Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to speak firmly and effectively online

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the engine of our economy and many businesses to promote and sell products and services online, webinars, seminars, conferences customer phone calls, video and seminar restored. Listeners and buyers often do not realize. Voice your customers want to hear the voice that sounded safe, attractive, clear and passionate, motivating and inspiring. A voice that was quiet, comfortable.
Personally, I think that everything that we sell all the time, and some people are not aware of this and take the talk as an art. "All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have to go out and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts," Shakespeare, "As You Like It"
Many of my clients, who are experts in a particular field, I'd say they just report information. What you need to know is that they also have a purpose or intention in mind, we admit it or not. At least, they want the listener to understand the information, and it should be loud enough to be heard, to speak clearly and with good speed 150 words per minute. After that, they want listeners to understand their specific meaning or interpretation of information.
It is said that if 100 players say the same line, each reading will be different, because each actor brings his life experience, and understanding of their own personal feelings line readings. Actor serious about communicating their interests, because he wanted to work.

How to communicate your vision?

Visual communication can be considered as the ideal expression represent or reflect the organization's values ​​are shared collectively. Many studies have shown that these leaders are eager to promote and communicate your vision tend to create a positive impact on employee performance, attitude and perception.
Specific basic components should be included to effectively communicate the vision. These are:

See charismatic style, strong communication, lively and confident;
Measures to support the implementation of the vision, serving as role models;
Intellectually stimulating employees and boost their confidence, while continuing to promote the vision.
A brief but pithy openly express the values ​​of leadership and energy. In this way, see the contents clearly communicate through some mental images generated opportunities than the existing reality.
When you communicate your vision, leaders must focus on strategic focus and detail your response to these changes. These include reflect the expected level of control over the vision of these changes and their relationship with employees' interests as well as a combination of needs and assets in the joint venture and cooperation.
Describing the vision in terms of mission, values ​​and objectives
Effectively communicate leadership vision must integrate mission, strategy, values ​​and objectives of the organization. Leaders must communicate their vision to combine all these elements and put them in a visual context that serves to guide future action. Communicate the vision to promote the establishment of specific objectives related to duties, which in turn influence and affect performance.

Business phone system options

Business Phone Systems are an investment in the creation of a complete telephone system for small offices. Corporate communication is the key to success and thus, it is very important to follow the latest trends and technology. For example, voice IP phone companies can save a lot of money in the community from time to time. Now that the IP telephony system based on proven to be more reliable communication, it makes sense for small businesses to use these tools effectively. In addition, the current telephone systems for small office equipment has improved, which is important for both function and send the right message. You want your office to look professional activities because customers usually make the first impression of their services when in his office in the sense that they receive. As his personal appearance, his office has a professional look to project the right image for you and your business. Appropriate technology and up-to-date may have the image you need while offering the latest technology to ensure that telecommunications are from time to time.
There are several options to choose from, including traditional PBX and key systems, Nortel, and 3Com ShorTel. Reliability traditional private branch exchange offer and scalable. It is a comprehensive platform for data confidence, which is a fully featured and designed to meet the voice communication needs of every promise. These messages offer advanced, integrated contact centers and equipment. For years, Nortel has been a staple in terms of reliability and efficiency for small business is a great solution because it is a cost effective solution for small businesses. These solutions typically combine voice, data and business applications in a unified platform. ShorTel offers unmatched scalability and management, user interface really set the standard for today's market. It is the ideal solution, because it was built without a single point of failure. It is an excellent solution for businesses of all sizes, and can be implemented smoothly scale from 1 to 10,000 users, including all characteristics. Equipment and features of this phone is unsurpassed, elegant and stylish without overbearing.
It is very important to go with a solution that provides technical support and service options to solve customer problems. Quality of service in this area is a part of the service you are buying and to ensure that there is no interruption in service or down-time, it is important that the plan is in the space for your needs. Often, a technician can be dispatched to perform repairs on site or online customer service is provided on the basis of four 27 must be in place to provide support. In today's market network downtime can cost the company a lot of money. You want to make sure you use a stable product with high reliability and limited requirements for services. When choosing a solution that you need to work with a company that understands the needs of your small business and maximize services and technology to meet the budget you have your business phone system.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

We're having a party!

Right on 6th Street where for the third year non-profit economic development company, Urban Solutions, presented their third annual "2 Blocks of Art" program last night. Regretting that you missed it? Despair not! You can catch the next one one on October 19 from 4-8pm)

This event coincides with the "24 Days of Central Market Arts Festival"  which also started yesterday and runs through October 21st. I really love these events which showcase such unique talent - art, music, performance and food - for which the City is so well known.

As most of you know, 6th Street is located in the Mid-Market district - increasingly becoming  referred to as MIDMA - I believe this acronym was coined by artist Richard Perri and you can watch on this You Tube clip about one of his public art installations. He's right he when says that MIDMA is becoming the center of the art movement in San Francisco.

And not only is MIDMA becoming the arts center of the City, there is so much positive development going on there that it's taking shape as a real community - live (new residential developments by Avalon Bay at 55 - 9th Street and Crescent  Heights at 1401 Market);   work (Twitter has moved into 1355 Market and Dolby has relocated their HQ to 1275 Market) and eat (try Pearl's Deluxe Burgers and Dottie's True Blue Cafe at 6th & Market) and entertain (The Warfield, The Orpheum, American Conservatory Theater relocating to the site of the former Strand Theater) and play (numerous bars and clubs such as  The Monarch where Urban Solutions held their reception last night).

