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Photo by ElvertBarnes on Flickr.
Shootings mar Halloween: 6 people were shot last night in DC: in Georgetown (where "a car just shot somebody"), Petworth, Congress Heights, and near New York Ave Metro. (Post, Dave Murphy)

TE "boondoggles" never got funded: GOP Senators criticizing the use of "Transportation Enhancement" money, which usually goes to bike and ped programs, instead picked on projects like a roadside coffee pot... except that and other highlighted projects never actually got any federal money. (Streetsblog)

Evans' firm represented hotel partner: Jack Evans' outside employer, Patton Boggs, represents a partner in the hotel near the convention center which Evans pushed hard to finance with city money. Evans insists there's no conflict of interest. (Post)

3 years to MoCo BRT?: Some Montgomery councilmembers want to get the planned Bus Rapid Transit network running in 3 years, possibly with a special taxing district for the areas that benefit. Others are skeptical. (Examiner)

Metro ridership going down: Metro ridership could decline up to 5% next year, and even more if the federal government doesn't renew transit benefits for its employees at the level of the last 2 years. (Examiner)

New Tourmobile now, Circulator later: NPS is soliciting bids for another "interpretive" Mall tour, but unlike the Tourmobile, this contract won't be exclusive. DC wasn't able to start Circulator right away, but is getting ready to do so in 2013. (City Paper)

Tenants purchase building after fight: Tenants at the Norwood in Logan Circle fought a 6-year battle including lawsuits with the landlord, who wanted to convert to higher-priced condos. Ultimately, they succeeded in buying the property thanks to city loans (which are going to be rare since the DC budget cut the housing trust fund). (DCmud)

And...: Free Wi-Fi launches for real on Amtrak, but with content filters (DCist) ... The Silver Line might be delayed and draw fewer riders than planned (Examiner) ... Reagan gets a statue at National Airport. (Huffington Post) ... Why does LA's mayor hate DC? (DCist)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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The Silver Line might be delayed and draw fewer riders than planned

That's news?

by Vicente Fox on Nov 1, 2011 9:19 am • linkreport

WMATA is predicting 14M riders for the Silver Line.

That is about 40K a day. Probably weekday riders would be a bit more -- maybe 60K.

How does that compare to the existing lines? OFf the top of my head, there were about 150K weekday riders in Virginia. So that is about a 33% increase.

I'll be very curious to see how many goverment agencies locate themselves out by Tysons. There is some talk of Arlington being too expensive for GSA leases.

by charlie on Nov 1, 2011 9:24 am • linkreport

I always thought the 01 1014 date for the opening of Phase I of the Silver line was somewhat optimistic. I also think the 6 months delay is optimistic, in my opinion it will be more like 1 year.

The no delay or only a 6 months delay scenario may in up materializing as the result of some of the work not being finishing that would not effect the safe operations of trains. Those that were in the area back when the Mid City segment of the Green line opened in fall of 1999 may remember that the streets and sidewalks were not fully restored around the Columbia Height station when it opened.

As to the projected boarding being 1 million short during the first year of operation, that remains to be seen.

On must take into consideration the fact that the Washington area has historically been less effected by economic downturns because of the presents of the Federal Government.

by Sand Box John on Nov 1, 2011 9:28 am • linkreport

Guns don't shoot people. Cars shoot people.

by Crickey7 on Nov 1, 2011 9:42 am • linkreport

The decline in Metro ridership is unfortunately not much of a surprise. While there are a few factors that fall outside of Metro's control (e.g. DC's unusually strong economy) Metro has over the past few years become incredibly unreliable and inconvenient -- particularly outside the rush hours.

The complicated fares and (most importantly) the inexcusable delays and closures for track work and construction while the system is open have kept me from riding trains in the evening and on weekends unless it's absolutely necessary. I'm sure I'm not alone here. Ten years ago, I felt strongly that the subway was an efficient and quick way to get around. Now I only have that confidence at peak hours, and feel that Metro is best avoided at other times.

