They’re shutting down the Bethesda Metro Station on Saturday and Sunday as part of the escalator reconstruction. But you probably wouldn’t want to ride anyway because trains will leave Shady Grove only every 20 minutes due to another project downtown. This is now par for the course for Metro weekend “service.”
Dr. Gridlock also reports that the escalator work, which has been going on for some time, will continue for another two years. This seems incredibly slow:
Replacing the three escalators at the Bethesda entrance is a major undertaking for the transit authority. The Bethesda escalators are the second-longest in the Western Hemisphere, second only to those at the Wheaton station, on the other side of the Red Line.
They must be removed and replaced one by one. That’s part of the reason this job, which began in the fall, is more complicated than the original installation of the escalator bank more than three decades ago. . .
The project could take about two more years to finish.
Dr. Gridlock communicates the idea that this is all normal because it’s a tough project. Except that other transit systems–visit the London Underground sometime–seem to manage to keep their very long escalators in better service. Yes, they have problems too but not at our scale. Even when Metro escalators are supposedly fixed, they’re often not, as the experience of users of the reopened Dupont South entrance discovered.
Part of the problem here seems increasingly to be the normalization of a level of service quality that should be accepted and always blamed on lack of funds even as we’re wondering what they did with the money already allocated.
Riders are voting with their feet and abandoning the system despite significant population increases–a real indication that all is not well despite those who minimize its problems, which have not been ongoing for years. People don’t want to ride unreliable transit systems.
At this point Metro needs an intervention to get it back on track and start tackling real problems in a way that earns trust, increases reliability. But I increasingly have little confidence that additional money would help much unless the problems are more directly addressed. Meaningful reform needs to be in place in order to merit more money–and ought to be a top transit priority.