing more than another installment of the War on the Working-Class Poor. The elimination of the paper transfer was like a nuclear bomb in many Chocolate City communities.  Sure, they knew folks would pass transfers between each other; lots of times to help out friends, family, and, maybe more touching, as a simple gesture of kindness to a complete stranger. “Anybody need a Transfurrr?”  I miss hearing that on the streets.  To make everyone purchase Smartrip cards and then continually raise the rates since their hostile-takeover implementation, to me, seems to have been an elaborate and deceiving way of exploiting and extorting the working class citizens of the D.C. area for funds to fix Metro’s crumbling infrastructure.

Chocolate city, we don t have to take this shit. Be vocal and let the folks who make big bread off your little dough know how you feel about Metro raising rates for declining services.

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  • Organize!

    I agree with you Head-Roc! We need to ORGANIZE! DC needs a transit riders union. Did you know that when Marion Barry first came to DC as an organizer, he led a bus boycott that defeated a then-attempt to increase bus fares? Too bad he (and all our other "leaders") are silent on the issue today. Bring back the transfers!!!