Thursday, July 1, 2010

Suicide and More Make a Tough Week for Metro

Metro was already pressed this week, instituting a complicated fare increase across all levels of transit services. No one really expected the roll out to go 100% trouble free, but this week was especially challenging and sad.

Metro operated normally Sunday despite a computer glitch. The computers weren't calculating the new fares for paper fare cards correctly. Not too big of a deal and I'm sure most people didn't notice. Plus, who complains about getting a lower fare than advertised?

Later came news of a legal snafu involving a home that WMATA is attempting to sell. OK. They'll eventually solve that issue. Paperwork.

But Monday was a grim day with another apparent suicide. Details are still elusive at this point. But, it appears that a person "intentionally placed themselves on the tracks," in Metro parlance, and died; although not struck by a train. If determined a suicide, it'd be the sixth suicide at a Metro facility in 2010. Just sad. Oddly, this incident occurred nearly a year to the day of another suicide on the Red Line

Based on the media I have consumed, I get the gist that Metro was not blamed for the suicide, but for the response. The most notable were not allowing passengers off of the affected idle train and lack of communication to passengers about wait times as well as train and bus status.

I tend to give a little more leeway to the transit system in this scenario because I'd rather energy be focused on saving a life than anything else. On the other hand, with 10,000+ employees, someone has to be dedicated to offering information to stranded passengers. And leaving some of the passengers on the powerless train: under the circumstances that I understood to be true, it seems like Metro made the wrong decision. I wasn't there and certainly don't have all the inside knowledge.

For an agency with a declining image over the last 18 months, not much else could go wrong. Well... it certainly could, but let's not even think about going there. Let's hope they get it together and can survive the next few years with the rest of us until the economy turns and we get our priorities list back in relative order.