The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Ask Metro: Broken PIDs, bus fareboxes, and bikes

As Metro's infrastructure continues to age, broken elements have become a fact of life for riders. We asked Metro about a few of the issues cropping up from maintenance headaches.

Photo by the author.

Many riders have noticed that the PIDs (the signs showing train arrivals) are increasingly out of sync with trains, often showing "BRD" for a few minutes after a train leaves, or 3 minutes until the next train as one pulls in.

Last week, I encountered an even bigger problem. The PIDs at Gallery Place showed trains 1, 4, and 6 minutes from now, a rush hour arrangement, even at 9:54 pm, and the numbers never changed. I was able to get correct information on my phone (thanks to wireless working down in the station), at least.

Spokesperson Ron Holzer said,

We are aware of the latency problem with the PIDS and are working to find a solution. It appears the issue is with messages backing up in the PIDS server. The prediction model is still accurate and it seems the API programs are not experiencing the latency that the actual signs are.

Fortunately, this isn't a safety issue; the signaling system knows where the trains are, it's just the PIDs system that's having trouble. Unfortunately, that's not making things very convenient for riders.

Metro had originally hoped to replace the PIDs with new screens, called "The Metro Channel" that would have shown arrival times and other information including advertising. The ads would have paid for the new system. Unfortunately, the ad market collapsed with the economy, and Metro can no longer fund such a system through ad revenues.

Reader Jamie S. writes:

After reading the post about improving the 90s bus line, I visited the Metrobus Studies sites and read the improvements on some of the lines. It got me thinking about the bus fare machines and what happens when those machines aren't working, and the driver simply waves the riders on. Does he communicate with supervisors as soon as the problem is identified? Does Metro take the bus out of service? Is it repaired? It seems that in the wake of fare increases and the potential elimination of negative SmarTrip balances, this should be a problem Metro should address to avoid losing fares.
Doug Karas says:
When the bus operator realizes the farebox is broken, they radio to [control] who gives direction on what to do. Typically, the bus is instructed to continue the route where it is then switched out with another bus with a working farebox.

No repairs are made in the field due to safety issues and customer perception that workers are handling cash. Farebox techs do all repairs at the divisions. ... Our goal is that all fare boxes are repaired within 24 hours. Most are repaired in 8-12 hours.

Finally, Jonathan Z. asks:
I was getting on the College Park metro yesterday (Labor Day) with my bike. After getting yelled at immediately upon entry by the station manager because my wheels weren't on the ground, I was yelled at again (and threatened with a $50 ticket no less) because the station manager thought I was going to use the escalator. I was planning on using the stairs, since waiting for the elevator seemed pointless when there was no one else around, but of course the station manager was having none of that and demanded that I use the elevator.

Besides the arbitrary enforcement of the rules (I do concede they are the rules, but completely unnecessary to enforce them with such rigor in a sparsely inhabited station on Labor Day), it got me thinking: what if there was an elevator outage? Hypothetically, are bikers expected to call for the shuttle service? Are they even equipped with bike racks? I wonder how many more disgruntled Metro employees I would have had to deal with if that were the case.

Doug replied that the station manager could have let the cyclist use the escalator or stairs if the elevator were out and it were safe. The rules are designed for safety. If its wheels are on the ground and the owner is holding it, it's not much of a risk to other riders, whereas if it's on an elevator or escalator, the owner could drop it and it could fall onto others.

Doug added,

If the someone is on a bike, the elevator is out, and the station manager determines they shouldn't use the escalator or stairs, it would make more sense for them to ride their bike to the next station, than to wait for a shuttle. If, in fact, a person couldn't ride to the next station, all of our Metrobuses have bike racks.
It might be nice if Metro gave station managers some more discretion to let people use the escalators if nobody else is on them, for example, though that might also lead to more people trying to argue with the station manager. I've brought my bike on short escalators, like mezzanine to platform ones, at low traffic times and never been hassled, maybe just because the station manager didn't see.
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. 


Add a comment »

So let me get this straight WMATA expects people to take the bus to the next station if they have a bike and the elevator is broken.

Is the busride free if not they need a better solution, they are expecting you to pay for their broken crap hell no.

