Dear PoPville – What do folks want the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council to accomplish?


Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

Dear PoPville,

On Wednesday, the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council elected a new set of officers and started work on its plan for 2013.  While the RAC has no formal decision-making authority, it represents an important voice and advocate for riders within the Metro decision-making process.  The sprawling complexity of Metro services (MetroRail, MetroBus, and MetroAccess) requires that the RAC prioritize and focus its efforts on the issues that matter most to riders. 

People could say that we need to focus on improving a specific part of Metro’s service (rail, bus, MetroAccess), or we should hold Metro accountable on certain themes (safety, reliability, on-time performance, transparency, release of data), we could look at frequent customer service issues and complaints (track work, employee quality), or we could concentrate on future plans (preparations for the Silver Line, additional metro lines, bus service changes). Metro is such a complicated beast – in order to maximize the RAC’s efforts we really have to narrow down our list of concerns to the ones that impact the riding public the most. Everyone has their idea of what’s needed to “fix” Metro. What the RAC wants to know is where the riding public wants its (admittedly limited) leverage to be concentrated.

Our question to PoPville is:  What issues should the RAC focus on in 2013?  What does the riding public want the RAC to accomplish, given its limited mandate?

24 Comment

  • Sorry for being off-topic, but that photo is stunning. Great work again by pablo.raw!

  • I know the real time stuff has come along way but it needs to get better. I still find it pretty inaccurate and it’s frustrating when I make decisions based on it only to find out that the bus never shows up!

  • Work with non-affiliated entities like FixWMATA and unsuckmetro to document the numerous service problems affecting the entire system so that there is a fixed record of these issues.

    Convey the frustration of riders with the weekend service, or lack thereof. I no longer even debate taking the Metro on weekends because of the wait times and lack of trains, and I know I’m not alone.

    Suggest an increased law enforcement presence on trains and buses. Despite Metro’s insistence otherwise, the number of incidents, especially violent ones, within the system has become alarming. Yes, I understand we live in a city and some crime is to be expected, but there shouldn’t be roaming gangs of teenagers harassing or robbing people on trains or people getting stabbed on buses.

    Increase the number of SmartTrip only lanes at high traffic stops (Woodley Park, Metro Center, Smithsonian, etc.). These work well at the Navy Yard station and I don’t see why they wouldn’t alleviate congestion elsewhere.

    Finally, and this may only be a pet peeve of mine, please find out once and for all why we are charged if we enter and leave from the same station. I’ve unfortunately had this situation occur multiple times during the morning commute where I have entered a station, there has been some sort of track problem that prevents any trains from coming to my stop that aren’t packed to the doors, and had to leave the station to find another way to get to work on time. I’ve been charged every time despite this inconvenience, and have contacted Metro each time to ask about the policy, but have never received a response.

    There are plenty of other issues I have with Metro, but these are chief among them.

    • “Suggest an increased law enforcement presence on trains and buses. Despite Metro’s insistence otherwise, the number of incidents, especially violent ones, within the system has become alarming. Yes, I understand we live in a city and some crime is to be expected, but there shouldn’t be roaming gangs of teenagers harassing or robbing people on trains or people getting stabbed on buses.”

      Exactly. To me this should be the number 1 priority. Even when law enforcement aren’t on a specific train or bus, there should be a sense of security throughout the system at all times.

      • When I see Metro Transit Police at Metro stations, it’s usually four of them (either at L’Enfant Plaza or Gallery Place) and they’re turned inward and chatting to one another, not keeping an eye on what’s going on.

        It seems like it would be a lot more useful to spread them out, and to have some on the actual platform.

    • I never take metrorail on weekends. I’ve lived in DC since 2000. Metrorail weekend service just imploded somewhere around 2009(? – can’t remember the year). It needs to be fixed OR bus service needs to be beefed up accordingly on weekends, especially late nights!

