If you are constantly late for work there are things you can do other than think up creative alibis. Such as “the dog ate my alarm clock!” You can:
Go to bed earlier.
Lay out your clothes the night before.
If you were in the military, you could revert to the old days and shave the night before.
Those are all good, nay great, ideas.
But what if you shave at night, sleep in your clothes, get extra shuteye and leave an hour or two earlier, and you are still late for work?
Unlike some members of Congress who sleep, shave, shower and live in their offices, civil servants aren’t allowed to live, rent free with free maid service, where they work. So what to do? It’s a timely question because more people are finding that their commute times are getting longer and longer. How come?
At age 40, Metro, the Washington-area subway system, is one of the cleanest, most modern and largest transit system of its kind in the nation. It is also one of the worst. And apparently, one of the most dangerous. There have been eight smoke or fire “incidents” in the past few weeks.
Metro transports (or at least is supposed to transport) large numbers of federal workers to and from their jobs in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. It serves 4 million people in a 1,500 square-mile area that includes all of D.C. and chunks of Maryland and Virginia. Thirty-five Metrorail stations serve federal buildings and Metro says that during peak commuting hours, 42 percent of its riders are U.S. government employees. Feds have been encouraged to ride Metro to work. The government gives them monthly subsidies so they can ride bus or rail at a discount. That’s a very good deal because Metro is one of the most expensive systems in the country.
Lately, Metro has been running late. Sometimes not at all. Passengers have had to bail out because of smoke either in the cars themselves on the train tunnels. People have died and been injured. Ridership is down, big-time. A new team has been brought in and there have been promises that the appropriate heads will roll. Meantime, service isn’t getting any better and people are late. A lot.
So how is your agency coping with it? Is it even trying? If there is a central policy, nobody seems to have found it. What apparently is happening is that agencies are handling it on an ad hoc basis (which includes doing nothing), and practices vary not only agency by agency, but also office by office and supervisor to supervisor. One fed who lives in Kensington, Maryland, works in Alexandria, Virginia, said he tried Metro for a year, but it got worse and worse. Now he has a horrible commute by car, but says it’s still faster than Metro.
A Library of Congress staffer said she had talked to friends who also work for Uncle Sam. One told her the boss let her take administrative leave because (like a snow day) it wasn’t her fault she was late. Another told the same person that her boss told people who were late to take annual leave. Nice way to eat into your vacation.
The Office of Personnel Management spokesperson had this to say about the situation: “OPM is in regular communication with WMATA and the Council of Governments in the National Capital Region. We will continue to coordinate with them as well as with Federal agencies and employee unions as we make decisions regarding the appropriate operating status of the government and available telework options to accommodate changes in the Metro service schedule. We will make decisions in consultation with these partners based on the safety of our employees as well as the general public and will continue to issue updates as they become available.”
The Metro problem isn’t going away for a long, long time. Commuting should be easier in July and August when much of official Washington — following the congressional schedule — leaves town. But even with fewer people commuting during the summer months your trip to work, in the D.C. area, is probably going to get worse before it gets better.
So what, if anything, is your agency doing? What should it be doing and what can realistically be done?