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Morning Poll: Metrorail Replacements?

by ARLnow.com December 14, 2010 at 8:43 am 4,108 91 Comments

For all the complaining about Metro, one thing’s for certain: plenty of people still use it.

After all, if yesterday morning’s Orange Line problems demonstrated anything, it’s that for all the suckage, the people you saw jammed onto the platforms still, at that point, considered Metro to be their best transportation option. (Same applies to today’s Blue, Orange and Yellow Line delays.)

But perhaps some are changing their minds.

We heard stories about people yesterday leaving the stations and walking to work, taking cabs, hopping on the bus, or just going home. Maybe a few of those people will permanently change their commuting habits as a result.

With that we ask: have you switched from commuting on Metro to another form of transportation? Or, if you’re very seriously considering making a switch, which form of transportation are you likely to go with?

If you’re likely to continue riding Metro, select “none.”


  • MrStevens

    Anyone from Arlington with free parking at work is crazy for taking the metro.

    • Billy

      I know someone that did that. I thought that he was insane to spend an hour on the metro instead of spending a half hour driving with garage parking. Some people are just affraid of being a car I guess (it’s not hard to get used to how people drive around here).

    • anon

      If you live right by the metro, you may not own a car to drive. Also reverse commuting on the metro is usually easy.

      • Billy

        The person I knew had a car and would spend an hour commuting each way to work instead of driving in less than a half hour.

        • Westover

          If someone lives in Ballston within two blocks of the station and works on the House side of Capitol Hill, it is a 23 minute train ride. Maneuvering out of a garage and waiting at the lights to get on the freeway without a second rider for HOV, you can not do it on a regular day in under thirty minutes. Christmas week and August the car will win every time, this week, with Congress in session, Metro wins big time.

          • Billy

            Not everyone I know lives in Arlington and works in D.C. I know this is shocking, but I have some colleagues who live in Fairfax and work in Arlington.

          • Westover

            Get on at Vienna where you can still get a seat and head in to Arlington where you can walk from the Metro to the office, in such a case Metro is perfect. Everyone has a different situation, Metro is great for some, sucks for others. It is what it is.

          • TGEoA

            Yeah, try running errands and grocery shopping riding Metro.

            Face it, public transportation is for the unwashed.

          • mehoo

            Try taking a walk through the woods in a car. Yeah, makes about as much sense as expecting to do everything on Metro just because you use it to get to work.

        • mehoo

          Time and parking aren’t the only factors in a commuting decision. There’s cost, exercise, stress, convenience, environmentalism, car ownership…

    • Westover

      Depends on how close your home and office are to the Metro. If I still lived in Ballston, or had bought across from East Falls Church, and did not have two kids to drop off at two different schools, it would be a no brainer.

      • mehoo

        This is where we ask you why your kids can’t take the schoolbus…

  • NorthAdams

    i have free parking at work. not metro accessible. must take two buses.
    bike when i can.
    the 38B yesterday (Monday) was extremely off schedule. the 10 AM bus showed up at 1025 followed by the 1030 bus right behind it.

  • anon

    I know lots of people who have already abandoned metro. They tend to drive or walk if close enough to work. WMATA keeps blaming the recession for the decreased ridership. I think it is more likely due to poor service and people finding other ways to move about. Metro has fallen into the same unionized morass as we’ve seen with the DC teachers. It won’t really get better until something is done about the employee union that protects and prevents WMATA from firing even the most unqualified, unmotivated, unproductive workers.

    • mehoo

      Wow, already some goob has blamed the unions. Can’t you think of anything original?

      • Mark Kinzler

        Are the unions not an issue? Are they “off-limits” for discussion?

        • mehoo

          They are not to blame for Metro’s problems. Discuss them all you want though.

    • Westover

      They have some labor problems, but Metro has not had a problem with firing drivers or operators for cause.

  • Rick

    Would rather carpool to Verizon Center, Georgetown etc and pick a DD than try and get on the train. Too unreliable. And theres no way I’m standing for a bus that may or may not come with this weather.

  • NJmetsfan

    Metro is still better than driving. It’s nice to be able to listen to music and text instead of have to put up with other drivers.