I think a lot of people are still fearful of MIDMA but remember  "we have nothing to fear but fear itself"! It's really okay in MIDMA - more than okay. So, on with the party with a tune from the great Sam Cooke.

p.s. thanks to the Mayor's Office of Economic & Workforce Development, San Francisco Arts Commission, Urban Solutions, Sylvia & Young Yi, Fair Market Properties, Central Market Community Benefits District, Pooky and the many many people who have faith that MIDMA is a great place to be and have taken action on it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Metro Continues to Bleed Parking Revenue

Metro is bleeding between $40,000 and $50,000 a month just on parking meters, a Metro source claims.

The source said the reason is twofold. First, there is not enough enforcement at the lots and second, Metro has tolerated defective meters for the past 10 years and is just now getting around to fixing a problem they've known about for a long time.

"The spent $140,000 within the last few months to fix the old, defective meters," the source said. "You've got two crews working 12-hour shifts seven days a week replacing all the locks in the defective meters. It'll take three to four months to replace them all."

But despite the effort to fix the meters, the source said Metro is "spending good money after bad" because there's little or inconsistent enforcement of parking rules.

"Seventy to 80 percent of those who park in the metered areas just don't pay," the source said. "They know they can get away with it."

Metro parking lot enforcement is a shared obligation between Metro and the jurisdictions. Any revenue generated by parking tickets goes to the jurisdictions, not Metro.

The source lamented that Metro was spending so much money fixing all of the roughly 3,500 meters in the system, saying they're antiquated and that other agencies are using more customer friendly meters that allow credit card payment systems or even payment via smartphone.

"This isn't like the guys who were stealing," the source said. "But it's still a lot of money Metro is losing."

Other items:
Auto load for SmarTrip is now available (WMATA)
Metro launching "Momentum" survey (WaPo)

Martyr or Mug

It’s early. 5:45 AM to be precise. I have a large paper cup of coffee in front of me with one of those dastardly plastic lids. The ones that jettison steaming hot coffee up your sleeve when you walk. Looking to my left, out of the window, I see the lights of the still sleeping city rumble by. Full of people snuggled up in bed, still in their own personal dreamland: dreaming of past glories and future ambitions, subconsciously sifting through the meaning of life. I should be there too.

Now I look forward. I see a long and wearisome day ahead. Two days ago, my presence was requested, nay, demanded, at a meeting in London later this morning. Other commitments yesterday and tomorrow mean that I must travel there and back again in a day so I’m on the day’s first Virgin train service out of Glasgow. I hope to arrive 400 miles away in London in four and a half hours.

I thought long and hard about how to travel. Whether to go for the speed of flying versus the slower but greener train, eventually opting for the train despite the ungodly hour of departure. And while almost everyone else sleeps on I ponder whether I’m being a martyr to the environmental cause or just a mug making a meaningless gesture; a misplaced idealist or true eco warrior.

I have read articles in the press and on blogs by journalists and individuals writing about how much they have managed to reduce their carbon footprint, pointing out that they have ignored the thousands of airmiles they have collected on business trips: that is work therefore not in my personal control therefore I can ignore it.  To me this is a cop out - if we need to be in a certan place for a certain time we can choose how to travel.  The expectation may be that we fly but we can challenge that for domestic trips. There may be no other travel options for longer trips but are there other options that avoid traveling, such as video conferencing?

Planes are not all that inefficient at carrying people about, the problem is the ease with which we can travel long distances. If every passenger on a plane made the same journey by a relatively inefficient car, the total fossil fuel consumption would be similar, but if the planes didn’t fly, not everyone would drive (some are travelling in groups and would share, others would take the train or coach and some wouldn’t make the journey at all) and burning fuel at a high altitude causes two to three times the global warming effect. All the figures suggest that the train is a much greener option but this morning I’m beginning to wonder. By choosing the train rather than the plane will not stop the plane flying and the amount of fuel used does not vary greatly between flying empty and flying full. If I had flown the carbon emissions per passenger would have dropped.

The train would also run regardless of whether I used it and, similar to the plane, most of the energy is used to move the train rather than the passengers. Although trains are, on average, an efficient way to move people about, I don’t think this morning’s train is very efficient. For the first hundred miles (Glasgow to Carlisle) I shared a 60 seat carriage with three other people, two or three first class carriages were completely empty when I passed minutes before departure and other carriages had only a handful of people. I guess that the train was running at 5-10% of seating capacity. With the train this empty I really do wonder if flying would be the more environmentally friendly option at this time of day.

I suspect it is not as simple as this: the train will get busier as the journey progresses and this train set may have been busy last night when it came north. I also expect the return journey this afternoon to be busier. I think the 5:40 departure is just too much for Glaswegians – there are very few options for getting in to the station for that time. There is no car parking at the station, unlike the airport, most public transport hasn’t started so that leaves taxis which are expensive forr anything but short journeys.

Given that both would run regardless of my choice, does my decision make any difference? That is the big question on my mind. I don't think a single decision by an individual makes a difference. We need lots of small decisions from lots of people for it to be meaningful. If you are reading this, I hope you will make the right decision.

The coffee is finished now and I’m left with a plastic lid that will hang around a landfill site for a hundred years or more, all for a few minutes convenience.

It’s not easy being green.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do not Question Metro

During yesterday's Orange/Blue meltdown, Metro decided to offload some full trains onto already crowded platforms.

It was confusing for a lot of passengers,  as the trains were heading into the core. I got a lot of email asking why Metro would do something like that.

I thought perhaps there was a good explanation, so I emailed Metro's chief spokesman Dan Stessel saying I'd received a lot of rider questions about it.

Here is the response he gave:

Other items: 
Board member concerned about Metro's lost and found webpage (Examiner)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

VRE Apology Shames Metro

Last week both the VRE and Metro had meltdowns.

