thoughts from a Metro “customer”

30 June, 2006

1) Who decides the direction of the middle escalator? Is there a schedule? Is it by station manager’s discretion? How is it changed?

2) The trains…they talk to you. On the days when we have remembered our medication, they merely say stuff like “please stand back to allow customers to exit.” Just this week, I started wondering: how come we are “customers”? Not “riders”? Or “travelers”? It seems somewhat…mercenary of them. Like paying parking tickets to a city’s “Department of Revenue.” I mean, there’s something to be said for calling a spade a spade, but one would think appearances would count for something, and that WMATA would pretend to see us as a bit more than walking dollar bills.

3) The “walk left, stand right” DC Metrorail escalator culture is well known, but there is another such formality that many here observe: greeting and bidding farewell to Metrobus drivers. I love that we do this. Love it. In the utilitarian sense it makes the universe a kinder place by being a small amount of goodover a very large number of people. The alternative, which I know well from other cities, is to pretend the bus drives itself, and only acknowledge the driver when necessary.

What I love about these DC transit memes is that since so many people visit here, and even live here for a time, they really could spread across the nation as these people go back home and implement this new behavior. She said, with hope.

I send you off with a photo of another Metro mystery I came across one night.

Medical Center metro

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7 Responses to “thoughts from a Metro “customer””

  1. Andy Says:

    That is a fantastic photo. Great job. I feel like it’s something out of an anthropomorphic Metro Film Noir.

  2. Bindu Says:

    Huh, thats how the department calls us!! Also, I thought of another corollary. In the corporate world, the employees are sometimes called as ‘resources’..

  3. Wrathchild Says:

    I’ve often wondered about that middle escalator myself. For a time, I thought it was changed to match where most of the traffic is going. But, lately, the middle escalator is still moving up in the evening, when I would expect it to be going down.

    So I think it’s just a whim. Or perhaps the morning shift is more conscientious of commuters than the afternoon shift.

  4. lisa Says:

    Great photo. How did you get access to the place at such a late hour. Was it still open to “customers”?

  5. techne Says:

    Ah yes resources, as in “human resources”. That still sounds euphemistic to me, but it certainly is right on that line.

    wraithchild, that’s what made me wonder about it I think, an evening up escalator at Medical Center. It’s probably more complicated a calculus at your Dupont-like stations which have both tourists and commuters to deal with, but at others it should be simple.

    Thanks for the photo compliments. This is the kind of capture I love finding! It was taken in winter, so it was only 7-ish o’clock…

  6. jamy Says:

    When I rode the bus in Seattle, I always said “thank you” to the driver when I exited. It’s fairly standard practice there.

  7. Wrathchild Says:

    There is only one i in “Wrathchild”.


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