Let’s go to the Metro

March 18, 2009
Final Update:  U-turns are authorized!  Hazzah!
Further Update:  Supposedly there was a meeting between the Metro people and the shuttle people on Monday to try and figure out a solution to the problem of too many shuttles at the Metro stops.  The solution currently being implemented is that any shuttle under 27 ft can enter the kiss and ride but any shuttle longer than 27 ft has to pick up and drop off on Eisenhower Ave.  It remains to be seen whether or not U turns will be authorized. 
Another update:  Dr. Gridlock has responded to my query!  His response courtesy of Metro:  We love shuttle riders but there are too many of you, so until we figure out how to deal with you, you’re screwed.
Update:  Apparently an interim decision has been made that allows the shuttle drivers to drop off and pick up passengers at the Kiss and Ride – the catch is that the shuttles cannot loiter, meaning that you either time boarding the shuttle just right or you wait 15 minutes for the shuttle to return so that you can then reattempt a running leap onto the shuttle while it is still moving in order to prevent any loitering from occurring. 
Today was one of those days that really taxes your faith in humanity and unfortunately, it all took place while riding the Metro.  It started when the shuttle I take in the morning was forced to drop us off on the street near the metro stop, since WMATA has decided that shuttles can no longer pickup/drop off passengers on metro property.  This all started a few months ago when Metro made the decision that all shuttles had to drop off and pick up passengers on the bus loading side, instead of the Kiss and Ride side as they had been doing for years prior. I didn’t consider this a big deal and all seemed to be going fine until yesterday when it was announced that shuttles can no longer enter the Van Dorn metro property and instead must pick up and drop off passengers on Eisenhower Ave.  Again, not the end of the world, but it was beginning to become irritating. 

It finally came to a head last night when one of our shuttle drivers got a ticket while attempting to follow his instructions to pick people up at the Kiss and Ride, which he had been told was now allowed by WMATA.  As more and more disgruntled passengers embarked onboard the shuttle from the Eisenhower Ave spot (since they had not been notified to do otherwise), more and more people began to voice their unsolicited opinions regarding the reasons behind WMATA’s decision, new policies, emails that had been sent out, and the normal things people complain about when their routine has been upset.  All of these rumblings convinced the driver that he should go back to the Kiss and Ride to pick up the passengers who were under the impression that the Kiss and Ride was now, once again, the designated, WMATA approved, pickup/drop off spot.  As the shuttle driver entered the lot, he was immediately pulled over by a cop who promptly had him turn off the shuttle and issued the driver a ticket.  My entire role in this process was passive, as I was quietly sitting there on the shuttle, enjoying my post-work, pre-gym meditation session, until it occurred to me that the shuttle wasn’t going anywhere for a long time.  Without interrupting my peace of mind, I simply stood up, walked off the shuttle, and walked home.  Problem solved, or so I thought.  This morning I learned that the shuttles were still restricted from entering the Van Dorn Metro lots but would also not even be allowed to use the bus loading area to make a U-turn, forcing them to go down Eisenhower Ave in search of a place to make a U-turn, effectively adding an additional 10-15 minutes to the total trip time.  We have now officially entered the land of the ludicrous, and WMATA is its reigning monarch.

Old vs. New routes

Old vs. New routes

My question is, “Given Metro’s financial troubles and desire to attract more riders, why is it making it so difficult for their riders to get to the station? Is it because the bus drivers and taxi cab drivers have more clout than the shuttle drivers or is it part of Metro’s plan to force shuttle riders to use Metro buses to get to the stations, effectively placing more money in Metro’s pockets?”  Either way, it’s quite irritating and does nothing but display the inept leadership that Metro riders are continually forced to endure.  And to make it worse, I really like Metro!  I’m not one of those people that finds fault with every decision WMATA makes, in fact, I think the system works rather well!  But this decision I simply can’t understand and can only hope the people will rise up and restore logic and reason to the land of Metro. 


Anyways, to wrap up why today destroyed my faith in humanity, or at least the portion that rides and operates Metro, once I got on the train, there were no seats because an Army guy decided that he didn’t need to move his bag off the seat to make room for people to sit down.  Way to go, jackass.  Then, once a seat did open up, the fat ass sitting there refused to honor the sacred space between the two seat cushions, effectively crushing my small frame against the armrest.  In dire need of commuting therapy, I sought out the sage consul of Dr. Gridlock from the Washington Post and am anxiously awaiting his prognosis.
Location of the different pickup/drop off points. All in all, not that big a deal, until the decision was made to not allow the shuttles to use the lots to make a U-turn. See next pic for the consequences of this decision.

Location of the different pickup/drop off points. All in all, not that big a deal, until the decision was made to not allow the shuttles to use the lots to make a U-turn. See next pic for the consequences of this decision.


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