Metro's public response, delivered via Dan Stessel, was:
"There's no question this was a very, very difficult morning for Red Line customers. But people could still get where they needed to go." 
VRE's response, delivered by its director of rail operations, was quite a bit better:
First of all, let me apologize to all of you who were caught up in last night's delays on the Manassas Line. It turned into a very long commute for many, and we regret the inconvenience this incident certainly caused. Secondly, I would like to thank all of the passengers, families of passengers, and local law enforcement officers, who offered assistance at both Burke Centre and in Clifton as we were transferring passengers to buses. This was greatly appreciated. 
They then gave quite a few details about what went wrong, named actual people at the organization, and explained what measures were taken to get things moving again.

Finally, and most amazingly, they said they'd reimburse customers who'd taken cabs because of the incident.

Metro, on the other hand, said they'd "rectify" the situation to riders on the Red Line that morning, but I called for a refund and no one from Metro called back as they said they would.  It has been several days.

I've yet to hear from anyone who has gotten any sort of rectification.

Other items: 
Metro still denies fishy brakes (Examiner)
Getting around NOVA in 30 years (WTOP)

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Truth about the Fish Smell?

Anonymous says they wrote the following to Metro:
As the Orange line train entered the station this morning, the smell of rotten fish was overwhelming. The smell was not there prior to the train arriving and stuck with the train for the entire trip. I boarded car 5091 at 8:47 am ET on 9/17/12 at Ballston Station towards New Carrolton.

 I know that Mr. Stessel has stated that the problem is sewage gas leaking into the station, but that is simply not true as the smell comes and goes with trains and lingers on the trains. As UnSuck DC Metro reported, the problem is organic brake pads. Why is WMATA continuing to use the organic brake pads that make riders sick to their stomachs with the horrible smell on the trains and in the stations? Thanks.

Here's the reply they say they got:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 10:13 AM
To: **********


The fishy odor is the result of organic brake pads. Our stock should be depleted soon. We have selected another manufacturer who does not use that material causing the strong odor. I apologize and thank you for your patience.

Marjorie Strother
Rail Transportation
Customer Service Representative
Case number 732538
Other items: 
Metro adds real-time alerts to planner albeit with bugs (Examiner)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Glimmers of Hope?

From T.:
A few weeks ago, I was on my way to a meeting and attempted to get out of the Metro system via the New York Avenue station. I live in Virginia and am served primarily by the Orange Line (which, for what it's worth, has a whole litany of problems) but I always cringe twice as hard when I find out I need to use the Red Line. This time, the ride went pretty smoothly but I experienced a minor setback when my DumbTrip card balked and asked me to solicit some help from the station manager.


The last time I sought help from a station manager to resolve an unrelated matter, it didn't go well. This time, however, the manager on duty that day in the New York Avenue station could not have been nicer. She promptly recused herself from a conversation with a coworker and opened the kiosk door to ask me what was wrong. Her responses were friendly and she didn't show signs of exasperation, even after I had to go up and bug her again twice more because the card was still so uncooperative. When all was said and done, she smiled, saluted me and wished me a great day. I thanked her profusely and proceeded to go about my business. Had some thoughtless young girl not spilled part of her mocha latte on me as we approached Gallery Place on the way back, it would have been a perfect ride. This is why I keep a spare clean suit in my office.

But, wait, there's more!

After a year and a half of heavy usage, I decided it was time to replace my aging DumbTrip card, given what happened at New York Avenue. It always helps to have a backup on hand (friends don't let friends be seen in public with paper fare cards) and, plus, there's a commuter store right above my home station in Ballston. The woman inside was on the phone when I approached, but she placed the other party on hold when she saw me park myself in front of the glass, which was very refreshing. I've been "placed on in-person hold" more often than I'd like to admit as the person behind the desk prattles away on the phone. She even waived the $0.25 "convenience fee" for me when I told her I didn't have an extra quarter. Class act, madam!

So, station manager and commuter store attendant, I commend you both for reminding me that there's a reason why I use public transportation. I wish I'd have thought to ask for your names so I could sing your praises all over the Internet. As for you, coffee girl, the fact that you were so sincerely apologetic made it impossible for me to hate you. You might be a little clumsy, but it was early and you may have been still waking up. You're probably not a bad person. I still stand by my statement that it's my biggest pet Metro peeve and, since you were actively drinking it while the train was in motion, I'm still not sorry for reporting you to the train operator. I doubt he ended up doing anything about it, anyway.

In closing, the Metro's been straddling the line between maddening and FUBAR for some time now. I've been subjected to countless sardine trains, stuck in a tunnel for nearly an hour and I even came close to getting robbed at L'Enfant once. (Thankfully, the nature of my employment requires that I maintain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. I'm not afraid to smack someone with the butt end of it.) In spite of Metro's shortcomings and caveats, of which there are many, the best I can do is to try to keep an open mind while riding the rails. Sometimes, it pays off.

Other items:
There really isn't anything Metro can't screw up (WaPo)
Group sues Metro for postponing anti-jihad ads (Examiner)
A brief interview with his Sarlesness (FixWMATA)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Changing Seasons

There was a nip in the air this weekend as the season begins to change and, if we needed it, a timely article in this Sunday's Independent serves as a reminder of some of the things we can do to save energy over the autumn and winter. The ten suggestions from the Independent are summarised below with some comments and a few other suggestions of my own:

1. Small changes - with emphasis on energy saving lightbulbs: Incandescent light bulbs are no longer available for domestic use so we should all be using low energy bulbs now or in the near future.

2. Efficient heating - ensure your radiators are working effectively and aren't blocked by furniture. Upgrading your boiler is also suggested but this can be a significant financial investment. The savings from upgrading your boiler depend on how inefficient the old one was and there may be other more cost effective energy saving investments.

