Saturday, April 13, 2013

Metro Breaks for Blossoms

That's what Metro has been telling riders for the past month. Weekend track work is being suspended for a month during the Cherry Blossom Festival. They've posted signs like the one below that say in part:

After fixing tracks, repairing escalators, improving platforms, upgrading communications, and more almost every weekend, we're taking a break so you can ride the Metro to the festival.

On the one hand, I'm glad Metro recognized what a mess they would have on their hands if they continued to do track work when the festival is on. All the additional trying to ride the Metro with track work going on would be a complete and total mess.

On the other hand, well I find the sign more than a little self-congratulatory and pompous, condescending and patronizing all at the same time.

First off the weekends when there hasn't been track work on one or more lines are few and far between. Most weekends all the lines are being worked on and sometimes in more than one place. The Rhode Island Ave stop was closed not once but twice in March. That's when buses replaced trains. Don't even get me started on that one.

If I could see some improvement in service, I might not mind it so much. But I have to say I rally haven't seen much improvement. The delays, on the weekends, are ridiculous. You need to at least double your travel time and if you have to transfer well you're in real trouble then. When Metro single tracks at a station (that is when trains going in both directions share a single track), there is  little, if any help, to riders to figure out which direction the train is going. This is especially true if people are not familiar with the system. 

The easiest thing to do would be to make an announcement when a train pulls into the station. It could go something like this: the train now pulling into the station is going to downtown Washington its final destination is Shady Grove. This would at least give people an idea if this is the train they should take. But that rarely if ever happens.

The final thing that really bothers me about this is weekend track work will continue for the next four to five years. As I've said before the Metro slogan should be "Expect delays." Because that's what weekend riders will have for the next four to five years.

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