D.C. promotes guy who runs most ruinously broken part of Metro to run the whole system

posted at 4:41 pm on April 10, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

How bad are the D.C. Metro system’s escalators?

So bad they have their own Twitter account dedicated to monitoring their relative brokenness at every moment of every day. It’s literally a breaking news feed.

So, why not promote the guy who runs escalators to…run the entire Metro public transit rail system? That is how we roll in your capital city:

The head of Metro’s escalator and elevator department is taking over its track and engineering services unit.

Metro officials said Tuesday Rodrigo Bitar will become assistant general manager for the agency’s transit infrastructure and engineering services division, which has 4,800 employees. He will replace Rob Troup in that position. Troup recently took over as the number two at Metro, replacing Dave Kubicek as deputy general manager of operations.

For the last three years, Bitar served as general superintendent for Metro’s escalator and elevator division.

Bitar joined Metro in 2008 and worked on the quality assurance group, which supported the 2000, 3000 and 5000 series rail cars. Those rail cars have had troubles with brake parts falling off of them.

Unsuck Metro DC, another entity dedicated entirely to documenting the suckiness of Metro, cannot believe its ears. They helpfully compile this Storify list of why this guy should be promoted:


It really is nearly unbelievable how often escalators are broken throughout the system. I have rarely been inside a Metro station in which all of them were working at one time. They seemingly take months to repair, the system spends millions on new ones, whose installation causes years-long escalator shutdowns, repairs are marked by union sluggishness and counterproductivity, they have to replace escalators installed under 10 years ago, and they have a track record of ignoring known problems . This guy is such a spectacular example of failing upwards, it feels like Washington might be trolling us. But nope, it’s just standard failing upwards. But failing up the stairs, of course. The escalators out.

I parodied Rachel Maddow’s Hoover Damn MSNBC promo back in the day, with my own soliloquy on how our country can come together to fix escalators. We’re coming together on your health care next!


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It’s the government way – screw up, move up.

dentarthurdent on April 10, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Are escalators ever really broke, don’t they just become stairs?

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Would this, by chance, involve the Affirmative Action train to the top?

I don’t know, I’m just guessin’.

OhEssYouCowboys on April 10, 2013 at 4:48 PM

This week:
Anthony Weiner is back
Republicans are pushing immigration.
Republican are pushing gun control.
Smoking is a pre-existing condition.
Margaret Thatcher death celebrated by ghouls.
Cookie Monster arrested.
The above story.

What the hell is happening?

BJ* on April 10, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Boy, do I hate Metro. I have to take it four round trips a week, and verily it sucketh the eggs.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 10, 2013 at 4:49 PM

What the hell is happening?

BJ* on April 10, 2013 at 4:48 PM

… cats and dogs living together….

dentarthurdent on April 10, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Boy, do I hate Metro. I have to take it four round trips a week, and verily it sucketh the eggs.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 10, 2013 at 4:49 PM

I have honestly heard that the DC Metro is great. I have never used it personally, just what I have heard from friends.

They were all small town hicks (like me) who were just visiting for short periods of time. I definitely would put much more stock into a routine user.

Do you have a couple of short horror stories to share about your experiences?

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Are escalators ever really broke, don’t they just become stairs?

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Not if they’re ripped out or otherwise blocked off.

Steve Eggleston on April 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

The head of Metro’s escalator and elevator department is taking over its track and engineering services unit.

Excellent.

Capitol Hill staffers deserve the best.
;)

MichaelGabriel on April 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I used the metro daily from 1995-2000.
So I remember when it was pretty good.

Now commuters pay a lot more money…for much worse service.

22044 on April 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Are escalators ever really broke, don’t they just become stairs?

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM

This will have to be submitted to the Vice Commissar for the Commissariat of Strategic Movement, for approval and submission to the Vice People’s Minister of Transportation Transactions and Tractor Assembly, for answer.

I’ll get back with you in 5 years.

OhEssYouCowboys on April 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Escalators contribute to this nation’s obesity epidemic. They should be limited to no more than 16 steps.

rw on April 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Just another example of being promoted to the highest level of incompetency.

fourdeucer on April 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Not if they’re ripped out or otherwise blocked off.

Steve Eggleston on April 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I understand if they are ripped out, but blocked off makes no sense to me.

In my personal experience, 90% of the escalators that I have seen out of service have signs blocking them off saying “please use the stairs” with no maintenance workers within sight. I have only seen one escalator actuall ripped out, and only a handful that were actually being worked on.

It just baffles me that escalators can’t be used as stairs when no one is working on them.

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

I understand if they are ripped out, but blocked off makes no sense to me.

In my personal experience, 90% of the escalators that I have seen out of service have signs blocking them off saying “please use the stairs” with no maintenance workers within sight. I have only seen one escalator actuall ripped out, and only a handful that were actually being worked on.

