Greater Greater Washington

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The Baltimore bus system does look comprehensive if you look at the route map, but it is notoriously unreliable, partly because of being stuck in traffic, and partly because the personnel don't seem to be very concerned with running it on schedule.

For example, I live an easy 10 to 15-minute drive from Penn Station in Baltimore (about 3 miles), but in the middle of the day I have to allow 1.5 to 2 hours on the #11 bus if I want to ensure that I'll catch a train at a certain time. This allows for one bus on an every-30-minute schedule to not show up at all, and the next one to be up to 30 minutes late. This is not an acceptable level of service.

If buses in central London can run on schedule--and they do--there's no reason they can't run closer to schedule in a place like Baltimore.

Back to the subject, there is no bus rapid transit in Baltimore, and there are no plans to implement it. The governor mentioned "bus rapid transit" once or twice, but it's not clear that he even knows what it is, much less that he's actually interested in pursuing that option.

The MTA has already tried implementing "Quickbuses", which are limited-stop buses on the same route as the regular buses. They help, but they are no substitute for a real transit line, whether rail or BRT.

by Marty C in The Baltimore Red Line does need a tunnel, despite its cost on Jul 28, 2015 8:24 pm • linkreport

"Fairfax DOT wants to cut the lanes and add crosswalks, but must first prove changes won't slow down drivers."

Isn't the whole point of traffic calming slowing down drivers? You can't have a walkable place with people going 40mph...

by TheLoosh in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 7:46 pm • linkreport

That first headline is a great visual pun.

by Neil Flanagan in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 7:13 pm • linkreport

I say, let Chris Christie host the Olympics at LaGuardia.

by Not Here in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 6:48 pm • linkreport

Red Line

So how come there is not a huge water issue with Stadium Armory, Rosslyn, Court House or Foggy Bottom; these three stations opened in the late 70's.

All of these stations are closer to large bodies of water than Bethesda, Friendship Heights or Medical Center and these all opened mid the mid 80's

by kk in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 6:46 pm • linkreport

Yes, I knew that it was in Greenbelt now. But I was wondering where it had been before it was built in 1994. But I see that it was a new division (Southern) of the previously unified Maryland District.

by Frank IBC in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 6:44 pm • linkreport

"The extreme makeover will also add badly needed AirTrain and high-speed ferry service to the overcrowded, delay-riddled gateway to the Big Apple."
Ferry service was tried from Manhattan to the Marine Air Terminal and it failed. The ferries weren't high speed, but then again, none of the ferries currently operating in NY are due in part to large amount of traffic already in the rivers. As much as people think NYC would be great for ferries, the truth is that without massive subsidies none of them would exist and money spent subsidizing them in money not being spent on other transit projects.

by dcer562 in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 6:40 pm • linkreport

"What are the first 3 words that come to mind when you think of Greater Greater Washington?"

Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?

by Frank IBC in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 6:37 pm • linkreport

Transforming Old Lee Hwy into a complete street is long overdue. I'm glad this project is now moving forward. Personally, I greatly prefer buffered bike lanes to bike lanes hidden (aka "protected") behind parked cars.

by Allen Muchnick in Old Lee Highway could become Fairfax's most bike-friendly street on Jul 28, 2015 6:02 pm • linkreport

@Bradley Heard. Ok thanks for that. So all they have to do is persuade the General Assembly. I doubt that will happen anytime soon. Upper Marlboro can live without the County but not without the courts.

@FrankIBC. The federal court is in Greenbelt, not Upper Marlboro.

by JimT in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 5:58 pm • linkreport

BTW, Matt - Where does one find population centroid information for various locales? Is there a census map or anything that shows it?

by Bradley Heard in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 5:40 pm • linkreport

The strange little criminal-justice-based economy of Upper Marlboro, which surely boasts more bail bonds places per capita than anywhere else in America, won't be happy. But yes, they really need to move the seat closer to civilization.

