I may have set out to traverse the Metrorail system “because it’s there,” but I created DC Metro Challenge for a greater purpose: to inspire people to think about Metro differently.
There’s no denying that Metro’s reputation isn’t exactly spotless, and WMATA faces serious challenges as it continues to serve a constantly expanding metropolitan area. Despite its flaws, however, Metro ties our region together in unique and powerful ways. Beyond the economic, environmental, or social benefits of mass transit, there’s the human element. Whether it’s when you’re riding home surrounded by other exhausted commuters, helping a young woman pull her purse out of closed train doors, or involuntarily reevaluating your philosophy on personal space – in our increasingly impersonal era, Metro still brings people together.
That has always been my favorite part about riding Metro: the small opportunity to interact with people from every cross section of our region. Whether you’re white or black, rich or poor, American or foreign – I’ll look up from my newspaper and make accidental eye contact with you anytime. And in that short moment, we might just think about each other a little differently.
Figuring out who can ride the rails the best is at the core of DC Metro Challenge. But, somewhere between Vienna/Fairfax and New Carrollton, I hope challengers will stop tweeting for a few seconds and take a look at who’s sitting around them. I know it hasn’t bored me yet.
What’s next for DC Metro Challenge?
A record’s not worth much if nobody tries to beat it. It’s my hope that DC Metro Challenge’s launch will inspire a handful of people to take the challenge and try to beat me. As they do, I’ll provide coverage before, during, and after their attempts, as well as some background on these transit pioneers themselves. To make these attempts even more memorable, I plan to start a Kickstarter campaign to help raise money to buy DC Metro Challenge branded t-shirts for those who participate.
Over time, if many people express interest in taking the challenge, I hope to organize a “race day,” where all challengers would weave their way through the system simultaneously. Ideally, people would start at different entrance stations to add even more excitement. Then, at the end of the day, everyone would meet back downtown for a quick award ceremony and celebration.
Starting today, I will solicit ideas for a “Metro Challenge Bingo,” which challengers could use to check off noteworthy transit personalities they meet along the way. You can follow that conversation on Twitter.
In the meantime, though, the primary objective is to get the word out as much as possible! Thank you for your help in launching DC Metro Challenge and I’ll see you on the rails!