Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Recent ideas reconsidered


Photo by The Great Photographicon on Flickr.
How will the streetcar connect to Union Station?: DDOT has proposed 3 options to connect the H Street line to Union Station. One option extends the route to the top of the Hopscotch Bridge and 2 options loop down to 2nd & F Streets NE. (City Paper)

WMATA may simplify and raise fares: The agency may hike fares to balance the budget, but may also eliminate the "peak of the peak" fare. WMATA also proposes charging paper farecard users $6 for one-way trips to stations outside of the core. (Examiner)

BRAC traffic study was far off: DoD's IG accused the Army of vastly underestimating the traffic induced by moving thousands of employees to Mark Center. The Army blames Alexandria for approving the zoning change to permit the project. (Examiner)

Few complain about Metro formally: Relatively few Metro riders file formal complaints with the agency. Of those who do, elevators and escalators are the biggest sources of complaints followed by rude staff. The Red Line received the most complaints. (Post)

Montgomery rejects curfew and anti-loitering bills: The county council rejected both bills, the latter of which was considered a compromise. (Examiner)

Cuccinelli runs for governor: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) announced his run for governor. He'll likely face Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) in the 2013 primary. (Post)

And...: JetBlue is paying $40 million to fly out of National Airport. (HuffPo) ... The grocery store covenant may not apply to the proposed Skyland Walmart after all. (Post) ... Want to be a docent for the National Mall? (Examiner)

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Eric Fidler has lived in DC and suburban Maryland his entire life. He likes long walks along the Potomac and considers the L'Enfant Plan an elegant work of art. He also blogs at Left for LeDroit, LeDroit Park's (only) blog of record. 

Comments

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Can Terry McAuliffe beat Ken Cuccinelli?

by ksu499 on Dec 2, 2011 8:42 am • linkreport

Calling it now: idiots have major concerns about the car barn being at 26th & Benning because high schoolers will get so excited by the streetcars and want to play with them and will be run over!

RE: Metro Complaints
The reason they don't get more complaints through the "customer comment form" is because it's buried on their website under the "About Metro" dropdown, or way down in the lower-left of the page is "contact us," then you have to click another link. Then there's about 20 different fields to fill out, some of which may or may not apply to your situation. The "topic" dropdown I find especially enraging, I never know which to pick. If my bus never comes, is that "Vehicle," "employee," "system wide"?

All those factors lead to people just giving up and closing the window.

by MLD on Dec 2, 2011 9:23 am • linkreport

Cooch may fire up the base, but his actual win-loss record for high-profile cases in his current job is mediocre. Which raises the question why such a smart guy pushed such dog-meat cases.

by Crickey7 on Dec 2, 2011 9:28 am • linkreport

I just don't bother with all their pull-down nonsense and enter every one as a system wide. Then I make my description as complete as I can and let them sort it out.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 2, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

I also make sure to save a copy of the complaint by cutting and pasting it in an email to myself. Sometimes I'll CC Richard Sarles.

by Michael Perkins on Dec 2, 2011 9:30 am • linkreport

"The reason they don't get more complaints through the "customer comment form" is because it's buried on their website under the "About Metro" dropdown, or way down in the lower-left of the page is "contact us," then you have to click another link. Then there's about 20 different fields to fill out, some of which may or may not apply to your situation."

Sounds like more juking the stats by Metro. "Hey, we're doing a great job with customer service because people aren't filling out this extremely complex complaint form that's buried three levels down on our website!"

It's of a piece with their "on-time bus performance metric" that says a bus 7 minutes late is on time. If I'm 7 minutes late to work because my bus was late, my boss sure as hell isn't going to regard that as on time.

by Phil on Dec 2, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

@ksu499: Re: Cuccinelli, here's what I expect. If he wins the primary, he'll win the general - McDonnell is going to go out as a popular governor, he'll stump for the party nominee, and that will be enough to put Cuccinelli over the top. Cuccinelli won't be the greatest, and the seat will switch parties in the following election, when a strong Democratic nominee will face off against a weaker Republican nominee...

Tennis as usual, in other words.

Bolling I know nothing about.