It surprises me that more people don't question the relatively new policy of shutting down lines and tracks during the opening hours. After all, Metro's longstanding argument for not providing 24-hr service, or service beyond 3am on weekends was the need to do track work at nights to avoid NYC-style track shutdowns, etc. This type of maintenance really should me limited to the overnight hours when the system is closed.

by nativedc on Nov 1, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

Outcome: Georgetown ANC bans Halloween.

by aaa on Nov 1, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

"New Tourmobile now, Circulator later"

If they're just getting RFQ responses this week, don't count on there being a "New Tourmobile Now" or anytime soon. The federal acquisition process moves like molasses. Could be 2013 -- same as the circulator.

by Novanglus on Nov 1, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

@nativedc

I agree that the fare structure is overly complicated but I suspect most people are like me - because of the complexity, they don't really pay much attention to it. I just swipe my card when I enter, swipe it again when I leave.

Yes, I should pay more attention to the fares but, when the other options (except CaBi) are usually more expensive than Metro, I don't.

Also, most of my Metro riding is commuting to/from work. Because i do it 2x a day and get reimbursement from my firm, I do know those fares.

by Simpleton on Nov 1, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

@SandboxJohn; WMTATA is always blaming the economy for low ridership - rather than the increased fares and bad service. Also you see it more on the Metrobus side.

I've always thought rail revenue is related to gas prices; at $4 and up, long distance metrorail trips start to make sense. They are also very profitable for WMATA.

Given how succesful the airport buses are in cost recovery, I am always a bit surprised there aren't more long distance buses. Foggy Bottom to Ballston or EFC during rush hour would make some money. I understand there is a circulation problem, but it seems to be a missing opportunity.

by charlie on Nov 1, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

There was a second shooting near the NY Ave Metro last night, but no apparent victim (however, a stray bullet apparently entered a home and almost struck a child).

by andrew on Nov 1, 2011 10:28 am • linkreport

The media invariably fails to mention the name[s] of the artists or sculptor[s] unless it is a welded steel monstrosity or a non-objective piece. The US media is very puritanical and they basically hate visual art or look down upon it as a vestige of the past. This is really sad. The worst of it is that no one seems to notice...

by w on Nov 1, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

Jack Evans' outside employer, Patton Boggs, represents a partner in the hotel near the convention center which Evans pushed hard to finance with city money. Evans insists there's no conflict of interest.

Note to Evans: This is the very definition of conflict of interest.

Conflict of interest is about *appearance*, however legitimate, not about action. The latter is called corruption.

by Jasper on Nov 1, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

Conflict of interest is about *appearance*, however ILlegitimate, not about action. The latter is called corruption.

Sorry, spellcheck error.

by Jasper on Nov 1, 2011 11:10 am • linkreport

@Jasper; no. Conflict of interest is actually a term of art. People in DC, and in policits, like to conflate the "appearance of a conflct" with an actual conflict.

DC law: "

Campaign Finance Guide
Section 11: Public Officials and Conflict of Interest
Who is a Public Official?
Conflict of Interest Defined
Prohibited Activities
Conflict of Interest Procedures for Public Officials Other than Chairpersons
Conflict of Interest Procedures for Chairpersons
Failure to Disclose Conflict of Interest
Investigation of Conflicts of Interest
Things to Remember
Who is a Public Official?
(DC Official Code §§ 1-1106.01 and 1-1106.02)

A public official is any person required to file a Financial Disclosure Statement, unless otherwise indicated. This applies to subordinate agency heads, individuals in the Excepted Service or Legal Service and paid at a rate of DS-13 or above, individuals in the Management Supervisory Service and paid at a rate of MS-13 or above, statutory office holders, elected officials, political appointees, members of Boards and Commissions, as well as those persons registered as candidates with the Office of Campaign Finance. Although members of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are not required to file Financial Disclosure Statements, Commission members are subject to the Conflict of Interest statute.