    • Rick

      I’m failing to see the difference.

  • Greg

    I have free parking at work in the District, so I quit using Metro about 5 years ago. I tried sticking w/ public transit, but the time difference is just too big. It takes me about 15 – 20 minutes to drive to the office, it took 45 minutes on exceptionally good days to get from home to the office via Metro (bus, Blue Line, Red Line). The evening commute was longer and bad days I care not to remember.

    I don’t miss Metro, sad to say.

    • Westover

      Having to make a train change distroys any time savings the Metro might have.

  • LVGuy

    I used to walk about a mile to my last job (Clarendon to Virginia Square area), now I take Metro. I’m still convinced that walking/biking to work is the best way to get to work if you can. I grew up in Arlington, and still find driving in the area a hassle, so I’d rather take a train or bus even if it means doubling my commute time.

  • I can honestly say that the only reason why I think I still opt for Metro even when parking becomes available to me at work downtown is because I get the gov’t subsidy. I’d rather pay nothing and deal with the inconveniences than pay for gas in my car. If I was paying out of pocket for Metro rail service, however, I would definitely drive instead.

    • MrStevens

      This is why the Fed subsidy needs to go back to the previous levels. Since a large portion of rail riders do not pay for their trip they were screaming for the same ineffective, inefficient, and lazy metro service and employees rather than cuts last year.

    • Mark Kinzler

      Why is the government paying for you to get to work at all? This kind of stuff has got to stop.

      • ClarGirl

        As someone who drives to work, I’m very happy the government subsidizes other people’s transit commutes; I’d hate to have all those people on the road with me.

        • Mark Kinzler

          It’s a nice thought, I think the money would be off saved or spent elsewhere–such as improving the Metro.

      • KalashniKEV

        It’s all part of joining the collective and “switching off.” If 0bie gets his way it’s not going to stop either… it’s going to get bigger. Lucky for us he won’t get his way.

        Freeze or no freeze, I’d never work for the government simply because of what it would do to my mind and spirit… and the people I’d have to work around.

        • Mark Kinzler

          It’s so true. I can spot a bureaucrat from 100 yards away…head down, scowl on their face, moving from the train car to the escalator. Sad world.

          • a’town

            or thats an accountant you see

          • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

            Not everyone in the government is a “bureaucrat.” I’m not, and I take what I do pretty seriously. I also care about doing the best job I can since I am doing it for the American people. As grandiose as that sounds, its true. Most of the people I work with feel the same way. And we are not defense related either. Any frustration I have is because I can’t do a better job with the tools I am given.

      • Greg

        People tend to think that if you work for the government that makes you a mindless automaton. It’s perfectly reasonable for the government to offer benefits to its employees. Just like the private sector does.

        • Mark Kinzler

          Only if offering those benefits is supported by the market Greg. If business sucks, we lose our benefits. They just keep piling yours on.

          • KalashniKEV

            MK, again I find myself on the same side as you… yet you’re way off azimuth. Have you seen the news lately? Those Feds aren’t just shivering from the icy 35MPH wind… their pay is FROZEN.

        • Mark Kinzler

          It’s only be “called upon” by the President to be frozen. That river of lard-filled gravy is still flowing my brother.

      • mehoo

        There’s already a federal parking subsidy…

  • CrystalMikey

    Luckily I walk to work, but I still prefer taking the Metro whenever life takes me into the District (no parking hassles FTW).

  • Mark Kinzler

    Here’s my take–I think most forms of public transit are great, especially light rail. But, this glowing endorsement comes with a huge IF, and that is IF and only IF it is properly managed. There has to be some compelling reason for people to ride the metro; either it’s convenient, saves money, saves time, or it may provide, for some, a warm-fuzzy feeling of being “green”.

    Though it’s a delicate balance for the most part. In other words, the trade-offs for taking the metro aren’t really ever that big of a deal. So when management issues, maintenance, union discord, skyrocketing ticket prices, and safety become an issue, most of the minimal benefits are quickly erased and dragging yourself to the platform every morning quickly becomes an exercise in futility.

