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Joining the Riders' Advisory Council

This morning, the WMATA Board made their appointments to the Riders' Advisory Council. You can listen to the recording here; the RAC appointment resolution comes up at 10:45, or start at 9:15 to hear Michael A. Brown's entertaining swearing-in.

Photo by didbygraham on Flickr.
Resolved, that the Board of Directors hereby reappoints Patricia Daniels and Kenneth DeGraff, and appoints David Alpert to represent the District of Columbia, and

Resolved, that the Board of Directors hereby reappoints Sharon Conn and appoints Francis DeBernardo and Laura Routt to represent the State of Maryland, and

Resolved, that the Board of Directors hereby reappoints Penelope Everline to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia, and

Resolved, that the Board of Directors hereby appoints Dharm Guruswamy and Carl Seip as at-large representatives without regard to jurisdiction.

Yup, that'd be me. As your new representative on the Riders' Advisory Council, I hope to ensure the RAC communicates with riders. Right now, there's very little information on the RAC page. It doesn't say how to get in touch with the RAC or even who is on the board. Some have charged that the RAC currently serves as more of a "glorified focus group", where Metro staff bounce ideas off a group of riders, rather than facilitating a conversation with as many riders as possible.

I will post about upcoming RAC meetings, and encourage all of you to weigh in on whatever issues they'll be discussing (or any other issues they ought to discuss), then present your opinions along with mine. I'll also do my best to keep you informed about any important information Metro staff presents to the RAC and the RAC's opinions.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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bravo, david! happy to see an advocate of smart transit planning and use will be able to fight (kind of) from the inside...

by IMGoph on Jan 29, 2009 5:18 pm • linkreport

Congrats! I applied as well, but I think you'll do a better job than I would have. Good luck.

by Dan Miller on Jan 29, 2009 5:22 pm • linkreport

Congratulations, David. I'm looking forward to working with you.

by Kenneth DeGraff on Jan 29, 2009 5:29 pm • linkreport

yay you! i applied when the RAC first started, but alas, didn't make it. glad to see such a proactive member!

by jaime on Jan 29, 2009 5:35 pm • linkreport

Congrats! It's going to be a tough first half of the year, helping WMATA decide on a large amount of painful service cuts.

by Michael Perkins on Jan 29, 2009 5:39 pm • linkreport

This just made my week. Awesome!

by Chris S on Jan 29, 2009 6:40 pm • linkreport

Congratulations, David!

by Joel Lawson on Jan 29, 2009 7:03 pm • linkreport

Congratulations! Finally, an RAC member who will discuss things with his constituents, unlike everyone else, it seems, involved with Metro. Just remember, I'm always right! ;-)

by Chuck Coleman on Jan 29, 2009 7:45 pm • linkreport

Cool. Congrats.

by BeyondDC on Jan 29, 2009 8:28 pm • linkreport

Congrats! Now get to work implementing your Metro fantasy map :)

by Michael on Jan 29, 2009 11:46 pm • linkreport

Best wishes, and good luck!

by Gavin Baker on Jan 30, 2009 1:22 am • linkreport


by Distantantennas on Jan 30, 2009 9:19 am • linkreport

On second reading...

Is there a reason Maryland gets two reps and Virginia only gets one? I can understand DC getting more weight because so much Metro service is in the city, but I've always thought MD and VA had roughly equal levels of service.

by Distantantennas on Jan 30, 2009 9:32 am • linkreport

woohoo! congrats!

by DG-rad on Jan 30, 2009 9:33 am • linkreport

There are six from each jurisdiction and three at-large. One-third are supposed to come up each year, but I think there were also some vacancies that hadn't been filled. Not sure why Virginia only had one to appoint/reappoint though. Maybe all the new appointments get 3 years, so they're not properly staggered anymore?

by David Alpert on Jan 30, 2009 9:39 am • linkreport

@Distantantennas: The representation on the RAC is evenly divided but I imagine that, because of resignations, there were more vacancies in DC and MD than VA this time around.

by thm on Jan 30, 2009 9:47 am • linkreport

David, Now that you represent us on the Riders' Advisory Council, are you willing to let us know a bit about your past experience as a Metrobus and Metrorail user? How long have you been a commuter using Metrobus or Metrorail or both? Do you share with the rest of us the typical experience of having full rush hour trains arriving at your DC station and waiting for several trains to pass before there is a train with enough room to board? Are there particular bus routes that you use frequently? Have you used Metrobus in all 8 wards and at different times of day or night? Have you used public transportation for trips that require carrying packages or luggage or travelled on Metrobus or Metrorail with children or handicapped individuals? Basically, what are you bringing to the RAC in terms of actual experience as a user of WMATA services?

by Curious transit rider on Jan 30, 2009 1:20 pm • linkreport

Even though I already know you, I don't live in the same jurisdiction as you. How do I get to know the people who will be on the WMATA advisory council who will represent me? I'm sure they're nice people who would be great to meet, or at least email.

by Cavan on Jan 30, 2009 1:27 pm • linkreport

JR, aka curious transit rider: The RAC has a wide range of members to attempt to cover all aspects of transit riding, such as regular bus riders and regular rail riders. There's a special seat set aside for the head of the disabled riders' council (and a whole other council for them as well). By the way, I'm very disappointed that you've started changing your display name again just hours after I thanked you for ending the sockpuppetry behavior.

Cavan: I'd like to push for the WMATA side to list the RAC members and provide a way to contact them. Maybe that's email addresses, or a contact form where you put in your jurisdiction and it goes in a mailbox they can check, or something. Unfortunately, right now there is no way for you to contact your jurisdiction's representatives.

In the meantime, even though I was appointed from the District of Columbia, I don't plan to represent only the ineterests of DC. I've made it clear that I want to provide a conduit for all riders with all types of experience. Therefore, you're still welcome to contact me, ideally by posting your thoughts in the RAC thread I will post as soon as I get next week's agenda.

by David Alpert on Jan 30, 2009 1:45 pm • linkreport

David, While I think that Curious Transit Rider asks a valid question, one which you did not answer, I am puzzled by your allegation that I posted that message.

by JR on Jan 30, 2009 2:08 pm • linkreport

Congrats- but didn't you ask your READERS to apply? I shouldn't have wasted my time with you as competition!

by Tom A. on Jan 30, 2009 2:32 pm • linkreport,%20December%203,%202008.pdf

The RAC has the members listed, but only within the minutes. But a commenter was right that it should have the members listed and their date spans of membership.

Is there a video of the comparison between Google trip planning and wmata trip planning?

by jeff on Jan 30, 2009 2:44 pm • linkreport

JR, there is a thing called an IP address. It isn't very difficult for website owners, moderators etc with access to back end information to identify these things.

David, my advice would simply be to call out sock-pupperters and multiple alias users when it happens. If it becomes too bothersome, there are other measures that could be considered.

by William on Jan 30, 2009 2:45 pm • linkreport

I'd like to thank those who took the time to apply and encourage you to keep the passion, and provide the RAC with you in person. I think David might be the one to enhance the subcommittees and solicit membership especially those who applied to be appointed to the committee.

David, Some of might have too high of expections from your appointment, so you might need to bring us to reality with notes such as that you're just one person and things don't happen overnight. But, I think as more people learn of your involvement, more will get psyched and get involved as well. Thanks again.

by jeff on Jan 30, 2009 3:33 pm • linkreport

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