When it rains on Metro, it pours. But a local blog and a nonprofit are hoping that riders can help alleviate the agency’s sorry state through a crowdsourcing contest they’ve branded as “MetroGreater.”
Greater Greater Washington and the transit-focused Coalition for Smarter Growth announced the endeavor on Wednesday, as Metro implements its yearlong SafeTrack maintenance plan. The contest, however, is aimed at “smaller, faster, cheaper changes” than the $60-million plan is expected to accomplish. Riders can submit their ideas to improve Metro’s customer-service experience online, until July 15; they’ll also be able to weigh in on others’. “A jury of regional experts and advocates” will select 10 finalists before the public votes for a winner in August. According to the groups, Metro has promised to act on the most popular recommendation within six months, and could choose to enact others.
“Those of us outside the transit agency can’t turn wrenches or replace rail ties,” Stewart Schwartz, CSG’s executive director, said in a statement. “But riders, advocates, and the public have a wealth of knowledge, ideas, and energy that we can share.”
The construction of a new line isn’t what the groups are looking for. To be eligible as a finalist, the ideas must be practicable by “Metro in no more than three to six months,” “will cost no more than $100,000 to complete,” and be sustainable. (Nothing illegal or detrimental to service, either.) Already, woebegone passengers have started submitting ideas. Among them: wider platforms, door-warning platform stickers, reversible escalators, and free rail-bus transfers.
GGW and CSG note that Metro General Manger Paul Wiedefeld has taken up ameliorative actions since joining the agency last year, citing his decisions to color-code eight-car trains on digital displays as well as installing decals that illustrate where cars will come to a stop on platforms. For the contest, riders can submit Metrobus and MetroAccess ideas, too.
Within the transit agency, Metro today announced the hire of Joseph Leader, a former New York City subway official, as its new chief operating officer. Leader is set to begin on Aug. 1 and replace Jack Requa, the current acting COO.