A study a couple years ago suggested that at the state level, more remote capitals equals less accountability equals more overall corruption; I wouldn't be surprised if this held true at the county level as well. Certainly, having lowered political participation at the county level allows special interests (like the developers interested in perpetuating sprawl) to have inordinate sway.

by Fran in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 5:19 pm • linkreport

Honestly, the only problem with the "brand" is that Girls Gone Wild got the initals first.

by charlie in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 4:52 pm • linkreport

Advocating for a Rapid Bus Line:

http://www.govtech.com/opinion/Bus-Rapid-Transit-Systems-A-Viable-Transit-Solution.html

The Baltimore area actually has a decent bus route system, covering most of the metro area. A dedicated rapid bus line that would complement existing mass transit seems to be the next item up for discussion.

by DJP in The Baltimore Red Line does need a tunnel, despite its cost on Jul 28, 2015 4:52 pm • linkreport

@ Brett Young--

LA Olympics -- "Warren Christopher"?!

Dont you mean Peter Uberoth?

by Smart Growther in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 4:39 pm • linkreport

The comment by Richard, just prior to mine, says the option to share the Metro tunnel was even more expensive, although it begs the question of how that sharing is accomplished.

I believe that it's the Hogan administration's intention to not build this line regardless of its merits or disadvantages, as evidenced by the fact that none of them had a coherent or sufficient answer when asked what alternatives they have in mind. "Buses" is not an answer. We already have buses.

They don't have alternatives. They don't want to commit the funds to do this at all, for a system that is broadly perceived as welfare transportation for those unable to afford a car. Those funds can be better spent, in their shortsighted view, on road projects outside Baltimore.

Not building a transit system befitting a city of its size dooms Baltimore as an attractive place to live for the many people who don't want to be stuck dealing with a car to go everywhere. Look at what happened in Washington, a city of similar size, in terms of transit-oriented development, once a world-class Metro system was built.

Discussing modifications to "reduce the cost" of the Red Line to make it more palatable to the governor seems pointless to me, as the problem is essentially political. Maryland is the richest state in the country and can make this happen, one way or another, if the will is there.

by Marty C in The Baltimore Red Line does need a tunnel, despite its cost on Jul 28, 2015 4:27 pm • linkreport

My idea for rebranding is that GGW will be a whichWMATA contest with a blog attached.

Who's with me?

by Matt' Johnson in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 4:26 pm • linkreport

Honestly, guys. Way too many of you are freaking out about this as if they're going to completely overhaul the site design... and they haven't even mentioned site design yet. It's BRANDING and LOGO, not SITE DESIGN. Calm down!

As far as GGW's branding goes, I don't think y'all have too much to change. Transit and housing being the main focuses works; it's best to not extend too far. (I know education and such have their place in the discussion, but I've noticed that the education articles of late don't get much in the way of comments. I enjoy them, as I have a vested interest in education, but I don't know about everybody else.)

I'm a fan of the >>George part of the logo, but mostly because I have a math background and that sort of symbolic wordplay tickles my fancy. You could probably get away with a more compact logo (instead of the full "picture + text + slogan" you put in the survey), though. I think having a picture- and/or text-based logo is fine, but the slogan being there is a bit superfluous in my opinion.

I'll save comments about site layout and features for the site portion of the survey. :)

by JamesDCane in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 3:29 pm • linkreport

I came in late. Has the RightRail plan been discussed here?
I have no affiliation, I provided the URL for convenience. I do have two issues:
1. Does USDOT still support heavy rail?
2. Henry Barnes had a point when he said "I often said I didn’t mind streetcars except for the fact that they run on the street."
What else is questionable about the RightRail plan? What are its virtues?

by Tom in Baltimore in The Baltimore Red Line does need a tunnel, despite its cost on Jul 28, 2015 3:28 pm • linkreport

I had thought that there was a federal (US District) courthouse in Upper Marlboro. Did there used to be one there, before the one in Greenbelt was built?

by Frank IBC in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 3:21 pm • linkreport

Skeptical,
I agree that it's a long shot, especially when you consider what Paul says about who can go out and advocate for their interests. This is where GGW can make a difference, not just by setting up neighborhood 'conversations' but by bringing those issues to the politicians feet and holding them accountable to being fair to all classes of citizens and not just those who pay for their ear.

by Thayer-D in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 3:16 pm • linkreport

Clean, fun, and easy to read design. There is one site whose content I LOVE but that has become so heavy and slow that I just can't deal with it.

