For Deaf Rider, Frustration Mars Metro Experience

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Gallaudet University student who is deaf wrote to describe the communications hurdles involved in riding the transit system. The writer compared his experiences this year with his first impressions of Metro.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I want to express my frustration as a Metro customer. When I was a freshman, I used Metro quite regularly. It was pretty efficient, quick, on time quite often, and communication was pretty good.

Fast forward: It has been a colossal nightmare. The first major delay [Metro Center platform rehabilitation on President's Day weekend] wasn't too bad, but the next one [switch replacement at Van Ness] was extremely frustrating.

I was at Friendship Heights when the switch work began, and despite my asking many Metro workers which way to go, nobody knew. And, Metro workers kind of ignored me and treated me like I wasn't important since I am deaf and cannot communicate well.

Finally, after confusion and uncertainty, I decided to take a taxi to Gallaudet. Then [on another weekend], I was stuck at Chinatown for 30 minutes, sitting on the floor, waiting for the Yellow Line to take me to Pentagon City.

The way back was slightly better, but the [electronic information displays] weren't reliable, and I ended up taking a bus back to Gallaudet. It was such a frustrating experience, and again, no Metro workers would help me.

Andrew Greenman

Gallaudet University

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