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Posts from April 2010


Riotous Then and Now: Seventh and N

1968 riot aftermath, 7th and N Streets7th and N streets (2010)
Historic image (left) from Library of Congress. Photo by Warren K. Leffler.

The early part of this month marked the 42nd anniversary of the 1968 riots here in the city. As such, I think its only fitting to close the month out with an image taken on April 8, 1968, showing the aftermath of a section of Seventh Street. Many areas that were hard hit resulted in large tracts of empty land. Some of these tracts later became housing developments such as the southwest corner of Seventh and N Streets, NW.


Board debates 3 am, $4 flat fare, parking charges and more

At yesterday's meeting, WMATA Board members finally got down to the brass tacks of negotiating over individual fare increases and service cuts. Various members spoke up about late night service and fares, parking fares, and bus-rail transfers.

Photo by thisisbossi.

Jim Graham focused his advocacy on the late night service. He argued for preserving the current 3 am closing time, instead of 2 am as proposed by the General Manager.

He also criticized the suggested $4 flat fare for late night, saying that short-distance passengers would just take taxis instead. (And who said Graham is in the pocket of the taxi drivers?) The MRO/GGW/CSG letter also recommended dropping the $4 charge and replacing it with "regular" (peak) fares at those times.

To offset the cost, Graham suggested raising the peak-of-the-peak from 10¢ to 20¢, which then triggered the longer peak-of-the-peak discussion. He also suggested raising the maximum fare the same amount as other fares (15%), though CFO Carol Kissal replied that just the 10¢ peak-of-the-peak increase would raise enough to cover Graham's requests.

The Fairfax members, Jeff McKay and Cathy Hudgins, both spoke up for removing the parking fee increases. The General Manager has proposed 50¢ per day and $5/month for reserved parking. I sympathize with this impulse, since many lots are not full. However, some are. Also, many trains and buses are not full, yet those fares will rise.

The MRO/GGW/CSG letter called for raising prices only on those stations with heavy demand. Some staff comments suggested this would be too complex to analyze in time for this fare increase. However, we've been asking for this for six months now if not since last year. If it's too late now, how about the Board ask staff to lower parking rates, but also ask them to start analyzing possibilities for more station-targeted parking?

McKay suggested paying for this change by lowering the bus-rail transfer to 25¢ instead of 50¢. That's the wrong approach. As it is, bus-rail transfer passengers are paying even more in this fare hike, with both bus and rail fares rising substantially. The Riders' Advisory Council strongly recommended increasing the transfer, not decreasing it. The hearing docket included a proposal to raise it to 75¢.

As Matt Johnson tweeted, "WMATA should be encouraging riders to come by bus." He also suggested thinking of parking as a "car to rail" transfer. The way McKay was talking about it, he was suggesting eliminating "discounts," as if the bus-rail discount was a sort of favor to bus passengers. In many cities, like New York, bus to rail transfers are completely free. Here, Orange Line to Green Line transfers are free. We actually charge extra to switch modes, and shouldn't be making it even more expensive.

The Board also debated widening the peak-of-the-peak time period to 2 hours instead of 1½ hours. Kissal said that would raise about $3 million more. However, Interim GM Sarles said it wasn't feasible for a reason that I couldn't make out listening to the (often too-quiet) audio stream.

But such a proposal misses the point of the peak-of-the-peak: to both raise revenue and also provide an economic incentive for people to ride at less busy times. 1½-hour is already a bit too large. The rail system is really particularly crowded for about an hour. Advocates didn't push for narrowing this because we didn't want to cut out too much revenue, but if it might get raised to 50¢, we should look at that.

Staff should evaluate the revenue impact of the 50¢ core-only peak-of-the-peak for only one hour. If that's enough to raise the money proposed, WMATA should confine it to the busiest hour.


WMATA considering 50c, core-only peak-of-the-peak fare

WMATA staff will evaluate the MetroRiders.Org/Greater Greater Washington/Coalition for Smarter Growth recommendation to replace the generalized peak-of-the-peak charge with one of up to 50¢ that only applies to trips in the "congested core."

