Last week Marilyn Greene of Arlington reported a dangerous condition at the Farragut West subway station.
During the evening rush hour, escalators on the Virginia side were bringing down passengers for whom there was no space on the platform. The possibility existed that somebody who couldn't get off the escalator would be injured, or somebody on the platform would be pushed off onto the tracks.
When I checked with Harry Barley at Metro, he told me that SOP called for turning off that "down" escalator during rush hours, and that he'd make sure the procedure was followed. I told Marilyn I was willing to bet 10 million billion trillion dollars that Harry would follow through.
A note just in from Marilyn says, "Your paycheck is safe. The escalators are off.My deepest appreciation to Mr. Barley."
Jim Meaghan of Alexandria also has some criticism for Metro, and he offers a sensible remedy. The problem is a lack of proper identification outside rail stations to let people know exactly which lines they will find when they get down into the subway.
"Near the entrance to every Metro rail station," Jim says, "there is a 12-foot column or pylon with a big white 'M' on all four sides near the top. When I checked 12 pylons this week, I found that only three of the 12 had colored markings to identify the lines they serve, and that two of them have blue stripes near the top but no orange stripes although both stations serve the Blue Line and the Orange Line.
"Here is what I found: Farragut North, Connecticut and L, no colored marking on pylon. At Connecticut and K, a red stripe atop pylon, served by Red Line. At Farragut West, 18th and I, a blue stripe but no orange stripe, served by both Blue Line and Orange Line. McPherson Square, no colored marking, served by Blue Line and Orange Line. Metro Center, 13th and G, no colored markings, served by Red Line, Orange Line, Blue Line; 12th and G, 11th and G, 12th and F: the same as at 13th and G. Federal Triangle, on 12th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, elevator at street level has no colored markings although it serves the Blue Line and Orange Line. Likewise, two pylons about 100 feet west of elevator have no colored markings although they should be marked for the Blue Line and Orange Line."
Jim's proposed solution is: "Metro should paint red, blue and/or orange circles on the pylons at eye level, about 5 feet high, not 11 feet up.A quick look at the colored circles would enable riders to know whether they were on the right track and avoid a needless trip down to the wrong platform, or boarding the wrong train."
If a Metro spokesman tells us this idea has already been proposed but was turned down by Metro's board "for budget reasons," I'll scream. It's an economical but useful suggestion, dear Metro board, and it's being offered to you free. How can a mass transit board turn down a free ride?