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Opinion

Local Editorial: Metro board members think taking transit is a waste of their time

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Opinion,Transportation,Local Editorial,Metro

It's free, and they still won't use it. As The Washington Examiner's Liz Essley reported Monday, only two of the 13 members of Metro's Board of Directors she interviewed use the transit system they run on a daily basis, even though one of their perks is a free bus and rail pass for life.

Board Chairman Tom Downs and federal appointee Marcel Acosta, who both live in D.C., are the only two board members who use Metro for their weekday commutes. None of the board members representing Northern Virginia or suburban Maryland know what it's like to deal with long delays, offloading, derailments, broken escalators, malfunctioning doors and other such indignities on a daily basis.

Most of them don't take Metro on the weekends either, so few experience firsthand what it's like to wait in a station for more than a half-hour due to long-neglected track work.

D.C. board member Tom Bulger drives to work because the bus stop nearest his house -- a half-mile walk uphill -- is "too far away." Similar complaints are voiced by many of his colleagues on the board: Either Metro doesn't go where they want or need to go, or transit is just not convenient enough to fit their busy schedules.

In other words, the majority of political appointees on the Metro board think that using Metro is a waste of their valuable time. Even though, as Essley points out, rules that the directors themselves approved last year after they were publicly criticized for being clueless about the system they run require them to take Metro at least some of the time.

If even a free ride and public pressure is not enough to entice Metro board members to ride their own system on a daily basis, it's no wonder that they are aloof and unresponsive when frustrated daily commuters complain. They have no idea what it was like for hundreds of Green Line passengers trapped in dark overheated rail cars on Jan. 30 due to a malfunctioning electrical insulator that forced two trains to single-track under the Anacostia River.

That's why board members didn't react with appropriate ire when Metro staff flagged passengers' self-evacuation as the main problem in the Green Line incident, not the Keystone Kops-like communications failure between transit police, Metro's control center and stranded passengers trapped in the dark. And why the Metro board still doesn't have a clue.

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