A Washingtonian Wraps Up Her "metro-Venture" (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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A Washingtonian Wraps Up Her 'Metro-Venture'

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
But for the wayfaring Washingtonian we'll meet first, for the past two years or so, a good day would go something like this.

MS. EM HALL

00:00:10
I might take the A downtown and then catch the 40 up to the G2 and then go over to Georgetown and then catch the 30 and head up to Chevy Chase and then get on the Red Line and come back and hop on the H3 and then I'm back in my neighborhood.

SHEIR

00:00:21
You're like a Metro wizard.

HALL

00:00:24
Yeah, something like that.

SHEIR

00:00:25
Actually, at this point, Em Hall is kind of a Metro whiz because those good days have added up since February, 2010, when the Bloomingdale resident set out to ride every Metro Bus line and visit every Metro rail station and share her adventures on her aptly titled blog...

HALL

00:00:42
"Metro-Venture."

SHEIR

00:00:42
Hall works full-time at Zipcar in downtown D.C. so she's been sneaking in her Metro-Ventures mostly on the weekends. Thus far, she's conquered many a Metro bus.

HALL

00:00:50
And there are over 200 bus lines, more than that even.

SHEIR

00:00:54
And as for Metro rail?

HALL

00:00:55
I swear they're adding new stations when I'm not looking, but I think I still have, like, after today, maybe five stations left.

SHEIR

00:01:02
That's because today, Hall and I are heading to the College Park station using one of those 200 plus bus lines.

HALL

00:01:09
This is our bus right here.

SHEIR

00:01:10
Oh.

HALL

00:01:10
Yeah.

SHEIR

00:01:11
The 86 -- 86. We board at Rhode Island station, but of course, we'll get off before the bus reaches its final destination of Calverton.

HALL

00:01:22
I don't ride the whole length of every line. I try to get in as much as possible that doesn't overlap, you know, with another line or that's a new place.

SHEIR

00:01:29
Hall began her Metro-Venture after the blizzard of 2010 when her usual bus, the G2, was snowed out of commission. The Indiana native has never owned a car. She's a fierce advocate of public transit. But on that blustery day, she realized she had no clue how to get where she needed to go.

HALL

00:01:46
You know, get sort of an abstract map on Metro's website and sort of arrival and departure times. But I think it was like, does it really go where I need it to? What's the scene like? Is it going to be okay for me to get there on this bus?

SHEIR

00:01:58
So she decided to find out and blog about it, starting with nearby buses and trains and then moving farther out. For one thing, she thought it would be a great way to explore her adopted region. Where are we now? Are we in Mount Rainier?

HALL

00:02:10
Yeah. It's so cute. I love this little circle here.

SHEIR

00:02:13
Oh, my gosh.

HALL

00:02:14
Yeah. They have like this, like, coop. I want to go to this coop around the corner.

SHEIR

00:02:18
And besides that, she figured each Metro-Venture could help her and I'm quoting directly from the blog here, "understand why this is the public transit system everybody loves to hate."

HALL

00:02:29
The Metro crowd is very active, both the lovers and the haters. And then people like me who try to be fairly unvarnished and unbiased. I'm not out to bash Metro, but I'm not an apologist for it either.

SHEIR

00:02:40
Hall's blog posts are colorful and full of whimsy. You can tell she has a background as an improv comic. And as she describes each Metro experience, she rates it on a scale of one to 10, using a handful...

HALL

00:02:51
Ridership, pros, cons, nearby and noteworthy...

SHEIR

00:02:56
...of criteria.

HALL

00:02:56
And then I always do like a little Metro news recap at the bottom, which is just a little record for me, a historical record.

SHEIR

00:03:02
But Metro-Venture has become more than just a record or a ratings site, it's kind of become an advice column.

HALL

00:03:09
One woman was like, "my family's coming into town and we don’t know which Yellow line station to stay out, can you tell us? We're reading your blog and you seem like Huntington would be a good option." And I was, like, yeah, actually it would be.

SHEIR

00:03:18
In fact, because so many people use Hall's blog as a resource, she says she gets about 4,000 hits a month. She hopes to make Metro-Venture more interactive.

HALL

00:03:26
Like, people could contribute their own stories or experiences or tips. I'm just haven't sort of taken it to that level and being like a Wiki or something. Maybe I'll migrate the data or something and make it more useful that way.

SHEIR

00:03:40
And that migration could happen sooner rather than later because after two years and two-ish months, Hall's schedule is going to free up a bit as Metro-Venture goes on hiatus.

HALL

00:03:50
It will be kind of weird not to do it anymore, but at this point, it's really hard to get out that far away from the city. I got to block out two to three hours of time, you know, on a weekend to try to get in even one station. And it's actually kind of a good time to be wrapping up and laying low because with this capital improvement project, it's hard to get places sometimes on the weekends. I mean, they're even doing weekday track work now so I'll be happy to stick to my usual bus route to and from the office.

SHEIR

00:04:16
She says, over the next month or so, she'll wrap up all the train stations...

HALL

00:04:19
And get in as many buses as I can. I've made a few promises to some readers who gave me good bus line suggestions. I'm going to try to honor those.

SHEIR

00:04:26
But her SmarTrip card will only get a break...

HALL

00:04:29
Until the streetcar comes online or the Silver line opens and then, you know, throw my two cents in again.

SHEIR

00:04:34
In the meantime, though, Em Hall says she loves how much she's learned from her Metro-Venture, like how the Morgan Boulevard Metro station is quote, "Gorgeous," even if its lack of bus service made Hall give it just an eight. And how the 3236 bus line, which stops at Eastern Market, the Botanical Gardens and the National Cathedral is perfect, quote, "for a rainy day of site seeing." And she's learned, how unlike in all the other quadrants in D.C., the streets in Northeast go all the way out to the 60s.

HALL

00:05:02
I think 63rd is the last or 64th. Oh well, somebody will correct me on that, I'm sure.

SHEIR

00:05:08
Actually, it is 63rd, but anyway, above all, the Hoosier turned Washingtonian says she's learned that when it comes to public transit, here in the D.C. region, we're actually pretty lucky.

HALL

00:05:20
There's no Metro system anywhere in Indiana and my folks come out, we hop on a bus, we hop on the train. And so part of the blog too is to say, hey guys, I know it's easy to complain about hot cars or, you know, late buses, but we do kind of have it pretty good with this.

SHEIR

00:05:34
And today, anyway, Em Hall and I certainly do have it good. My goodness, here we are at College Park.

HALL

00:05:41
Yeah, that was 45 minutes.

SHEIR

00:05:42
That was 45 minutes?

HALL

00:05:43
Yeah.

SHEIR

00:05:44
Oh, my goodness.

HALL

00:05:45
Well, 40 minutes. We got in a little bit early.

SHEIR

00:05:47
After our interview, I check her blog and see she's given the College Park University of Maryland Metro station a seven. She docked points for the lack of late night bus service, save for the University Shuttle. But she tipped her hat to the bevy of buses you can catch at other times, like the 83X which makes summer runs to Cherry Hill Park Campground. And as Em Hall writes in her inimitable way, I stand and applaud any person who takes a bus to go camping.

SHEIR

00:06:23
You can find a link to all of Em Hall's Metro-Ventures over the past two odd years and follow her on Facebook and Twitter by visiting our website, metroconnection.org.
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