It has not been smooth ride for Metro commuters this year. Suffering from major disruptions and falling ridership as SafeTrack, a program cramming three years worth of maintenance into one, gets underway, the transit authority is now seeking to ease commuter frustration through crowdsourcing.
Greater Greater Washington, in partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Coalition for Smarter Growth, launched a campaign called MetroGreater — a contest where anyone can submit an idea on how to improve Metro’s 118-mile network.
As of Tuesday, 891 entries had been submitted since the contest started June 22. Submitted ideas, which can be seen atmetrogreater.org, include things such as a call for free Wi-Fi on trains and a request for signs that notify tourists which side of the escalator is OK to stand.
Submissions will be accepted on the campaign’s website through July 15.
Ten submissions will then be selected by a jury comprised of regional experts and advocates. The public will then vote for a winning submission in August.
Not every idea will make it to the final round — they also have to be feasible improvements. The winning idea must cost no more than $100,000, have no negligible costs continuing into the future and can be completed in three to six months. And, of course, the ideas cannot violate laws or regulations or affect safety.
The contest came about after the appointment of Paul Wiedefeld as general manager of WMATA last November. Wiedefeld promised more dialogue with the public and the contest represents one way the transit authority is seeking to honor that.
The idea for the contest grew from an email chain that started between WMATA and Greater Greater Washington shortly after Wiedefeld’s appointment, according to Aimee Custis, managing director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth, an organization she said works “hand in glove” with Greater Greater Washington.
“As advocates really excited to open a public dialogue, Metro has shown they want to regain rider trust,” she said. “Obviously one contest will not solve that. We want to start a conversation amongst the public and give Metro a chance to show they are honest in that effort [to regain trust].”
Photo courtesy of Joanne S. Lawton