Diagram of Metrorail crowding by Matt Johnson.

At yesterday's Board meeting, Arlington's Chris Zimmerman brought up the letter from the three groups and praised their approach of using specific objectives to guide fare policy rather than the untargeted, blanket proposals in the General Manager's recommended fare increase.

At his urging and with the assent of other members, staff agreed to examine a more targeted peak-of-the-peak fare. The press gave this proposal widespread coverage. Fox 5 interviewed me for a TV segment that ran on last night's news. but their site is down at the moment.

The system is particularly crowded during a single hour in the morning and evening peak, and in a small core section. Therefore, it makes sense to charge extra for trips in that area, during that time, but not for those people who are riding from Franconia to King Street and aren't taking up the most precious space.

Where should the charge apply? Based on Matt Johnson's terrific analysis of system crowding, I'd suggest applying it to trips that start, end, or pass through stations from Dupont Circle to Union Station, Rosslyn to Capitol South, and Pentagon to Gallery Place. Below are several alternatives and a rough analysis of their value.

1a. Charge at the busiest stations

Ideally this charge would only hits riders on the most crowded segments of the system, since the goal is to target only those riders who are using up the most precious space and who, if they switched to another time of day, would better spread out ridership across the system.

One approach would be to only apply it to the busiest stations. Looking just at the stations with the most passenger traffic (scroll down to the table), means that Shady Grove and New Carrollton would be included. But the trains aren't at their most crowded there, it's just that those stations have a lot of boardings.

1b. Charge at the busiest stations by morning exits

How about looking at exits in the AM peak? Click on "Exits" in that table to sort in that way. The top 19 stations are basically contiguous, which would apply the congestion charge to anyone getting off the system at any stations from Dupont to Union Station on the Red Line, Rosslyn to Capitol South on Orange/Blue, Crystal City to Gallery Place on Yellow and Blue/Yellow, or Navy Yard to Gallery Place on Green.

Anyone boarding at one of those stations in the AM peak, like a bus rider who transfers at Pentagon to go to King Street, wouldn't pay. Likewise, the evening rush would only apply to those who board at one of the stations in question. You could also argue for removing Crystal City, since the trains aren't particularly crowded along the Yellow-Blue segment there.

However, this doesn't hit riders who ride all the way through the congested core. They are taking up room on the busiest trains as well, and it makes just as much sense to create an incentive for a Grosvenor-Suitland rider to avoid the busiest times as a Grosvenor-Dupont rider—more, actually.

2. Charge for trips to, from, or through core stations

Another approach, therefore, would be to apply the charge to riders whose trips pass through the busiest stations as well as start or end at them. Then it wouldn't be necessary to count some more outlying stations like Navy Yard, since anyone going there from or through downtown would pay anyway, and people riding there from Congress Heights aren't contributing to congestion.

This is the approach I recommended above, and would apply to 17 stations, from Dupont to Union Station on Red, Rosslyn to Capitol South on Orange/Blue, L'Enfant Plaza to Gallery Place on Yellow/Green, and Pentagon on Yellow or Blue.

This would catch the through riders. It would also catch some reverse commuters who aren't contributing to congestion, like anyone going outbound from Dupont Circle, Pentagon, Rosslyn, or Capitol South, where the trains in that direction aren't crowded at all.

3. Charge for trips through the busiest segments

A more complex alternative would be to look at the segments themselves; we have Matt Johnson's analysis of which segments have the highest crowding. We could charge only people who are riding on one of those busiest segments, in the direction(s) where they are busy but not in the reverse direction.

Based on that, we could apply it to Glenmont-bound Red Line trips from Cleveland Park to Gallery Place, Shady-Grove bound trips from Union Station to Farragut North, Orange or Blue Line eastbound trips from Virginia Square to Capitol South, westbound Orange/Blues from Eastern Market to Metro Center, or Yellow trips from Pentagon City to Gallery Place.