    • The issue of being able to enter and leave a station without paying has been raised in the RAC multiple times. They are aware of the issue and sympathetic. It’s a programming issue with their system, and would take a fair chunk of money to fix – money that has been designated for other priorities. So it’s on the “wish list” but is unlikely to be addressed in the near future.

  • I want an uptown circulator bus, so I can get from Petworth to Connecticut Ave/Woodley Park/Cleveland Park, and Adams Morgan, without having to change buses!!! I know it’s not WMATA, but can we also get a share bike rack up near Sherman Circle??

  • As someone who regularly attends these meetings I have to say I was blown away by the new RAC members and very pleased to see who they elected as their leaders. There’s a good chance this RAC will accomplish good things this year!

    Last year the RAC was basically a place where WMATA employees could go practice giving public presentations – and not much more got accomplished there. This year I hope to see the RAC react to WMATA problems in a more real-time way and issue public statements showing they’re asking the Board for answers when things, like say a Saturday derailment that doesn’t get made public till Tuesday when UnSuck blogs about it, happens.

    These 21 people, selected by the WMATA Board, should not be Board “yes men”. They should be taking the Board to task as any oversight committee would. It should get to a point where the Board automatically responds to a situation with “we need to release a statement to the RAC” or “we should have someone at the next RAC meeting to explain how this happened”.

  • Kinda off topic but hey it’s a suggestion:

    I’ve recently been thinking that if we connected the Woodley Park, Columbia Heights, Petworth and Brookland stations we’d have a de facto circle line that would get a LOT of people where they want to go on both weekdays and weekends. We’d only have to build two tunnels and a bridge. A short one (plus bridge) basically west down Irving Street and a long one under the Old Soldiers Home.

    I can definitely see it being cost prohibitive but it seems like a lot of bang for the buck to me.

    Is it impossible? Too expensive?

  • Accurate information

    Working Escalators – or just more stairs, tired of having to funnel up the only up escalator at Farragut North that leads to the south exit when two trains unload at the same time.

  • Frequency.

    You should never ever have to wait 20 minutes. And during the day they have to reduce the wait times.

    I would ideally like to see no more then 10-12 minute waits anytime of the day, and 6 minute waits during off peak times during the day.

    I know that probably isnt realistic in the near term, but they have to up the frequency. I probably ride the metro 50% of the time for trips were in the past I would have. Now I metro, bikeshare or walk because I dont want to wait on a platform for ever. I hear the samething (avoiding the metro due to waits) from a lot of people it seems.

    I would also like them to treat any night prior to a federal holiday like a weekend night vs a normal week day. Especially with more bars being able to stay open later on these nights, having a late night way home via metro should be a given.

  • I ride metro nearly every day of the week, at various times of the day, transfering lines, covering a lot of Metro ground, and I can legitimately say I’ve seen a metro police officer on a train or platform maybe a dozen times in the past ~12 months.

    They have ~500 full time police officers. Even if you assumed they worked 3 fully staffed shifts during the day (they don’t, the system is closed for 5 hours most nights), thats 166 armed officers that should be “somewhere” in the system at any given time.

    We have 86 metro stations. Even if you posted 1 to every station, you still have 80 that can be riding metro buses, patroling bus stops etc, every shift of the day.

    Maybe you can ask them where they are hiding the metro police officers because I certainly never see them.

    • Not only should they be at stations, but also riding trains. Knowing that there is a trained officer on a train or one who may come on to the train at the next stop, in addition to the ones patrolling stations, may help to prevent some crime before it happens. Random bag checks are just security theater.

  • Bathrooms. Given how long it is between trains, all the kids that people take through the system, and the fact that a lot of neighborhoods don’t have public bathrooms near the station entrances, we really need this. And the secret bathroom that you have to plead with the station attendant to let you use doesn’t count.

    • trust me, you don’t want that. First of all, people will get mugged in such areas. Second, I have seen a metro bathroom (my friend showed me a picture), it was filthy. Just take a piss before you leave.

  • Metro needs: SILENT CARS like ACELA trains. Also, there should be designated BIKE Space on the last car of the train — signage would help.

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