Some of the stations dont even have buses going to the next station such as Largo and most of the Green line, plus Takoma have one which may not run everyday.

by kk on Sep 28, 2010 10:12 am • linkreport

clealry, the answer is to charge people who take bicycles (and baby-cars) into MetroRail an extra $2 for the hassle they are causing other customers.

by charlie on Sep 28, 2010 10:25 am • linkreport

How is it that MARTA, poor cash-strapped MARTA, can fund an ad channel, but Metro somehow can't?

The Metro Channel didn't die due to a poor advertising market. It died because Metro's current corporate culture can't handle advertising because they were born under a flawed "aesthetics over advertising" mantra. They could make it work if they had the motivation to do so and they should still put the TV units out even at a loss for the benefit of riders.

by Jason on Sep 28, 2010 10:36 am • linkreport

though that might also lead to more people trying to argue with the station manager.

My experience with station managers is that they either yell, snark or mumble. They never speak. My gold fish has better communication skills than the average station manager. It is more patient as well.

by Jasper on Sep 28, 2010 10:38 am • linkreport

Regarding the platform train signs, I've noticed that problem for a few weeks. I've found that going to the mobile site with my phone is more accurate.

by Lou on Sep 28, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

I frequently see the PID signs 2 minutes behind. For example. it shows Blue Largo 2 Minutes when the train is arriving into the station. Once I saw a sign say BRD when no train was the plaform.

by Davin Peterson on Sep 28, 2010 10:44 am • linkreport

Charlie, don't go there. Let's not start charging people different fares for how much hassle they cause other riders. You can just imagine the possibilities. We already have enough variations in fares as it is.

Does anyone have a guess of how many different Metrorail fares are possible between two stations? (e.g., Rockville and Union Station) Regular/peak/peak of peak. Cash or Smartrip. Senior. Transfering from a bus. 6? 10? 12 variations? Crazy.

I guess I'm glad that WMATA SAYS that they actually know where the trains are even if the PIDs don't. The PID server can't keep up with the messages? What?

by Joe on Sep 28, 2010 10:45 am • linkreport

The PID signs are obselete. VRE replaced the led signs at it's stations with LCD TV screens, which can display train times and other annoucements all on one screen. This is what Metro needs.

by Davin Peterson on Sep 28, 2010 10:47 am • linkreport

Those PID signs have been a POS since day one. Another contractor rip-off of the taxpayer.

by Booz Allen Hamilton on Sep 28, 2010 10:48 am • linkreport

I've noticed the PIDS being out of sync all this week on the Red Line.

I've boarded many buses (the 90s, in particular) where the SmarTrip reader isn't working, but the cash-accepting part of the farebox is, creating the unfair situation where SmarTrip users are given a free ride but cash users still have to pay. When the SmarTrip reader doesn't work, everyone should get a free ride.

Presumably, when a SmarTrip reader isn't working, someone who doesn't have a SmarTrip could get a free ride by pretending to tap his or her wallet to the reader. The driver never asks the passenger to pull the SmarTrip out of the wallet.

by Malcolm Kenton on Sep 28, 2010 10:54 am • linkreport

@Joe; I'm not advocating for discrimination. I'm saying charge people for what they bring on. Bicycles and baby-cars are optional equipment.

ALthough it might be easier to just charge everyone a flat $1 fee for using the elevators.

by charlie on Sep 28, 2010 10:55 am • linkreport

I once got a flat tire and need to bring my bike home on Metro to fix it. I was near a station that I wasn't familiar with, and I couldn't find the elevator anywhere. After I carried by bike down the escalator (it was about 10pm and it wasn't busy) I got yelled at by the station manager. When I explained that I couldn't find the elevator, the station manager told me where it was; he then told me I had to carry my bike back UP the escalator and then take the elevator back down into the station. When I pressed, he cited 'policy'. This is a great example of blindly following the 'policy' even when it doesn't make sense or reduce safety risks.

by Rob on Sep 28, 2010 11:03 am • linkreport

kk "So let me get this straight WMATA expects people to take the bus to the next station if they have a bike and the elevator is broken."
No, since Doug said: "If the someone is on a bike, the elevator is out, AND the station manager determines they shouldn't use the escalator or stairs" THEN WMATA expects people to take the bus.
Most of the station managers I've encountered have been nice (I did encounter a strict one at College Park once), so I don't think they'd unjustifiably prevent someone from using stairs in such a scenario.