Any trip passing through one of those segments would get charged. If WMATA implements this charge by simply looking up the trip in a table of start and end points, it's technically easy; for any station pair, we can tell whether that trip does or does not pass through that area in the proper direction. However, it'd be confusing to explain to riders.

Therefore, the simplest yet fairest approach would probably be to designate the 17 stations I listed and charge for any trips to, from, or through those stations in the busiest time periods.


Hans Riemer discusses White Flint, Wheaton, and eastern Montgomery County

Hans Riemer is an at-large candidate for the Montgomery County Council. At his campaign kickoff, I was impressed with his vision for Smart Growth in Montgomery County. Recently, he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Riemer at a recent house party.

1. What details about the newly approved White Flint Sector Plan will require the most attention and consensus-building? How do you intend to ensure White Flint becomes a vibrant, sustainable town?

There are several ongoing issues that will shape the success of this great vision for the White Flint community. First, I will protect the integrity of the community's vision so that it will be an area that prioritizes walking and biking. The Pike [Rockville Pike, MD 355] has closely resembled a highway for too long. You can't build community on a highway. Yet, some policy makers don't see it that way and promise to re-prioritize auto speed at the expense of community if they can.

A second major issue will be the successful implementation of transit infrastructure improvements and the street grid, which together will bring walkability to White Flint's daily life. Walkability has been crucial for winning the support of the surrounding community. Turning this auto desert around with improved transit, separated bike paths, and a walkable street grid that can move more people and more cars will require a lot of scrutiny. The commitment to this vision cannot be allowed to slip over time—no more Clarksburgs!

A critical factor to success in White Flint over time will be continuing to involve newer residents, young families, retirees, and others who see the value of the new planning model. When empowered, these important residents will press elected officials to hold true to the vision in the recently passed Sector Plan. This takes new and committed County leadership; people who see their job as helping to engage the community and organize for change.

2. Wheaton is both routinely overlooked by the county as a whole and also posseses great economic and social potential as a vibrant, walkable, sustainable town. What is your vision for Wheaton's future?

Wheaton's time has come! The next Council must prioritize Wheaton for investment and support. There are many interesting and good plans for revitalizing the parking lot in the center of town into a community square. We should move those plans forward.

However, the elephant in the room is the Westfield Wheaton Mall. We should establish a walkable street grid with housing on the mall property, and use economic development dollars to incentivize the transformation through gap financing. If we attract more residents who embrace walkable lifestyles to the urban core in Wheaton, the small businesses there will flourish. It is a very risky proposition to move existing businesses out of their spaces and hope that they survive during a rebuild—and will be able to afford new-building rents afterwards.

If well designed, such a transition of the Mall would work without jeopardizing Wheaton's existing small business character. Finally, if the County is going to give Westfield $4 million to build a Costco, they should use that as leverage to get going on a mixed use (housing + retail), walkable street grid on mall property—without any more gas stations. Georgia Avenue already has plenty.

I will also add that plans for Wheaton have come along every few years and have gone nowhere for a variety of reasons. We're only going to see success during this coming Council term if we bring together the bloggers, transit advocates, neighborhood activists, immigrant organizers, small businesses, property owners, and others, in a mighty chorus of "Now is the time!"

3. In your campaign kick-off, you expressed a clear vision for locating many new jobs along existing infrastructure in East County rather than in new office parks in Gaithersburg West. What sites do you envision for new jobs and do you see a need for new transit infrastructure to support them?

We have plenty of room for new jobs in Silver Spring, Wheaton, White Oak, Burtonsville, and Glenmont. Many of these areas are currently served by Metro. Others are in the Route 29 corridor, which needs a rapid transit service in order to support new jobs. One cost-effective transit solution would be a next generation bus system, as described by Councilmember Elrich, with its own separated lane and priority through intersections. In our present time of fiscal austerity we will need to think creatively about how to finance it—we need a model that larger landowners can pay for.

I helped push the Council to a good compromise on Gaithersburg West, but one of the concerns I raised was that the plan is projected to reduce job growth in East County. We can't let that happen! East County has been given short shrift for too long. We need good planning to create the commercial space, housing, and transit that will get this under-served area moving again.