It just baffles me that escalators can’t be used as stairs when no one is working on them.

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

The DC Metro rips them out and then lets them sit for a couple months.

Steve Eggleston on April 10, 2013 at 5:00 PM

I got an Idea… How about turning them all off and your fat asses can walk… The exercise won’t kill you. There’s $20 Million a year. Next!

Kaptain Amerika on April 10, 2013 at 5:01 PM

On my way home metro was running 1 for 3 on the ones I use.

At least when they are stairs the tourists can’t fuck everything up by standing on the left.

Spade on April 10, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Old: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

New: If its broken, promote the guy who broke it.

portlandon on April 10, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Are escalators ever really broke, don’t they just become stairs?

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Mitch, is that you??

Aplombed on April 10, 2013 at 5:07 PM

The DC Metro rips them out and then lets them sit for a couple months.

Steve Eggleston on April 10, 2013 at 5:00 PM

So why do I keep seeing signs in front of escalators that aren’t ripped out? Is that just a DC Metro thing?

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 5:09 PM

We can only hope that Rodrigo is an undocumented Democrat.

That would be the Coopay de Gracie.

OhEssYouCowboys on April 10, 2013 at 5:12 PM

I have honestly heard that the DC Metro is great. I have never used it personally, just what I have heard from friends.

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I like the Metro in general. However, I am one of said tourists. Last time I was afoot in DC, I noticed that a lot more escalators seemed out of service. Of course, it also looked like it might just be a lot of construction, and I was only there for a few days, so I had no way to really judge.

How about turning them all off and your fat asses can walk… The exercise won’t kill you. There’s $20 Million a year. Next!

Kaptain Amerika on April 10, 2013 at 5:01 PM

I don’t disagree with this, except as a weary traveler coming off the train or an airplane. Now, on that trip to DC, as I said, I was totally afoot except for riding the Metro. So, I might have been a little wearier than a lot of folks. (I spent three days working out the plan for a walking tour for homeschool students that never happened. Oh well.)

GWB on April 10, 2013 at 5:16 PM

“Stand on the right… walk on the left”

Good one MKH – me likey!

Hill60 on April 10, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Must be a public transportation thing. Our mayor appoints the head of Houston Metro. He is a guy that has been a city council man and city controller in the past. Got caught surfing hours of gay porn during work on his city computer. No worries. Got suspended with pay for two weeks, came back for a few more months and happily retired with all of his pensions intact with warm regards for his years of dedicated work.

I didn’t mention the various lawsuits and illegal foreign purchases for rolling stock that had to be returned to Spain during his tenure.

DanMan on April 10, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Problem solved: We need a high speed escalator!

Let’s get the budget and bond issues rolling!

PattyJ on April 10, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Are escalators ever really broke, don’t they just become stairs?

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Moochelle dictated that, so the proles get more exercise.

Ward Cleaver on April 10, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Wow. I wonder if it might get as bad as this?

iurockhead on April 10, 2013 at 5:40 PM

The whole thing has become a greedy-union jobs program. Sell the thing and let a private company run it with non-greedy-union workers.

slickwillie2001 on April 10, 2013 at 5:48 PM

I work right by a Metro stop. I almost fainted a couple weeks ago when both the up and down escalators were working one morning. One was broken again by the time I left work that afternoon.

BuzzCrutcher on April 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

No worries. With the current administration, incompetence is a recommendation for moving up.

Just watch Hillary! run in 2016.

GarandFan on April 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

D.C. promotes guy who runs most ruinously broken part of Metro to run the whole system

Well you know the government motto, “If the whole thing ain’t broke, lets make sure it is.”

Stands, to reason, it makes for secure work and potential overtime for maintenance workers.

And justification for more tax money sunk into it: “Ya wanna have it all work properly ya need to give us more money.”

hawkeye54 on April 10, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Escalators contribute to this nation’s obesity epidemic. They should be limited to no more than 16 steps.

rw on April 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Yup.

http://www.gwhatchet.com/2005/09/19/whats-the-deal-with-the-wheaton-metro-station-escalator/

unclesmrgol on April 10, 2013 at 6:10 PM

While y’all are obsessing about escalators, I’d be more worried about the ability of the trains to ya know, uh STOP!

Bitar joined Metro in 2008 and worked on the quality assurance group, which supported the 2000, 3000 and 5000 series rail cars. Those rail cars have had troubles with brake parts falling off of them.

mdenis39 on April 10, 2013 at 6:11 PM

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

When I lived in Fairfax County (northern VA), I always took Metro to my office in DC, daily, for a couple years. I found it to be convenient and a whole lot less stressful than driving on the beltway would have been. (And cheaper, when you consider what I would have had to pay to park in DC.) It was a pain when trains occasionally had mechanical problems, but it was quite rare. The escalator outages were frequent, but didn’t really bother me because stairs work just fine. (I can see how it could have been a big hassle for a disabled person, though, or if I had to use one of the stations with REALLLLLY long stairs/escalators.)

