Friday, May 6, 2016

Still Life with Robin: The Week in "Unsuck DC Metro"

Photo by Eric T. Gunther via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

The Washington Post has done an admirable job of keeping us informed about the ongoing series of Metro accidents and maintenance mishaps over the past few weeks, with dramatic, up-to-the-minute stories and videos online – like this one:   

And they’ve also done the tougher, plodding part, too, dredging over the history to put together an account of how Metro managed to descend into its present sorry state:

And then there’s Alexandra Petri, the one writer at the Post who has proven herself capable of capturing the surreal absurdity of the situation. You don’t expect this sort of thing from a columnist at a big daily paper, but in this piece, she’s got the horror-show/black comedy combination down just right:

Still, for ongoing real-time accounts of the disaster beneath our streets, nothing right now beats the continual stream of reports from riders themselves on “Unsuck DC Metro.” The Tweets and Facebook posts should be required bedtime reading for all Metro managers – and if the material keeps them up all night, so much the better! Here’s a fair sampling of the Tweets of the past few days. [A few typos have been corrected for improved readability.]

Smell of burning rubber, smoke and conductor RUNNING off of the RL train at CUA.

25 minute wait & still no @wmata train. I gave up and called @Uber. $11.45 vs $4.45, but I'll get to work on time.

This is what @wmata is referring to as a "smoke incident" [see photo]

on a 7000 car now, automatic announcements sound like auto tuned Cher song being played underwater.

I kid you not...#wmata BL train operator just called into ROCC in the middle of this crisis to complain that he was missing his lunch break.
So the pattern is: new GM, press tour/honeymoon, brace for bad news, brand #BadNews, do nothing, retire, repeat. #wmata

Wonder how much they paid a consultant to come up with "safetrack" Any idea?
….followed by this tweet in response:
they used 5 of their 70 in house social media peeps know, of the 69 that weren't doing anything.

Want more? Go to UnsuckDCMetro at – new and compelling stuff comes in all day long. But it’s not all passenger outrage and misery. There’s occasionally some wry humor in the variety of ways that Metro can and does screw up -- like this next one, from UnsuckDCMetro’s Facebook page. Doesn’t anybody at Metro read their own stuff? Or could it be that no one there actually knows how to spell “Woodley Park”?

“Woodly Park. Fly to the zoo.”

And finally, just so I can end with something about Metro that doesn’t suggest everything’s going down the tubes (and no, that’s not a reference to London’s Tube, the fourth greatest public transportation system in the world, according to CNN travel experts - see let me pass along this story of a commotion outside the Van Ness station that was NOT Metro’s fault. Hey Wally, Let’s blame this one on The Beaver! (Be sure to click on the video in the story below.)

Happier riding next week (though you’d better not get your hopes up too high)!


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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