3. Keep the heat in - draught proofing, loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and double glazing all help to keep in heat but are progressively more expensive and take longer to pay back the savings.  If you live in Glasgow you may qualify for free insulation through the Home Insulation Scheme, which is funded through the Scottish Government's Universal Home Insulation Scheme. Other schemes may operate where you live. STOP PRESS: Some links here to free insulation schemes for all, subject to conditions:, via @TheEcoExperts. Also see item 11 below for more.
Read more »

Sarles to Meet Riders?

UPDATE:  Apparently, due to a broken escalator at Rosslyn, the time for Sarles' visit is now 4.

Looks like the Wizard of Sarles reads this blog.

Metro employees tell me the aloof GM is actually, incredibly going to come out from his cave and get out there and rub elbows with the riders who pay his $350,000 salary.

Sources say the Metro honcho will be at Rosslyn later today.

He'll even hold court behind a special table, they say.

Odd thing is, Metro has reallocated manpower to scrub and polish the station for what one employee called "his highness' appearance."

Wish they'd do that for us riders.

"The custodians are scrubbing and mopping the floors,"said one source. "The back steps up to Ft. Myers Dr. were scrubbed spotless. They dropped off a couple scissor jacks today so they can change all the light bulbs in the station as well. I am sure they will have additional fare card techs, ATC techs, etc., around just in case. They are doing way more than needs to be done, and way less than deserves to be on a daily basis."

The GM lives in a bubble it would appear.

The source was not sure what time Sarles would make his first public appearance in some time, but added "someone needs to bust his balls about sh*t that actually matters."

As of print time, the best guess for Sarles' greeting of the unwashed was from noon-2 p.m.

Stand by for updates as they become available.

Like most Metro public meetings, Sarles' appearance comes at an inconvenient time for most riders.

What would you say to boss Sarles if you had the chance?

Other items:
You still got where you needed to go (Examiner)
Replace Metro with goats (WaPo)
New bus maps (GGW)
Rude bus driver (WTOP)
Amputee veteran challenges escalator (VIDEO)
Operator thwarts suicide (Examiner)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Policy Builds in Delays

Via @FixWMATA: On the platform at Takoma. #WMATA cc @kurtraschke

Several readers have reported hearing train operators announce a policy of waiting 5 seconds to open the train doors after pulling into a station.

A Metro source confirms the new policy.

They said the policy was implemented after an operator opened the doors off the platform.

"Instead of dealing with that issue, the company made the new policy," they said.

According the source, operators are now instructed to stick their heads out of the window and, with their hands at their sides, wait 5 seconds to activate the doors.

"The operators are pissed," the source said. "I saw a new supervisor giving operators grief for having their hand on the wall of the train instead of at their side."

The source said the scheduled run times for the trains has not been changed.

Riders will likely be pissed, too.

If it's Yellow...

After all the money spent marketing Rush+ as "rush hour reinvented," Metro is now going to spend even more money directly bribing riders to change up their commuting habits by offering some $5 farecards.

I asked riders if $5 would get them to make the switch to the Yellow Line, and below are the responses.

Other items:
Cell phone coverage completion not until 2015 (Examiner)
Late-night service after Nats games still unresolved (WaPo)
Another triumph regarding SmarTrip (Examiner)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Safety Tips For Passengers in Cars

When you are traveling in a car, there is nothing worse than a passenger who won't stop telling the driver how to drive. A lot of the time, passengers who are like this think that they are helping the driver by being a second set of 'eyes'. However, a lot of the time, these types of passengers are doing nothing more than simply annoying the driver and causing all sorts of undue problems.

Not only can 'passenger seat drivers' cause the driver to become distracted, but a lot of the time, these types of passengers are what we refer to as 'nervous passengers'. Sometimes, this is due to the fact that passengers have had bad driving experiences. And surprisingly perhaps is the fact that a lot of these drivers are notorious for being bad drivers! So, how is it then that they feel they are able to direct others on their driving skills? If you are driving with someone who cannot seem to stop themselves from correcting your driving or who are simply being overly helpful, you may need to have a chat with them as to how their comments affect your driving. In a worse-case scenario, you may have to forfeit driving with him or her in order to preserve your sanity.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Autumn will Fix AC System

From anon:
Date: Sep 13, 2012 2:05 PM
Ms. xxxxxxxx:
This is a follow-up from our earlier conversation. According to my research, equipment has been reset to cool the lower level of our Crystal City Station, which will do away with the humidity. We will correct the air conditioning system after the summer season is over. Again, thank you for your patience and ridership.
Marjorie Strother
Rail Transportation Customer Service
When responding to this email, please perform a reply with history so that the following conversational identifier "[THREAD_ID:XXXXX]" is included in your response.
Other items:
Metro says they've closed some NTSB recommendations (WMATA)
Metro just doesn't get how people use transit or how bad L'Enfant is (WaPo)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reliability: NYC vs. DC

I thought people would have gotten a little more ticked off after Ron's excellent post showed Metro is missing its fleet reliability goals by a whopping third.

A third! Where's the commercial media on this? Come on guys!

Perhaps some perspective will show just how poorly Metro performs.

As of April:



Other items:
NoVa to study transit options on Rt. 7 (Examiner)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's the Trains, Stupid

Via @aretting: Metro car on fire at the McPherson Square station. Plenty of smoke in here.

From Ron:
I was bored at work, and looked at the latest Vital signs report. I stumbled on what I think is really telling about what's really going on at Metro. I wonder if the board members will ask about this at the upcoming meeting. I kid. I know they won't.