That said, when I was young and lived in Japan, those trains were really well-run, and undoubtedly much better than Metro. On the other hand, I don’t remember there being any escalators in the Japanese train stations, so maybe they were able to devote their maintenance time to the actual trains.

acasilaco on April 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

By the way, I actually heard a Metro driver make this announcement: “We thank you for your inconvenience.”

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 10, 2013 at 6:27 PM

It just baffles me that escalators can’t be used as stairs when no one is working on them.

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

They’re concerned about people getting stuck halfway up.

BobMbx on April 10, 2013 at 6:27 PM

On the other hand, I don’t remember there being any escalators in the Japanese train stations, so maybe they were able to devote their maintenance time to the actual trains.

acasilaco on April 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Here in the most enlightened country evah, we have a right to subway escalators. The Japanese are out of touch.

BobMbx on April 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM

It just baffles me that escalators can’t be used as stairs when no one is working on them.

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

They’re concerned about people getting stuck halfway up.

BobMbx on April 10, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Re the old joke about the two liberals that called 911 because they were stuck on an escalator.

slickwillie2001 on April 10, 2013 at 6:51 PM

This guy is such a spectacular example of failing upwards, it feels like Washington might be trolling us.

You could be referring to the president on down with that remark.

VibrioCocci on April 10, 2013 at 7:01 PM

MKH, sometimes it is amazing that you left Durham to find a even bigger hell hole.

LoganSix on April 10, 2013 at 7:23 PM

D.C. promotes guy who runs most ruinously broken part of Metro to run the whole system

“Broken” is just a word for “We need to double the budget!”

There Goes The Neighborhood on April 10, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Ever try to go up a broken escalator on crutches?

Jim Treacher on April 10, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Rodrigo Bitar

Well, there’s another box checked on the Affirmative Action list. Well done!

jnelchef on April 10, 2013 at 7:45 PM

When I lived in Fairfax County (northern VA), I always took Metro to my office in DC, daily, for a couple years. I found it to be convenient and a whole lot less stressful than driving on the beltway would have been. (And cheaper, when you consider what I would have had to pay to park in DC.)

acasilaco on April 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

I drive into DC everyday (approx 40 miles one way) and avoid like the plague the DC Metro.

It just baffles me that escalators can’t be used as stairs when no one is working on them.

weaselyone on April 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

When the DC escalators actually kill and injure people instead of becoming stairs, it is best not to use them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ioHIlPgOS4

F15Mech on April 10, 2013 at 8:06 PM

In every other transit system you will ever see, the escalators are protected from the weather. You come up from underground into a protected structure that keeps the rain and snow off of the escalators. Only the Washington Metro has escalators that are completely outdoors and exposed to the elements.

Sure, they look really cool, and sure the streetscape is not broken up by ungainly above-ground structures, but they just don’t work. This is not so much a failure of maintenance as a poor design choice that was made back in the very early days of the Metro system.

Haiku Guy on April 11, 2013 at 8:36 AM

It’s the government way – screw up, move up.

dentarthurdent on April 10, 2013 at 4:46 PM

I think you are wrong here. This is the business way and the military way. In business, the best way to be promoted to CEO of a large company is to have been the CEO of another firm that went bankrupt. If the person who destroyed another company had the personal social attributes to become CEO of the destroyed company, those same attributes will get him promoted to CEO in the new company.

In the military, any soldier can tell you that most officers reach their level of incompetence at Major ar LtC. Officer promotions are based on the “fair haired boy” principle. If the officer accomplishes his mission and has the respect of his troops, he probably won’t get favorable reviews by the other officers that don’t. Forty years ago, on thirteen questions on an officer’s review, only three of them were about accomplishing the mission, leading troops, proficiency. Thee other thirteen were about behavior in social situations, how he looked in his uniform, getting along with superior officers, etc. It is a wonder we have ever won a war, except I supposed the bad officers got killed off early and were replaced by others not well known by management.

Old Country Boy on April 11, 2013 at 9:06 AM

I used the Metro occasionally when I went downtown and wanted to drink and not drive or take a cab. For that it’s great. And for tourists.

The only thing than using Metro to commute downtown regularly, is DC Traffic and parking expenses. That’s why Metro is successful. If they didn’t have horrible traffic and ridiculously expensive parking, few people would use it.

Here in San Antonio, we’re being told that we need a light rail/trolley mess, even though we don’t have traffic downtown. The fools don’t understand that it will not be used, the only way masses of people use public transport is when it’s quicker and/or cheaper than driving.

NoDonkey on April 11, 2013 at 12:26 PM

“Capital City”… snark! :)

Dandapani on April 13, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Why are there so many damned titles? Are all these people necessary?

Kanyin on July 8, 2013 at 6:38 PM