Talkin’ Transit: Labor Pains

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘nevermindtheend’


I’m sure that’s the most common reaction by Blue and Yellow line riders who read Metro’s press release yesterday; it certainly seemed to be the tone set by commenters and blogs around the area.

Now, normally I’m one of the first detractors of Metro’s policies of late and yes, that was close to my initial reaction as well. It put a crimp into my own weekend plans, including a beloved relative flying in/out of DCA. But then I stopped to think about it.

It’s actually a good thing.

No, really!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘nevermindtheend’

The extent of repair work across those three stations is extensive. Four switches are being replaced along with the entire interlocking series at Pentagon City, plus concrete and deck joint repairs along Reagan’s overhead structure. Over 2,000 feet of rail and 735 feet of ties are also being replaced as well as extensive fire line maintenance. It’s quite the laundry list of repair work.

Work that necessitates three days to complete. The best time to do it, as I can see, is now, rather than over the Thanksgiving day extended weekend – easily the busiest travel time of year for those who fly. Or better yet – can you imagine the uproar if Metro decided to close those three stations during normal work / rush hours? Inconceivable! (Which is probably why Columbus Day weekend wasn’t chosen, as it’s not a federal holiday for many and would be more painful for area workers.)

While the work might be permissable during regular weekend hours, most likely we’d be seeing a series of weekends with one or more of the listed stations closed. Which would be worse – a mix of these stations closed several weekends in a row, or done in one fell swoop, like ripping off a band-aid at high-speed?

So while it’s easy to slam WMATA for what many are calling a ginormous mistake, I’m not joining in. Considering I ride the Blue line across those rails at least ten times a week, I can deal with a weekend without service so I don’t end up a casualty in a Metro “rail disruption.”

For those of you who are affected by it, I suggest you study WMATA’s suggestions for alternate travel at the bottom of their press release. Or better yet, rent a ZipCar.

Metro certainly has made some serious gaffes lately, but I’m not counting this one against them. They get a ‘free ride’ from this blogger – for now.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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7 thoughts on “Talkin’ Transit: Labor Pains

  1. Metro could have smoothed things over by sending out their press release a few more weeks in advance. I have a hunch this decision wasn’t just made yesterday.

  2. True. But I had a feeling it was coming anyway, since they’d posted their August disruption schedule way back at the end of July. I suspect they thought they may have gotten done before Labor Day (which is why they didn’t post it) but with the crappy weather one weekend and the unfortunate track deaths on another, it probably became apparent it needed done over this weekend.

    And considering the “high command” over there, it’s indeed quite possible they made the decision yesterday. (It would totally not surprise me if we found out that was the case.)

  3. According to WP: “The closures are the result of long-planned track work, Metro said, and are not related to the June 22 accident that killed nine people on the Red Line.”

    While this smells like typical WMATA CYA, if that’s their line then they need to explain why public disclosure was not a bigger part of these “long-planned” closures.

  4. Oh, agreed. WMATA’s communications procedures is absolutely horrible; the way this weekend’s notice came about is par for their course. They need a PR revamp – and that should include classes on how to interact with the public on a basic level.

    And they wonder why people (like me) hammer them all the time…

  5. Agree. I rant about their complete lack of communications, both electronic/new media and traditional media, all the time on Moving Momentarily (well I used to when I actually blogged enough there). Why the hell can they not hire someone who an ounce of professional communications experience and turn that VERY EASY party of the puzzle around?

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