There is no Georgetown conspiracy to keep out POCs.


M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, Georgetown.

Before moving to Columbia Heights, I lived in Georgetown, a neighborhood I have always loved without any embarrassment or hesitation. I can’t count how many times I was either teased or questioned about being a POC (Person of color) living in the one part of the city where “they don’t want minorities”; then I’d hear a familiar tale about “the only reason Georgetown isn’t on the Metro is to keep it white.” I’d sigh and explain that while that theory was popular, it was a myth; there were logistical issues behind the lack of trains in popped-collar-land. Besides, when I lived there, there were plenty of teenagers roaming M Street or Wisconsin Avenue– and they were minorities. So it’s not like the lack of a metro stop was a particularly effective strategy for keeping the chocolate away from the vanilla.

I see that the Georgetown Metropolitan is sick of that unnecessarily divisive and inaccurate explanation as well, since he tackled it admirably in his post, “All You Need to Know About the Georgetown Metro Stop“.

Why There is No Georgetown Metro

If you take anything away from this article, please let it be this: the reason there is no Metro station in Georgetown has absolutely nothing to do with neighborhood opposition. Nothing. No “rich Georgetowners wanted to keep out minorities”-conspiracy. No matter how much it fits with the popular stereotype, it’s just not true.

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A Public Shaming for a Foiled Purse-snatcher

Flickr: zach kowalczyk

Metro riders waiting for their train. Wholly unrelated to this story, but it's a neat picture.

In case you haven’t already heard this story, I want to put it on your radar. Yesterday, TBD writer Dave Jamieson witnessed something extraordinary at the Foggy Bottom metro station; a kid grabbed a woman’s purse, a concerned citizen ran after the boy and caught him, and then, a metro employee yelled at the immobilized culprit!

Once we made it out on the platform, a dozen or so passengers had formed a circle near the base of the escalator steps. (This is where the video above begins.) At the center of the circle was the boy who’d grabbed the purse, wrapped up by a good samaritan who’d run him down. The man, who was middle-aged and broad-shouldered, clearly wasn’t trying to hurt the kid, as the video makes clear. He just wanted to hold him until the authorities showed up…Meanwhile, the boy, who looked to be about 15, pleaded to be let go. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m sorry. I apologize,” he said. The victim stood nearby with the purse that had been grabbed, looking mortified. “I said I’m sorry,” the kid went on.

…another Metro employee arrived on the scene. He ordered the boy to sit on the ground and wait until transit police arrived. Then, as the video shows around the 1:25 mark, he gave the kid a public scolding.

“There ain’t no apologizing, son,” he said. “It’s too late to apologize. You can apologize to transit [police] when they get here.” He shamed the kid for robbing a woman. “You’ve got a mother at home. You don’t take money from a lady,” he went on. “You’re gonna learn something tonight.”

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“Go and do likewise.”

I saw this video on YouTube yesterday, but didn’t want to link to it because of the profanity and a few other reasons…I’m grateful TBD has more information that I can point you to, instead. This whole story just makes me want to shake my head. No one helped. Everyone filmed. This city’s social fabric is fraying everywhere and in some spots, it is worn through:

On Sunday night, Allen Haywood was randomly and viciously attacked by two kids on the platform of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. Dozens of people witnessed it. Several people filmed it. Nobody helped.

Haywood was trying to transfer to the Yellow Line around 7:15 p.m. when the assault happened. He was headed home to Fort Totten after working out at Results on Capitol Hill, a gym bag slung over his shoulder and a book in his hands. As he read with his back to the station wall, “all of a sudden someone whacked me on the back of the head really hard,” he recalls…

Haywood looked to strangers for help, but all he saw were other kids with their cell phones out, recording the scene and laughing. Judging from his voice-over, the man shooting the YouTube video above doesn’t appear to be part of the group. The video showed up yesterday on Unsuck D.C. Metro, which posted an anonymous account of the attack Tuesday.

“I can understand people not wanting to get physically involved,” says Haywood, who’s 47 and works in a Friendship Heights flower shop. “But nobody pressed the emergency button or went to the booth,” as far as he knows.

One of those kids offered to sell him the video of his own beating. I used to think the scariest thing about Metro was the broken escalators (the extra long ones make me queasy); now I think it’s the terrifying lack of a response to crime, whether from the people paid to work there or the commuters who look the other way.

Metro’s Resolution for 2011: Working Escalators?


These "Precision Escalator Products" were sitting next to the elevator at the Tenleytown/AU station, yesterday.

Finally– some good news, especially for those with mobility issues, who are extra-inconvenienced when a Metro escalator is broken (via WAMU):

Metro is focusing extra attention on its problematic escalators, a frequent source of complaint from riders. The transit agency is starting the new year with a newly appointed general superintendent for elevator and escalator programs.

Veteran engineer Rodrigo Bitar has been assigned to the position. His task: to oversee the repairs and upkeep of hundreds of escalators and elevators that Metro has failed to maintain.

In October, six passengers at the L’Enfant Plaza station were injured when the brakes on a Metro escalator malfunctioned. After the incident, a system wide inspection found additional problems with various Metro escalators.

Bitar will be charged with shepherding repair work laid out in an agency assessment made public earlier this year.

