Anybody who reads this blog will know by now that I am of the opinion that DC's Metro system (WMATA) seems to be run by a bunch of absolutely clueless people.
One case in point: WMATA's perennial problems with the station escalators are well known. At any given time a significant number of the units are broken and out of service. This is a particular problem here in DC since our subway system has some of the deepest stations of any system in the world. However what really galls me is the way Metro goes about repairing and fixing the problem.
For example at my Metro station, Tenleytown-AU, there are two escalators at the west side entrance that go from the street level to the "middle landing". From there another escalator bank leads to to the "mezzanine" level with the fare card machines. There are no stairs at all. So why does Metro shut down both of the escalators at the same time for repairs and/or maintenance, leaving passengers without any alternative of using this particular entrance?
Not long ago two of the three 82 foot (25 meter) escalators from the "middle landing" to the "mezzanine" level were inoperative. So what does Metro in it's infinite wisdom do: it runs the only working escalator in the down direction, thus forcing people to walk the 82 feet up to the landing. Mind you all these escalators or totally reversable (when they work). It is a lot easier to walk downhill then uphill!
Now on to another one of my pet peeves. This one is about advertisements on Metro buses, or as a matter of fact on all buses. I understand the need to generate more revenue through advertisements. Fine, no problem. But why does it have to be like this:
The side of this bus is totally covered. It is very difficult for passengers to see anything at all. And it is particularly annoying when one misses ones stop, because you can't see where you are, absent a passenger information system on the vehicle. Metro here in DC did this nonsense a few years ago, but stopped it after receiving in inordinate amount of complaints about this practice. Unfortunately Metro seems to be reverting back to those days. More and more buses are showing up with this whole bus side advertising garbage. This one I caught up at the Tenleytown Metro station just two days ago:
This whole stupidity is particularly galling when one wants to take a sighseeing trip and a bus like this shows up. Who the hell comes up with ideas like this:
This is a sightseeing bus after all, and maybe this is news to the advertising execs and bus operators, folks want to see something and perhaps even take pictures! Actually this is what happened to me on a trip to Lyon, France a while back. I had paid my 35 Euros for the three hour tour and then a bus like in the the above picture showed up. The weather wasn't very good so everybody took a seat on the first floor of the double decker bus. We had not even left yet when one of the German tourists decided to go up to the driver and demand his money back. This tourist obviously was unhappy about not being able to clearly see where he was going. I decided that I wasn't going to be happy either and followed that resolute German's example. Surprisingly there wasn't that much fuss by the bus driver as more and more people decided to get off the bus with their refunded 35 Euros.
I know there will always be ads on buses. Fine! But make them short, to the point and most importantly do not cover the windows. Like this one from London:
OK, I am done venting about Metro. (For now) Let me also say that WMATA has finally done well with the purchasing of a fleet of new buses. These New Flyer vehicles are nice. They are very quiet going down the street, they are comfortable to ride in and I think they look nice. A good number of the new buses are hybrids, so that's a bonus. I have not been able to get any information regarding their reliability yet.