I Still hate the WMATA

I kind of stopped writing about the Metro since, well, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. But the last 24 hours have kind of represented every single thing I hate about public transportation.

1. Monday morning, 8:30am. Friendship Heights. In the middle of rush hour, the next train isn't scheduled to arrive for another six minutes. Great. That means either I miss the train because it's already packed or I get to smash myself in the train like a sardine.

But, no! There is a third option! When the train was two minutes away, it disappeared off the board. When it reappeared, it did so as a dreaded "No Passengers" train. A people train wouldn't arrive for, you guessed it, another six minutes. Fifteen minutes and three trains later I finally got on a train with enough room for me to stand.

2. Monday night, 9:30pm. Woodley Park-slash-Adams Morgan-slash-National Zoo. After catching a screening of Juno in Bethesda, I headed to Woodley Park. In typical Metro fashion, one of the escalators was down. But as long as two were operational, no harm, no foul. Right?

Well, unless both escalators are moving the same fucking direction. And that direction is not up. Ugh. I remember complaining about the Tenley escalators being down for a week and people mocking me for getting tired on the way up.

Well, the Woodley Park escalators are way worse than Tenley's. That death march to above ground sucked. I felt bad for the older Metro riders who had to take breaks on the way up.

3. Tuesday morning, 8:30am. 16th Street. Alright, 16th Street! That means no subway. Just a bus that comes every five minutes. Except when it doesn't. And then the next one doesn't either. What the Hell? Finally, after a 15 minute wait, not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR buses pull up. FOUR BUSES! Naturally, two were packed and the other two were empty. What a startlingly inefficient way to get people to work.

So, in case you were wondering, the Metro is still a piece of shit.


  1. the resolution to that is to move or get a bike. I can see you in a bike helmet...what your readers wouldn't pay for that. Better than a dildo stuck to your forehead?

  2. I can't believe that Metro, which works better than nearly every other service in DC, continues to be your whipping boy.

    1. Six minutes? For real? You think that's a long wait? So sorry that you
    had to wait 15 minutes in the end. But given your propensity for entering smoking tunnels I guess you wouldn't care if there was a safety problem on the "no passenger" train.

    2. Escalators. Jesus. Considering that most other public transit systems in this country don't have them AT ALL, if they work even half the time I feel privileged.

    3. Do you have any idea how logistically impossible it would be to have buses, that share streets with tons of cars and traffic lights, run on an exact schedule during rush hour?

    I take metro all the time. It gets me to work within a five minute window about 95% of the time. I challenge you to get that kind of success rate with any other form of transportation in this city.

  3. I used to drive from Alexandria to Reston via Great Falls (to drop the dog off) every day. When I started working in DC again back in February, I vowed I would never complain about Metro, ever. I have kept my promise - have YOU tried driving from Alexandria to Reston every day for a year?

  4. Can you just change the name of this blog to why.i.hate.metro?

    Seriously, find something else to complain about in this city. There's plenty of topics to choose from out there!

  5. I can do better than that.

    Try Annapolis to Springfield.

    But yeah, Metro still sucks.

    No, there are no escalators in NYC, Philly and Boston. But seeing as you only have to go down three flights of stairs to get to the platform, instead of half-way to the core of the earth like at Dupont, it's hardly the same.

    And the bus "schedules" are hilarious, rush hour or not.

    I understand it's impossible to time things out exactly when you're dealing with street traffic, but I routinely see the Wisconsin Ave busses all bunched together.

    And the D2 in Glover Park? Comes about once every half hour. And all it does is go through georgetown, over to dupont and back.

    I think there's only one D2 bus, actually. I only see that one driver.

  6. Because Metro has escalators we're supposed to put up with thier crappy, shitty, fecal-laden service?? What's wrong with you people?! That kind of thinking is how the city gets away with screwing over its residents.

    The public paid for the escalators. YOU continue to pay for their operation. They should work properly.

    Fuck Metro.

  7. @ Woodley--dont they have elevators?

  8. Ben, yes. But as an able-bodied adult, I couldn't in good conscience take an elevator. There were people with suitcases, the elderly, and children who all needed the elevator more.

  9. Why James, there are plenty of escalators here in NYC.

    and philadelphia doesn't need them.

  10. Philly hardly has public transit at all, forget about escalators.

  11. exactly, justin. even if they did have escalators, they'd be pointless. the subways aren't deep enough. you'd have to be a true slob to want them.

  12. That's my point. Philly doesn't need them. New York has them where they need them, and they're much more likely to work.

    DC needs them at virtually every station, and they are routinely broken.

    This is just one small part of the overall attitude of acceptance here regarding city services.

    Excalators are broken? Why can't you walk, fatso?

    Fire hydrants don't have water? Meh, nobody's perfect.

    Roving bands of punks throwing rocks at pedestrians? Ahh, that's just life in the big city.

    Schools without books, or literate teachers? What do you expect, Exeter Academy in Anacostia?

    It reminds me a lot of Savannah, but at least I could afford a house there. And everyone was friendly and/or drunk all the time, which was cool.

  13. Metro is what it is because DC sheeple continue to put up with it. If the clusterfuck that is Metro tried some of that shit in NYC, heads would fucking roll.