Your logo stinks but who cares? Content is great and site layout is great.

Don't fix it. It ain't broke.

by Skeptical in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 3:15 pm • linkreport

Maybe you can have something similar to USA Today's Our view vs opposing view.

by Brett Young in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 3:05 pm • linkreport

< it's come to our attention that we're missing a lot of key, cohesive components to a complete brand. Hence the "rebranding" effort -- not change for the sake of change./I>

Ummmm... There's a difference? Honestly, I appreciate you taking the time to respond, but it sounds like marketing gibberish. Your "brand" is that you produce useful, interesting articles about the Washington DC metropolitan area. That's not good enough? You gonna release an energy drink and maybe a line of running shoes to go along with that?

Again, of web sites that I've frequented, over the last 12-18 months there hasn't been ONE that was improved by a redesign. Most were substantially worsened, many to the point that they're not worth visiting.

by sglover in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 3:04 pm • linkreport

"It is a one-way ratchet, though, and the further down that path we go the more distortions and inequality we get."

It is hardly one way, as many examples of deregulation demonstrate. There is no slippery slope.

" I trust the market much more than I do politicians and experts, however well-intentioned."

First of all there is no free market in housing and never will be. Both because of actual market failures, and because of market limitations so woven into our society, that most "pro free market" people consider them actually part of the free market. You, I suppose, live in the District. In the suburbs some of the most ardent defenders of density limiting zoning are lovers of private property and haters of "planners and their visions" who will insist to you that zoning to "preserve character" is, unlike any social program, a defense against real externalities, and is practically a property right in itself - and that those who propose to relax zoning rules are socialists (in Arlington and Alexandria the proponents of relaxed zoning typically are on the liberal side of local politics, and to some degree in Fairfax as well)

If you are truely concerned about using the free market as a tool to resolve the housing problem, I think it would help more to support DA and SGA in fighting that kind of restrictive zoning, rather than quibbling over relatively modest inclusionary zoning requirements (I freely confess that I think maintaining neighborhood by neighborhood income diversity is a positive social good, as is maintaining transit access for low income households)

by CrossingBrooklynFerry in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 2:51 pm • linkreport

I took the branding survey and will save the bulk of my website comments for whenever that discussion comes up.

However, I'll just add that I think the important thing with the upgrade in maintaining a clean, simple and uncluttered design (in terms of both the layout and the underlying coding). There are plenty of modern, CSS based designs that meet these criteria.

by Ross in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 2:42 pm • linkreport

@ Skeptical

So much italics. Brain about to explode. :)

I agree that not every shack is historical and not everyone should have an unobstructed view of the Washington Monument. I also agree that not everyone should be given a tax-funded discount to live in a Georgetown or a Bethesda.

Ahem, of course, a highly compensated government contractor or government employee who lives in one of these neighborhoods is using taxpayer funds to do so, but that is a different conversation altogether.

But let's be honest here. The people who write into blogs are typically white collar workers and have time to show up at public forums. And these people are more likely to say that their neighborhood is fine the way it is, they don't want a ten-story building nearby and they don't want anyone to touch a blade of grass because they think George Washington walked there.

So if Alpert has a forum or blog on housing, he's already dealing with a tainted sample; the working single parent can't take time out of his or her day to discuss the nuances in local zoning or transit policy.

I'm not saying don't try to do these things, and I wish him and GGW luck on this endeavor, but I don't yet understand how this exercise is going to turn the conversation toward anything constructive or actionable.

by Paul J. Meissner in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 2:39 pm • linkreport

I'm with Brett Young 100%. If you must, just clean it up to make it super-easy to read on all devices, with good typography and blink-of-en-eye load times.

