That sparkly ball drops in Times Square just once a year. Drunken Metro riders, on the other hand, apparently fall a whole lot more often than that. Intoxication was a “primary factor” in six stumbles in the transit system over the past two months alone, WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel recently told The Washington Post.
And there’s security footage to prove it. A WMATA compilation video of several incidents — available on washingtonpost.com — is easily the most suspenseful thing I watched in all of 2013. (“Why is she walking right up to the edge of the platform? Why isn’t anyone stopping her? Are those lights blinking? OH NO!”)
Metro is publicizing these problems, Stessel said, because “there is such a thing as too drunk to be on Metro.” Sure, it’s better for someone to stagger around a station than to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. But it’s best if that person is shoved into the backseat of a car, where they can’t plunge onto third rails or off of escalators.
To see how well Metro’s message had been received, I staked out the Foggy Bottom station on New Year’s Eve to ask riders how they felt about sipping and SmarTripping.
“Oh, I’ve seen it,” said Maryalyce Torpy, 43, who most recently spotted some hockey fans passed out on their way back from a Caps game. They were headed to the end of the Yellow Line, and looking pretty vulnerable, so the Alexandria resident notified security to keep an eye on them.
Attacks of opportunity are a big threat for anyone riding impaired, added a guy who walked by next. Although he wasn’t going to drink anything to ring in 2014 — he’d be working — he was worried about what he’d see on his way home: “Somebody’s gonna get robbed tonight.”
Jeremiah Desousa, 31, planned to spend the evening with his kids — and be as far away from Metro as possible. “I predict a lot of accidents and fights,” said the H Street resident, who had a memorable run-in on the Red Line not too long ago. A plastered passenger leaped up and started screaming profanities, fell on the ground, “and then walked off the train like nothing had happened,” he said.
The situation would have been better for everyone if only that guy had a friend like Adam Karson. The 34-year-old Capitol Hill resident was gearing up for a night of designated driving between parties.
“I’m going to pay my dues,” he said. And he won’t start the year as the star in a viral video.
So It Is Written
Speaking of things you shouldn’t do on Metro, a new Twitter account — @WMATAlaws — is addressing rider no-nos with commandments. One example: “Thou shalt not enter the train until every rider that needs to has exited.” Amen.