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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Whither Vertical Bars?

Today's news from DCist about Metro's plans to bring a fleet of new cars to their tracks, minus vertical bars has short people all over DC, myself included, positively bereft. Imagine if you will, your typical morning rush hour in Washington, DC. Having overslept, run out of conditioner, had problems locating your keys, gotten stuck in a pack of tourists too clueless to understand that 8 am* is not the best time to take the metro, had your money eaten by the Metro ticket machines, you haul ass on to a train just before the doors slam on you and that passive aggressive snotty robot voice tells you to "stand back" as "the doors are closing." The train is packed, as usual, but you attempt to negotiate your way through the crowd to find a spot where you will be within respectful distance of the nearest stranger and where you can read your copy of the Express in peace. Also imagine that you are only 62 inches tall. The train begins to move and then lurches suddenly to a stop. Because there are no vertical bars in the car, and because only being 62 inches tall and you cannot reach the horizontal ones near the ceiling, you fly head first into a pack of hungover interns, who topple like dominos down the aisle of the car. Chaos ensues.

Seriously, what is wrong with Metro? Does it lack such self-awareness that it doesn't realize the utter incompetence of its drivers and their love for slamming on the breaks just for kicks? Do Metro employees ever take the Metro themselves? I know its a cliché to complain about Metro and given the shittiness of other public transportation systems (yes San Francisco and Boston, I'm looking at you) we should be grateful for one as new as our own, but sometimes I question the common sense of Metro executives. First they give us those dreadful electronic posters that could induce a seizure among even the most neurochemically stable, and now they rob the vertically challenged of our fair land of our right to not fall on their asses on our rides to work.

I guess what Metro actually wants is for me to start wrapping my arms around the waist of the nearest K Street lobbyist reading the Financial Times in order to achieve some semblance of balance during my ride, which is fine, because I've been contemplating scoring a rich older boyfriend anyway.

*Okay, who I am I kidding. Like I'm ever on the Metro that early.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks as if the vertical bars are by the seats, but not near the doors. This may be partly for accessibility and partly to reduce congestion at the doors which slows the whole system down. Still, it is a problem not just for short people given the tendency of operators to put one or the other pedal to the metal. The solution is to add capacity, but we know that's not gonna happen. If you've seen a car layout that works, you should send it to WMATA. Adding vertical bars would be an easy retrofit.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous the good doctor said...

I’ve got a serious problem with Metro moving the vertical bars as well. Not because of the height issue, as I am of normal size, but for an entirely different reason. To point: DC is really, really hot & humid in the summer. Do we really want all the DC Metro riders reaching for the sky in packed trains at the end of a July or August workday? Take a look at the mass of humanity that rides public transit home everyday - it’s not pretty. We Americans are a bunch of flabby slobs. Now we are going to make all these fat & sweaty people stand shoulder to shoulder with their arms in the air? As is the Metro usually smells like a locker room on the ride home, and this is going to make things that much worse.

Please Metro, we need vertical bars by the doors, I would like my olfactory system to last me into at least my 50s. Plus, they are actually convenient.

Related: do the vertical bars really cause that much congestion? I haven’t studied this in any scientific way, but it’s hard for me to believe that those metal poles are causing that much of a problem. Don’t clueless, spaced-out and/or asshole riders cause much more congestion in the cars than the metal poles? Why can’t we just eliminate them instead?

5:04 PM  
Blogger Hey Pretty said...

I can't think of a better layout, but maybe its time for us to totally throw away our concept of subways and think totally outside the box.

tgd: yes! I totally hear you. Perhaps the best solution would be hermetically sealed little bubbles for us to ride around in. oh wait, those are called "automobiles." Never mind.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Anne G G said...

Wow. I'm 5'5" and I can't get a good grip on those ceiling rails. Course, if Metro ever did adopt such a plan, the first month's injury toll would result in an immediate reversal, I do believe. Having ridden my full share of packed trains from King Street to Gallery Place, I can't imagine that even one week would go by without someone getting crushed, if there were no vertical rails.

6:39 PM  

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