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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

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Thoughts on the Washington Metro Train system
Flaky Tree Friend
Whilst staying with my people in Maryland, I spent a lot of time using the Washington DC train system... Which impressed me somewhat, or at least stood in stark contrast to semi-functional train system back in Melbourne.

There was a few things that made it different.

Firstly, the "ticketing" system. There weren't tickets as such, I used a contact-less smart card the whole time. One recharged it with cash or with a credit card at machines at every station. You scanned it on the way in and on the way out, and it worked out how much the trip cost. Simple.

They're trying to build a similar system in Melbourne. It's two years late and seems unlikely to work as intended. It makes you wonder why they didn't just buy an existing system, rather than trying to create a new one from scratch. I mean, apart from the trams, there's nothing special about the idea of stations, trains and passengers.

Secondly, the line naming convention. Every line was assigned a colour - red, green, yellow, blue etc. - rather than a destination. So one didn't have to wonder if it was the broadmeadows line you where after or what have you. I was on the Red line, I just had to make sure I was catching the train in the right direction.

Thirdly, the trains are all in good condition, are all of one type and have hand-holds the length of the entire carriage. Compared to the four different kinds of rolling stock on the Melbourne system, including the shitty Hitachi trains, some of which have been brought out of retirement, literally from a paddock! Not to mention the state they are in or the complete lack of anything to hold on to if you are more than a metre or so from the doors.

Forth, the entire network appears to have been built around the same time, so all of the (underground) stations look the same.

Fifth, the drivers were great! I had this one laid back guy, who must have been African-American, who announced the stations and the line in a voice which sounds just like he was half asleep. You know "Next station Takoma, reeeeeeeeed line, Glenmont...."

It's going to bite having to go back to Connex. This is why I ride my bike...

One last interesting thing I noticed. Most of the buses in the inner city had bike racks on the front of them. A kind of fold-down rack with space for two bikes on it. It was a nice idea, not sure how practical it would be.