City Desk

Metro Bad News Roundup: Service Cuts and Videotaped Fights Edition

The Metro system, once a reliable point of pride for D.C.'s boosters, has had a rough few years: Safety problems, escalator outages, and rising prices have made the subway a regular subject of local griping. At times, it can be hard to keep up with the torrent of unflattering Metro-related scoops. As a public service, Washington City Paper is offering beleaguered riders this irregular round-up of recent media lowlights:

This week:

-People continue to criticize Metro's idea of cutting late-night service on weekends (sometimes with charming graphs!)

-A former WMATA chairman (and current board member) says he’s stepping down

-House Republicans just killed a bill which would have restored $150 million to WMATA’s coffers for safety measures.

-This video, posted on the blog Unsuck DC Metro, shows two guys fighting on the Orange Line train.

-A report released by Mayor Vince Gray’s office this week accuses D.C.'s transportation department of having skimmed money off the funds the city is supposed to provide to Metro. The money allegedly paid for things like the Circulator bus instead.

-The report also said the city's streetcar plan—not part of Metro, but feeding the system—had fouled up in a variety of ways, including purchasing three streetcars it won't be able to use because they don't meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Looking for a silver lining, City Desk called WMATA today, seeing if there was any chance Metrorail trains could ever get free wi-fi, like the kind Amtrak’s planning to extend to all its trains later this year. In response, Metro sent along a press release announcing cell phone service was being extended to Metro’s 20 busiest stations.

The press release was dated 2009. Though, to be fair, people were  very  happy about the change when it happened.

Illustration by Brooke Hatfield

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  • Rick Mangus

    Why are we the consumers put-up with this crap, we pay more and get less! I will tell you why because we have too many sheep and not enough rams amoung us! There should be a one week boycott of METRO, sure it would be hard going for us for a short time, but it would send a clear and loud message!

  • tyler

    Yeah! Let's boycott Pepco, too! That'll show 'em!

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  • Rick Mangus

    I'm being dead serious about METRO! As far as Pepco goes you can blame the public service commissions in Maryland and DC for being a bunch of lame asses!

  • DCDem

    @Rick Mangus, the social media network (facebook/twitter) worked in Egypt to spark a national revolution, I'm sure it could be used to get enough support to organize a Metro rider boycott. Just to think, Dr. King did it in the 60's without a single cell phone. But a greater issue is the GOP congress cutting $150 million federal funding for replacement of old trains and infrastructure improvements to meet NSTB safety recommendations following the crash. Particularly, when 40% of the riders of metro are federal commuters from MD/VA. Talking about beating a dead horse.

  • David Alpert

    Um, thanks for the GGW links up top, but this all sounds like you've made a decision that WCP should jump on the bandwagon of "let's all pile on and find everything bad to say about Metro that we can."

    Plus, some of these aren't about Metro. The DC report was about DDOT financial issues, not Metro. It also didn't say that DDOT was skimming off money that it gives to Metro; it said DDOT gave extra money to Metro to pay for the Circulator.

    And free Wi-Fi? Um, where will people be holding their laptops? I'd rather Metro did NOT ever put in free Wi-Fi. The cell phone service will let people check email on their phones if they want to. Let's not have an explosion of people taking up spacing holding laptops in front of them and potentially attracting more thieves.

  • andrew

    A genuine question: How exactly would boycotting Metro help? How many of WMATA's problems actually originate within the agency itself?

    The way I see things, Metro's problems exist because the agency has been used as a political football by the federal government and our local jurisdictions. Among other things, this makes it impossible for the agency to write a coherent budget, or do any sort of long-term planning. (The Federal government's unwillingness to pay for the NTSB-mandated safety improvements are the most egregious example of this, especially since many of the NTSB's recommendations had nothing to do with the Red Line crash in 2009)

    Metro's problems are a symptom of a much larger problem. A boycott would do nothing but punish low-level workers who have done nothing wrong. Demand that your local politicians take some responsibility for Metro's problems, rather than blaming the agency, the workers, or the other jurisdictions.

  • Tyler

    Not to mention the upcoming bag searches, sure to be a pointless intrusion on personal privacy and a mindless bureaucratic obstacle to getting places on time.

  • Skipper

    I laugh at the lame attempt at defending Metro.

    Let's all hold arms, chant "Smart Growth" and "Jane Jacobs" and wish Metro to become better!

  • Rick Mangus

    Hey guys METRO needs a kick in the ass this would send a message, quoting Peter Finch in the movie 'Network', "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore"!