The Tracks Ahead

I’m not going to talk about the bitter cold this morning. It’s too depressing to even think about. Instead, I’m going to write about Metro’s precarious position, which is only slightly less painful. Our transit system, now in the hands of its fourth chief in 12 months, is suffering from planning difficulty for its expansion to Dulles, suffering from derailments and accidents that are literally killing people, is behind on its budget, to the point where another fare hike will likely be in the cards for the next few months.

Metro’s cutting back on bus services to area neighborhoods, in some cases cutting routes altogether and severing the transit lines that bind this community. Extended service has turned into a bit of a joke, as few trains run late until after the bars close. Worse still, the Board that runs Metro turned away its single greatest champion and the only shining light in its plan: Dan Tangherlini. The calculated snub by board members, including Arlington’s own Chris Zimmerman, likely was the breaking point at which Tangherlini realized all his hard work wasn’t appreciated by the board and he was unlikely to become the permanent chief.

Stories like Jeff Harrell’s status quo Metro are more and more the common tale for Metro: “For reasons passing understanding, Metro likes to run short trains on the blue line during rush hour. Like really short. Like four cars short. Like “Let the midget sit on your shoulders so we can cram one more person aboard” short.” But with Metro squandering money left and right, it doesn’t look like we’ll see more eight car trains on the Blue line, or the Red line or the Yellow or Green lines any time soon. Instead, we’ll all be packed in like sardines, on cars that may well derail, settling for trains every ten minutes during rush, and paying $10+ for a day’s parking at the garages that are supposed to help unclog the roads.

Metro’s at a tough spot in its history, and it’s got a long way to go in my eyes before it’s out of the woods. Good luck, John Catoe, new manager of WMATA, there is much you have to do to prove that you’re fit for your $200k+ salary.

Edit: No sooner do I post this than I read about a fire at Farragut North this morning. We may be in more trouble than I had thought.

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