Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Farce of Metro’s Weekend Service

Farce is defined as:
1: a savory stuffing : forcemeat
2: a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot
3: the broad humor characteristic of farce
4: an empty or patently ridiculous act, proceeding, or situation

synonyms: caricature, cartoon, mockery, joke, parody, sham, travesty

Related Words
burlesque, comedy; lampoon, takeoff; counterfeit, fake, feigning, forgery, hoax, humbug, knockoff, phony (also phoney), pretense (or pretence), sham, simulation

I’ll take definition 4 to define Metro’s service over the past weekend. And each of the related words could apply to the level of service just as well.

I’ll start off with Friday. I come home from work and notice that there are printed signs on the platform like the one in the picture. I think that’s a good idea. Put up signs telling people work is being done over the weekend and which side of the platform the trains will be running on. Like I said good idea.

Saturday I head out early (a little after 7:30) because I know there is track work to get to the TRX class my gym has which starts at 8:30. I get to the platform and a train comes in. It’s going in the direction of Glenmont. Remember the sign that said all trains were boarding on one side. Well the train to Glenmont pulls it on the other side. So in fact trains are running on both tracks. People were a little confused at first about what was going on but I think most people going in the direction of Glenmont got on this train.

I wish that was the direction I needed to go but it wasn’t. So I got to wait. The next train sign at first said there would be a train in 8 minutes. Then all of a sudden it changed to 20 minutes. The woman near me on the platform asked if that had just changed to 20 minutes. I said it had. She was less than pleased about that. She said she was going to be late. She quickly pulled out here phone and called someone telling them she would be late. Finally the train showed up. Even leaving early I barely made it to my class on time.

After the class, I got my hair cut and ran a couple more errands and then headed back home. Another fun ride on the Metro. I got on at the DuPont Circle stop. The next train signs showed two trains coming. Both of which would stop at the New York Avenue stop. I of course needed a train that would go beyond that point. What I don’t understand is why the train going the direction of Glenmont (the train I needed to be on) couldn’t be listed as well. Why not let people going beyond New York Avenue know how long they would have to wait for a train? I got off at Union Station and waited. In all my commute from DuPont to Rhode Island Ave took over 45 minutes. Normally it should be less than half that time.

On to Sunday. I’m going to the Nats’ game (unfortunately they lost but Teddy did win the president’s race) and again I decided I needed to leave early. In part because of Metro but also because I was getting tickets for the game I’m going to in June with my fellow volunteers from Food and Friends (it worked out really well too because I’m a season ticket holder and  I got $4 off each ticket).

Once more on to the platform at Rhode Island Ave. Here’s what I see on the next train sign. As you can see it is really really helpful. All you know is that a train is coming and it will arrive in 2 minutes. Well not exactly. There is finally information posted as to the number of cars (turns out it is 8) where it is going (Shady Grove) and when it will arrive. But is not 2 minutes it is 8 minutes. Here’s a quick question why post the first information when it is wrong.

My next stop was at Gallery Place to transfer to the Green Line to get to Nats’ Park. I get down on the platform and along comes a train. It says special on it. There’s a picture of it below. The little problem with that is it doesn’t say if is this a Green Line or Yellow Line train. I’m glad it’s special but special to which line would be helpful. The next train sign doesn’t help with this; it doesn't say. The doors open and people get on.

Only once people have boarded the train does the train operator come on and say this is a Yellow Line train. It is “special” because it isn’t going to the end of the line (track work on the Yellow Line closed stations this weekend). About half of the people who’ve just gotten on the train get off. They assumed it was a “special” going to the ball park. Wouldn’t it have been simpler as the doors were opening or even before the doors open for the train operator to announce it was a Yellow Line train. Or maybe even a station manager to announce over the loud speaker the special train now on the track is a Yellow Line train.

I was lucky that the friend I went with to the game gave me a ride home or there would be tales from the Metro to relate.

Where to start.

How about just getting the correct information out to people on what’s going on in the Metro system? Great that you posted signs saying which side of the tracks ALL trains would be running. But why put up the sign when that’s not what’s happening. Why post times on the next train sign when that information is incorrect? Why posts time for when the next train is going to be in a station when it’s not going to be there in that time? How can there be a training arriving in 2 minutes, then it’s 8 minutes, then it’s 20 minutes? Why not just leave the next train sign blank until you actually know when a train is going to arrive? I realize that track work needs to be done. That regular Metro riders will have to face this for 4 or more years to come.

But why can’t Metro get the basic information right. Which track the trains are running on and when they will be in the station. This most basic and fundamental information Metro just can’t get right.

And that is the farce of Metro service on the weekend.

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