Photo from Elvert Barnes on flickr.
Unlike its off-peak trains, Metrorail’s rebuilding program is moving full steam ahead. When will it actually be done?
After years of deferred maintenance, WMATA is neck deep with major track work every weekend. The work is clearly necessary for Metrorail’s long term viability, but it’s awful for riders now.
With headways approaching 1/2 hour, weekend service is maddeningly inconvenient. God help anyone needing to transfer.
Part of the problem is there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Riders don’t know how long they’ll have to put up with construction. There have been vague references to 2017 as when Metro may return to normalcy, but most riders haven’t heard that, and those who have don’t know what it actually means.
Thus, the Washington Post today published an editorial calling on WMATA to publish deadlines, so the riding public has a better idea of what to expect.
Highway agencies publish deadlines for road work. Maryland’s MTA published deadlines when it closed portions of Baltimore’s light rail in 2004. Why can’t Metro?
Deadlines “inspire confidence,” says Post writer Robert Thomson, “especially when they are met.”
Unfortunately, WMATA General Manager Richard Sarles so far refuses. In a 2012 Google+ Hangout that the Washington Post organized, Greater Greater Washingotn’s David Alpert and Michael Perkins asked Sarles to give more specifics about the timeline for rebuilding; he declined.
With respect to Mr. Sarles and to the complicated problems he’s charged with solving, that’s not good enough. Metro exists to serve customers, and it’s not serving them well right now.
The long term viability of the system depends as much on the good faith of riders as it does on the status of tracks. We know Metro has to be rebuilt, and that doing so means some inconveniences. Most of us can live with that. But the more confident we are that this painful time will end someday, the better we can support Metro in the meantime.
Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.