    I live 2 minutes from the King Street Metro and work a few blocks from the Rosslyn Metro. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. Door-to-door on the metro is 45 mins on a very good day…but that is without coffee, breakfast, radio or uninterrupted cell service. Door-to-door in my car (which gets 35-40 mpg) takes about 25 mins with all the coffee, food, radio and phone calls I can handle. Factor in that I don’t have to worry about concrete falling on my head while standing on a platform, loons shooting people at the Pentagon station, or exploding light bulbs, and the choice is pretty clear…

    • KalashniKEV

      MK, I’m with you dude, but I really think you’re kind of overstating the health risk of taking the metro and understating the risk of big wheeling it in some kind of tiny, underpowered car while rocking out hard, stuffing your face, swilling java, and yackedy yacking on your cellie like a 12 year old. It’s actually quite a comical image. I hope you have airbags for the next time you crash…

      • Mark Kinzler

        My cellphone is hands free and actually, my “underpowered” car is 2 year old BMW. It does have airbags–quite alot of them in fact, and thankfully, I’m also a veteran driver who’s never caused an accident. So I think, I’ll take my chances dodging all the rubes from Maryland riding 40 mph in the left lane on GW Parkway.

        • CrystalMikey

          Marylanders driving slow? That’s got to be wrong!

        • Notahoo

          -5 for the “I drive a BMW”. What’s next – you own a condo? You travel to warm areas in late winter for sunshine? You dress business casual on Friday? You dislike paying taxes and want to lose 10 pounds?

          However +1 for hammering on Marylanders (note – they generally drive stuff like fords and chevy – those idiots).

          Notahoo

          • Mark Kinzler

            Look, I’m usually the first one to be annoyed by others “branding” their personal property. Ultimately I weighed the positives/negatives of not responding to KalashniKEV equating a car that gets 35-40 mpg to being underpowered and decided that it’s important for people to know that you don’t have to compromise style/comfort to save energy.

      • mehoo

        You and the Pope sure are fixated on demonizing people with whom you disagree. Yes, everyone who doesn’t think like you is a flabby-ass liberal Starbucks-addicted Volvo-driving pansy. Are we done now?

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    I gave up taking metro and started driving because of the crowding and unreliable service. I live about a mile from Ballston, and work in Old Town. It is faster for me to drive. Does it cost me for parking? Yes. But the hassle of driving is often less than taking metro. I frequently got off in Rosslyn and walked to Ballston because it was easier. Is one really easier than the other though? It greatly depends on the situation and your travel points. For my wife its the same time either way… so she prefers to let someone else drive so she can read etc.

    IMHO metro needs to be taken out of the hands of the local jurisdictions and put in the hands of the Fed. or a private management company. There are too many politics involved, too much bickering, and not enough money. The jurisdictions/states want their metro stops open? Budget the amount needed to maintain and improve the system. Fed should match. Hire some people who are about getting things done and fire all the lazy individuals who don’t do their job with some pride.

    • anon

      Walking up hill 2.5 miles is easier than taking metro?! You must be claustrophobic or the most impatient person in the world. That takes 45 minutes at a brisk pace. Never mind how sweaty you’d be if you did it May-Sept.

      • mehoo

        It’s 2.5 miles downhill on the way home though.

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    In Italy and Greece the hottest chicks use public transportation- especially in Greece! Cant say the same about Amerikwa. Let’s all just sit here and pretend we dont know why the Subway sucks…

  • PCB

    Plain and simple, Metro sucks – Everything about it; Apathetic and/or incompetent employees, Zero Accountability, crumbling infrastructure, unsanitary conditions, etc. (I could go on…) – and anyone who is not willing to admit that obviously hasn’t seen a hobo’s scrotum on their way to work before.

    I used to commute from Huntington to Crystal City. My usual door to door was around 45 minutes and a few times a week upwards of 1.5 hours. It got really annoying, really quickly never having confidence in Metro to perform at an adequate level. Solution? Move close to work and walk. Exercise and I no longer need to get vaccinated before my daily commute. Win-Win.

    • The Pope of South Arlington

      You forgot to mention the faint piss smell from the urine saturated carpets and AC filters, I find it compliments the faded yellow plastic hospital interior.

