Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Illustration. Via Flickr

From anonymous:
I took an unexpected trip to L'Enfant Plaza this morning (and wound up being 40 minutes late to work) all thanks to Metro.

I live in Crystal City and work in Rosslyn, so usually I take the Blue Line north to get to work. Today, however, both Blue and Yellow lines were backed up--apparently one of the rails on the Yellow Line bridge between Pentagon and L'Enfant had cracked, so they were single-tracking over the bridge.

As a result, half the Yellow Line trains were normal trains to Ft. Totten, while every other train were "special" trains to Smithsonian, which we were told--repeatedly, by the conductor--would run like a Blue Line train.

Since the platform at Crystal City was packed due to the backup, and I had to wait a ridiculously long time for any train at all to show up, I got on one of those special trains. Again, the conductor repeatedly told us that it was a special Yellow Line train to Smithsonian, so it would run like the Blue Line.

Well, you can probably guess what happened. After a start-and-stop trip through Pentagon City and Pentagon--during which there was a lot of stopping and holding and "moving momentarily"--suddenly we were outside on the Yellow Line bridge. At this point, the conductor told us the train was now a Yellow Line train to Ft. Totten.

If they were going to change the train, couldn't they have said something to us before we left Pentagon, so some of us had the chance to get off? How can they tell us they're going to take us in one direction and then, with no warning, change our destination with passengers on-board?

In the end, I had to get off L'Enfant, transfer to the Blue Line and head all the way back out to Rosslyn. Good thing I have understanding bosses, otherwise I could have lost my job.

You Give PR a Bad Name

From Bryan:
I'm sorry, but is it too much to ask Metro to have someone on its overpaid, oversized communications team take 15 minutes to write up a quick press release summarizing the dramatic changes to SmarTrip/SmartBenefits in 2012?

I mean seriously, these were pretty major changes and left a lot of people scratching their heads. Did anyone else see the lines at the Metro office in Metro Center?

And yes, I realize Metro was forced to make the changes, and I realize this has been in the works for some time, but the communication was terrible, nay inexcusable.

I heard several people at work talk about Metro "stealing" their money, and my employer was pretty good about letting us know what was coming. Apparently, not all were the same as Twitter was lit up with many slamming Metro.

Way to let your rep sink even lower, Metro. And for no reason. Talk about low hanging fruit and a missed opportunity.

I think at least a friendly reminder (press release) about changes to SmarTrip would have been merited-- as well as a tweet or two before the holidays to reinforce it.
Heck, even after the fact, Metro could have linked to/tweeted the Examiner article, which did a pretty good job of summarizing the changes.

I mean Metro goes apesh*t, over the top nutso advertising over track work with those stupid and probably super expensive banners at all the stations, but this was an even bigger change to the status quo and for many, many more people, but Metro was silent. I went back over their Twitter feed--nada. Same on the website. WTF?

Just what are we paying these people to do? Where the hell is "^BA" anyway? Isn't he getting paid some exorbitant amount of money to tweet? Write a press release dude.

A major change how things work, a super suspicious ridership who thinks they're being ripped off, and ZILCH from Metro.

I'm not a PR professional, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, I know Metro failed big time with this. It's as if they don't value their riders one bit.

I can almost see the conversation in the Metro PR department now.

Someone: Should we advertise the big changes coming to SmarTrip to our riders again?
Someone else: Nah, F*ck 'em.

Isn't that pretty much the whole Metro attitude about everything?

The whole communications team should be embarrassed, but I know embarrassment is not an emotion many Metro employees are familiar with.
Other items:
Metro, union prepare to face off for contract negotiations (Examiner)