Re: signage - the PID signs are just 6-7 years old, right? Is it really a problem with the signs? Maybe they need a new server?

by DCster on Sep 28, 2010 11:10 am • linkreport

@Rob - I hope you didn't do it.

by Tina on Sep 28, 2010 11:17 am • linkreport

I've still never seen in writing where you're not allowed to use the stairs if carrying a bike, just the escalator. I've also been yelled s at College Park for doing this, probably by the same disgruntled station manager. Given the amount of bike theft at that station you'd think he'd be a bit more forgiving to cyclists wanting to take their bikes with them.

by jeff on Sep 28, 2010 11:19 am • linkreport

And nobody ever says anything when somebody brings their stroller on the escalator (which is actually dangerous).

by Bob on Sep 28, 2010 11:32 am • linkreport

Is the PID problem related to the clocks above the station kiosks? It seems none of them have been working lately - they all display 88:88

by M.V. Jantzen on Sep 28, 2010 11:35 am • linkreport

MARTA's signs came at NO COST to the agency. And that turned out to be a problem.

You could often stand on the platform for 10 minutes before seeing a next train projection. They spent most of that time showing ads for organizations like Coca-Cola, CNN, Reuters, and The Weather Channel. They also had some time dedicated to MARTA service announcements (Bus changes coming September 26!) and other PSA's (Atlanta Convention and Tourist Bureau welcomes the National Convention on Aging Kittens!).

They have now modified the signs so that they almost always have a bar at the bottom which scrolls between destinations. However, they don't differentiate between directions, and they only show the next train on each line.

So as an example at Peachtree Center, on the northbound side:

Northbound to Doraville 3 mins
Northbound to North Springs 18 mins
Southbound to Airport 9 mins.
That's why I'd prefer Metro pay for the things out of their budget rather than through an advertising contract.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 28, 2010 11:39 am • linkreport

@Matt: Given the state of Metro right now, they sound like they'd rather not pay for new screens with no guaranteed revenue than do like what MARTA did. If the PIDS are broken as they are, do anything you can do to replace them at any cost.

Outside of the pathetic weekend headways, MARTA looks better and better than Metro lately. How they can be cash-strapped yet never have felt the need to gouge their riders a la Metro with a similar system blows my mind.

by Jason on Sep 28, 2010 11:42 am • linkreport

@kk: When the elevators are out at a station, the shuttle to a station with a working elevator is free. That's not to suggest that it is an acceptable alternative to carrying a bike down a deserted escalator. The shuttles are supposed to be for people who can't use the stairs, not to appease the station managers sense of propriety.

@Jason: MARTA operates under an ill-advised state law that requires it to spend 50% of the sales tax revenue it receives on capital expenses and 50% on operating expenses. They can afford the best stations, rolling stock and technology, but they can't afford to operate what they buy. WMATA can't afford its operating or capital needs.

PIDs Has WMATA tried rebooting the server? Seriously. The ones on the red line have been comically wrong (lets hope not tragically). I guess WMATA is still smarting from the criticism they got for turning off NextBus when it was inaccurate, so they have decided to keep the inaccurate PIDs working despite their uselessness. Maybe that's why they now show elevator and service outages more than they do train information.

by Stanton Park on Sep 28, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

@Rob same here (except it was a derailleur problem). There was absolutely no signage anywhere to tell us where the elevators were. So we used the escalators. In empty Crystal City. AFter we finally got to the platform the manager announced over the PA to use the elevators. Sure, where are they?

by rdhd on Sep 28, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

MARTA's rush hour headways are 15 minutes. That's worse than WMATA's Saturday headways.

MARTA's ridership base, funding structure, and governing structure are all major reasons that the agency charges differently. And while I think these concerns are overblown, ask just about anyone from Metro Atlanta about MARTA, and they'll tell you they've never seen a more wretched hive of scum an villainy.

And Star Wars references aside, I'm serious. Atlantans think MARTA is the best example of mismanagement and waste since someone invented the Federal Government.

I relied on MARTA daily for transport for 4.5 years. And I'd take WMATA over it any day.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 28, 2010 11:46 am • linkreport

@Stanton Park:
Bicycle riders are not permitted to use the shuttles provided for the elderly and disabled in the event of an elevator outage. If they can't use the escalators or stairs, they have to use regularly scheduled buses or ride their bikes to the next station.

Regarding the College Park station manager, I think she might need retraining. The last time I boarded the Metro with my bike at College Park, she yelled at me to use the elevator (which I had every intention of doing from the get-go) before I'd even used my SmarTrip card to enter the faregate.

