Dr. Gridlock: Metro's announcements are often inaudible

(Katherine Frey/the Washington Post)
By Robert Thomson
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I ride Metro trains every five years or so, when I need to be in downtown Washington. This gives me a fair perspective on the progress, or lack thereof, in the system.

One area in which there is some degradation in the system is the public address destination and arrival announcements on the trains.

They used to be unintelligible. Now, they have reached the stage where they are unintelligible and inaudible. On a recent trip on the Blue Line, all that I could hear were some faint, raspy noises when approaching stations.

Why is something as simple as a basic intercom system so worthless on Metro? This is the 21st century, and the field of electronics has made progress in other areas. Computers, cellphones and digital cameras come to mind. Don't people write specifications anymore? Or don't they care?

Robert L Richardson


DG: I asked readers of our Get There blog whether their ears sensed the same trend as Richardson's did. I noted that, to my way of hearing, the quality of the announcements aboard the trains depends a lot on the particular car and how the operator uses the microphone. Also, I find I'm more likely to understand the words when riding aboveground than when the train is in a tunnel.

I haven't noticed the overall deterioration that our letter writer describes. On the other hand, I haven't noticed consistent progress on this long-standing issue.

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