We also need policymakers who can get new people involved to support the kind of change that we need in the County—people like Councilmembers Valerie Ervin (D-5) and Nancy Navarro (D-4). I hope to join them in this cause and I am grateful for their support of my efforts to get this County moving again.


Breakfast links: Green and moving

Photo by Andrew|W.
FBI might move to Greenbelt?: Plans for a mixed-use TOD on the Greenbelt Metro parking lots are the subject of legal disputes. Court documents revealed that the developer and WMATA have talked with the FBI about building a new HQ there, which would occupy the entire site. (Greenbelt News Review, Matt')

Barracks or community garden?: The Marines want to expand their Capitol Hill barracks, but their ideal site is a community garden that 60 families use and which has a long waiting list to join. The Marine plan would relocate the garden to a spot in the shadow of the SE/SW Freeway that would also be dug up by CSX's Virginia Avenue tunnel project. Garden supporters are trying to persuade the Marines to pursue a different site. (ChewsWise, Lynda)

Adroit opposition keeps LeDroit static: A plan to renovate a large house and add some new townhouses in LeDroit Park is off after HPO staff recommended changes that would force zoning variances, plus neighborhood opposition. (Left for LeDroit)

Dose of bad news for pedestrians: A woman was killed at 1st and M, SE yesterday. Police haven't yet released the name of the victim, who killed her, or in what kind of vehicle. (DCist) ... Drivers tend to speed along that stretch of wide M Street to try to beat the lights. That's why it's important to make M Street a "complete street." ... Drivers also struck pedestrians in two places on Route 1, at Cherry Hill Road in College Park and Florida Avenue (where Route 1 is Rhode Island Avenue) in DC.

He lied, but didn't assault: The NYC police officer who shoved a cyclist during Critical Mass was convicted of lying, but acquitted for assault and harassment. (Streetsblog)

Bike parking USA: It only took DC USA two years to install some bike racks in the underutilized garage. (Prince Of Petworth) ... DDOT transformed a car parking space into bike parking added some on-street bike parking in some formerly unused curb space in front of the new WABA offices. (WashCycle)

Plop art?: The Washington Post art critic says the new sculptures on the 1200 block of New York Ave NW aren't meaningful enough, calling them "plop art." The Straight Line argues that "thoughtful" wouldn't really work in a median strip, but prefers trees.

No Phone Zone: Oprah has declared today "No Phone Zone Day" in an effort to cut down on distracted driving, and Maryland will participate with messages on electronic highway signs. (Baltimore Sun)

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Silver Spring Civic Building takes shape

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to take a hard-hat tour of the new Silver Spring Civic Building, which will finally open this July after years of planning and anticipation.

The Civic Building is located at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring. According to the Gazette, the 42,000-square-foot, $22 million facility will contain an art gallery, an 800-person auditorium with a dance floor, classrooms and meeting rooms available for community use, and offices.

Civic Building Close-Up, April 2010Construction Workers In Scaffolding

Outside, the future Veterans' Plaza is still a construction site—and for those dining nearby, a free show. Work continues on a new ice rink, complete with a canopy that'll glow in the evenings. In the warmer months, the rink will be used as an amphitheatre for concerts and other performances.

Civic Building Lobby

Inside, bright colors dominate the building's lobby and adjacent auditorium, along with the stained wood that wraps around the building inside and out.

The Civic Building is oriented to be on axis with Ellsworth Drive, meaning that you'll be able to stand at the front door and look straight into the Discovery Building a block away.

Sad Tape FaceCourtyard

We weren't really allowed inside the courtyard, though you can see that trees are planted and pipes laid for a special, water-saving irrigation system. When completed, this space will serve as a space for informal gathering.

From the front desk, visitors will ascend a flight of stairs to the second floor, where classrooms and government offices are located.

Main Hallway (Upstairs)

Upstairs, this hallway will lead to a suite of offices originally set aside for the Silver Spring Regional Services Center, though other county agencies will now have space there as well.

