The View from Over Here
Last Sunday, Fran and I, along with our daughter, son and budding naturalist
grandson headed for the National Zoo in Washington, DC. We hadn’t been there for several years. And, we were not disappointed.
It seems to have grown bigger and even better—with over 2,000 animals from 400 species. It is a lovely, exotic place with animals viewable in relatively spacious, well-appointed quarters — with the possible exception of the reptiles. We thoroughly enjoyed it, although my grandson with the insatiable appetite for the animal kingdom felt, at the end of a long day, that we had not yet seen absolutely every single animal in the Zoo.
We travelled to and from the Zoo on Metro. There, the experience was not so good. I hadn’t used Metro much — if at all — this year. It seemed to have changed rather dramatically for the worse since my last travel on the system.
When we got to the Vienna Station, we conquered the business of getting fare cards and a couple of refilled Easy Passes with little difficulty. We had planned ahead, knew the cost of our roundtrip fares and had brought smaller bills to work with the machines. And, it being a Sunday, the place wasn’t jammed.
OK - until we got to the turnstiles to head down to our train. Only two or three turnstiles were working going in, and those were not working well. Several people had trouble getting their fare cards read or accepted by the machines. Some made it through after repeated attempts and changing to other entry turnstiles.
A couple of travelers just couldn’t get the cards to work, and finally succeeded in getting the attention of not-very-attentive Metro staff chatting among themselves in the kiosk ten feet away. As we headed down the escalator to the train area, one person still had not cleared the entry barrier.
On the platform, I noticed the train seemed much longer than I remembered. It had 10 or 12 cars. When we finally got rolling towards DC, I noticed that there were no announcements of the next station over the P.A. system. Another sign of slipping service.
At Metro Center, we successfully transferred from the orange line to red to get to the Zoo. On the red line train, stations were announced over the loudspeaker….I think. However, the speaker obviously had a pillow to his/her face and could not be understood.
Upon arriving at the Woodley Park station on Connecticut Avenue, we headed for the escalator up to the street. WAY UP to the street. I had thought the Rosslyn Station had the biggest escalator, but the one at Woodley Park looked quite a bit higher. So much so that we joked a bit as we rode up about how the Metro escalators were famous for breaking down, and how lucky we were that it was operating just fine. Sure enough, we had put the hex on it.
About 10 yards from the top, the escalator ground to a halt—and did not re-start. Not bad for us, we were almost at the top anyway. Way back down below, however, we could see a lot of less fortunate passengers waiting, contemplating the long climb in front of them.
On our return trip to Vienna after a really nice family day with all the animals,
we again experienced difficulty with the turnstiles. And, as the train went from station to station, the stations remained anonymous as the loudspeaker announcements continued in unintelligible mode.
Why write about the apparent decline in quality of Metro service? Perhaps I’m doing so because I realize that Metro is actually coming here to Reston very shortly and about to become a larger part of our lives—potentially. Why-O-why does it have to go to pot just as it is finally arriving in Reston?!
Who can I call or write to in order to complain about the poor service and appeal to for action? OMG, this can’t be right! The Chairman of the Metro Board
is none other than Reston overlord, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins!