Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 3:00 AM
Subject: Green Hornet - Chapter 1, page 3: Riding the DC Metro
Public Transit in DC seems to have traded places with the Hummers and monster trucks. Riding the bus and metro has gone from something only students, nannies, retired and low-skilled help rode in northern DC to wildly popular. Even with a recent doubling of fares -- $2.50 for a bus ride to the metro, $.75 to transfer from the subway to a bus - it is still an incredible bargain. It also beats the alternative of waiting in gas lines or paying $7/gallon for gasoline, even if there are noticeably fewer commuters on the road. The only problem with metro is that its entire infrastructure has rotted from within; in the past, maintenance money was skimped on everything from the bus line and metro cars to the escalators and elevators. Moreover, to save operating costs, buses do not run the air conditioner yet many have windows that you cannot open. Metro stations --some over a hundred feet underground-have become oppressively hot, and human smells made them a difficult place to be in.
Mix heat with bad smells and you get nausea. In fact, it isn't uncommon for someone to pass out or become ill, right there in the station or in the train itself. And usually when that happens there is a chain-reaction of sympathy sickness, and that prompts the trains to stop running until someone from Homeland Security can verify that those ill aren't carrying a contagious disease.
The best strategy is really to stick with above-ground transportation, large buses whose windows you can open, or to travel early in the morning before the crowds commute or leave a little after peak in the evening. That is also a good strategy to avoid what we all fear are the inevitable suicide bombers. They probably wouldn't bother with a single bus, and for some reason they like peak-hours to do their killing.