She was very aggressive, and all I was doing was rooting around in my bag for my SmarTrip. At least wait until someone breaks the rules before getting angry. And if you're just giving advice, no need to be aggressive.

@Stanton Park: (re: "tragically")
The PIDS signs have no relation to train protection (signaling). I explained how the train control system works here:

by Matt Johnson on Sep 28, 2010 11:53 am • linkreport

Just a tip.
When I was bike commuting regularly and had a tire issue (flat/broken spoke) that I couldn't fix on site--and I would have had to wait until after hours to take my bike home on the Metro--I would just take the wheel home and leave my bike at work (thankfully, we had an indoor bike room), Metro back to work the next day and ride home with my fixed bike that evening.
Sometimes all you need is the wheel--not the whole bike. And you can carry your wheel on Metro anytime.

by Steve O on Sep 28, 2010 12:03 pm • linkreport

I guess WMATA is still smarting from the criticism they got for turning off NextBus when it was inaccurate, so they have decided to keep the inaccurate PIDs working despite their uselessness.
When it was inaccurate? Judging from my experience this morning, Nextbus is still out of whack. One bus line projected not to arrive for 15 minutes came a block away while I was waiting for another bus line that was supposed to come in 4 minutes and showed up in 10.

I thought the PID was a Red Line problem until I took the Blue/Orange line recently. Same problems.

by Lou on Sep 28, 2010 12:08 pm • linkreport

Spot the cognitive dissonance:

Some people: "WMATA/DDOT/whoever shouldn't try new things/change things without consulting the people/leaders/experts! Not doing so is just wasting taxpayer/rider dollars!"

Same people: "WMATA should replace the PIDs IMMEDIATELY at whatever cost it takes!"

Hysteria is not productive. You're already in the Metro, are you going to turn around and leave because the train is six minutes away instead of three? Yes, it sucks that they aren't working well right now. That doesn't mean we should spend a bunch of money to replace them with some kind of ad delivery BS that basically shows ads with one line of train information. Seems to me that would be worse than nothing at all.

by MLD on Sep 28, 2010 12:09 pm • linkreport

That bike letter really makes me mad. Follow the rules and use the elevator. It's people like the letter writer who give the impression that bicyclists think rules should only apply to other modes of transportation. There are only nine common sense rules you need to follow when bringing your bike on the train.

I ride on Metro with my bike every week. Having to use the elevator isn't any kind of hardship.

by jcm on Sep 28, 2010 12:23 pm • linkreport

@jcm: Having to use the elevator isn't any kind of hardship.

Certainly it introduces a big delay. You might say it's a price people have to pay, but it definitely a lot less convenient.

The rules you link to don't say no bikes on the stairs. Is this an actual rule, or not?

by David desJardins on Sep 28, 2010 12:32 pm • linkreport

@jcm - both commenters you're so sore at looked for the elevator and couldn't find it.

When escalators are not running are they then considered stairs on which a bike may be carried?

by Tina on Sep 28, 2010 12:37 pm • linkreport

RE: Bikes in stations

OK, read both what David wrote:

"Doug replied that the station manager could have let the cyclist use the escalator or stairs if the elevator were out and it were safe. The rules are designed for safety. If its wheels are on the ground and the owner is holding it, it's not much of a risk to other riders, whereas if it's on an elevator or escalator, the owner could drop it and it could fall onto others. "

So the official word is: use the elevator if you can. If you can't, use the stairs or escalator IF IT IS SAFE. That means don't ride a crowded escalator with your bike, don't charge through a crowd of people on the stairs with your bike, and don't run down the escalator/stairs while portaging your bike in order to rush into that train that's on the platform. Be safe!

I've carried my bike on the escalator before; it's hella awkward. I could see how Metro would be worried about someone losing their balance or dropping their bike and having it careen through the people riding below the cyclist on the escalator.

Seriously you guys are hemming and hawing over the semantics of this word and that word in some official Metro policy about bikes. All for what, so you can avoid, God forbid, a Metro station manager yelling at you! Perish the thought. It's not even as if they're going to give you a ticket.

by MLD on Sep 28, 2010 12:50 pm • linkreport

@MLD: It's not even as if they're going to give you a ticket.