Conflict of Interest Defined
(DC Official Code §§ 1-1106.01(b)-(f))

A conflict of interest exists when any public official in the discharge of official duties is required to take an action or make a decision that would affect directly or indirectly a member of their household (immediate family members), or a business with which the public official or a member of his or her household is associated.

There are a few loopholes here:

1) Pushing for hotel funding is very difference than voting for hotel funding
2) The allegation is a partner in a hotel is a client of Patton Boggs. There is no evidence that they are a client in this matter. Lobbying firms usually work on small retainers, and might have lot of clients. Law firms have strict internal conflict checks vis-a-vis clients. This is a big reason why law firms and lobbying firms tend to divorce after a while.
3. Jack Evans is "associated" with Patton Boggs. What does that mean. Equity partner? Or more likely, of counsel.

by charlie on Nov 1, 2011 11:24 am • linkreport

I have lived in DC for a little more than two years now and have stopped taking Metro off peak hours unless absolutely necessary. The problem isn't the fares, which are still very reasonable, but reliability. Changing from the yellow to the red line and vice versa on the weekend is awful. I used to take Metro back from the airport but don't bother any more after one too many 45-minute trips from DCA to Dupont. And Bikeshare is more convenient for most trips within DC.

by Boomer on Nov 1, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

Metro's ridership issues are a bit perplexing given the region's (including the District itself) significant population increase (almost a million new residents since 2000), strong economy, renewed interest in public transit, rising gas prices, and growing federal sector. I'm with the others. I can't explain it any other way than people have simply lost confidence in the system, especially for intra-city travel during off-peak periods. There is also some "competition" from other services like Metrobus, Circulator, and CaBi. I think losing the federal transit benefit is a poor excuse to explain decreasing ridership.

by Scoot on Nov 1, 2011 11:42 am • linkreport

@charlie

Given how succesful the airport buses are in cost recovery, I am always a bit surprised there aren't more long distance buses. Foggy Bottom to Ballston or EFC during rush hour would make some money. I understand there is a circulation problem, but it seems to be a missing opportunity.

I suspect the airport-specific characteristics are the key. Airport travel isn't nearly as peak-heavy, nor is it as mono-directional as a regular commute. The problem with the current long-haul commuter buses is deadhead time - they have a lot of unproductive miles. The two-way traffic to and from airports solves that issue, and it's also spread out more over the day (in my guesstimation) compared to a traditional 9-5 workday commute.

by Alex B. on Nov 1, 2011 11:47 am • linkreport

@ charlie:There are a few loopholes here

Of course there are. But even those don't change the *appearance*. And that's the only thing that matters. Unfortunately, the not for the DC public that prefers to re-elect its corrupt CMs regardless of their contradictory and corrupt behavior.

by Jasper on Nov 1, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

I will join the chorus of those that avoid Metro during off-peak times. Too much track work, too many 14min waits for transfers. Its the difference between getting home in 15mins or getting home in 1 hour. I bike or drive then, and besides its easier to park in the off-peak and weekends anyway.

by spookiness on Nov 1, 2011 12:20 pm • linkreport

Predictable for this website, I guess, but thoroughly misleading article from the hate mongers at Huffington Post over the unveiling of the new nine foot statue of President Ronald Reagan at our airport. Here's a bit different angle on today's dedication from the web:

“It’s a privilege to be able to unveil a statue of Ronald Reagan. “He was a man who blessed this endeavor, sponsored the legislation and cheered on the effort many years ago.”
Reagan is credited with championing the transfer of power of the two Virginia airports from federal hands to what is today the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

by Pelham1861 on Nov 1, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

The SILVER LINE is a project of hubris over common sense and a major waste of time and costs that will be felt for generations. Too bad American taxpayers around the country got stuck paying for this DC area waste. Could not a train (or METRO ) simply run down the Dulles Toll Road from West Falls Church without any stops between there and Dulles? Had that been done the line would be built. Other stations, if they could be afforded, could have happened later.

