Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Ten Stories of the Year: 2

Top Ten stories of the year on The 42.

Number 2: Metro Hits its Peak, Then Falls Mightily.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority started off the year flying high. After massive preparations for the inauguration, the system handled much of the record 1.8 million visitors on January 20th. Several records were set during consecutive days. The all time record of 1,120,000 trips taken on Metro rail (Jan 20th) will stand at least until the next inauguration, if not longer. On the same day over 400,000 rode Metro bus, which had altered service on all routes. The rail to Dulles project was started, in earnest, and becomes more"real" as each day goes by.

Metro moved people from all over the region into and out of downtown DC with minimal problems and no catastrophic failures.

What a huge contrast to the rest of the year. In addition to several deaths on the rails due to suicides and behind the scenes accidents, there was the awful June 11 crash. Two red line trains collided on the tracks between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations. Nine people died, including ht operator and 80 were injured. the crash crippled Metro rail for months and ended a period of increased ridership capped a generally tumultuous half a year for the agency.

While deciding not to raise fares this year, the agency declared that it will be billions of dollars in the hole over the course of the next ten years. They projected shortfalls in funding not just for capital improvements and expansion, but for basic maintenance. The June 11 crash, general slowdowns on other lines, escalator and elevator outages, and high profile suicides have virtually erased the good will garnered by Metro over the previous 18 months. There will always be Metro detractors. For arguably the best public transit system in the United States, they get a lot of flack. The move nearly a million people per day on trains and buses, for the most part without incident. But this year, they have fallen from grace in more ways than one. I hated making this the number two story of the year, but it really is an important issue for anyone living on or near the 42 bus and the 5 million people living in the metropolitan Washington area.

We need Metro to be successful. Even if you never ride its buses and trains you benefit from it an so do your neighbors. Here's to 2010 being a much safer and on time year for Metro.

Final Notes: The Inauguration Bears Down

The Sound of Two Hands Clapping for Metro

MTA Raises Fares, Metro Will Not

Red Line Accident Resonated, Even Outside of DC

Taking Names and Making Calls

Metro Leadership: Fired Up, or Just Fired?