By Carten Cordell | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority unleashed its multi-million dollar rush hour plan, Rush+, this week, aimed at cutting wait times for trains and benefiting nearly 110,000 riders.
It may be too soon to grade the initiative. But there’s a lot at stake — $3.1 million, to be precise, in new signage, station improvements and a $400,000 marketing campaign that includes new transit maps, brochures, faregate stickers, posters and an ambitious social media campaign.
The goal of the project is to provide more trains to the Washington, D.C.-bound populace from Virginia by cutting down on transfers and wait times while preparing for the arrival of the Silver Line train from Wiehle Avenue in 2013.
But in a city where metro service is a popular piñata, riders have taken their Rush+ opinions to the Internet. Likewise, WMATA has used social media to address concerns and complaints, but with little success.
The Twitter hash tag “#rushplus” opens a window of complaints about train delays and overcrowding, the very problems Rush+ was supposed to solve. Some of Thursday’s comments included:
- “Who needs to buy cologne/perfume? You’ll just end up wearing that of the person next to you on the Metro today.”
- “Dear @wmata #Rushplus made me late for work because I missed 2 trains because of crowding.”
- “I assume @wmata has a motto of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Only explanation of their antagonizing of blue line riders.”
- “#rushplus makes weekend track work service look functional”
Unsuck DC Metro, a popular blog for D.C. transit-related criticism, has been plastered with pictures and video of crowded platforms, the visuals supplemented with tweets among angry commuters and a defensive WMATA social-media response team.
The transit authority appears ready to ride out the storm. But it’s hard to say for sure. The marketing team from WMATA did not respond to repeated requests for comment.