- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A bright yellow dress, a brown shirt and jeans, an orange blouse or a beautiful smile.

People looking for love might differ on what catches their eyes, but when it comes to instant attractions, Craigslist says Metro is a prime spot for those chance encounters.

The online classified giant that routinely prints notices about “Missed Connections” proclaims Metro’s Vienna/Fairfax-GMU station the most romantic train stop among the country’s five largest transit systems.

The claim, from a report issued this month, is based on a year’s worth of postings to the website in which the suddenly smitten attempt to reconnect with the random someone they shared a smile or glance with, but were too shy to talk to when they had the chance.

” ‘Missed Connections’ in a way is just a modern version of what’s been going on for 100 years,” said Peter Freedman, a researcher and Craigslist spokesman. “It’s the modern version of the ‘chance encounters’ in the classified ads.”

Mr. Freedman said that often it’s a second or third party that reads the post and passes the news on to the person the message was intended for.

“Word seems to spread somehow,” he said. “There’s a higher success rate even more than people posting can imagine.”

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said he wasn’t surprised at the news because “people are just so connected here” and know how to use technology to its fullest - even if it’s for pursuing romance.

The Metro station scored a 34.89 on Craigslist’s “Train Romance Index Score Total,” which factors in the number of Missed Connection notices and the average number of passengers at each station.

The Vienna station averages 13,682 passengers on a typical weekday, Mr. Stessel said.

Philadelphia’s Cecil B. Moore stop came in second place with a score of 33.66. Chicago’s Belmont station came in third place for its score of 29.03.

The Windy City’s “El” train took up five of the top 10 most romantic stations, but Mr. Freedman explained that “sometimes less-popular stations prove more romantic because more postings are saying its name.”

In the last week, the Vienna station was mentioned five times in the Missed Connections for the District and outlying suburbs of Maryland and Virginia.

Among the Missed Connections was a posting by D.C. resident “Sassan,” who said in a message on Monday that he wanted to know more about the “beautiful woman with a blue cardigan.”

Contacted by a reporter, he explained that he was traveling to a friend’s house on an outbound Orange Line train on Sunday when he saw the woman that got away.

“When I finally got to my friend’s house, I told him that I saw someone on the Metro who was obviously interested in talking, but I had so much on my mind that talking to someone at the Metro was the last thing on my mind,” he said. “It was then that he suggested the ad.”

He said that as of Tuesday, he hadn’t yet heard from the woman.

Mr. Freedman acknowledged that the Vienna stop’s proximity to George Mason University as one reason why it could be so popular, adding that Philadelphia’s Cecil B. Moore stop is around the corner from Temple University.

His belief, however, is that the online flirtations are fueled by “hoping against the odds and love getting a second shot.”