If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you know I have a disdain for the Metro. I’m a proud public commuter. I love taking buses and trains. I find it more cooler than driving on the beltway. I love Metro so much, it hurts that I contribute to Unsuck DC Metro, which is a great source of Metro news and fodder.
However, I saw this harmless article about why Cliff Lee chose the Phillies over the Yankees, Nationals, Rangers and others because both Cliff and his wife, Kristen, love taking the train. I could argue about DC being a more cultural than Philadelphia or that most Philly fans throws batteries, boo Santa Claus, and taser their fans:
However, I don’t blame Cliff Lee rejoining the Phillies to create the “Four Aces” lineup with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. He wants to win a World Series championship. Who can blame him?
I don’t blame the Washington Nationals because they are trying to progress as an organization and although they signed Jayson Werth, they didn’t get Werth’s best friend on that team 2 years ago.
I blame you, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
In the past few years, you not only scared people away from taken the Metro at its peak, but you have scared off potential clients, ruined businesses, forced conferences to relocate , and your transit system has killed people.
The first straw that broke the camels back was the SHRM Conference was scheduled to be in D.C. in the next year or two. However, due to “transportation issues”, the SHRM Conference is going to Las Vegas next year and Atlanta in 2012. I don’t mind traveling to Atlanta since I have friends there, but it would have been much cooler in D.C. Yes, the 2006 SHRM Conference was a mess because of the monsoon hit that week, but you couldn’t work out how the buses and trains will run (plus our incompetent drivers)? You lost 15,000 additional tourists because of that.
Another strike to your company is your trains have caused double-digit fatalities in the past few years when trains most likely injure people at best. What’s worse: people are committing suicides by just jumping off the platform and get crushed by your trains than jumping off the bridge.
To be fair, other transit systems have the same problem, but in L.A. and Boston’s case, it was incompetence by the human. In your case, it was incompetence by the machine.
The Cliff Lee thing might be small beans, but in the bigger picture, your transit system was going to be an asset to attract people to buy/rent houses and apartments and bring businesses near the Metro stations. Instead by staying on the status quo, your transit system is a liability to work out a deal.
The good thing that is happening to the WMATA board is a potential clean sweep of the whole board to bring in the new one. I do not want my board members to say:
“To an extent, it’s thankless and it’s very time-consuming,” said Maryland board member Elizabeth Hewlett, one of those who wants to step down. “Obviously no one likes to be criticized, especially when you are working so very hard.”
“Some of the comments were not well-received,” said Maryland member Gordon Linton, who decided to leave before the reports came out, but officially announced his departure Thursday. “It was wondered whether they understand how the board actually functions.”
Board member Jeff McKay and other members faulted the reports – one by a task force organized by the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the other by Metro’s Riders’ Advisory Council – for making recommendations that were unrealistic, detrimental, or reflected a lack of understanding of how the board works.
“They need someone willing to be heavily scrutinized, work for free, not have a conflict of interest, and have a schedule to devote two days of your week to this…” — Jeff McKay
Really? Two days to devote on this and you can’t do the job? Here’s what you do: Shut up, F*** the system, and do what’s best for Metro and not be a talking head for your district or state because you actually have a job the 6% of the D.C. Metro area wished they do because they are unemployed.
I want D.C. Mayor Vince Gray, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (and his right hand sock puppet, Ken Cuccinelli), and the Federal Government to get board members who are passionate about public transportation from engineers, advocates, business people, and others to can contribute to the agency. By the way, your guerrilla marketing strategy...seriously?
I rarely write blog posts like this, WMATA, but I have to because I care about public transportation and enjoy going to the Metro, but you’re at a crossroads right now. Ridership and Fare hikes are not your issue; it is how inefficient your trains and systems are. Get reliable people who know how to operate a subway station; bring innovators on the engineering and business front; and bring people who are proactive and WILL DO the job, not use the board as a resume enhancer. When you have the trains and systems in check, people will come to the Metro plain and simple, but you made this more complex than it is.
Also, I don’t want to hear about “Multi-Jurisdiction Dysfunction.” We’re a bunch of grown-ups now. If the majority of states in this country can accept tax cuts and repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” two states and the District can solve the Metro, right?
Think of this as your “Kick In The Ass!” memo, Metro. It’s time to do it and back it up. Your golden opportunity is now and it is slipping away.