An increasing number of people say the subway is becoming too pricey to ride. More people say they are not using Metro because trains are too crowded and more people report that rides take too long. And the system overall is viewed as less reliable than several years ago, as disruptions on Metro’s five rail lines have become routine.
“I think under the circumstances — it’s old and a lot of people use it — it is a pretty good system,” said Ruth Kling of Falls Church, who was a daily rider for 15 years on the Red Line from Union Station to Dupont Circle until she retired. “It’s pretty clean and it seems to run on time. Except for the escalators — that’s a perennial problem.”
Kling’s measured approval was typical among the roughly 1,100 people in the District and close-in suburbs who participated in the survey, which was conducted between June 19 and 23.
Roughly seven in 10 residents, or 71 percent, give Metrorail positive ratings. A 56 percent majority rate Metrorail as good, and 15 percent call it excellent. Few see the system in a negative light, with 16 percent rating the rail system as not so good or poor.
The sampling of public sentiment toward Metro comes at a critical juncture for the subway system, which records about 750,000 trips on a typical weekday. Even as they carry out a massive rehabilitation of the aging rail lines, Metro’s leaders have been rolling out ambitious proposals to expand and modernize the transit system, with plans for redesigned rail stations, simpler fare collection technology and a new tunnel under the Potomac.
But if the riders’ mounting concerns about Metro start to eat into their modest overall satisfaction with the system, it could make it even harder to line up the political and financial support Metro’s leaders will need to carry out their plans, experts say.
“The more you build support by doing a good job every day of carrying passengers, then the more you will have the political support,” said Ben Ross, a local transit advocate.
The Post survey, conducted on cellular and land-line phones, asked a range of questions about Metro and transportation. The Post did a similar survey three years ago and another in 2005.
The overall perception of Metro hasn’t dropped significantly even after several difficult years for the system, including a deadly crash four years ago that killed nine people and injured dozens on the Red Line. More than six in 10 riders continue to give Metro approving ratings in a variety of areas, including value, comfort, safety, operating hours, reliability and general convenience. Convenience to work is where Metro scores lowest, with half of workers saying the system is “excellent” or “good” on this point.