Notes on transit | Bleader

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Notes on transit

Posted By on 10.03.07 at 08:29 PM

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* The D.C. Metro is one of the underappreciated works of public architecture in the country. It's magnificent, perhaps in a creepy, Kubrickian way (see below), but magnificent nonetheless. 

* One of the smartest things the designers of the Metro stops did was to, unlike those in Chicago, not rely on white paint as a design element. White paint tends to show grease, oil, rust, and urine in a way that concrete doesn't. Someone please tell Ron Huberman this.

* Also smart: relying on text-based displays to inform riders of information. I take the Red Line from 63rd Street to work, and while that stop is kind enough to inform people of incoming trains, it does it using a crappy PA system on a platform in the middle of an interstate. which sort of defeats the purpose, although I'm sure you can understand the messages at like 4 AM.

* Another fine example of text-based information: posting bus schedules at the stops. Although in Chicago it might just reinforce the idea that bus schedules are at best a suggestion. 

* Damn, the el is loud.

* Whoever invented the Sprint walkie-talkie phone needs to publicly apologize for that shit.

* On the other hand, our crappy public transportation system is somewhat balanced by our vastly superior cab system. D.C. cabs charge based on a ludicrous zone scheme--the fare is based on how many zones you travel through, like Metra--so that unless you know the zones like a native your charge will be something of a surprise.

* Which also, from a very unscientific survey, seems to make the cabbies disinterested in getting you to your destination with any speed or accuracy. One morning, having requested a destination on Champlain Street in the definitely not obscure or distant neighborhood of Adams-Morgan, I was taken to Chapin Street, and then left on a corner (out $7.60, since I crossed zones) because the cabbie had no idea where Champlain Street was and was unconcerned with finding out. The second cabbie was equally uninformed, so I had to call my destination for directions. This served only to get me in the general area; after driving around my destination, the cab hit another car, at which point I insisted on getting out and walking.

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