Ah, Metro my darling, I remember ye when you were shiny and new. As a very young man freshly moved to the DC area in 1977 the Metro was quite a sight. Clean, fast, efficient and inexpensive. It looked like something from a sci-fi movie to me. I used it daily to commute back and forth to school at George Washington University.
Last February I had the occasion to revisit the long lost love of my youth, having escaped D.C. Gomorrah some 20 years ago. I was in DC for the big CPAC convention and was to meet some friends for dinner in nearby Arlington, VA at a great Thai restaurant owned by a friend of mine. A Metro stop was mere paces from the hotel, as was the restaurant on the other end.
No brainer. Metro.
Descending the broken escalator at the Woodley Park station and arriving at the ticket vending machine I immediately realized that my old love had let herself go.
No more freshly mopped floors. Instead, it was more of a urine-y/vomity smell. After purchasing my round trip ticket I descended down another broken escalator to the platform. This is several hundred feet below ground and to my astonishment I learned that weeds can grow in artificial light. Lots and lots of weeds. They grew right out of the concrete of the circular tube that encapsulates the underground station, eating away at the structure as weeds are predisposed to do.
The old girl had gone to fallow.
I waited for the train to Arlington. Several outbound trains had passed and I continued to wait for my inbound train. Finally, after 15 minutes a train approached on my side of the track, but it simply tooted its horn and sped through the station, completely empty. After another 10 minutes went by another train approached and slowed to a stop.
Nobody got off and there were a hundred people waiting to get on, except that it looked like those trains the Nazis used to haul the Jews to the concentration camps. Packed to the gills. Maybe that’s too dramatic, but the stateroom scene from the Marx brother’s movie was roomy compared to what I saw. Somewhere between those two extremes is probably about right.
I was not getting on that train. Period. I left in disgust, called the valet and retrieved my Yukon from the garage and made my way to a lovely evening with friends.
Why do I share this boring story?
Because I just found out that federal employees in DC, on top of their lavish salaries, get a special benefit of $230 a month to ride this hellbound train to work and back. They used to get $120 a month, but Obama’s stimulus bumped OK nearly doubled this subsidy. The bump is expected to expire soon. Yeah. Right.
So, the rush hour roundtrip ticket for non-Fed schlubs is $4.30 per day. If one calculates that there are roughly 21 working days per month, not counting holidays, vacation days, sick days, which I know are meager for Federal workers, 21 days times $4.30 is $90.30 per month, the $230 ought to cover it.
Of course, most people working for the Feds in DC, because of their lavish salaries, drive really nice rides to work. Which means that Metro can’t afford Round-Up for their subterranean weeds and you should expect those escalators to start growing weeds as well.
The love of my youth has become a decrepit old hag with a high dollar hooker price tag.