Many of the building's windows—specifically, those between the first and second floors in any double-height spaces like the hallway above—are frosted with little penguins, the unofficial mascot of Silver Spring.

A second-floor classroom enjoys panoramic views of Downtown Silver Spring, courtesy of those nifty wraparound windows I've been ogling over the past year.

Two floors down, the entire basement has been given over to Round House Theatre in return for $1 a year in rent, as part of an agreement made several years ago. There will be a practice studio designed to mimic the stage at the actual theatre, located a block away on Colesville Road, ten individual offices, and a large area for cubicles. The suite even has its own private entrance, located on Veterans Place, a new street behind the Civic Building.

Basement EntranceCivic Building Porch

Regional Services Center director Reemberto Rodriguez (pictured, above right) has been leading a community-wide discussion about the use of public space in the community, both at IMPACT Silver Spring's yearly networking event and on his blog, Silver Spring Speaks. While the Civic Building adds much-needed meeting space and replaces the popular "Turf", which was removed two years ago, it's unclear how much space will be available for the community when the complex is finished.

Check out this slideshow of the Civic Building's progress over the past year, including photos of my tour.


Next stop, Georgia Ave-Petworth-Park View?

While having a Metro station at the intersection of Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues is a boon to the area, one of the unfortunate oversights of the station is that its name honors Petworth while ignoring the neighborhood of Park View.

Should Park View be part of this station's name?

Technically, the station is in Ward 4's Petworth, though barely. South of Rock Creek Church Road and east of Georgia Avenue is not Petworth but the Ward 1 neighborhood of Park View.

Naming the station Petworth in the name gives the false impression that the station is located in the heart of that neighborhood. Nothing could be further from the truth as Park View's border is mere feet from the station, and Petworth's real heart is well to the north.

WMATA could add Park View to the station name, making it Georgia Ave-Petworth-Park View. Or, it could just be Petworth-Park View, though deleting a name from a station is far more problematic than adding one.

The 750 foot long Duke Ellington Bridge separates Adams Morgan from the station that bears its name. Image from Library of Congress.
Is there a precedent for renaming a station to be more inclusive of the communities around it? Yes. In 1999 the Woodley ParkóZoo station was renamed to Woodley ParkóZoo/Adams Morgan to help identify that the station also serves Adams Morgan.

However, whereas Adams Morgan's western border is 0.3 miles away from the station—and this is over the 750-foot-long Duke Ellington Bridge—Park View is only about 247 feet south of the station that ignores its existence.

Answering an inquiry on why this intersection was chosen for a station in the first place, Metro cites the location's long association with mass transit among the reasons that lead to its selection. If this is the case, Park View certainly played its part in helping to permanently establish Rock Creek Church Road, Georgia, and New Hampshire Avenues as a permanent stop for streetcars, then buses, and now Metro.

While there are numerous examples of the Park View Citizens' Association fighting for better streetcar service along Georgia Avenue, their most relevant accomplishment to this discussion occurred in 1914. It was in that year that the Citizens' Association took on the Utilities Commission to insist on a stop at Rock Creek Church Road for southbound trains. Prior to their plea to the Commissioners, streetcars only stopped at this location during their northbound journey.

Initially, the Commission rejected Park View's request. Not taking no for an answer, residents pressed their case and ultimately won in September of that year, causing the Commission to authorized the Washington Railway and Electric Company to establish a far-side stop at Georgia and Rock Creek Church Rd. That was the beginning of the intersection becoming the significant transportation hub that it is today.


Plan would reconnect East Falls Church, fill empty spaces

Arlington County is seeking public input for a plan to redevelop the East Falls Church area, embracing the mixed-use development that is the standard at other Metro stations in the county, and connecting the station area with better bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

The overall vision is to guide redevelopment of the Metro station parking lot and other likely nearby sites in a transit-oriented manner.

The East Falls Church Planning Task Force, a joint committee with representatives from local Arlington and Falls Church neighborhood groups, as well as WMATA, VDOT and local staff representatives, will host forums at Tuckahoe Elementary School from 7-9 pm on April 29 (tonight) and Tuesday, May 4.

