Friday, January 25, 2008

No Rail to Dulles? Forget it. As Long As We Get the TVs.

Looks as if the Feds just threw another sucker-punch to DC and embattled Metro. The Federal Transit Administration cast some major league doubt onto the Dulles/Tyson's extension yesterday, leaving Virginia officials with tons of questions and the ugly prospect of going directly back to square one. Talk about a failure to communicate. The Feds had the Commonwealth of Virginia and the constituent localities jumping through all kinds of hoops in their quest to extend the Orange Line through Tyson's Corner and to Dulles International Airport. Virginia and the counties had appeared to do their due diligence. Just as it began to extend the contract to receive a $900 million rubber stamp, Virginia got shanked in the exercise yard by the Feds. After meeting the goals laid out by the FTA , Virginia, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and WMATA were demeaned for not having a coherent plan, not having enough experience and appearing too weak to complete and administer such a project. See the full beatdown here. That's really too bad. I was looking forward to taking that 1.5 hour train ride from Mt Pleasant to Dulles for my next flight. I guess I won't be able to experience that for a while, maybe another 15 years. However... I may be able to watch ads, upon ads, upon ads, all in glorious, moving pictures the next time I ride the train.

You've probably seen the preliminary images of that the new 7000 Series batch of Metro rail cars will look like. Its not a done deal yet, but Metro is definitely working to upgrade rail cars before the next buying spree. There are some of the photos below. The Metro press release states that "The new rail maps will be on LCD monitors. Passengers could also see advertisements and passenger information on the screens." Are they kidding? I know the LCD screens will show ad supported ads. No useful information whatsoever. Just a source of advertising revenue. Take a look a the new PATH train to the left. PATH will start using thier TV cars very soon. To be honest, the TVs are a necessary evil; giving lots of $$$ in the form of ad revenue, but possibly annoying passengers like the TVs at the Chinatown arch. I do like the new interior look of the Metro 7000 Series cars. They are sleek and clean cars, seemingly built to accommodate more passengers. Metro has seen the light and gotten rid of the carpet and puffy seats. They've added larger windows and repositioned doors to allow for a better flow of passengers. And there are spring-loaded ceiling handles! For all the shorter an unsteady riders, this is gold. And it just looks cool. Good job Metro. Not perfect, but pretty good.