In the report, the pretty pages highlight "better maintenance practices," but if you look closer at all the charts, it's ugly, really ugly.

Metro has a goal of 60,000 miles between breakdowns (delays) for each rail car.

According to the report, here are the average number of miles each series of car in Metro's fleet goes before they break down and cause delays:

1000s (26 percent of fleet): 40,671 miles
2/3000s (32 percent of fleet): 33,559 miles
4000s (9 percent of fleet): 26,581 miles
5000s (17 percent of fleet): 47,640 miles
6000 (16 percent of fleet): 67,421 miles

The fleet average is 40,275 miles!

They're missing their goal by almost 20,000 miles per car in the fleet, and only one series of car meets the goal. The rest are way off.

I would also imagine that since the trains contain different series of cars now (dumb), the bad cars' effects are even more widespread when whole trains are taken out of service because one car has a problem.

I'm starting to think Metro should lay off the track work for a while. It's the trains, stupid.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Clyde Fastlink - A Revolution in Public Transport

The problems with delivery of Edinburgh's new tram system has been well reported in the media, mostly because of the disruption caused by the works, its immense price tag and lengthy delays but Glasgow's bold new transport initiative has grabbed a lot less headlines, probably because of its more modest price tag and, more likely, due to its spectacular lack of impact on the city.

Read more »

Wizard of Sarles

Metro boss Richard Sarles' notion that Metro puts riders first is pretty funny.

Just look at the fare machines for proof that riders rank pretty low in Metro's eyes. Then, once you've done the calculus and handed Metro a ton of money, you only need ride Metro a few times to see it's really not at all about the riders.

Worse yet, if you judge the aloof GM by his actions, he doesn't even seem to care what the people who pay his $350,000 salary think.

He doesn't make himself, or any senior staff, available in the stations during rush hour to answer public questions or just listen to riders' concerns. Other transit managers do this regularly. Sarles could learn a lot through a little personal outreach, but I guess he thinks he knows it all.

Moreover, he doesn't hold public, online chats as former GM Catoe and other Metro GMs used to. He did once hold a Google hangout with the supine Washington Post where one hard hitting question was why some platforms are in the middle.

Sarles even killed off the blogger roundtables Metro hosted, holding just one over two years ago while he was interim GM.

He rarely even gives interviews and seems to only makes public appearances at carefully scripted escalator parties or when Metro wheels him out before the know-nothing board to give the regular spiel they all lap up without question.

Instead, Sarles has chosen to communicate with riders almost exclusively via increasingly out of touch op/eds, press releases, surrogates and ghost written advertorials in the Express newspapers that line the Metro floors.

In those missives, he touts how well Metro is doing when in fact, Metro can't meet the standards Sarles himself lowered!

Oh, and it's not just riders Sarles shuns. Metro employees say he's nowhere to be seen. They remember Catoe and other GMs at least showing up regularly to rub elbows with the front line workers, but Sarles, they say, communicates largely via an electronic newsletter and memos.

"I never really had high hopes for Sarles because this is Metro," said one employee. "But he doesn't even make a gesture to try to make us think he really knows or cares what's going on out here. The guy is totally out of touch and dependent on his downtown yes men. If you ask me, he's got the easiest job in town. No one looks over his shoulder."

Sometimes I picture Sarles as the Wizard of Oz locked away in some small, highly oxygenated room in Metro headquarters relying solely on self serving Metro staff for information from the outside world while, at the same time, being totally dependent on a massive PR machine to form his public image.

The Post once wrote that Sarles is shy. If true, he needs to get over it.

He's the head of a huge, multimillion dollar taxpayer-funded agency that a lot of people in the area depend on. He should be accountable to us.

For the entirety of the Sarles regime, Metro has been in crisis and is seen by many, including me, to be failing on a number of levels.

Sarles' much vaunted MetroForward campaign still has years to go. Frustration with weekend closures, long headways and track work is growing.

Furthermore, all the past work and inconvenience doesn't seem to be making anything better.

It's going to take more than a press release to get the public on Sarles and Metro's side.

For starters, Metro's GM needs to show--not tell--riders firsthand that he's in this with us. We want to like Sarles and Metro, but they've got to show they don't see us only as clueless revenue sources.

Speaking of, Metro is now running at a $28 million surplus shortly after they raised our fares.


Other items:
Metro projects $27 million budget gap next year (WMATA)
Nats-Metro standoff continues (DCist)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rush Plus Update: Basics Botched

From anonymous:
This Blue Line rider is just loving Rush+. Every morning at Franconia-Springfield is a wonderful adventure.

When you get to the platform, there are often two trains waiting for you. On really boring days, both trains have the correct signage on them, and there is no confusion about which train to board. But who wants THAT?

Fortunately, Metro has recognized that throwing a little whimsy into our mornings will make us much sharper in the day ahead, so the boring scenario described above hardly ever happens.

Usually, the trains bear no signage at all, so one has to either make an educated (and most likely incorrect) guess as to which is a Yellow Line train and which is Blue.

Sometimes, there is a station manager or train conductor voice “clarifying” the issue over the intercom, but it’s often hard to tell to which the train the voice is referring.

Occasionally, a WMATA employee will walk down the platform pointing out which train is which, but if you’re not around for that, you’re just clueless and completely dependent on your fellow travelers (who may have gotten conflicting or incomplete information).

A third scenario has the trains (or electronic signs on each side of the platform) bearing the name of either the Yellow or Blue line, making the rider think s/he is in the right place, only to have this switch shortly before the train leaves. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched would-be Yellow Line riders gape in surprise as the train they thought was theirs pull away.

I have heard that sometimes it’s difficult to get the signs on the trains (I forget the terminology) correct. If that’s the case, WMATA needs to have an employee on the platform pointing people in the right direction.

