Photo by terenceleezy on Flickr.

When I went to a Metro station to take photos for a post, I suspected in advance that I might encounter difficulty from the Metro employees working there.

After all, photographers have run into trouble in Miami and many other transit systems, USDOT headquarters, and Union Station.

I thought it would be fair to let the station manager know what I was doing. I approached the booth, business card in hand.

I explained that I wrote for Greater Greater Washington, I was writing an article about improving the station, and I wanted to take some pictures at the station. I waited patiently as he discussed this with another employee, possibly a supervisor. He came out of the booth and talked to me.

He let me know that he thought it was okay, but his supervisor was unsure about Metro’s policy regarding photographs. I mentioned that I was familiar with the policy (PDF), that as long as you weren’t using a tripod it was OK. He said that sounded familiar but it might be better for me to wait until his supervisor left.

He pointed to the card and asked to see the blog, which I brought up on the smartphone. I described Greater Greater Washington as a blog that discusses improving the Metro system. He then asked why we didn’t come to the front-line employees to discuss potential improvements. I mentioned that we get support from the press office and board members, as well as occasional meetings with the General Manager. He mentioned that the front-line employees were prohibited to talk to the media anyway.

After some time of waiting outside the faregates with the supervisor still waiting, I decided to show them the policy so it was clear I am allowed to take photos. After I read all that, the supervisor seemed confused. I know all that, he said; he was just confused why I didn’t just come in through the faregates and take some pictures. After all, paying customers take pictures all the time and they don’t get stopped.

So, SmarTrip card in hand, I paid $1.60 for the privilege of taking photos inside the station. I re-learned the lesson, it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.

Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia.