Alerts & Stone Cold Comfort


I get metro alerts delivered to my work email.  This way I know before I leave the office if I'm going to be in for a rough commute home. It also means that everytime anything happens on the two lines I travel on, I get an alert.

This morning I got this one:  
METRO Alerts []     Wed 2/17/2010 9:04 AM
Subject: Metro Green-Yellow Lines alertMETRO Alerts []
(ID 66225) Disruption at Fort Totten in both directions. Unauthorized person on track bed at Fort Totten. Delays in both directions.

All day I've been wondering who that was and what happened to them….


Yesterday on my way home from work the train driver reminded us it was "unlawful" to eat or drink on the trains and that it was "punishable by fine and/or jail".    I wonder how big a meal one would have to consume to warrant a jail sentence.    
Last week, during all the snow madness, Metro posted press releases on their website to announce their operations, closings, failings etc. Then alerts were emailed out with a hyperlink rather than containing any useful information. 
A few times their servers crashed as more people than ever suddenly got interested in looking at the metro pages.    
Responding on,  to complaints that the alert system should have some information and not just a link,  Ron Holzer of WMATA, on Feb 16, 2010 4:58 pm wrote: 

Feb. 12th had the most page views to our web site in our history. As you can see from the list below, we typically get in the neighborhood of 600,000 page views a day. We more than tripled that, which slowed the ability for people to get onto the site. You can even see that on Friday, Feb. 5 that web traffic picked up due to the weather.
Date………Visitors…Page Views

Yes – I was one of those people trying to find out how often my trains were running – but I'm  quite surprised by the  number of page views on a normal day .


These were the seats that were freezing my arse last week.  
The stations that have a platform on the outer side of their tracks have this prison cell style model:

Those stations with a platform in the middle of two tracks has this much fancier model: 

Even with newspaper spread under one's bottom they are both bloody cold!


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34 responses

  1. Good grief! In this day and age of synthetics and recyclables you would think some genius could come up with a more comfy, warmer, yet still sturdy bench for commuters to wait on. I suppose, however, that would cost money. 😛

  2. I would get in trouble for sure, about the food and drink. I always have a bottle of water and a snack with me, always. My goodness but they are strict!! And what on earth is the notice about an unauthorized person on the "track bed?" What does that mean?

  3. Yes, those seats look cold. But, at least with email you can understand what they're trying to tell you. In Boston they have an intercom/PA system that sounds like "hsssssssss…crack…attention rid…hiisssssss…MBTA will…crackle, crackle, hissssss…"

  4. I agree with Grouchy Old Man. I wear long sweater-coats (knitted long cardigans) everywhere under my coat and they add a layer of bum warmer. Of all places, is a good place to get one, or Old Navy (the vic secret ones are nicer and last longer though.

  5. I think the approach of most urban transit systems is to install a bench that will be resistant to vandalism and deter anyone from sleeping on them. These slabs seem to be the extreme manifestation of these design goals.

  6. I used to ride Metro into work (Metro Center) but stopped as a.) it is not that much cheaper than riding your own car into the city, and b.) While I cannot speak for other U.S. mass transit systems, comparing Metro's reliability to what I do know well, Japanese mass transit, its record/performance is abysmal. And for the wonderful, Neo-proletarian amenities……………………………….

  7. I don't think anybody who designs train station or bus shelter seats has ever actually tried to sit on one, or surely they'd be slightly more comfortable. I haven't come across too many comfortable ones anywhere.

  8. Yeah – they are pretty spartan. I usually stand to wait for my trains but the waits are usually around 5 minutes or less. Last week with all the snow madness the waits were up to 40 minutes and I considered myself lucky if I got to sit on one of these! 🙂

  9. When my daughter came to stay she was feeling faint from the heat on the metro and I said "have a drink of your water" – she was terrified she was going to get caught and fined – she thought she would rather faint. I usually have a bottle of water with me in summer and I see lots of people with Starbucks thermoses. I don't like seeing people eat burgers etc because usually they just throw their rubbish on the floor of the train!!

  10. LOL – the announcements on the train can be unintelligible just like yours. A few years ago they sent all the drivers to elocution style classes to try to correct that. I think some have forgotten their lessons!

  11. they have to hire the eat and drink police. LOL… it is amusing isn't it! I've often seen people eating – horrible smelling pork rind crisps the other day – but I've never seen anyone apprehended so I'm not sure how many E&D police we have.

  12. My thigh length coat has been fine up until this winter. I don't think anything much would keep the butt warm on these seats. I put a newspaper under me one day and it didn't make any difference. The funny thing was that even with the platforms being crowded there always seemed to be room on one of these seats! I don't think I'm the only one to find them too cold.

  13. Food Policeman" LOL… a few years ago a woman was arrested, handcuffed and carted to jail for eating a candy bar on one of the platforms. The officer got (in)famy but I'm not sure it made him popular. Apparently the woman would not stop and produce ID so they could issue her with a ticket!

  14. We don't own a car but occasionally after a really bad commute I start dreaming of getting one! My drive would be through Rock Creek Park which would be infinitely better than being crushed into a tin travelling underground. As a regular commuter I can only compare metro to Sydney Rail and I think metro is way ahead…..

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