It would seem to me that getting the signage correct is the most basic and easy thing to accomplish to make Rush+ work smoothly.

Of all the things I feared coming into this change, never did I expect this sort of confusion. (I know, my mistake.) I expected crowds, of course, and increased distances between trains far beyond the planned 12 minutes. But I didn’t think I’d have to play a guessing game each morning. Yes, all this Blue liner needs to do is transfer if I accidentally find myself on a Yellow Line train, but my concern lies more with the folks who keep missing their Yellow Line trains for no good reason.

Oh, and I did email Metro commenting on this issue several weeks back. I received a form response, and if anything, the problem has only gotten worse.
Other items:
Sarles says this, riders say that (WaPo)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Suicide Prevention Awareness Program Launches

At Shady Grove

According to the Examiner, Metro paid $70,000 to a consultant and budgeted $250,000 for a suicide prevention program, which was supposedly launched in 2009.

Metro says they've trained some station managers, but this sign is the first evidence of the "awareness campaign."

There have been four suicides on Metro this year. Think this program will be effective?

Other items:
Metro being coy about headway standards (PlanitMetro)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sarles Puts Employee Pensions in Firing Line

The current contract negotiations are going to be extremely interesting.

Maybe Sarles could make a goodwill gesture and take a slice off his $350,000 a year salary. Metro employees do not contribute to their pension plans.


From anonymous:
I am a current employee at WMATA and also a member of Local 2. We do contribute to our retirement account, there is no pension for Local 2, there hasn't been one since the early '90s. It is Local 689 that does not contribute to their pensions. BTW, Local 2 has approximately 700 employees in it.

Local 689's last contract has been settled through arbitration, and their cost of living increases and salary increases have been awarded. Local 2's contract is still being fought by Metro, which, by the way, asks for exactly the same cost of living increases and salary increases as 689's. Local 2 employees have not had any cost of living increases since 2008.

090412Message to Employees

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Here Comes the Rain - Part 2

It is official. Britain has had the wettest summer since 1912 according to the Meteorological Office. This follows one of the wettest springs on record. Is this evidence of climate change or simply natural variation in the weather?

To try answering this question, data from a weather station near Glasgow has been analysed . The first part of this article presented annual rainfall records and concluded that there has been only a slight increase in annual rainfall over the past decade compared with a baseline of 1961 to 1990 but that there had been a marked increase in variability. Also of interest is whether rainfall patterns have changed throughout the year, from month to month and between the seasons which is the subject of this post.

In order to provide some context, June 2012 was the wettest recorded June in 54 years with 130mm of rainfall which is almost double(196%) the average rainfall for the month and July is the fourth wettest with 75% more than average. Apart from this year, the five wettest Junes were followed by an average or below average July and likewise the five wettest Julies were preceded with a dry or average June. Data for August 2012 has yet to be published.

Over the fifty three complete years of data examined, there are wide variations in rainfall for each month as demonstrated by the monthly mean, maximum and minimum values plotted below. In some months the minimum values are almost zero while the maximum values may be almost three times the minimum.

Read more »

What are those Expensive Displays for?

The digital display at East Falls Church.

I've gotten several emails about the flat-screen displays being installed at the station managers' kiosks around the system.

The only reference to them on the Metro website was this, which says there will be 75 of them installed but has no explanation about what they'll display.

I emailed Metro chief spokesman Dan Stessel, and his response was:

Here's a sample of the emails I've gotten.

From Robin:
For the past month there has been a flat-screen TV or display installed at College Park.

My first beef with them is that they cover up the clocks, but that's not really a big deal.

What I'm really wondering is what they are going to display that couldn't be displayed on a dry erase board like they have in London.

I also don't think they're in a very good place to attract attention. If they're going to put these in, but them where the PIDs are near the fare gates so people can see them as they swipe in.

Furthermore, why can't Metro just have the already overpaid station managers stand outside their booth and warn passengers of any delays?

I think these displays are a total waste of money and were dreamed up by someone who never once rode Metro in their life.
From Stacy:
I've noticed this summer that all the clocks in Metro stations (at least the ones I've been at, mostly on the Green Line) have been covered up with what look like flat-screen TVs or computer monitors. But the screens aren't on.

Having clocks in the station is really useful. If a train isn't coming for a while and the fare is about to change, I like waiting to go through the fare gates. Not everyone has cell phone or watches. I wouldn't mind if the screens covered the clocks if they actually displayed something (and, ideally, showed the time) but right now there are just expensive screens serving no purpose.
Other items:
What if Metro put riders first? (WaPo)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Here Comes the Rain - Part 1

Summer 2012 may be remembered for the Olympic Games. Or it may be remembered for the rain. From doom laden predictions of the worst drought for a generation in the southern half of Britain with disastrous consequences for farmers in the spring to torrential rain, floods and, yes, disastrous consequences for farmers in the summer.

The burning question is whether this is just the natural variability of weather or whether underlying climate change has a hand in driving these weather systems. To investigate this question, I have studied some local weather records. My statistical skills are about High School level: mean and standard deviation of a normal distribution.

Data for Glasgow Airport from 1959 to 2012 was obtained from the Meteorological Office website but the 2012 data was discarded as it is only provisional and represents an incomplete year. The data included monthly rainfall, sunshine and maximum and minimum temperatures and the focus of this study was the rainfall data.

Annual rainfall figures are plotted below as a time series. The y-axis (rainfall) is drawn from zero to give a clearer picture of the relative changes; some graphs cut off the bottom which can visually exaggerate trends. Without performing any statistical analysis, the first impression is that annual rainfall has increased from the early 1970s to the mid 1990s before increasing again from around 2000 to the present time. The variability from year to year also appears to be greater in the more recent results, especially in the 2000s.