And yes, an edit button for comments would be nice -- with a time limit to allow legitimate corrections, but prevent I-never-said-thats. Some forums have this.

by Matt O'Toole in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 2:39 pm • linkreport

Good luck, Thayer-D.

I'd love to see it but if you think the one-issue fanatics that populate the various city preservation organizations are interested in introducing even slightly weakened historic preservation regulations then let me urge you to think again.

by Skeptical in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 2:37 pm • linkreport

Great post, Matt! I was actually working up a post on this myself, but you've said a lot of what I wanted to say in here.

@ Jim - I responded to your similar comment on WaPo about the courthouse. Moving the Prince George's County Courthouse away from Upper Marlboro won't affect the other counties. It's true that PGC is in the 7th Judicial Circuit along with Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's counties - but each county has its own courthouse and its own judges.

by Bradley Heard in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 2:36 pm • linkreport

"So let's take away some of the tools that people use to block projects like that. Zoning and historic preservation districts / historic preservation law are logical places to start."

The historic preservation law is what saved many of the areas we are all so proud of. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, let's try and simplify some of these laws and make them less onerous. Come up with a preservation light category that would have neighborhoods grow more like they did for thousands of years, that is de-incentivize tear downs by being more flexible on how to preserve historic fabric. Those European buildings that have multiple layers are sometimes the most interesting. Let people add stories or blow out the backs in less "historic" neighborhoods. Create form codes for those areas not suitable to deconstructivist experimentation. But don't just open the door to any old development that will erase the character of the city so many fought to preserve.

by Thayer-D in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 2:29 pm • linkreport

Seems like the decision has already been made to move with exception of what is legally required to be approved. But the suburban office park buildings the county has aquired are far from anything urban like Montgomery, Arlington, etc. Not as bad as Fairfax though. But without redevelopment of Largo as a mixed use city it is lost opportunity. But with the coming hospital and FBI Largo will become one of the regions largest job centers.

by Cyrus in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 2:16 pm • linkreport

drumz, you are exactly correct that

the problem is when the expensive areas actively fight against specific projects that would add to the overall supply.

So let's take away some of the tools that people use to block projects like that. Zoning and historic preservation districts / historic preservation law are logical places to start.

by Skeptical in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 2:11 pm • linkreport

I will not take a job at any company or agency if it requires me to purchase a car to commute to work. No dice. I'm not alone in that.

Still doesn't mean that this is an issue limited to "progressives." There are plenty of other people who can't drive, don't want to drive, or don't want to be obligated to drive to work.

by FHE in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 2:10 pm • linkreport

CBF, your point that

committed AH can be used in conjunction with density bonuses that offset reductions in supply of market rate units - density bonuses that might otherwise not be politically feasible

is, sadly, correct.

It is a one-way ratchet, though, and the further down that path we go the more distortions and inequality we get. I trust the market much more than I do politicians and experts, however well-intentioned.

by Skeptical in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 2:08 pm • linkreport

@Aimee.

That all seems very reasonable.

Except for the fact that Ive seen it before in dozens of website. It all ends the same way.

Welp, I guess infinite scrolling, 20 layers of java, and a broken ability to use cntrl+scroll to zoom are coming soon.

by JJJJ in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 2:06 pm • linkreport

No need for a face lift, if it aint broke don't fix it.

by Sand Box John in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 2:04 pm • linkreport

I will not take a job at any company or agency if it requires me to purchase a car to commute to work. No dice. I'm not alone in that.

