Thursday, January 10, 2008

Metro Recognizes That It Actually Sucks Sometimes

The Washington Post reported in today's paper that the city's train service has been declining over the course of 17 months (link to print edition will prompt for log-ing). This follows the WMATA's fare increase this month. The article ("Metrorail Reports 17-Month Slide in On-Time Service") reports:

On-time performance has been declining for the past 17 months; not once did the agency meet its performance benchmark of having 95 percent of all trains run on schedule. On-time performance was worst during the evening rush, when it hovered in the 80 percent range.

Mechanical issues--doors opening in closing (THE IRONY, METRO'S MANTRA IS "METRO OPENS DOORS")--and breakdowns are attributed to tardy trains and frustrated patrons. Because riders and WMATA wants reliability, this is expected to be a topic at the board's next meeting. Officials tell the Post that some of the cars in the fleet (which number 1,070) that the cars are failing as a result of age--which they say are 30 years old.

The Metro opened for operation in the summer of 1976. That means that these cars have been rumbling through the area since their doors first opened.

Buried elsewhere in the Metro section of The Post was a short article about the possibility of new cars. WMATA says the cars will have 32 bench seats per car (my number might be wrong here) with ergonomic textile and LCD maps to chart the train "in real time." These cars look exactly like New York City's MTA train, and while these carpetless dreams might glide DC into the future, the earliest they'll roll on to the track will be 2013. The failing cars will be nearly 40, if they can make it that long.

Meanwhile morning commuters are dwindling; ridership is down 85 percent. And though my morning trains were still packed it's disappearing riders that contributes to Metro's lack of funding...

But no one wins with a Negative Nancy, right? I'd love to see the new trains. I don't care about the ergonomic seat covers--I secretly love the old, original, and currently "retro" upholstery. (The colors, even now at their blahh'd glory, cheer me up. The new seat covers have that ugly design that is prevalent in Greyhound buses. Ew.) Also, the convenience of the LCD map quickly qualms panic attacks; knowing where you are takes away the prolonged OHMYGODDIDIMISSMYSTOP panic that is likely to happen when you accidentally fall asleep. Or are a tourist. Or are so involved in conversation that, oops, your destination was three stops ago...

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