Read more »

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nats/Metro Stories don't Add Up

Yes, the Nats should fork over what basically amounts to pocket change to keep the Metro open for their fans, but Metro is not exactly playing ball with their customers either, according to Eric:
I don't know why they're not telling the truth, but just wanted to tell you that the Nats and/or Metro is not telling the truth about the times of the last train leaving Navy Yard.

Two pieces of evidence: The Metro website says the last train leaves Navy Yard for Greenbelt at 11:39 but has "no Red Line transfer."

But that's impossible, since the last train leaves Gallery Place, the Red Line transfer station, for Shady Grove at 12:02 and Glenmont at 12:08.

The ride from Navy Yard to Gallery Place is eight minutes.

The math doesn't add up.

There definitely is another train that leaves after the 11:20 train that they are telling fans to take, and it should transfer to the Red Line.

Even more evidence that there's something going on: If you look at all the Green Line stations after Navy Yard (toward Branch Avenue), they all say that the last train to Greenbelt leaves later, 11:24 from Branch Avenue, 11:37 from Congress Heights, etc. And unlike when the last train is listed for Navy Yard and Waterfront, it doesn't say that there is "no Red Line transfer."

Odd, isn't it, that there's no warning about not being to transfer to the Red Line from the Green Line on the last train if you get on farther up the line, but if you get on at the Ballpark, all of a sudden you can't transfer (or Metro is just really screwing with their customers.)

Of course you can transfer--it just seems that Metro doesn't want to possibly not be able to fit everyone on the last train, or they're lazy, or something--but they're not telling the truth.

Personally, I feel that this is on the Lerners--Leonis, Snyder and various organizations in town being willing to pay if they want to keep the train open.

Only the Nats owners are apparently too cheap--or just don't care enough about the fans--to keep the Metro open on the rare night that something like this happens.

But I still am puzzled by why Metro/the Nats are telling people to leave 20 minutes earlier than they really have to.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Holidays

Have you had your summer holiday yet? Did you stay local or did you fly away somewhere exotic?

How do you fancy this three thousand mile trip:

First stop off in France to soak up the culture then on to Mont Blanc and the Swiss alps for a few weeks rest and recuperation in the beautiful mountain scenery. It can be cool in the mountains, even in the summer so head south into Italy, perhaps Tuscany or further south again to Sicily. If that isn’t warm enough, take a short hop over the Mediterranean Sea to Libya then across the Sahara to Lake Chad.
It’s not an itinerary that you’ll find in many travel brochures but it is quite popular in certain circles.  Mungo, a bird from near Loch Katrine made that very trip and met up with Chance who travelled by a different route from Loch Katrine, via Belgium and Austria, and Chris from the Norfolk Broads.  They are all Cuckoo’s that have been tagged by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in order to track their annual migrations to Africa.  Chris is a veteran who was tagged last year so this is his second recorded journey.  His route to Lake Chad this year is similar to the route last year but one of the other tagged birds from Norfolk, Lyster, has travelled by quite different routes last year and this year.

They’re trip isn’t over yet.  It is likely that they will continue south, perhaps  to the Congo basin  before returning to the UK.

Read more »

Station Manager Indifferent After Alleged Assault


From John:
On Sunday at 1:45 p.m. at Waterfront Metro, while waiting for the Green Line toward Chinatown, I was assaulted.

I was leaning against the rail at the bottom of the stairs waiting for my train when all of a sudden I got sucker punched from the back on my right temple.

My glasses flew off my face. My vision is really bad without my glasses, so the first thing I thought was to find them.

I was looking around for them on the ground while three people casually and slowly walked up the stairs, sort of trying to gauge what my response was going to be.

I found my glasses halfway up the stairs, so the person who assaulted me must have grabbed them in the same punch and threw them. The three were chuckling to themselves and then hurried up the rest of the stairs.

They didn't try to steal anything. Not sure what the hell they were thinking. Maybe they were just bored and wanted a laugh.

The three were Waterfront area black kids, in their late teens or early twenties. One of them was wearing a white t-shirt that was a Southwest crew/gang shirt.

I went to the station manager and told her I just got assaulted by the kids who just walked by her and that I didn't know if they left the station or went back downstairs on the other side.

All the manager said was "Oh yeah, they just hopped the gate."

She did not give a flying f*ck what happened.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Band-Aid Approach

On August 14, the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC), basically the Riders Advisory Council of "oversight," provided an update on a spate of recent "troubling" events with Metro, including the following:
  • Doors opening off-platform (both confirmed and unconfirmed instances)
  • Escalator safety, including August 7, 2012 trip and fall accident
  • July 14, 2012 Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) power outage
  • The July 6, 2012 Green Line train derailment attributed to “heat kink”
  • The July 3, 2012 self-evacuation of passengers from a stalled train, partially attributed to a loss of power from Pepco and the severe weather that plagued the Metro region.
  • Four instances of the loss of friction rings (brake discs) from Metro trains from December 2011 through June 2012
  • The May 29th striking of a WMATA employee by a train at Shady Grove Yard

While the TOC said Metro is "committed to addressing these critical safety-related issues," it also added the following:

While TOC does not directly investigate incidents or implement corrective actions, it does maintain the authority to reject WMATA’s factual conclusions and proposed reactions when the agency has not sufficiently addressed all potential root causes or areas of concern. With respect to the incidents listed above, this step has yet to be taken. TOC will continue to work with WMATA to monitor these cases to a final resolution.