      • KalashniKEV

        “anyone who is not willing to admit that obviously hasn’t seen a hobo’s scrotum on their way to work before.”

        We can fight back against the Bum Invasion. We choose not to.

    • mehoo

      Well, no, PCB, I have yet to see a hobo’s scrotum after two decades of riding Metro, but I’ll keep looking.

      I have seen naked people while driving, now that I think about it.

      • PCB

        Well if a naked stranger was in your car then I guess your comment would have merit.

        • The Pope of South Arlington

          quod erat demonstrandum!

        • mehoo

          Right, because seeing him outside my car vs. inside a train makes him look completely different.

          • PCB

            Hmmm… Well you’ve missed the point and, YES, it is quite different.

            I have a reasonable expectation not to be inundated with scrotums when choosing public transpiration.

          • The Pope of South Arlington

            “I have a reasonable expectation not to be inundated with scrotums when choosing public transpiration.”

            I think thats in the constitution.

          • mehoo

            I think I see a consensus emerging. Metro’s problems are caused by:

            – Unions.
            – Nude scrotums.

            You guys are really on the ball today (pun intended).

      • Mark Kinzler

        @mehoo: You’ve become so desensitized to being surrounded by scrotums during your day job, you probably miss the ones scattered all over the metro.

        • mehoo

          Surrounded by scrotums all day? No, I don’t work for the government.

          • mehoo

            Oh, wait, you mean here on this forum! Yes. 😉

    • Alan Greedscam

      Solution? Move close to work and walk.

      Exactly. I have little sympathy for people who choose to live way-the-f*ck out somewhere and then whine because they have a hellish commute. You made the choice, now suck it up.

  • rft

    I chose my current apartment in arlington in part because of its proximity to courthouse metro, but after four months of taking the metro, I switched exclusively to driving. I save at least an hour a day, and even more when I work late, which is often (leaving the district at 10 PM by metro takes well over an hour, but less than 15 minutes by car). In addition, the quality of my commute is improved (heated/cooled car listening to NPR v. standing in a cramped, over-crowded car full of people shamelessly passing gas).

    I don’t have free parking in the district, but it’s reasonably priced. My annual commuting cost is probably three to foour times what it would be with the metro, but the savings in time and misery from not taking the metro makes it well worth the added cost.

    • Mark Kinzler

      Listening to NPR…

    • mehoo

      Courthouse is the worst spot to pick – the trains are already crowded but nobody’s getting off yet.

      • rft

        indeed, but there are other reasons I like it better than the other areas immediately around Va Sq. and Ballston. Of course, now that I drive almost exclusively, I suppose I can branch out away from metro stop locations.

        So what are the best NoVa places to live for car-commuters into DC?

        • mehoo

          DC.

          • rft

            lol no

          • Mark Kinzler

            lol double no

  • The Pope of South Arlington
  • Andrew

    I agree with Mr. Kinzler. Management is key here. Clearly, there is demand and interest. And, on good days, Metro works well. Really well, in fact.

    But sadly, those good days are becoming more rare. And there are other ways to get around. I think Metro should take a look at other transit systems in the country — and maybe other countries– for ideas on improvement.

    Take Chicago. Last summer, I took their Metro, commonly called the “El,” to visit my brother. It was great: On time, pretty clean and easy to use. Two observations from the El that I think would improve Metro:

    1) In Chicago, station arrivals are automated in a clear, friendly and audible voice that just about anyone — whether they are a foreigner, ourist, drunk, hearing- or mentally-impaired — can understand. Some DC Metro operators are good at announcing stations. But many understandably get tired of saying the stations names over and over again throughout their day and kind of mumble to get by. Automated announcments would help people — especially tourists — know where they are.

    2) El cards are transferrable. When I was with my brother, we took the El to nearby Oak Park, Ill. When we got to the station at the start of our trip, I went over to the ticket kiosk to buy a pass. My brother said, no, that’s OK. He ran his card TWICE for the both of us. CTA folks were cool with this because, from their perespective, they got their money (two people = two fares) and we could ride. If Metro could do that, this also help hapless tourists with families when visiting.

