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Monday, 13 July 2009

Memo to Septa

Junto Photos: Richard Carreno

DC's 'Smart' Metro is Philly Prototype

Quiet cars. A station grid that footprints the entire city and suburbs. Clean. Reliable. Passenger (customer, friendly, as they say here). Electronic boards, like ones in London, that announce when a train will arrive. Did I say clean?

And Smart cards that a customer just waves over the turnstile. Again, like the London system. OK, we can quarrel with the payment scheme. Fares are calculated by distance -- like an Amtrak fare. My preference is flat fee, which is less regressive. The poor live on the outskirts of the District. The rich, in Geogetown, or nearby Virginia suburbs. Ditto, re the poor in Philadelphia.
At plumb, Metro, the country's second-largest subway system, is a culture. (It also boasts the world's longest escalator). Unlike Septa ('All the Poor, All the Time'), Metro is used by all social strata -- and races. Everyone appreciates its convenience as a great alternative to abhorrent traffic grid-lock here.

Even DC hip-hoppers and gang-bangers, on the Metro, are a tad more suave. Not as creepy as their like-minded undergrounders in the Quaker City.

And, did I mention clean?

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