What do you think they are going to do? My guess is that if you disregard the express instructions of the station manager they will probably call the cops to have you arrested. It would be awfully helpful, in that case, to have evidence that as to what the actual Metro policy is.

by David desJardins on Sep 28, 2010 12:53 pm • linkreport

Hey, I'm just impressed a station manger got out of her booth. Last time, I saw a woman fall and the metro escalator, hurt herself, and the manager couldn't be bothered to come out.

by charlie on Sep 28, 2010 12:58 pm • linkreport

Look here.

"Cyclists shall be required to use elevators to access mezzanines and platforms. Escalators and stairs shall not be used except when special requests (for emergency reasons) have been granted by Metro Station Managers, Metro Transit Police or city/county police or fire officials."

by duschinsky on Sep 28, 2010 1:00 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson, I was boarding a train at National Airport last March and a couple of men in suits complained that Metro's trains were "much rattier" than MARTA's. I said over my shoulder that MARTA's trains were pristine because no one rides them.

by Steve S on Sep 28, 2010 1:23 pm • linkreport

The PIDs have been off by 2-4 minutes for months, if not years. Why are we discussing it now? Anyway, they're better than nothing. At least you know whether your train is coming within the next few minutes, something you can't say about the NYC system.

by OX4 on Sep 28, 2010 1:37 pm • linkreport

at some point we'll get to the discussion about WMATA employees not treating customers like pieces of sh*t. we are customers and guests, and captives, so we should always be treated with the utmost respect. we should not ever have to brook any kind of bs from any WMATA employee -- ever.

WMATA employees can 'defend themselves' and all that, but they should not ever be permitted to be rude to a customer/guest/rider. ever. so there must be a formal complaint mechanism that is taken seriously and deals out harsh consequences.

in my book, any WMATA employee who wants to be rude, is on paid suspension while an investigation happens. if it is found that the employee was rude to a guest/rider, then the person is given the option to apologize to the rider, publicly, and then the employee may be given the option to keep their job. a second offense and they're gone -- that's it.

we don't ride transit just so we can be treated like shit, imbeciles, kids, or any other way but with the utmost respect.

WMATA and _all_ public transit agency staff behavior needs to change, and we need to institutionalize the change in employment/labor contracts, rules, hiring processes, etc.

life on public transit needs to be about more than just trying to avoid the wrath of some jerky public transit agency employee.

by Peter Smith on Sep 28, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

@Peter Smith

Given that WMATA can't seem to manage to fire (and not end up reinstating with back pay) employees for serious safety violations (texting while operating a bus or train, opening the doors on the wrong side or while the train is still partially in the tunnel, punching out McGruff the Crime Dog, etc) it seems unlikely to Jackie "Apparently, you believe in slavery" Jeter and the ATU would allow them to fire employees merely for being rude.

After all, we are talking about the organization that has publicly stated that it is unreasonable to expect them to ensure that all their bus drivers actually have valid drivers licenses.

by Jacob on Sep 28, 2010 2:28 pm • linkreport

@ David desJardins: It does not introduce a big delay, unless you think a minute or two counts as a big delay.

@ Tina: If you can't find the elevator, ask the station manager. Every station has one.

@Everyone looking for a loophole wondering if stairs count: The rules I linked say "Use the elevator at all times." How hard is it to figure out what that sentence means?

by jcm on Sep 28, 2010 3:54 pm • linkreport

If you are outside the station and you cannot find the elevator, how do you get downstairs to ask the station manager where it is?

Bethesda is an excellent example. The elevator is two blocks away, hidden behind the streetwall.

Or how about this. You've just walked up Vermont Avenue and at U Street you see escalators going down into the Metro. You don't see an elevator. You don't know whether the station is under U Street or Vermont Avenue or 10th Street. So not only do you not know what street to walk down, you don't know which direction to walk down whichever street it is.

If you happened to walk east on U, for instance, you'd never find the elevator. (It's in the 1200 block of U).

At Dupont Circle, it comes up pretty close to the Q Street (north) escalators, but good luck finding it if you're on 19th just south of the Circle (where the south entrance is).

by Matt Johnson on Sep 28, 2010 4:00 pm • linkreport

@ Matt Johnson What do people in wheelchairs do? I'm pretty sure they don't just roll down the stairs because the elevator's location isn't immediately apparent. I guess you need to plan ahead a bit and check the website for the elevator location. Or you might need to circle a block or two. You're on a bike. If you can't find the elevator in 2 or 3 minutes you probably aren't trying very hard.