    Metro can learn a lot from Chicago, New York — even London. All we have to do is ask.

    • PCB

      Point #2 is one of my biggest issues with WMATA.

    • Vinh An Nguyen

      #2 would be difficult to implement in a system requiring the card to exit as well as enter.

      • Andrew

        Good point. I forgot to add that in Chicago, the exit gates are one-way turnstiles.

  • AZZI9

    Comments above is why this country sucks. You pay a premium to live in Arlington to be closer to work and yet can’t be bothered to get on a bus/train for a few minutes to get to work.
    Here is my experience:
    1) Gave up the car 18 months ago. I save 200+ per month on payments + 100 per month on insurance. I spend max 160 per month on my smart trip each month.
    2) Since I’ve gotten rid of my car, I’ve lost 15 lbs in 18 months just from walking to and from station to work or home. No other exercise, no gym, no equipment. That’s a savings of 30 bucks a month on gym membership.
    And by the way I commute from Rosslyn to Old Town Alx. 30 minutes max door to door.

    • Bruce Jenner

      Man, you must not have exercised at all before selling your car.

      You must not go anywhere outside of a bus or metro line very often either. There are only so many places you can bus, walk, bike, or metro.

      Kudos to you for doing it, btw.

    • mehoo

      Awesome story, thanks.

    • AZZI9

      It is awesome. I save money and I feel great. An you’re right Bruce, I don’t exercise. Everyday I sit behind my desk all day long and when I get home its PS3 or Xbox. If I get the itch to drive around I’ll rent a car but that doesn’t happen too often.

    • Westover

      Good that works for you, for many with kids or who live further from a Metro Station that is not an option. Being close in has many advantages other than the public transportation option.

      • AZZI9

        West. For me… transportion is the only advantage of living in Arlington. Nothing I can get here that I can’t get in the suburbs.

        • Westover

          I would have a mile walk to the Metro, but my car ride is significantly shorter after I drop the kids off at school, if compared to living out far enough to remove the close-in premium. With the only alternate short drive being Old Town(even more expensive), McLean(much much more expensive) or PG County(much cheaper, but comparably a bad environment for raising kids). If I was single, living in Courthouse, Clarendon, Ballston, or Rosslyn; Metro would be the way to work. In Westover with kids, the car is the only real option. Being close in means I have an hour plus more with the kids each evening after a much more pleasant drive than I would to outer Fairfax, Prince William, or Loudoun.

          • AZZI9

            West. I agree, when I have kids, commuting to work using metro will be the least of my worries. But now, my wife and I scramble to and from work using metro just fine.

          • Westover

            When you have kids, Arlington is a great place to raise them!

          • mehoo

            Kids can take buses to school too.

        • mehoo

          I love the urban feel that suburban strip malls just can’t provide.

  • John10000

    If I could find parking close to where I work, I wouldn’t ride that cattle car aka “the Metro”. It used to be such a great public transit system, but in the last about 3 years, it has been really going downhill and FAST. I don’t know if it is because of the new breed of young riders who think it is OK to eat and drink and throw away their trash on the cars (not to mention that they STARE at handicapped and elderly people instead of giving up their seats to them) or if it is the Metro employees who have gotten even more disrespectful, or if it is the Metro Management tha is so fiscally incompetent that has caused the biggest changes. Whatever the reason, as soon as I find parking, I’m driving! Give me 66 or 395 traffic jams any day!!!

    • Justin Russo

      I blame incompetent affirmative action hire John Catoe. Now that his lame ass is leaving, maybe it’ll improve.

  • Wolf_In_Sheep

    I have an opinion on Metro. My opinion is just me telling others what my morning commute is and acting as if it is a superior choice. My opinion is presented as fact. I share anecdotes as if they were incontrovertible evidence and typical of everyone’s experiences. When others challenge me I will resort to ad hominem attacks. At the end of my response I will either whine about something petty or condemn others for disagreeing. I most certainly will assign blame. I will help solve nothing and feel better about myself. I live in the Washington metro area – this is what I do everyday.

    • AZZI9

      This is going through your head at 5:59 in the morning?

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