Two days ago I expressed extreme skepticism about the Washington Metro's knuckle-headed new security plans mostly on the basis of the plan being ill conceived for any city. I failed to mention that I am especially doubtful that WMATA in particular can keep me safe. (Or perform most other basic functions, for that matter.)
Further support for my "WMATA is run by slack-jawed screw-ups" theory came last night. When trying to get downtown to meet a friend my train sat on the tracks for about 30 minutes at Tenleytown. This delay, by itself, is not so unique. It's annoying, but I've come to expect such things. When I got home I saw this in my feed reader, informing me that the delays were due to a fire on the tracks at the Woodley Park station. This is a bigger sign of mismanagement, but sadly it isn't all that surprising either. (WMATA, like many government agencies, essentially does not budget for maintenance. They operate under the assumption that when it's time to overhaul systems they can go around, hat in hand, and demand more transit funding. No one will turn them away if they claim it's to improve passenger safety.*)
What really bugs me is that for the half hour that I'm sitting on the tracks, unknowingly waiting for a fire to be dealt with, the driver kept getting on the intercom to tell people that the delay is so that they can "re-balance the schedule" or "adjust the arrival intervals" or something like that. Even if their notoriously incorrect Passenger Information Display system was half right, I knew at the time that this was bull. But when I heard about the fire I realized this guy either had no idea what he was doing and just made things up, or someone at WMATA made a conscious decision to lie to passengers about their error. Either way it doesn't make me feel very confident that their little screening procedures are going to keep me that safe.
* This is a gross simplification, but I maintain it is still more true than not.