Sunday, August 08, 2010

Riot in Washington, DC Metro

According to Washington's WTOP news radio, there was a 70-person brawl at Metro's Gallery Place station last night. I wasn't there, but I was not far away.

I came home from Reagan National Airport by DC Metro last night. Although my transfer point had been Metro Center, not Gallery Place station, it doesn't surprise me that there was a brawl on the subway last night. Things are clearly terribly out of control at Metro. The system is a complete shambles. It is a shame and a disgrace. When I moved to Washington, DC in 1991, it was beautiful, clean, safe and efficient.

Not anymore.

I felt like rioting myself when I found all the escalators to the Shady Grove platform running the wrong way, with the stations steps blocked by barricades. There were no signs, nor were any Metro personnel present to give directions. Upon making my way with a few other brave souls past the barrier to the platform, I spotted a Metro employee sitting in a chair near a police-taped closed pathway. "How do I get the northbound Red Line train to Shady Grove?" I asked him.

He would not answer.

"There are no signs," I said.

"Do you usually walk past barricades?" he finally answered angrily.

"When all the escalators are running the wrong way, and there are no signs, yes," I shouted back.

He sat in stony silence in his chair.

So, I said, "Just tell me how to get on the northbound Red Line. I pay your salary."

"You don't pay my salary," he responded.

"What's your name?" I asked him.

"I don't have to tell you my name," he said.

"I'm going to report you," I responded. "I pay your salary two ways--once in the fare, and again in my taxes as a DC resident."

"What's your name?" he asked me in reply. "Where do you work? I'm going to report you to your employer."

I gave him my name, and added that I was self-employed.

I then said, "Let's call a policeman to settle this."

"My name is John," he said.

"All trains are running on the Glenmont platform."

So, with a small group of onlookers, we transferred to a crowded southbound platform--jammed with passengers waiting on a Saturday night for trains going both northbound and southbound on a single track, running on a delayed schedule. Jammed. Unhappy.

The riot at Gallery Place, whatever may have sparked it, is clearly a symptom of the complete collapse of DC Metro's management.