Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Smoke-filled L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station - And you thought your commute was bad...

A new year, and a new pledge to bring bigger and better (hopefully) content to this blog.

**Disclaimer** - This post was not meant to belittle those who have lost their lives on our Metro system, nor was the intention to poke fun of a serious situation.  It was meant to voice years of frustration the Metro can't get its act together.  My apologies to those who might be offended by my comments.

On top of the sub-freezing temperatures the Washington metro area has been experiencing yesterday, commuters experienced a tunnel full of smoke just past the L'Enfant Plaza station.  Passengers were trapped on the smoke filled trains for up to 40+ minutes with no electricity leaving one casualty.  Preliminary reports from the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the incident on "an electrical arcing event" which occurred about 1,100 feet in front of the train. 

I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE...if the train came to a stop, lights went off, smoked appeared, especially if my kids were with me??  I would go into full panic mode.  It just further affirms my reluctance to ride our metro!  Growing up in the metro area, I've had my share of metro rides, mostly to go downtown.  As I grew older and experienced other city's public subway systems, I realized...I HATE RIDING THE METRO?  I will avoid it at ALL costs.  But why? What is it that makes me detest our area's beloved public transportation system?  Let me count the ways...

1. IT SMELLS - I ask you, thousands of commuters ride the trains in all types of gross East Coast weather.  Compile thousands of commuters into a small enclosed space, BOOM smells galore.  And to further magnify this, some genius Metro executive decides, "wouldn't it be homey-er to install carpets in the train cars"? Um, EWWW, GROSS.  The result is the smell of BO, dirt, dog, germs galore!

2. It's EXPENSIVE - Leaving from Moco, you first have to park the car in a metro lot ($5), buy a metro card ($1?), pay for the metro fee ($ varies depending on destination), AND time of day (which is absolutely rediculous).  Not only is there PEAK fare, there's PEAK PEAK fare!  Even with all this nickel and diming, the Metro still manages to be bankrupt.  I heard on NPR from a former board member speaking about Metro's financial situation.  It seems the budget allows for new expansions such as the much anticipated Silver Line yet there is almost no funds allowed to retrofit/update the existing lines.

3. LONG METRO ESCALATORS - Maybe it's my laziness but have you seen those neverending escalators?  The Bethesda station comes to mind...and what pisses me off more than those long escalators?  When those escalators aren't WORKING, which is 50% of the time.

4. HOURS - Back in my 20s, the metro was a great way to avoid driving after a long night of drinking.  But wait, Metro doesn't run past MIDNIGHT on weekdays?? CRAP! No Uber to bail you out back in those days.  You were trapped downtown with no way back to the burbs!  But in all seriousness, how can downtown DC expect to be taken seriously with its "pedestrian friendly" initiatives by ending the Metro system at midnight? (Paging Cinderella...your carriage, err, pumpkin, awaits)

5. SAFETY - And the most important (in my opinion - dejavu to the Good Wife).  Including yesterday's fatality, 10 people have died from Metro related incidents (not including those who have out of their free will jumped in front of metro trains) in the past 5 years. In June of 2009, a moving metro train collided with a train stopped ahead of it causing the train operator and 8 passengers die.

If you had the choice between driving or metro-ing, what would you choose?

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