Half of Washington Metro’s board doesn’t use the system.
The idea that six of the twelve board members of Washington’s Metro rarely if ever use the train and bus system they manage astonishes me. The Washington Post article reports this awkward exchange with Chairman Jim Graham, who is also a D.C. council member:
“Graham said that last year he rode ‘on various occasions, both bus and rail.’ His most recent bus trip was in December. Train? ‘Every time I went to a Nationals game, because it’s a direct shot from the Columbia Heights Metro to the uh,’ he said, fumbling for the station name. An aide supplied it. ‘Right,’ Graham said. ‘Navy Yard.'”
Mr. Graham, who plays a major role in running the Metro system, should be riding Metro more than simply “on various occasions.” As a board member, he also shouldn’t have to hesitate before remembering the name of a subway station named after the D.C. district recognizable to virtually everyone in the city. Even worse, his apartment, as far as I can tell, is less than a mile from the Woodley Park/Zoo-Adams Morgan Station on the Red line and very close to a number of bus lines. So why is he only an occasional rider?
But he’s not alone. Another board member, William Euille, is the Mayor of Alexandria. It just so happens that Mr. Euille’s office is located at 301 King Street, less than a mile away from the King Street Metro station. Here’s another coincidence: the Yellow line, which serves the station, heads directly to the Gallery Place-Chinatown station in downtown Washington, which happens to be immediately adjacent to Metro headquarters, where the board meets. What is his excuse for not riding?
Mr. Graham’s Red line, by the way, also serves Gallery Place directly.
Just one more. Board member Neil Albert is a deputy mayor in D.C. and lives less than a mile from the Silver Spring Metro Station – also on the Red line – and lives very close to the heavily-used 16th Street bus lines. And yet he, according to the Post, also rarely rides the system. Where is the outrage?
The fundamental point is this: we should expect our leaders to practice what they preach, especially if it takes very little effort to do so. Washington has a fantastic subway system and a relatively well-managed bus network, so these board members have no excuse not to at least ride transit on the weekends – supposing that their day jobs are so difficult to get to on the public transportation system more than a million people use everyday. If board members don’t feel like riding the very convenient Metro, they shouldn’t be on the board.
Washington isn’t alone, of course. Last year, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Vice Chairman David Mack told the following to the New York Post:
“Why should I ride [the train] and inconvenience myself when I can ride in a car?”