Monday, March 30, 2009

Graham and Metro

I often disagree with Jim Graham, and he added fuel to my fire not long ago. Last week, he was invited to a live chat on Greater Greater Washington. I give him credit for community outreach and for giving respect to the blogging community. But here is the issue:

[Comment From Geoff Hatchard]
serious question—advertising on buses is dramatically underutilized. i see ads in the overhead spaces on buses that are 15 months old, advertising events that have long-since ended. is there a way you can have a heart-to-heart with the ad sales people at WMATA and tell them to step it up with regards to buses. i'm sure advertisers would love to have all those eyeballs...
Jim Graham: I am surprized to hear that. I will ask the GM about that whne we are done here. You can email me for follow up at jim@grahamwone.com

The problem here is that Jim Graham, who chairs the WMATA Board of Directors, hasn't noticed out-of-date advertising on Metro and Metrobus. I had occasion to ride the 50 buses on 14th Street about four times last week. Every one of them had out-of-date advertising. I also saw a charity ad on a Metro car last week for winter holiday fundraising. And for how long have U Street/Cardozo passengers stared at the Marshall's grand opening ad — the one that had the eyes scratched out almost immediately — at the 13th Street exit? Out-of-date advertising is not the crime of the century, to be sure. It's just that you don't have to try to find examples, but you do need to actually use Metro. Which, brings me to another good comment from the chat:

Michael Perkins: Recently in the Washington post it was reported that not many Metro Board members and management ride the system. Do you think it's important for board members and members of WMATA management to regularly ride transit?
Jim Graham: Yes I think so. ALthough--for example-- I have no kids in DC schools, but I particpate in school decsions. There are countless more examples. All the same, there is both a susbtantive and symbolic purpose in riding. Lilke many others, I will be attracted away from the auto by attractive transit service...Like the upcoming bus imporvemtns impacting Ward 1.
I take this comment to mean that Graham finds Metro and Metrobus currently unattractive and, therefore, doesn't use it much. Sigh.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

He's really got to stop using that school analogy. I think we can all agree that the schools continue to be in pretty bad shape. Maybe if more voting members of the council had kids in DCPS, things wouldn't be this bad, just like if maybe WMATA board members actually rode the transit system....

Jeff said...

That Marshall's ad in the U Street metro station just drives me crazy. I have been tempted to make art for that space and put it up myself while no one's looking!

Nikolas said...

This has been an ongoing issue for a long time and I'm glad you brought it up again. Advertising can be a major source of revenue, but the WMATA has not figured that out yet. Last week I checked WMATA for any open jobs in the advertising department and 'surprise' there aren't any.

Jason CH said...

While I agree Metro has to update their ads (no excuse!), the thing about Jim not riding the bus often is short-sighted. Jim goes to countless meetings from early morning to late evening. I'd rather he spend his time in these meetings than waiting at bus stop...

fourthandeye said...

I agree with Jason CH. While a councilmember on the WMATA board should take public transportation periodically I do not expect them to use it as their primary means of transportation.

Councilmembers don't have jobs where they commute to the office in the morning, stay there all day, and then leave during evening rush hour. They are going from place to place all over the city throughout the day and then many evenings they also have events. Public transportation is not nearly as practical for that chaotic schedule.

Anonymous said...

To notice out of date advertising, you have to look at out of date advertising. To look at it, you actually have to be in the metro station. Jim Graham does not take transit. Many others representing metro or metro riders do not either.

Jason, no one is saying Graham has to eat up all his time on the bus. But maybe commute to and from work once a week?