If you want to argue that Metro needs better signage for elevators then knock yourself out. They could put the closest elevator location on the brown M poles. But that's a very different argument than the "go ahead and break the rule if it's not convenient" argument.

by jcm on Sep 28, 2010 4:09 pm • linkreport

I didn't say that anyone should break the rule.

I simply asked you how someone who does not know where the elevator is gets downstairs to ask the station manager where it is. That was the only solution you offered to people who did not know where the elevator was.

And then I gave several examples of locations where the elevator is not easily found.

I did not specify whether the person looking for the elevator was on a bike. I was actually thinking about someone who, for whatever reason, could not use the escalator.

I have taken my bike on one escalator ever on transit period. It was a few weeks ago at Fort Totten, where I was changing trains. (The bike ride from West Hyattsville to Takoma is not short. Nor is the ride from Petworth to Brookland.)

I waited patiently at the bottom of the escalator until it was empty and no one was approaching. And then I went up it. I was not aware at the time I boarded the train that the elevator was out.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 28, 2010 4:15 pm • linkreport

Yes, I think a minute or two on every trip (at each end) is a very considerable delay. If you add 3 minutes per trip, that's the equivalent of replacing 5 minute headway with 11 minutes. Such reductions in service have a big effect on ridership and utility of transit.

by David desJardins on Sep 28, 2010 4:39 pm • linkreport

@JCM - the commenters specifically said they had to use the metro unexpectedly because of a flat/chain off, which means they weren't planning to ride the metro and they were unfamilair with the station.

Someone in a chair knows beforehand he/she will need to know where all the elevators are.

As to your comment about "always use the elevator" -well, what if the elevator is out of service?

I'm finding your attitute about an occassional need to get to the platform by other means then the elevator exceptionally ungenerous.

by Tina on Sep 28, 2010 4:47 pm • linkreport

@ Matt Johnson Sorry if I was snippy. It's been a long week (and it's only Tuesday). I suspect most people who have to use escalators have learned to plan ahead in general. The elevator locations for each station are on the website.

@ David desJardins Well, I guess you and I have different definitions of considerable delay. Using the elevator only adds three minutes on each end if you have really bad luck waiting for the elevator twice, and are capable of teleporting to the platform. Otherwise, you have to subtract the time spent on the escalator, and use an average wait time rather than assuming the worst case. In general, I find the elevator adds less than a minute on each end.

by jcm on Sep 28, 2010 4:54 pm • linkreport

The answer to all this is obviously bike escalators! Everyone's happy.

by jyindc on Sep 28, 2010 5:06 pm • linkreport

With regards to finding elevators at street-level, don't all Metro station pylons at street corners have informational signs posted to them that gives the location of the accessible entrance? The ones that I've actually looked at closely do. They're not conspicuous, but they are there.

by Colonial on Sep 28, 2010 6:57 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson, the location of the elevator is clearly stated in Braille on a very small plaque mounted on a brown station-marker post.

by Turnip on Sep 28, 2010 7:06 pm • linkreport

Why does WMATA refer to riders as customers instead of passengers or riders that shows ultimate disrespect and not caring about the riders.


You are assuming everybody has internet which is far from true.

I do agree that people could look around but WMATA does need to give locations to elevators at the entrance to escalators.

A good plan would be to list the directions to the station's escalators and elevators on all buses stops within the station and for bus stops close to the elevator plus all entrances to the station.

Matt Johnson has a good point about Bethesda the first time I went there I was with a person in a wheelchair; we had just gotten off of a bus and went to the hotel elevator which is maybe 10 or 15 feet from the bus stops an noticed a sign that said this is not a elevator to the metro station. We could not find the elevator to the station and ended up just turning around getting back on the bus and while on the bus we saw the elevator.

by kk on Sep 28, 2010 7:16 pm • linkreport

@kk: Why does WMATA refer to riders as customers instead of passengers or riders that shows ultimate disrespect and not caring about the riders.

Huh? What am I missing? "Customer" seems a higher level of respect than "rider". "Customer" implies a choice to use this particular service; if you don't treat your customers right, you lose them. "Rider" is anyone who rides the service, whether they are happy with it or they just have no choice.

by David desJardins on Sep 28, 2010 7:23 pm • linkreport

@ David desJardins

Passenger, rider or commuter would be better since WMATA is a transit company; if this was something else such as a store customer would be fine. The term customer makes people imagine you only think of them as a source of money and nothing else.

by kk on Sep 28, 2010 7:36 pm • linkreport

@kk: The term customer makes people imagine you only think of them as a source of money and nothing else.

