The story about riding Metro escalators ["Standing on the Left? You Must Be on Vacation," front page, May 17] was an example of the "me first, me only, and to hell with everyone else" mentality prevalent in Washington. Never mind that walking or running on the escalators is against Metro's rules; the level of rudeness portrayed by the Washington area residents in your story is unjustifiable.
Visitors are doing nothing wrong by using Metrorail. But, even if they were, they deserve our respect and help, not our scorn. The behavior suggested by the StandtotheRight.com founders -- "destroying everything in your path" -- is especially appalling. Are they serious?
Walking on an escalator probably saves at most one minute. We could all break this cycle of rudeness if we gave ourselves 60 extra seconds to board the trains. The generosity of spirit would make our lives and the lives of those around us less stressful.
Why doesn't Metro post bigger signs at the entrances to escalators stating the policy for riding them? Why doesn't Metro announce the policy over the loudspeaker? It announces every two-minute delay -- why not this?
Then the locals could remind the tourists who are still clueless about the policy (as they do in London's subway system) without being considered ogres.
Metro officials are kidding themselves if they think that the subway system in this town could function without many commuters walking on its escalators. Although Metro officials say safety is the reason that they do not encourage passengers to walk on the escalators, it would be far less safe if they didn't walk.
At the busiest times, in crowded areas such as the lower-level platforms at the Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza stations, platforms could not clear in time for the next trains to arrive if people did not walk up the escalators. If everyone stood in place, trains would empty new passengers onto packed platforms and passengers riding down to the platform would have nowhere to step off.
The safety argument also falls flat, because on any given day dozens of Metro escalators are broken, forcing passengers to walk whether they want to or not.
Conflict between walkers and standees on Metro's escalators is not limited to hurried locals encountering clumps of out-of-towners. For some Washingtonians, the rule seems to be: Stand to the right, walk (or run) on the left as fast as I do, or get over. At least the Metro escalators have fewer of these people than the Beltway does.
RICHARD A. KERR