Metro in the Age of Crazy

by James A. Bacon

The chronic problems of the Washington metro system can’t be blamed entirely upon its dysfunctional, multi-state governance system or even the poor choices of its governing board. Any realistic appraisal of the Metro must take into account the fact that the country is increasingly populated by friggin’ lunatics!

The Metro board came up with the idea of selling off the naming rights to Metro stations. Most recently, the board waived its existing naming rules in order to finalize a deal with a “Fortune Global 500 company” to rename the soon-to-open Innovation Center station (near the Center for Innovative Technology building) to a name selected by the unnamed corporation. Now members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors are in a snit that the county wasn’t consulted.

People, get a grip. As WTOP states succinctly, “Metro hopes station naming rights deals could help offset losses from ridership declines to help keep the budget in line without more significant fare increases.”

Speaking of significant fare increases… fare jumping in the Washington Metro is already a significant problem, accounting for $29 million in losses.  That could well get worse, depending on whether local riders heed calls for an international transit fare strike. Proclaims the “It’s Going Down” website:

Everyone pays for the rich to get richer. We pay with our labor, working to fill their pockets. We pay with skyrocketing rent as they gentrify us out of our homes. We pay with the destruction of the environment, the erasure of our communities, the stress in our day-to-day lives. We pay for things that used to be free, like water. We pay taxes so they can hire more cops to terrorize us. Everyone pays, but only they benefit. …

A strike is a blow. It’s not just a boycott; it means interrupting the system, stopping it from working. At the least, you could avoid paying the fare on public transit in your city. But it’s better to make our refusal public and collective. Hop the turnstiles all together. Open up the gates and intervene if security tries to harass anyone. Sabotage the machines. Make the walls proclaim “Nobody Pays!” with posters or spray paint.

This insanity is primarily a West Coast phenomenon, with active movements in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, but it has spread to New York City and Chicago. The strike is scheduled for Nov. 29. We’ll see how many anarchists and Antifa sympathizers there are in the Washington region. Washington may be the cockpit of the U.S. administrative state, which is anything but anarchical, but I’m guessing that a fair number of lefties will be jumping Metro turnstiles.

Clearly, we live in The Era of Crazy. Everyone wants everything for free. This flight from reality is totally unworkable. Wise up, Fairfax supervisors. Unless you want to cough up extra tax money to compensate the Metro for lost naming-rights revenue, figure out how to make the deal work!

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11 responses to “Metro in the Age of Crazy”

  1. djrippert Avatar

    I think every public facility in Virginia should have a corporate sponsor name. The Virginia State Capitol (where the General Assembly meets) could be renamed the Ringling Brothers Governmental Center for example. The General Assembly itself could become the Gambino – Lucchese Crime Family Lawmaking Coalition. Henrico County could be renamed Altriaville and Richmond could become Dominiontown. SouthWest Virginia already has the right initials to be renamed the Smith & Wesson region. The University of Virginia could stop being the Cavaliers and become the Virginia Sperry Topsiders.

    You’re onto something here Jim. I just don’t kn ow why you stopped at Metro stations.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Here’s the thing. NoVa will never become a true city unless it has a proper transit system. NoVa is already strangling in SOV congestion hell.

    Most cities in the world – treat transit like they do police, fire, and other public tax-funded services rather than “farebox” services.

    In Asia – Transit is also allow to own the commercial area around the stations – as a source of operation/maintenance revenues.

    If you underfund METRO – you’re going to lurch from one crisis to another and basically institutional dsyfunction.

    This is why Conservatives are not fit to run urban areas. They see such services as “free stuff” and the folks who really run urban areas see these things as necessities that have to be funded – just as we fund the police and other vital services.

  3. Get a grip, Jim! Naming a Metro station is tantamount to naming a neighborhood — or vice versa. Governments spend millions promoting identifiable neighborhoods: neighborhood community associations, neighborhood real estate identifiers for tourists, neighborhood commercial and artistic centers. The existing Metro station names generally reflect those, make the system easy to navigate for strangers who don’t know exactly where they want to go. Hundreds of startup businesses out there adopt the same names as that conveys neighborhood location information to customers. Remember, you’re talking about Metro-served areas — most of which which are precisely those urban-oriented, walkable old-city neighborhoods where the name for a location just a few blocks square probably has decades of history and means everything to the people that live there. And you just think it’s fine to uproot all that investment in a name and sell renaming rights to the transportation heart of the neighborhood to somebody probably not at all interested in local affairs for just a few thousand bucks? Damned right Fairfax County is ticked off about this — and Fairfax voters including this one!

    1. Depends on how much money we’re talking about. If it’s, like, $10,000 a year, OK, I get it. If it’s a $100,000 a year for a 10-year contract, that’s a million bucks. Semi-serious money. Beggars can’t be choosers.

      I’d have a lot more sympathy for Fairfax County if the county had paid anything remotely like its fair share for the Silver Line. But it didn’t.

    2. Yes, the dollars do matter: but a lot of that money goes to the cost of renaming: new signs, new maps, new publicity. What should matter is the net, continuing revenue stream. Re the Silver Line, that aberration is indefensible, as so many readers here have explained at length; but two wrongs don’t, etc..

      It’s not just Metro in the DC area that’s at risk of renaming. Here is a quote from the Richmond convention center renters’ manual: “When reference is made to the Facility, all print and broadcast materials associated with the Licensee’s event shall use the official Facility name, currently the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Licensor reserves the right to change the official Facility name at any time. ” What’s it worth to rename “Richmond”?

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    If it wasn’t bad enough that most of the sports stadiums in the country are unrecognizable by name. Can anyone really identify Minute Maid Park? Now we are going to sell naming rights to subway stations? Is there anywhere in this country that one can go where he is not bombarded by commercials? I am reminded of the half-in-jest proposal by an unnamed former Secretary of Finance that Virginia should sell ad space on the sails of the three replica ships during the 400-year Jamestown celebration. “Can’t you see it?” he said. “A ship sailing into New York harbor with the Viagra logo on its main sail!”

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    You want BAD? You don’t want to know how much we pay for Cable TV which bombards us 24/7 with ADS!

    1. Keep your cable’s internet service only, get YouTubeTV ($35/mo) and Chromecast (one-time $35/device, controlled from your cell phone), cut all that cable programming out of your bill totally. That’s where we’ve been, happily, for several years now. You can watch anything live, or watch later when you want to and FF through the ads.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        @Acbar – I got the Chromecast and have streamed but not sure how to DUPLICATE our current viewing preferences so that we’re not giving up things we do like.

        I streamed the PBS series Country Music and it was excellent.

        but there are about half a dozen or more streaming services and you like YouTube? Did you have to give up any programs that you watched before?

  6. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    That’s primarily why I don’t watch any regular programs on cable. I depend on streaming. My wife watches a few network programs, but I have discovered that we may be able to watch those via apps on Roku. So, I may be cancelling my cable TV service.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Okay – so we are close to doing the same – but we have not yet pulled the trigger! such procrastination! 😉

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