City Desk

Dan Stessel, Metro Flack and Blog Killer?

A week ago, Dan Stessel was on an Amtrak train traveling from Newark, N.J., to the District, when he found himself watching a clip of D.C. resident Dwight Harris having an encounter with transit police.

On his way here to assume the role of chief spokesman for Metro, the 35-year-old Stessel watched the now-viral video: Harris, a man in a wheelchair, shoved to a U Street sidewalk in the midst of being arrested for having cracked open a can of malt liquor. Stessel immediately emailed his future colleagues: "You guys should take a look at this," he remembers writing.

Now that he's taken his post, the former New Jersey Transit flack has seen the intensity Metro's communications office can offer. Besides the ordeal with Harris, there was a carjacking in a Metro parking lot and a customer who jumped in front of a train. But Stessel says he faced similar drama at his old job. "At any moment you're at Defcon one," he says.

During such moments, Metro has often been opaque. The blog Unsuck D.C. Metro has long hammered the transit system for its lack of transparency. Stessel seems to be interested in putting an end to that. His first day of work, he was a guest blogger on the site.

As director of communications, he plans on engaging Metro riders through all available outlets, including Twitter, where Metro will reply to customer tweets. His ultimate goal is to make the Unsuck blog, which shines light on Metro's blunders, irrelevant by helping to improve both customer service and communication. "My goal is in several years, not to need it," he says of Unsuck.

Prodded about times when Metro seemed to put out spurious information, particularly when it comes to Metro crimes, Stessel says he can't comment on any past incidents. But he does offer that "information deteriorates the more people it flows through.” So Stessel says one  thing he'll be attempting to do is to make Metro employees, like transit police officials, directly available to reporters. Considering the amount of explaining something like the Harris video would take, let's hope that works out.

Photo courtesy of WMATA

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  • noodlez

    TRUST IS A MUTHA!

    WHEN U LOSE IT IN SOMEONE OR SOMETHING IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO RECOUP IT FULL FLEDGE. YOU CAN REBUILD IT BY BEING TRUE TO THE BASIC STANDARDS THAT WAS PUT FORTH IN THE BEGINNING NOT FROM ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES THAT CAME LATER.

    I.E.-ESCALATORS OUT FOR ANY EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME WITHIN THE SYSTEM ARE JUST TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE AND THE EQUIVALENT OF REDUCING FOUR LANES OF TRAFFIC TO TWO AT RUSH HOUR. THIS DURING D.C. SUMMERS CAN BUILD UP SOME METRO RIDER RAGE WHICH USUALLY TRANSLATES INTO UNCOMFORTABLE STARES, UNCOOPERATIVE DOORKERS, CONFUSED TOURISTS AND THE CUSTOMARY ($200+ ON THEIR SMARTRIP) ASSHOLE WHO ACTS LIKE HE OWNS THE SYSTEM.

    ALSO, WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE MAKE AN EXECUTIVE DECISION ON THE ESCALATORS EITHER PAY O.T. TO TECHS TO FIX THEM DURING THE OVERNIGHT HOURS OR CUT THEM OFF FOR GOOD AND CONVERT INTO STAIRS.

    COVERING SHIT WITH ROSES MAY MAKE IT LOOK BETTER TO SOME BUT IT DOESNT HIDE THE FACT THAT IT MAKES FOR SHITTY SMELLING ROSES TO EVERYONE.

    IMPROVING WMATA'S CUSTOMER SERVICE???? MANY HAVE TRIED AND MANY HAVE FAILED! YO STESSEL. BATTER UP! please don’t strike out.

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  • http://marketurbanism.com Stephen Smith

    If anyone's going to kill Unsuck DC Metro, it's not gonna be their PR guy. WMATA's problem isn't bad communication, it's piss-poor service, management, and regulation. The system is rotten to the core, and I have a feeling that this guy sending management emails with links to Unsuck posts and writing, "You guys should take a look at this" isn't gonna be quite enough to fix it.

  • Tetsuo Shima

    The day when "UN" is removed from "UNSUCK". Though something tells me it's going to be a while before that is going to happen.

  • Dayvid

    That guy Dan is a big gay slut who has anonymous/random sex with guys all over the place! He was a wanna-b DJ when he was young at the DC clubs and now thinks he's the shit cause he works at metro lol...

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