It was just one morning’s experience at a few stations, but based on that, I’d say Metro needs to work on its Rush Plus relationship with Blue Line riders.
Join me at noon for our weekly online discussion and bring your comments about the new rush hour service. Here are a few of my first impressions.
Metro still needs to work on its communication skills. This is the transit authority’s biggest chance to show off since the 2009 presidential inauguration. This week, and beyond, it needs to convince some skeptical riders that it has made a service change for the better.
Metro has been telling riders that their part in making Rush Plus work is to look at the next-train information displays on the platforms and to check the destination signs on the trains.
On my tour this morning, I saw a Yellow Line train bound for Franconia-Springfield that was not displaying destination signs on the first four cars when it arrived at Archives.
I spent a while on the King Street platform and saw these things: The next-train display was often unhelpful. This is one of the places where some Blue Line riders need to make a choice. Should they wait for the next Blue Line train or board a Yellow Line train and transfer in D.C. to reach their destination?
Sometimes, the panel showed information about the next train only, rather than about the next three trains. Sometimes it had some information about three trains, but crucial pieces of information were rendered as “#####” on the signs.
One Blue Line rider heading for Rosslyn had picked up a brochure about Rush Plus when he entered the station. But when he got to the platform, what he wanted to know was how long till the next Blue Line train. He knew they’re scheduled to arrive at six minute intervals followed by a 12 minute gap.
The information sign was no help on this, so he stopped a passing Metro employee. The employee couldn’t help him either, and didn’t know how to check on the train schedule.
I rode with him up to Rosslyn. The train was very crowded by the time we got to Pentagon City — one of those situations where people are saved from falling only because they bounce off fellow passengers.
The view from Court House was very different. I waited on the platform for about 20 minutes after 8:15 a.m. and watched Orange Line trains pass by frequently.
A few were crowded, but most had plenty of breathing room. This was not the Orange Crush, the congestion that grinds patrons into pulp.
On no platform did I see Metro employees walking around looking for people to help, or inviting questions.
But this was just one morning on a few trains and at a few stations. Can’t really make a judgment based on that. Metro and the riders are going to have to go through this every weekday.