Likely redevelopment sites include the Metro parking lots, a Verizon switching station parking lot (currently unused), a gas station, two banks with surface parking lots, a used car lot, a home heating oil storage and transfer facility, and poorly used open space.

Development sites in the central sections of the East Falls Church plan.

The East Falls Church area had historically been a railroad commuter town, named after its train station on the Washington and Old Dominion line. Three rail systems, the W&OD, the Arlington and Falls Church trolley and the Southern Railway served the area, with the last system added in 1895. In 1951, passenger service at the station shut down, and in 1982, the core of what was a small downtown area was removed to make way for Interstate 66.

In 1986, rail service was restored when the East Falls Church Metro station opened. What remains is a grid-pattern residential community with 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s brick homes on a grid pattern oriented toward the freeway. Some of the larger parcels have been redeveloped into townhomes or medium-density condos. I live in a townhome built in 1976 inside the study area.

The plan incorporates many features that are common throughout Arlington. Wider sidewalks, on-street parking, bike lanes and bulb-outs are planned, making intersections more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. Travel lanes for cars will be narrowed from 13 feet to 10 feet in many places, which has a psychological effect on drivers and reduces their average travel speed.

New bicycle and pedestrian connections will be built across I-66, which divides the formerly cohesive community in two. The Metro station will get a new entrance at the opposite end of the platform, connecting the northwest and southwest in addition to the existing eastern entrance.

Pedestrian (left) and bicycle (right) improvements in the plan.

The Metro station north parking lot will host a new two-building mixed-use development with a plaza and direct access to the Metrorail platform, and retail along Washington Boulevard and Sycamore Street. The south kiss-and-ride parking lot will have a smaller residential building and a plaza. Building heights will be 5-6 stories closest to the Metro station, tapering off to 3-4 stories nearest the single-family home areas.

The existing 5 acres of Metrorail parking (about 450 spaces) will be reduced to 200 spaces. Bus facilities will continue operation. Bike lanes will replace former on-street bike routes.

My overall conclusion for this project is that if you live in the area and wish you had something worth walking to other than the parks, bike trails, and Metro station, you'll be happy. If you live in the area expecting it to continue to be a sleepy, low-density residential area for decades to come, big changes are planned. I'm looking forward to having a lot more neighbors and amenities.


New railcars miss key opportunities

WMATA will soon order new 7000 series railcars. These will be the most advanced in the fleet when they arrive in 2013. However, they miss the chance to make several key improvements that could add capacity and speed boarding, including more doors and articulation.

NYC subway cars with 4 doors. Photo by gmpicket.

Doors limit boarding

With this addition to the fleet, Metro had the opportunity to rethink its railcars based on 30 years of experience. Crowding causes excessive dwell times at busy stations. Metro could significantly speed boarding and alighting by adding a fourth door-pair per side. More doors would also help spread crowding throughout the car.

Some other systems with cars of similar lengths have four doors per side. New York's B Division (lettered lines) uses cars with 4 doors per side. Some of Boston's Red line cars also have 4 doors on each side.

But Metro has chosen to keep 3 doors on each side of the car. This is a significant missed opportunity.

Articulation could add space

Continuous articulation in Berlin.
Another way to increase capacity and also improve circulation would be to use articulated railcars or cars without end bulkheads. These types of cars are becoming more and more popular, especially in Europe.

When Yonah Freemark, of The Transport Politic, asked Metro why they didn't consider articulated vehicles for the 7000-series, Metro spokesperson Lisa Farbstein responded: "We have not designed our cars that way. It's a choice we made when we started the system decades ago. No plans to change it just to change it."

But articulated vehicles add more standing room for passengers. That's not "just to change it." The system was designed in the 1970s with a cab on each end of married pairs, and WMATA changed that.

BART cars. Photo by Thomas Hawk.
Even including diaphragms between cars in a pair and allowing movement between those cars would be an improvement. San Francisco's BART has diaphragms and sliding doors between cars, and has had them since 1972.

