I moved to Washington, DC in January of this year. Since moving I have had a huge and standout pet peeve with the city that I don’t think anyone from another city could understand. As simple as it sounds, it’s the escalators in the Metro. It’s not just me, everyone I know that lives here is driven nuts by them as well. I promise that anyone that lives in Washington right now and rides it knows what I’m talking about. It isn’t an understatement that it’s normal for 50% of the escalators to be out of order at any given stop In any other city it wouldn’t be a problem, but DC is different. Hear me out before you judge me on this seemingly unimportant issue. I mean, there’s a hugely popular local blog that rants about it to back me up – UnSuckDCMetro.
Generally escalators that don’t work aren’t such a problem for me. I’m very familiar with Boston’s T and New York’s subway system and don’t mind taking the stairs in those cities. It’s usually faster to run up them and who couldn’t use a few more stairs in their daily wanderings? But, like I said, DC is different.
Before I get to the bad, the nice part about the Metro is that it’s clean, spacious, and generally runs on time. Unlike Boston, you can sit on some nice seats that aren’t carved to death and graffiti doesn’t stand a chance. It’s not too crowded and doesn’t smell like the rancid subway system in New York. I’ve been on nearly a dozen different subway systems and this one has got to be the nicest – once you’re on the platform.
Now we’ll go to the bad and the reason why I think it’s the only place where one can complain about escalators not working and not be picked on as being lazy. Washington has the longest escalators you could ever imagine. The longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere? Yep, it’s here. 508 feet of escalator. That’s nearly two football fields of mechanical stairs. Every single friend that I’ve had visit me here makes a comment about how far you have to climb on escalators in the Metro. Most snap photos at both the top and the bottom. Roslyn is probably 20,000 leagues under the DC swamp (I know it’s technically Virginia). Dupont isn’t as deep, but must be below a tectonic plate at the very least.
Yes, the Metro does have elevators, but I have only taken them twice here. The first time was when I just moved here and couldn’t see the steps down at Navy Memorial/Archives. The second was when I had a whole PC with me. I’m young and relatively in shape so I refuse to let myself.
Now that summer is here and everyone is visiting, things are getting brutal. This city was seriously built on a swamp and it’s the muggiest place I’ve been in the world. There are tons of jokes about ambassadors getting hazard pay for being sent to DC back in the day. Now, imagine climbing a broken escalator at least twice as long as you’ve ever seen in your life – in a suit – with a computer bag in 100 degree heat while you can practically see dew drops forming in the air in front of you. Not fun. I’m not kidding that people die when they don’t work.
Is it that hard to keep the escalators running? I guess so, but can’t understand why. Fares are about to go up for the second time since I got here 7 months ago and it’s probably worse than the day I got here. The Metro is so perfect – aside from the escalators! If you don’t believe me and the mayhem I speak of, look what just happened a few blocks away from me yesterday. Smoke + broken super-long escalators + lots of people underground = …