Rodrigo Bitar has previous experience with Metro; in the past, he was the “Director of Quality Assurance and Warranty”. If there’s anything that I encounter on a daily basis in this city that needs some QA– it’s Metro. Go Rodrigo!

Stabbing at Petworth Metro Station on Sunday

Wayan Vota

This is so disturbing (via WAMU):

Metro Transit police are investigating the stabbing of a man at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth station. A Metro spokeswoman says a man was stabbed while exiting the station around 4:15 p.m. on Sunday.

The victim had passed through the fare gate when he was approached by another man who stabbed him in the neck.

The Georgia Avenue-Petworth station, located in Northwest D.C., services the Yellow and Green lines.

Metro says the victim was taken to an area hospital. His condition is unknown.

I hope the victim makes a full recovery, and that they catch whoever did this.

Relegating Buses to Second-Class Status


WMATA Bus Stop in Hyattsville, MD

Here’s a great post about how much the location of a bus stop matters. Poorly-located or -designed stops discourage riders from using the bus, unless they absolutely have to. Additionally, the fact that some malls don’t want bus stops on their property reinforces the “second-class” perception of that mode of tranpsort:

The result is to create additional burdens on those using the bus for shopping, requiring them to haul or push their purchases a significant distance to the bus stop, a process that would be particularly unpleasant in rain or snow (or, here in Vegas, when it’s 117 degrees), or for those with mobility issues.

When mass transit stops are systematically located in inconvenient or isolated areas, it disadvantages those who are dependent on public transportation and discourages others from choosing to ride rather than driving their own car, and reinforces a common perception of the bus, in particular, as an inferior form of transportation…

“Be on the lookout”, on Metro

marrngtn (Manuel)

So, last week Metro Transit Police heard from a Metro-rider that two men were engaged in shady behavior at L’Enfant Plaza and on the Orange Line (via WTOP):

The rider told Metro he saw two men acting suspiciously and videotaping platforms, trains and riders.

“The men, according to the citizen report, were trying to be inconspicuous, holding the cameras at their sides,” Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel says.

The rider was able to photograph the men who were videotaping and sent the photo to Metro Transit Police.

Metro Transit Police issued an internal memo to officers telling them to “be on the lookout for” the men, a standard tactic used by police departments to share information with their officers.

However, that internal memo was leaked. Metro says the memo was meant for an internal audience only and was not intended to be a public notice.

Some photographers are alarmed at how this memo could be misinterpreted, and as a brown female who always has her camera with her (it’s part of my job!), I understand why. At the same time, I worry about how vulnerable Metro is to a terrorist attack. How vigilant is too vigilant? And how much liberty should we lose to be safe?

Metro’s “Grab-bag of Good Ideas”


Metro Center

After the escalators at L’Enfant Plaza malfunctioned ten days ago, injuring several people, I worried about how safe they were. The Greater Greater Washington blog has obtained a copy of the report that WMATA commissioned on elevator and escalator maintenance. Their verdict? It’s not good:

Quite simply, the escalator report is not well done. It doesn’t specify the specific goal of the audit, and ends up being a grab-bag of several findings, many positive and many negative…If the brake issues were a real concern to the consultant, the report certainly doesn’t reflect that. They are buried between recommendations for better housekeeping and for better training in the Maintenance Management System.

This gets to the heart of the real problems facing Metro. As we have repeated on several occasions, Metro’s fundamental flaw in both maintenance and safety is its inability to proactively prioritize action items based on how much an issue contributes to downtime or risk of injury.

Instead, Metro creates grab-bags of good ideas, pursues them in no particular order, and then when a major incident occurs reactively spends mountains of money addressing the immediate causes of that incident. Metro is doing the same here, by now testing the brakes on every escalator in the system.

Not everyone can afford to keep a car or live somewhere where they can walk to everything they need; people depend on Metro. It’s disheartening that WMATA is unable to prioritize access to safe transportation over housekeeping. I love a clean station, too. But when I spent the better part of a year with my mobility impaired, limping in a brace, a sparkly floor meant nothing to me if I had to pass a broken elevator and then stumble down a broken escalator to enjoy it.

How safe is Metro?

Riding on the Metro-o-o.

Well, this is harrowing:

A survey of Metros 10,000 employees has found that nearly two-thirds of them have observed a safety violation in the past year…

The survey found that safety violations are reported nearly 70 percent of the time, and fear of retaliation was the top reason employees cited for not reporting safety breaches. Employees were also reluctant to report their peers. Another main reason workers said they did not report safety problems was they believed nothing would be done about them.

“There is a sense of futility,” said board Jim Graham, who is also a D.C. council member.

Must. Resist. Car.

Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

But it would be so hard to resist a six-speed manual...oh, the earth is sad? Well, all right.

Dr. Gridlock on “Car Free Day”:

So to me, Wednesday’s Car Free Day is about raising consciousness concerning choice, not about pushing people out of their cars. So I hope people who usually drive will consider options that could save them money and stress. You don’t have to take a sudden and lasting plunge into a completely different commuting style. But do think through the alternatives of transit, biking, walking or telecommuting — even once in a while. As Nicholas Ramfos of the Commuter Connections program says, “Just try it.”

I am so grateful I get to work from home. I’m more productive in my quiet apartment than I am in our bright, electrifying newsroom. I can run down the street when Go-go legends are hanging out at Ben’s. I can read without being disturbed and make phone calls without disturbing others.

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