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Monday will be a day that will live in infamy, when many of the hundreds of thousands of passengers using the DC Metro to commute to work will be unpleasantly surprised by the new and rapid rate at which their travel accounts are depleted. With the expected hikes starting Sunday, the peak hour rides will cost riders as much as $5 one way. The DC Metrorail authorities blamed the hike increases on the economy and some have even hailed the hikes as a good sign, an indicator that riders will be insured of higher safety standards, and that services won’t be cut.
The situation with the DC Metro, below the streets of DC , is a very telling example of what is happening at the ground level, and more precisely, on the Hill.
The DC Metro has had a steady increase in ridership over the past couple of years, and yet, the quality of service has dramatically decreased, to the point of negligence. The most telling example of such lack of responsibility was exposed to the public through the unfortunate deaths of 9 people in a crash last year. Just like the current administration, the management of DC metro did not let a good crisis go to waste, and made the accident out to be a centerpiece of the argument that the Metro needs more money. With the decreasing quality of service, conversely, employees were rewarded increasingly more money. the union representing the workers insisted that the Metro hire only union workers, for example, to fix the escalators, which are the cause of the most complaints. The result? More escalators than ever are broken, and the riders are subjected to reenactments of mountain climbing expeditions every morning.
The DC Metro authorities treat quality and safety as if they were privileges, and have felt that riders will have to share the burden of patching up the $190 million deficit. In the meantime, 210 new jobs were created, most of them management, all of them union. No one from the leadership has been fired, no one reprimanded publicly. The people punished for the abuses of the leadership are the taxpayers.
The events occurring in the DC metro have found a parallel, unfortunately, on the Hill. The government keeps on growing while the American taxpayers are forced to give more and more of their salary over to the government and to the unions, many of which have come out miraculously unscathed through the economic recession. However, unlike the management of DC Metro, the people who raise our taxes aren’t appointed but elected, and that’s what all of us need to remember.