Also agree with may comments here about transfers and long waits. METRO is no longer listening to the public. And please, can we get rid of the all the alleged METRO POLICE who do nothing about eating, music, garbage, etc. in trains and stations but are getting salaries and benefits to stand around and do nothing?

DC had a great, albeit expensive, transit system that was user friendly. That should be the goal. Today, that goal is not truly being met.

by Pelham1861 on Nov 1, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

@charlie
You answered your own question in your first sentence.

@Pelham1861
Skipping Tysons Corner and the other stations on the way to Dulles Airport would have made the project unfundable under past and present federal funding grant guidelines. The total number of boarding that will be generated by airport will be a small fraction of the total that will be generated by all 11 stations along the 23 mile line.

by Sand Box John on Nov 1, 2011 2:09 pm • linkreport

@ Pelham1861: The cognitive dissonance in your last post makes me dizzy. Within one post you complain about too much money being spent on metro and too little service delivered by metro. And then you finish it off with a call for maintaining an expensive system.

Wow.

by Jasper on Nov 1, 2011 3:16 pm • linkreport

The allegation is a partner in a hotel is a client of Patton Boggs. There is no evidence that they are a client in this matter.

It doesn't need to be. Here are relevant parts of the definition, broken down:

A conflict of interest exists when any public official[Check - undeniable that Evans is a public official]

in the discharge of official duties
[Check - Evans was acting as a council member. From the article: " but that Evans continued to shepherd the deal to fruition after the council votes, working with then-Attorney General Peter J. Nickles to clear up a legal dispute involving Marriott that threatened to delay or even scuttle the hotel project."]

is required to take an action or make a decision
[Check - no question that he took actions. I suppose you could argue that Evans wasn't required to grease the skids for the deal, he just wanted to help out. That's pretty weak sauce to avoid a conflict of interest charge, in my opinion.]

that would affect directly or indirectly
[Check - No real argument that this project affected ING at least indirectly, and probably directly.]

. . . a business with which the public official . . . is associated.
[No question that Evans was associated with ING - ING was a client of the firm ar which he is employed. His status (equity partner v. counsel) is irrelevant. Check, and mate.]

Finally, his excuse for not disclosing the relationship - basically, "no one asked" - is complete horseshit. No one is required to ask, he's required to disclose.

by dcd on Nov 1, 2011 3:56 pm • linkreport

It takes a single instance of arriving at a metro station and seeing "19 minutes" to decide that you wont be using metro at night ever again.

Especially when the 19 minute original wait is followed by a 17 minute transfer wait.

For a line that can be run without operators, it's simply insulting to riders

by JJJJJ on Nov 1, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

I'm struck by the number of negative comments on the Silver Line project on this blog. My impression is that many of them think the line will be going through rural countryside with hardly anyone riding it. Have they driven on the toll road out to Reston, Herndon, Rt. 28 at rush hour? The road can be jammed packed. There is a pretty sizable population base for the Silver Line. TOD along the route and in Tysons will take time, but I expect the Silver Line will see quite respectable ridership increases in the years after it opens. Dulles Airport is the nominal reason to build the line, the reality is that the line will see a lot of Ashburn-Herndon-Reston to/from Tysons traffic which will stay within the Silver Line extension.

By the time Phase II is opened in 2017 or later, odds are that gasoline prices and availability will make people look back at $3 a gallon as the good old days of cheap gas. Metro may be getting overloaded by then, so hurrying up the repair week on weekends is going to pay off in a few years. However frustrating the combination of weekend track projects and service frequency cuts are.

by AlanF on Nov 1, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

@JJJJJ

Metro cannot be run without operators. Even if the Automatic Train Control system were operating (which it is not - the trains are still being run in manual mode), operators for each train are still required.

I, for one, would love to see a fully automated system to help improve off-peak headways, but it's not as easy as simply flipping a switch as you imply.