The overall language is couched, but those last two lines certainly would seem to point to Metro inaction regarding bringing several serious incidents to closure. It would appear that the TOC is giving Metro a warning shot, telling them to fully address these incidents or face ... I'm not sure. Perhaps the Metro would like to clear these items off its to do list before the impending FTA audit.

According to several Metro sources, addressing root problems is never a priority. The goal is to get the immediate problem fixed as quickly as possible, check the box as "done," and move on without regard to any potential systemic issues that might be causing the problems.

"I spend most of my time putting on Band-Aids so the trains can keep moving," said a Metro source in the crucial Automatic Train Control department. "No one is looking at the big picture about why there are so many f*ck ups, and if you bring it up, you get slapped down."

Other items:

RushPlus a minus for some Orange Line riders (Examiner)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Water Saving in an Maritime Climate

I am fortunate to live in an area blessed with a plentiful supply of water.  Our maritime climate is driven by moist air coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, heated by the Gulf Stream.  The air cools as it rises over the mountains and loses its excess moisture as rain.

Loch Katrine in the Trossachs has supplied the city of Glasgow with clean fresh drinking water for over a century and a half thanks to the work of the Victorian engineer John Frederick Bateman. When we have such an abundance of water there is little pressure to save water and you may be thought daft for even suggesting it but are there wider environmental benefits of reducing water consumption here?

Read more »

Friday, August 10, 2012

Add 48 Minutes to your Commute--in the Parking Garage

Via @dcmetrosucks: @wmata @fairfaxpolice almost 30 min and we are still not moving at south Vienna park garage

Apparently, Metro has been taking riders hostage in the Vienna parking lot for the past couple days.

From Aubrey:
The newest parking garage at Vienna was an absolute madhouse yesterday. After work, I walked to the parking garage and up to my car. As I left the stairwell, I noticed a long line of cars winding up the entire structure. They were not moving slowly, they were not moving at all.

I got in my car and patiently waited in my spot. Fifteen minutes passed, then 20 then 35.

At this point I had not even been able to move out of my spot, and the line of cars in front of me had moved a grand total of one car-length.

I called customer service. The first number I called rang for about three minutes straight I let it ring – nothing.

Back to the drawing board. I looked up and found the number to the administrative office. Someone picked up, and I politely asked for someone I could talk to that had any leverage at the Vienna station. I was given a number and called parking. The woman who picked up there was uncooperative from the get-go. I always like to remain as calm and pleasant in these situations as humanly possible, because people are more apt work with you.

I began by telling her what was going on and recommended someone take a look at it. Obviously, she hadn’t listened to a word I had said because she replied “Well, have you tried holding your card to the target again?”

It took me a couple of moments to process this response to which I replied “Oh no, ma’am, I think you misunderstood me. I haven’t even been able to get out of my parking spot, much less down to the turnstile.”

Again, apparently not trying to process what I said, she asked “well, what’s the problem?”

I was starting to get annoyed, but didn't want to show it.

I replied “I honestly have no idea, as I said, I can’t even get down there to check it out.”

She responded with “Well no one has called in with a problem, and if I don’t know what it is, I don’t even know that it’s a Metro problem.”

I told her “I’m surprised that this is the first you are hearing, but I’m sitting in the middle of it, and I can assure you there is definitely a problem!”

This is where I started getting really frustrated. She said “Well there is nothing I can do if I don’t know what the problem is.”

I asked her “Can’t you call and send someone from Metro over there to check it out? There is definitely a problem, and there are a lot of angry people in here." (I'm thinking she must hear the horns blasting in the background at this point.)

She rudely argued back and forth a couple times saying that there was nothing she could do, while the tone of her voice sounded much more like “there is nothing I feel like doing to help you.”

Finally, very obviously irritated, she said “Ugh, I’ll call the attendant” and hung up the phone.

By time I got out of there, I saw two attendants working on the SmarTrip targets. My entire wait was 48 minutes.

Metro – this was the last straw. I’m not paying for this kind of service/customer service any longer. You just put one more car on the already crowded roads during rush hour.
From Eric:
Second day in a row there was only one working exit booth for the entire garage. One exit is shut for construction so we were down to two exit booths, but now it is one.

Useless lady refused to call her supervisor and told me to.

Another guy was a little more convincing, and the arm is now raised. Traffic is backed up to the roof.

Other items:
Metro refuses to share "mystery rider" program details which YOU paid for (Examiner)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

99+ Problems

Update: Here's a post comparing problems between May 2008 and May 2010.

Thanks to FixWMATA for letting me cross-post.
WMATA provides a Daily Service Report (HERE) that tells a story of all of the problems their trains experienced each day. I went through July’s reports (July 1 – July 31) and tabulated the data. Here is what I found (the larger numbers):

120 WMATA trains experienced “brake problems” in July.

90 WMATA trains simply “did not operate” in July.

83 WMATA trains experienced a “door problem” in July.

63 WMATA trains experienced an “equipment problem” in July.

63 WMATA trains had their schedule or route adjusted (ie “expressed”) in July.

40 WMATA trains experienced an “operational problem” in July.

31 WMATA trains experienced a “signal problem” in July.

21 WMATA trains experienced a “sick customer” in July.

10 WMATA trains were delayed due to “police activity” (including suspicious bags) in July.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Riders Reportedly Injured as Escalator Breaks

Photos via Kate

Update 2 from another escalator expert:
What came loose is considered the decking. The decking should be secured by screws to prevent this type of accident. I do not know if this unit was serviced shortly before this accident or not.
Update from a source very familiar with escalators:

Sounds like someone didn't put screws in it.

First off there should not be jagged edges or gaps on an escalator for a bag or clothing to catch. Second, the decking is supposed to be screwed down.

It's too bad more people had to get hurt.
Some other good photos here and here.