Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goodbye, Metrorail Carpet!

DC Subway originally uploaded by sierragt2k.
I recently learned that the DC Metrorail system will be replacing its carpet with a non-carpeted surface.

I'm saddened because I hate to hear of carpet being permanently removed, especially when I have positive associations with the venue.

I remember when DC Metrorail first opened. We lived on a bus line, so I had to come up with excuses to experience it. Luckily, I also took trains and Union Station connected with the subway. I fell completely and madly in love with the interior spaces of the Metro and couldn't get over how beautiful concrete could be with the lines and patterns created overhead. If you've never experienced it [or you have and want to revisit it virtually], check out the flickr photos that come up when you search on "DC Subway". It's breathtaking.

I remember, too, the carpet. According to Metro Starts Bagging Carpet On Rail Cars, the Metro carpet added a luxury touch to the public transportation experience, signaling that this was something unlike other subways. It certainly created a genteel, rounded auditory experience, muffling sharp sounds, and cushioning foot steps. It even seemed to prevent the kind of sliding around on seats that happens in many other subways [probably a psychological benefit as the seats weren't carpeted]. But, I also wondered how it would weather inclement weather conditions.

Others must have, too, otherwise there wouldn't be reactions like Wonkette's in DC Metro To Lose Iconic Filthy Frayed Moldy Carpet and Second Avenue Sagas' in DC Metro carpets may go the way of the dodo applauding the decision.

Not too long ago, I came across a story about the San Francisco BART system making a similar decision [see BART Pulls The Rug Out. Agency Will Swap Out Dirty Carpets For Easy-To-Clean Plastic Floors In 80 Of Its Cars Before Gauging Whether To Revamp Entire Fleet by Rachel Gordon from 11/24/2006. At the time, I didn't make a connection between the two subway systems, but then, too, I regretted the loss of carpet.

However, I'm a practical person and I have to wonder what possessed the various decision makers to place carpet in subway cars to begin with.

I've travelled subway cars in Paris, Atlanta, New York City, Tokyo, Chicago and DC. Given what happens on those floors, carpet doesn't strike me as being the best flooring solution.

I've also visited places like China where the fact that carpet covered the floor never stopped anyone from treating the floor like a -- well, worse than we do our carpeted floors, and a place you wouldn't dare walk on barefoot.

So, in this case, I applaud the decision to remove carpet from the DC Metro cars [and the BART cars, too].

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