Regarding Metro complaints: Of COURSE nobody complains. We know that it won't do any good.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao: on Dec 2, 2011 9:44 am • linkreport

Breaking news: WTOP is reporting that the FBI is at Harry Thomas's house.

by cminus on Dec 2, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

Wow -- JETBLUE outbid SOUTHWEST for slots at Reagan National. Now that is surprising wake-up and take notice news. Have to say I was hoping SOUTHWEST would win to put pressure on USAIR fares...but in the free market these things happen. :)

by Pelham1861 on Dec 2, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

My only real complaint with Metro is that they're insular and unresponsive. I've been living in DC since before they finished the green line, and until today I wasn't even aware of how to file a formal complaint with Metro. I hear Janet Napolitano telling me twice a day on the PA how to get my fellow straphangers sent to Guantanamo. But I have never seen a poster or heard a PA announcement telling us what we're supposed to do when our problem is with Metro itself.

by tom veil on Dec 2, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

Cooch is unlikely to win the primary over Bolling. McDonnell (who enjoys very high approval ratings) is backing his Lt. and I don't see McDonnell losing this battle. Cooch leads Bolling in the early polling based mainly on his strong name recognition. That said, this only raises Cooch's profile further and sets him up to be Bolling's Lt.

I sure hope the Dems can come up with a better candidate that McAuliffe.

by Falls Church on Dec 2, 2011 9:55 am • linkreport

"The reason they don't get more complaints through the "customer comment form" is because it's buried on their website under the "About Metro" dropdown, or way down in the lower-left of the page is "contact us," then you have to click another link. Then there's about 20 different fields to fill out, some of which may or may not apply to your situation."

Reminds me of the old "complaints box" at the now-defunct Celebrity Deli on Nebel St in Rockville. It was a solid red wooden box with a fake slot painted on its face, and was mounted to the ceiling.

by oboe on Dec 2, 2011 10:01 am • linkreport

"Breaking news: WTOP is reporting that the FBI is at Harry Thomas's house"

scouting out a new HQ site?

by AWalkerIntheCity on Dec 2, 2011 10:04 am • linkreport

Wow. Those streetcar alternatives are all terrible.

by andrew on Dec 2, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

If Cuccinelli gets the nod I look forward to four more years of useless battles in the Culture wars and still no meaningful discussion about transportation.

by Canaan on Dec 2, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

@Pelham

Southwest now has slots at DCA through it's AirTran merger (I think like 8). I think they are still AirTran flights but eventually they will be SW flights.

by Steven Yates on Dec 2, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

@Pelham, I think SW still has their slots @Reagan. Maybe they were bidding for me?

I actually can't wait for them to go ahead and do the switchover because I don't like having to go transit-it to BWI when DCA is 15minutes from my house.

by HogWash on Dec 2, 2011 10:19 am • linkreport

Streetcar meeting at Atlas on December 6th @ 7:00 pm with the Mayor

by Tim on Dec 2, 2011 10:30 am • linkreport

Cooch's running is no surprise. He's basically been running for higher office since Day 1. VA republicans seem to like trogs like Allen, North, etc., so I wouldn't be surprised to see Cooch win the primary. The Dems who've won statewide in VA have tended to be lackluster semi-Blue Doggish types that would excite no one outside of the Southeast. An insider like McAuliffe fits that mold.

by Rich on Dec 2, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

@Canaan,
If Cuccinelli gets the nod I look forward to four more years of useless battles in the Culture wars

Ugh, too true.

by Fitz on Dec 2, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

The Dems who've won statewide in VA have tended to be lackluster semi-Blue Doggish types that would excite no one outside of the Southeast

I wouldn't describe Mark Warner as lackluster or unexciting. In addition to being an excellent governor, he's a rising star and potential presidential candidate. Also, Doug Wilder as the first black governor in American history certainly garnered a lot of national attention.

by Falls Church on Dec 2, 2011 10:57 am • linkreport

Falls Church, re: Mark Warner. Lackluster, no. Unexciting, yes.

by Paulus on Dec 2, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

"The Army blames Alexandria for approving the zoning change to permit the project."

I'm at a loss for words.

by Frank IBC on Dec 2, 2011 11:42 am • linkreport

The streetcar needs to go right up to the front of Union Station- putting it in the back or having an entrance at the garage is a recipe for failure. Why do the planners always have to be reinventing the wheel? It used to go around Columbus Circle and there was supposed to be an underground circut for it that was not utilised - it is still there .
The streetcar routes should go back where they used to be- with a few extra lines. They had it right before .

by w on Dec 2, 2011 12:02 pm • linkreport

Relatively few Metro riders file formal complaints with the agency

If people had confidence that filing formal complaints might result in WMATA action, they might be more likely to file complaints. But based on what we've seen in the last year or two, complaining about Metro via heavily circulated and publicized blogs and other media outlets seems to be a much better tactic to effect change in the agency.

by Scoot on Dec 2, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

Re: DCA slots

Southwest had none prior to its acquisition of AirTran. It was known they were interested for some time, but open slots are rare to come by.