Likewise, many of Metro's late night long headways are not due to labor costs, but due to maintenance and single-tracking. Full automation wouldn't solve that problem, either.

by Alex B. on Nov 1, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

@nativedc
"Now I only have that confidence at peak hours, and feel that Metro is best avoided at other times."

Exactly. And even at peak hours it's frequently a mess. Just last night there was some sort of medical problem at L'Enfant, that led to Yellow/Green single tracking and eventually full line stoppage which clearly was not WMATA's fault.

What WAS WMATA's fault is that the only reason I or anyone standing around me on a platform so crowded I was truly worried someone was going to fall onto the tracks(Gallary place around 5:20pm) knew what was happening was that I signed up for Twitter on my phone and got the news that way. Station manager? Nada. PIDS info? Nope. Sign outside the station? There was NO indication that anything was wrong until you'd swiped your SmartTrip card and gone down to the swollen platform. Many people would have just walked to Metro Center instead and probably avoided a lot of the mess.

WMATA is now what I consider to be my #1 reason for being a (mostly) full time bike commuter. I've had to deal with Metro these past two weeks because I started a new job and haven't worked out the logistics yet but I'll be back to doing it every day that's above 25 degrees when there's not ice and/or snow on the bike path. I used to bike commute for the fun and novelty of it, followed by the exercise followed by the $150 monthly savings. Avoidance of Metro used to be just a perk. And it is now the first thing I think of when I get on my bike.

by Catherine on Nov 1, 2011 4:27 pm • linkreport

If you have a smartphone, you should definitely download the app that tells you when the next train is arriving. That way you can walk a little faster and avoid just missing a late night train. Or better yet, time your departure from your late night activity.

Re: Silver Line

The projections that matter most for realizing the Silver Line's benefits is not ridership (which is actually a cost, not a benefit) but rather TOD. Based on all the new TOD thats underway in Tysons, I'd guess those projections remain on track.

by Falls Church on Nov 1, 2011 4:38 pm • linkreport

Six people were shot last night in DC: in Georgetown, Petworth, Congress Heights, and near New York Ave Metro.

Despite Washington's new pretensions at being a "hip" and "cool" city, the ghetto element will always hold it back.

by Boss Shepherd on Nov 1, 2011 5:17 pm • linkreport

Falls Church--not everyone has a smartphone, it doesn't solve the transfer problem. Waiting 20 minutes for a transfer sucks, period, even if you didn't have to wait for the first train). Personally, I quit my after work weekly activity (art class) in DC for one in my neighborhood (Old Town) solely because of the time it (now) takes to get home after...it was worth it before the service downgrades but just not anymore. There goes a bit Metro income and a (tiny) hit to the DC economy.

by Catherine on Nov 1, 2011 5:41 pm • linkreport

The Examiner thing on the Silver Line is comically apocalyptic. David must still have some weird fantasy of engaging Libertarians with all the links to that rag. Most of the metro comments are ludicrous, even for someone like me who is annoyed with the construction effects on off hours transit.

by Rich on Nov 1, 2011 8:55 pm • linkreport

Catherine-- I agree that transferring sucks but can be hard to avoid when you live in the burbs like us. What I do is CaBi to Farragut Wesr to avoid the transfer.

by Falls Church on Nov 1, 2011 10:16 pm • linkreport

Actually, I'm less likely to need to transfer than a lot of people...my stop is serviced by two lines all day unlike Orange Line Virginia, almost all of the Red Line and the major population centers along DC's Green Line. And that probably takes care of a vast swath of the Metro-using population. And I don't consider Old Town "the burbs".

But I used to take an art class in DC that necessitated a transfer and quit after a few months of 20 minute headways.

And the whole point is reduced service at a higher cost is bad business plain and simple and it's killing Metro.

by Catherine on Nov 1, 2011 10:32 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church
You don't need an app for your smartphone to find when the next train is coming. just type in wmata.com/mobile on your mobile device web browser.

by Sand Box John on Nov 1, 2011 10:51 pm • linkreport

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