Wow, I think nothing could be further from the truth. You can have whatever views you want, but you should know they are very idiosyncratic.

by David desJardins on Sep 28, 2010 7:40 pm • linkreport

Eh I might want the PIDs to be fixed, and if they're working on it, they're working on it. If it doesn't get fixed in 90-180 days, then I'll worry.

@David desJardins:
2 minutes is a considerable delay? Maybe in Switzerland, or Sweden, or Germany, but not in most of the world. In fact if you're in that much of a hurry, just take a cab, or wait a few minutes and when your heart attack sets in, you'll understand that 2 minutes only matters is it's life or death.

2. No, customer is a term you use only when there's a direct exchange of goods or services for money. It's usually trotted out by makeover artists aka "consultants" who think they can inject something for nothing, and still reap a huge paycheck. It's very Clintonian and Thatcherite and neither of those are good things. I'm not a customer, I'm a patient, I'm not a customer, I'm a passenger and I'm sure as hell not your customer if I'm a citizen. Money does not equal engagement and a for profit model isn't a panacea; please stop insulting my intelligence by pretending my relationship with these entities is something it's not. Corpspeak is just lying, and should be eliminated.

Prove to me that I'm a customer and we'll see. You really ought to read a book called Jennifer Government; it's a Thatcherite's wet dream.

by copperred on Sep 28, 2010 11:27 pm • linkreport

@copperred: It's very Clintonian and Thatcherite and neither of those are good things.

Wow. I have to admit that when money is abolished and everyone just rides where they want, there won't be any customers. I bet the quality of service will suffer, too.

Until then, I think it's a good thing that service providers, including governmental ones, take the view that they have to please me, the customer, rather than viewing their primary responsibility as to elected officials or unelected bureaucrats, as government agencies often do.

I'm also the customer of my children's school, and I think that's a good thing, too. Much better than having the school indifferent to whether I am satisfied or not. If it's "Clintonian" to be glad that agencies that provide services to the public have to satisfy their customers, color me guilty.

I have to admit that before this surreal experience I never would have imagined that people would be outraged that people providing them services in exchange for money would relate to them as customers. Only in America.

by David desJardins on Sep 28, 2010 11:52 pm • linkreport

What irks me here is the inconsistant nature of enforcement. Some managers don't give a crap and you can walk right by them with a bike during rush-hour and hop right on the escelator. On the other hand, I had a manager Metro Center lecture me on the mazanine for taking my bike down an escelator, but rather then just let me through and use one more escelator, he made me go BACK UP the escelator I came down and then go to the elevator entrance two blocks away. Except that the elevator entrance was broken down (clearly managers don't listen for the elevator outage updates)... I ended up just going to Gallery Place instead. I understand that bikes can pose a safety issue on escelators if not carried properly by their owners... but it seems to me that minimal risk may be more prefereable than wasting the elevators on one person who doesn't likely need the elevator (thus taking it one trip closer to breaking down on those who need it). It's been my observance that at least 80% of people taking bikes on Metro are more than capible of safely carrying their bike on the escelators. I am able to carry my bike in such a manner that doesn't block the left side even.

Station Managers ought to be more concerned with keeping their faregates working, ensuring that the direction of escelators is consistent with the traffic flow, and keeping crowd flow under control--not wasting time inconsistantly enforcing less-important rules!

by Matt on Sep 29, 2010 11:48 am • linkreport

I drive.

by Nanny Nanny Boo Boo on Sep 29, 2010 2:13 pm • linkreport

In the BART system in the San Francisco Bay Area you can take your bike on the elevator or carry it on the stairs. You're generally not supposed to use the escalator, but if the station is empty and you use the escaltor the station managers don't seem to give you a hard time. Almost everyone uses the stairs for their bikes, unless they've got heavily-loaded panniers or some beastly-heavy bike, or otherwise have a hard time lifting it. In a couple of the stations they've even installed a little v-shaped "bike gutter" that runs along the side of the stairs so that you can put your wheels in the gutter and push your bike up instead of carrying it if you want to.

I've never seen or heard of anybody dropping their bike on the stairs and there are many people going up and down with bikes every day throughout that system. I can certainly see how someone could get hurt if that happened, but maybe it's just not that big a risk.

by CMT on Sep 30, 2010 10:08 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us