During the past three years, riders at the Huntington Station have endured closures of large portions of the garage, frequent, unannounced redirection of traffic patterns, noise and construction hazards. The garage could have been leveled and rebuilt at least twice in the time it has taken to jackhammer and patch the three decks of this small facility.
Now it appears that Metro has chosen to set a large number of its spaces as reserved, carpool or handicapped parking. Unquestionably, handicapped and carpool parking are desirable. The disturbing trend here is the increase in the number of monthly-reserved parking areas.
At Huntington Station, three of the six sheltered sections are no longer available to the standard patron. By 6:30 a.m. all standard spaces are taken, and drivers are relegated to the outlying lots. Insult is added to injury at the end of the day when returning commuters walk through the rows of vacant spaces in the reserved areas to reach their vehicles in the outer lots.
As Metro prepares for another rate increase, it should take a good look at itself and the way it is perceived. While it asks for understanding during its capital improvement program and patience with the continuing outrageous state of it escalators, elevators and station facilities, Metro should be aware that such ideas as the reserved parking expansion are antagonistic to its core patrons.
Metro is viewed as the lesser of transportation evils by many of its riders. It doesn't take much to tip the balance in favor of alternatives -- worsening the overall transportation picture for everyone.
Metro could provide standing room for an additional 60 passengers in every car, increasing each car's capacity from 175 to 235 passengers, just by moving the 68 existing seats on each car to perimeter, bench seating.
Shifting the seats on the 850 cars it already owns would mean Metro could carry an extra 51,000 people at a time, without giving up a single seat. That's the same as buying 41 $2 million cars with the current two-by-two seating, at a cost of $82 million to move the same number of people.
If Metro won't discuss rearranging the seats on its trains [Metro, Nov. 15], perhaps it's time for us to reconsider who's on its board of directors.
BRUCE D. LEVITT