Epitomizing what is wrong in our nation’s capital, “only take the Metro if you have no other option,” is D.C.’s unofficial slogan, reports a senior editor of The Federalist.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) recently suggested that passengers considering commuting on the transit not take DC’s Metro system and to “consider alternative travel options,” especially riders on the city’s Red line.
Alas, one brave soul did – track fires, broken escalators, entire shutdowns be damned. Against the advice of the transit authority, Christian Britschgi, an assistant editor at Reason, threw caution to the wind and took public transportation in his nation’s capital.
What could be so bad, you perhaps are wondering, After all, aren’t policy makers pouring $500 million a year into D.C.’s rail service in the hope of containing the carnage? Here’s Christian’s take:
That I did not find the transit apocalypse I was expecting does not, of course, mean that Metro’s problems are overblown: Escalators still break down with infuriating regularity (not a minor gripe with a subway system as deep as D.C.’s); track fires force periodic delays (there was one this morning); fares are up, service levels are down, and some 20 out of 91 Metro stations still need to be rebuilt (a project that will cost $300-$400 million and see some stations shut down from May to September next year).
The anemic crowds and indifferent businesses I saw today are evidence that commuters are abandoning the system in favor of increasingly abundant transportation alternatives. And that change has been a long time coming.
- Metro ridership in 2008 – a high of 750,000 weekday boardings.
- Metro ridership in 2007 – an average of 612,000 weekday boardings.
- Metro ridership in 2001 – slightly below 2007, when the D.C area had about 1.3 million fewer residents.
- In increasing numbers, residents have taken to biking, driving, and or taking rideshare services like Uber, Lyft, and Via.
Government working for the people?