    This past Thursday it took me THREE FUCKING HOURS to get to work. 1st the Orange line train I was on broke down, then when I went to change to the Red line that was broken down too. Oh yeah, and when the 1st broken down train pulled in to Ballston, I had to run up the down escalator to get off the overcrowded 25-deep platform. btw, you have to run pretty damn fast. WTF? Metro is so wretched I'm looking forward to flying on US Airways.

    And on the way home that day there was some fake bomb or some bullshit @the Pentagon, which seems to happen every fucking week, which cocked everything up the other way too.

  14. Rusty, I find your rants about Metro to be cathartic and I appreciate them very much. I spend virtually every afternoon cheating death by navigating the crowd on the Farragut West platform, hoping that the sheer volume of the crowd doesn't knock me onto the tracks as I attempt to get from the escalator to mid-platform. Then I get herded by said crowd onto the 4-car blue line train that took 8 minutes to get there after the arrival of 2+ orange lines (sometimes one of the cars of this train is out of service). Those that manage to remain on the platform with promises of 'there is another blue line directly behind this one' are suckers. I assume the 'standing-spooning' position with the two smelly suits, one inevitably is blackberrying away, while the other smiles everytime the driver nails the brakes and knocks my body into his. I can't decide whether to laugh or cry when the train stops at Arlington and nobody gets off. Then I arrive tired, battered, defeated, and angry with the world. Can't wait 'til the days get longer and warmer and I can get back on my bike.

  15. It is our right as taxpayers and funders of Metro to complain about shoddy service. We are entitled to get from one place to the other in a decent amount of time, that's what we paid for. It's not like Metro gives us a discount when they screw up.

    My main beef is that whenever there's a problem on the Metro, the Metro employees are usually just standing around gossiping or ogling women. Nobody shares information, nobody directs traffic, nobody cares. How much do platform guys get paid? Even if they're paid in shiny pennies and secondhand gum, it's far too much.

  16. OK, well I'm certainly sympathetic to rants about WMATA -- I probably hold the record here for the number of written complaints submitted to them.

    One thing that particularly incensed me was the recent decision to delay (according to WMATA, for at least 18 months, which - when translated into reality - might actually mean forever) the roll-out of the "next bus" GPS system. The idea was to put GPS units in all the WMATA buses, so that a manager somewhere could actually monitor where the buses are, when they're bunching up, etc.. A great idea, you would think, and in fact the pilot programs (covering, among others, my local "90" buses -- 90, 92, 96) was pretty cool. You could either check the next bus arrival time via cell phone (for example, if you were standing out at a stop) or go online and actually watch the buses in real-time on a google map.

    Supposedly, however, the program didn't meet WMATA's performance standards, and so now it's back to the same old system we're accustomed to -- now without the sense of hope that the "next bus" at least provided us with !

  17. dih -- you may hold the record for written complaints, but I bet I hold the record for called-in complaints.

    I have the number for both WMATA and Metro Police saved in my phone, and I freely call them as they fuck up my daily transit. I've only had to call Metro police once -- when someone pulled a gun (but did not discharge it) in the Gallery Place metro station.

    When your bus/Metro is 15 or more minutes late, or something else totally sketchy happens, call and tell them. You're just waiting around anyways -- might as well complain to someone who can either fix it, tell you what's wrong, or at least make a record of it.

    Here are the numbers -- save them in your phone.

    Metro: 202.637.7000
    Metro Police: 202.962.2121

    When I call WMATA I immediately ask to speak to an operator/supervisor instead of stumbling through the voice prompts, which don't really work anyways.

    Happy travels!

  18. I agree with the metro problems, but the S buses are a problem due to the traffic in the AM on 16th street. They start at even intervals, but due to all the traffic and people getting on at that time, they catch up to each other. Then, of course, they all sit in traffic behind each other. At least after waiting for the 15 minutes, you get a seat.

  19. I was near Dupont Circle waiting for the N2 or N4 to take me to Cathedral Heights last Wednesday at 5:30 pm, and neither came for over an hour! I should have gotten a cab, but I kept hoping a bus would come. While I was standing there with about 30 other people, 3 "Not in Service" busses drove past us! Where were they going? They looked like they were in working order...

    I understand the drivers can't adhere to a schedule when navigating through traffic. However, I do not think it's too much to ask to have a bus come more than once an hour.

    So frustrating.

  20. Just to be clear, my comment was mostly making fun of Philly's anemic public transport, not saying that it's OK for Metro escalators to be broken.

    Although I will say that I use the Metro to commute every day and I don't have nearly the problems with it that other people seem to. It works pretty well for me actually, plus my employer covers most of my monthly fare so it doesn't really cost me anything.

  21. An escalator can't break; it can only become stairs. You should never see an "Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order" sign, just "Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience."

    RIP Mitch.

  22. Hey, no fair! Philadelphia does have some escalators. Like the one that cut off a little boy's foot. You should have seen how bitchy his blog was.

  23. mussolini would do a MUCH better job keeping metro on schedule

  24. I recently moved to Japan (back in dc for holidays) and their bus/train system is incredibly precise.

  25. All I have to say is what are the little people that sit in the booths there for on the Metro? Shouldn't they have caught the fact that out of the two working escalators they were both going DOWN! We should stop paying these people. I have the say that overall the bus system is pretty spectacular here in DC as compared to other big cities I have lived in. The 54 bus that leaves L'Enfant is almost always on time (to the minute in fact) when it arrives at the Navy Memorial.