This week—ironically the same week as the birthday of Washington, D.C.’s Metro architect, Harry Weese—WMATA decided to pass thank you notes to every rider for their “support” during these past few tumultuous months. From WMATA CEO Paul Wiedefeld, the notes read:
“We appreciate your support during SafeTrack. It’s not been an easy journey as we performed three years of track work in just one year.
Your support helped us improve safety and reliability so that Metro can get back to good. Thank You!”
Along with the thank you notes, coupons were provided for McDonald’s for a free medium McCafe (which, of course, is illegal to drink at the Metro, but, hey, free is free.) It’s worth noting that at least one McDonald’s location stopped accepting the coupons.
In response to these notes, Kool-Aid leaflets were passed out by unknown individuals that read, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. WMATA just cut your service and raised your fares.”
In a release, Wiedefeld further described SafeTrack as “an unprecedented burden” that affected riders. SafeTrack was a work plan that intended to accelerate three years' worth of improving safety and reliability into approximately one year. To do this, hours were cut short, and many Metro lines experienced single-tracking for weeks on end.
Because of this, ridership has dropped, resulting in a 14 percent decrease in rail revenue, according to WTOP. In February 2017, it was reported that 9 percent of rail and bus ridership was down compared to the previous year, resulting in 16 million fewer trips.
While experts disagree about what the true factors affecting transit ridership are, it’s difficult to believe that thank you notes will be enough for riders to jump back on the bandwagon that for years has been a long and bumpy ride.
Because of this, Curbed DC would like to propose 10 things that may be preferred by riders over thank you notes:
- Better safety and reliability
- Longer hours
- More color-blind friendly sign posts
- Fewer “hot cars”
- Less offloading
- Stop painting the concrete
- Cleaner railcars
- More predictable service schedules
- Kojo on the Metro
- If you said, “Sorry,” not “Thank you”