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FixWMATA
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I've given your article a few days to sink in and wanted to provide my feedback (although, I'm sure after reading the comments above mine it'll be ripped to shreds). When you don't live in the "local echosystem" it's easy to take a look at what's written here and think that there are "colorful critical voices" dominating the conversation only to amplify the negative experiences of riders. I can assure you that in the case of WMATA we're all here, positive or negative comment amplification, to get our system fixed. If you haven't already read this article, a response to the article here, I recommend you do so: http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/2012/05/vinegar-or-honey-with-metro-it-doesnt.html The problem we face in Washington is an agency that thinks it does no wrong, and when it finds it does do wrong it either completely ignores it or tries to cover it up. We've found in recent years these practices lead to people dying at the hands of an undermaintained and overmanaged transit system. Just 2 weeks ago we had a derailment (the agency called it "minor") due to human error - a track technician that didn't close a switch completely. The technician was fired but in a board meeting just yesterday the board, after hearing a brief recap of the event, asked no questions. They didn't ask why the technician failed at his duties. They didn't ask if training was an issue. They didn't ask if coverage/overuse of overtime was the issue. They didn't ask a single question. Then, in the same meeting the board heard about 2 separate bus fires. In both cases the fires were due to human error - the wrong parts, installed incorrectly, leading to fires that recalled 93 buses off the street. Again, not a single question was asked - except they DID spend about 30 minutes debating how to get new buses without spending money. Again, nobody asked if there was a training issue, a software/inventory issue, or even a management issue that lead to the problem in the first place. We're dealing with an agency here that honestly believes - from top to bottom - that they can do no wrong. When voices try to convince them otherwise we're tuned out, blocked, or lied to. When the agency doesn't meet their own goals - they lower them. When they take questions from the press they only take softball questions, leading the press here to learn that only reporters that ask softball questions will get answers. More people are going to die at the hands of WMATA. If our recent derailment hadn't been at low speeds it would have caused injury or even death. These are realities we live with daily here. So, yes - I'm quite negative. In fact, I've been called the "9th angriest person in DC" by one of the papers here - a title I hold in great honor. I am angry! People are going to be hurt, or worse - die, because problems are not being fixed here. Then you come along and say we all need to be pointing out how great WMATA is? I encourage you to contact the families of the 9 people killed near Fort Totten in June 2009 and ask THEM how great they think WMATA is. The public sees a system with problems and they complain about it loudly - just watch the #WMATA tag on Twitter if you want to see any of it. Yet, nobody (and I mean NOBODY) from the public comes to meetings unless it involves accessibility issues. Even when WMATA raises fares, as they just did, only the accessibility crowd showed up to fight it during the vote. Community forums also have poor turnout. My goal, as a colorful local critic, is to channel the anger and outrage into action and get these folks to meetings, and if they can't attend meetings I'm going and am live-tweeting them so people know what's going on. I agree people like @wmataplusside have a place, as do many of the other "characters" you'll encounter in the WMATA Twitter arena. But I won't agree that transit advocates who don't live here should be encouraging people to just be nicer to WMATA. They're plenty nice enough to themselves without our help. I apologize for length here but appreciate the opportunity to respond. Thank you.
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May 11, 2012