Monday, July 09, 2007

DC No Longer Metro-Sexual

Way back in 1992 I spent a month in Russia's two largest cities, and one of the things that I have long remembered from that trip is Moscow's subway. The long elegant stairways leading to a platform that had sculpture and paintings on display. I'm sure it's much different now, 15 years later, but it was the type of thing that I remember being impressed by. And it was a kind of cold war pissing match, which nations capitol had the nicer subway.

I grew up in the shadow of New York city, and those were trains that didn't impress any one. I was born, however, just outside of Washington DC, and the DC metro was the very model of mass transit in the US. The trains were always clean, and the stations had their own ambiance. The vaulted, honey comb ceilings and the floor that looked like it was a patio of a very nice beach house. Plus, there was hardly any advertising in the stations back in the early 90's. You always felt safe in the DC Metro, and you were always proud to show it to visitors since is was like putting our best "mass transit" foot forward.

Now the new boss of the DC metro wants to make sweeping changes starting with, but not limited to jacking up the amount of billboards. The thinking apparently is: why charge more for for a ride on the Metro, when you can just cut the extras. That would be sound thinking if we all didn't know that a few years after cutting back on the ambiance, they would just raise the cost anyway. This is definitely not good work out of those in charge of the DC Metro.

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