Retain design element uniformity

Metro was designed with many motifs and unifying elements. That uniformity extends beyond the architecture of the stations. Even the railcars play their part. The color palate used on the current fleet is similar to the standard station architecture.

The brown stripe, which Metro is ditching for the 7000-series, is one of the major common colors systemwide. In terms of the station architecture, the stripe reflects the browns of the columns, signs, sides of escalators, and other elements. Additionally, it reflects many other aspects of the system, from faregates to station agent booths.

Photo by the author.
The reddish-orange platform tile is mirrored by the orange-brown or maroon carpet inside the railcars. The silver of the train exterior echoes the gray-white of the station vault. This is further reinforced by the backlighting from the platform edge lights, which helps evoke the indirect lighting of the train room.

And when a train is in the station, the red-orange floor, the brown stripe, and the gray-white walls play together to create a unified ensemble.

One of the drawbacks of the 7000-series railcars is their proposed departure from the Metro palate, especially the loss of the brown stripe. Not only will the cars not match the rest of the fleet, they'll be missing a major aesthetic design element of the system.

The 7000-series will make up a very large part of the railcar fleet once all the cars have arrived. Failing to make some of the changes now means that we will be stuck with certain inadequacies for decades to come. At the same time, a failure to consider the design elements standard across the system threatens the uniformity and quality of the experience - a major basis for the popularity and success of the system.

And that success has become a major hurdle. Dealing with the throngs of riders, especially in this funding climate, has become increasingly difficult for Metro. While the design of the 7000-series will allow for longitudinal seating, and more standing room, Metro's failure to consider other improvements is shortsighted.

What other opportunities are being missed by the 7000-series?


Breakfast links: Plans to grow

Photo by dbking.
Georgetown residents v. students: Some residents of Georgetown and Burleith don't want more graduate students at Georgetown University, saying they bring traffic and noise.

Resident Stephen Brown was so upset that he created a Web site threatening to take photos of students drinking inside their own homes and post them online where potential employers might see them. The hosting company took the site down, but Brown put up a new site on Blogspot. (Post, Casual Hoya, Georgetown Voice, dp.3)

A smaller Hill East, for now: Mindful of the problems that derailed Poplar Point, DC is proceeding piece by piece on the Hill East development south of RFK Stadium. Instead of seeking a master developer to manage 5 million square feet, ODMPED is looking just for about half that for the first phase. Some residents worry this will compromise the larger vision that has strong community support. (WBJ)

CLD in MVT?: The whole-block parking lot that didn't shovel its sidewalks in Mount Vernon Triangle could soon be redeveloped along with another large parcel. Owner Steuart Investment would like permission to fulfill the 50% residential requirement by making one parcel all residential and the other all office (known as "Combined Lot Development" and common downtown) but needs ANC support. (The Triangle)

One small step for a better Gaithersbungle: The Montgomery County Concil will require a higher percentage of "life sciences"—40% instead of 30%—in the so-called "Science City" development. One of the plan's many flaws was that it could let Hopkins just profit off generic office park development instead of actually bringing in the promised biotech research. (Examiner)

What's getting built: The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approval for a new building at the White Flint Metro ... Undeterred by the recession, one developer is still building a 4-story as-of-right apartment building at Georgia and Harvard. (DCmud)

Taxes or social service cuts and meter hikes?: The DC Council is considering tax increases for top income earners, a sales tax on soda, and removing the sales tax exemption for pet grooming, club memberships, and theater tickets. The money would restore some services for needy residents, roll back the $3 parking rates, and more.

Ride Metro or not?: A seeing-eye dog trainer rode Metro for the first time during the cherry blossoms, and found Metro very accommodating (Smart Dog University, Cavan) ... A Falls Church resident who could walk to Metro drives to work instead largely because his Rosslyn office building gives him free parking. (Unsuck DC Metro)

Legalize personal car sharing: California may change insurance laws to allow "personal car sharing," where car owners can rent out their cars via sharing companies to members during times the owner doesn't need the car. It's a good idea, but current insurance laws don't allow this for vehicles not registered commercially. (Streetsblog SF)

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