Metro new ad campaign: Unnecessary? (video)

So Metro came out with a new ad campaign, Metro Facts, highlighting all the improvements the agency has made or is making (though "stopping at red lights" is noticeably absent).

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(Photo: Jay Westcott)

WMATA wants to make sure that you know that they're not just sitting on their hands when it comes to improvements in service. In response to a seemingly endless stream of complaints, the agency points to upgraded infrastructure, rail cars, buses and yes, escalators. They even came out with a YouTube video.

Leaving aside the easy ridicule that a campaign named "Metro Facts" will inevitably invite, Metro should have understood that complaining about one's transit system is as American as apple pie, as British as fish and chips, as Canadian... you get the point. Anyone who uses any transport system long enough will find something to complain about.


What I don't understand is why Metro felt the need to come out with these ad campaigns to begin with. Unlike airlines, interstate buses or trains, WMATA has, by default, a transportation monopoly. Sure, there are alternative options — CaBi for short commutes, cars for those who are willing to deal with the hassles — but seriously, the region is better for having Metro than not having it. 

We complain and we moan about the service, but our complaints are based on a desire to see improvements. For the agency to recognize its flaws is an excellent step, but couldn't it be done through social media alone? Take the escalator outages, for example: Were Metro to announce that an escalator was out of service through Twitter as soon as possible, it would save headaches. And when it gets repaired or replaced, riders would see it for themselves. There's no need to hire an outside consultant to tell us something we should already figure out. 

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Metro is the worst form of transportation except for all alternatives out there.

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