That begs the question: Where does the planning department move in this scenario? Perhaps they would move into the County Administration building?

by JimT in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 2:02 pm • linkreport

Why Can't We Just Host the Olympics in the Same Place Every Year? Guess where the Olympics turned a profit...Los Angeles which still has most of the needed sports infrastructure:

http://www.citylab.com/politics/2013/09/two-words-olympics-island/6797/

The point is to settle on one location(s), wherever that is, not necessarily LA or Lake Placid.

by Dave G in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 1:57 pm • linkreport

More context (last time I tell you all about branding and site design in the same post!!). :-D

Today, our intent is to gather your insights about our branding, which we've been thinking about for a long time, and as we've been growing, it's come to our attention that we're missing a lot of key, cohesive components to a complete brand. Hence the "rebranding" effort -- not change for the sake of change. :)

Similarly, in the coming weeks as we talk about site design, things may seem to be flowers and sunshine on the front end of the site, but on the back end, some of our coding and structure is very outdated, even to the point that we've had to shut off various features of the site as time has gone on. So we're super-duper excited to be coming up on a renovation of the "guts" of the site, and to that end, while we're at it, at least take a look at the front end to see if there are things that could be better. :) Again, not change for the sake of change. :)

And a last note, it's super-duper-awesome that you all have such strong feeling about this stuff. Makes our jobs a lot easier, so keep it coming!

by Aimee Custis in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 1:57 pm • linkreport

I don't think any reasonable person expects expensive areas to become cheap necessarily. The "not everyone can live in Manhattan" issue alluded to above.

The problem is when the expensive areas actively fight against specific projects that would add to the overall supply. One project won't make Dupont affordable all of a sudden but trying to eliminate housing just because something is "too tall" at 59 feet definitely won't help either.

by drumz in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 1:56 pm • linkreport

It also would be nice if I didnt have to truck all the way out there when I get called for Jury duty.

Moving the county government would not change the location of the courthouse. It is very unlikely that the court will move to Largo, unless the Maryland judiciary is re-organized, because Upper Marlboro is centrally located for the 4 counties it serves.

by JimT in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 1:54 pm • linkreport

Christie is going down like a ton of bricks (not a fat joke) and I love it.

I don't know. Donald Trump has, so far, proven that saying outrageous things is that best way to get ahead in the polls. If there is someone who can out Donald the Donald in being outrageous it is Chris Christie. ;)

Fox is looking like it has a ratings winner with the upcoming debate - better than a demolition derby I'd say.

by jeffb in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 1:54 pm • linkreport

@Jason L: silver line ridership was premised based on other infrastructure that is late

by Mike in Breakfast links: (Don't) go for the gold on Jul 28, 2015 1:53 pm • linkreport

I like how the site is set up but it could use a graphical overhaul to be more in tune with current design trends. I'd also love forums or a subreddit / IRC chat

by Aman in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 1:53 pm • linkreport

@ Frank

I thought I had a phrase about the potential workforce as well, but I think it got cut when I edited my comment before posting. Oops.

So, the Largo move is a good idea, at least on its face.

by Paul J. Meissner in Prince George's County could move its government closer to more residents on Jul 28, 2015 1:52 pm • linkreport

@Charlie: "I'm not sure homeowners want to hear that you plan to keep their house values stable -- which means negative -- for the future."

Well, the current trajectory is ever growing home/land values in big cities, which drive up the cost for everyone who did not already buy, and force out both renters and people who bought a long time ago and can no longer pay their taxes. Existing homeowners have already made a small fortune on their homes, and prioritizing their continued wealth accrual at the expense of everyone else seems to be an extraordinarily poor public policy.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21647349-rising-house-prices-may-be-chiefly-responsible-rising-inequality-through

by Uptowner in What we hope to do on housing on Jul 28, 2015 1:46 pm • linkreport

Change for the sake of change is a very, very bad thing. I can think of a dozen websites I stopped visiting after a redesign ruined t.

by JJJJ in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 1:45 pm • linkreport

I echo @Brett Young. An edit button for comments. Pretty please.

Otherwise, just tweak things. There is no need for a major edit or, as @sglover notes, a bunch of JavaScript and Flash slowing things down. The current design is solid and stable and it would be a shame to lose that.

by Mr. Johnson in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 1:45 pm • linkreport

I'd also add something to indicate how many times a post has been edited.

by Dave G in Help us rebrand and relaunch our website with a short survey on Jul 28, 2015 1:45 pm • linkreport

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