JetBlue got their initial allotment of slots in a deal with American about 2 years ago. Both JetBlue and Southwest have been waiting for some time for the DOT to resolve that larger issue with Delta/USAirways so another round of slots could open up.

As for routes, while nothing firm will be announced for months, expect a few more Boston & Florida (Orlando & Ft. Lauderdale) flights.

by Mainland on Dec 2, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

....if the city does not want the streetcar to go slam dunk right out in front of Union Station,then it tells me that the entire idea of a streetcar system is regarded as an embarrassment to the city administrators. It also tells me that the planners have no gumption- lack testicles...

by w on Dec 2, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

I could see why you wouldn't want to put the Streetcar out front of Union Station -- it wouldn't make sense when thinking about how the route would connect to the rest of the proposed network. It's a pretty big detour. Also, congestion.

Also, Union Station have been talking for ages about building a proper "North Entrance" to their facility, to maximize connections to NoMa and the Atlas District, to provide better access to Metro and the new Bus Terminal, and also to take strain off of the other entrances on Columbus Circle, which are increasingly congested. It would also unite the station with the proposed Air Rights developments that will put buildings on either side of the Hopscotch Bridge, and make the area *MUCH* more lively and vibrant.

Running the Streetcar over the bridge totally fits within this plan, and if anything, provides a strong "anchor point" for it. I can see a very strong case for running the streetcar over the bridge.

That said, you could take a detour through the garage, and use the bus ramps for quick and direct access to Columbus Circle and the front of the station, and hop right back up onto H via the other ramp, or 1st St. However, this adds distance to the route, and I don't think that it necessarily improves access or connections for any potential riders.

Also, if we're talking about temporary things, why not simply extend the tracks westward along H, and temporarily use one of the empty lots behind the GPO or Gonzaga (I think the future Wal Mart site?) as a turnaround? This takes the streetcar a bit further along its *intended* route, minimizes the amount of temporary trackage that will need to be torn up, opens up connections to the GPO, North Capitol St, and several bus lines, and also puts the turnaround in a place where nobody is going to mind it being there.

Honestly, it sounds like it'd be a bit of a slam-dunk.

by andrew on Dec 2, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

RE Army BRAC IG Report

The Army IG report really is remarkable. In the [admittedly , relatively few] IG reports I've read I've never seen the department or agency do anything other than agree or mostly agree with the IG findings and recommendations. The Army's middle finger F-U response to the IG really ought to raise a red flag for congress to investigate further about how this deal came about.

That said, the building and people are there and that's not going to change. The Army's refusal to revisit its transportation management studies sure won't help in the efforts to mitigate the problems identified before the project even broke ground.

by ChrisB on Dec 2, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

This is just the start of the suburban collapse. Population going up, real-estate costs in urban nodes like DC, Tyson's, and Silver Spring going up, suburban road network strained to the breaking point. And alternate forms of transportation pushed to the periphery. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

by oboe on Dec 2, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

There was one time I had two separate interactions with employees who were very rude. I lodged a formal complaint. Of course, I have no idea what Metro did: did they send the employees for retraining or suspend them? Did they just give the employees a talking to? Or did all this get lost in the system? Honestly, my impression of Metro staff is unfavorable. given Metro's overall reputation, my guess is lost in the system.

by Weiwen on Dec 2, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

This is just the start of the suburban collapse. Population going up, real-estate costs in urban nodes like DC, Tyson's, and Silver Spring going up, suburban road network strained to the breaking point.

I assure you, there will be no suburban collapse. Sure, property values may come down (particularly in the exurbs) and taxes may go up but life in the suburbs is very sustainable at the current housing monthly payment homeowners pay. However, the composition of that monthly payment may be a higher portion of taxes and lower portion of principal+interest.

As technology makes roads/transpo less important and education more important, the burbs will hold their own perfectly well.

by Falls Church on Dec 2, 2011 4:53 pm • linkreport

As technology makes roads/transpo less important and education more important, the burbs will hold their own perfectly well.

The thing is that improvements in technology seem to have made location (and therefore transportation) even more important, not less important.

As for education, are you talking about attainment, or about an area's provision of the service? If it's the former, then DC and other core cities are already doing very well. If it's the latter, there's nothing inherently 'good' about suburban schools. They are good largely as a byproduct of their inputs - i.e. middle class families. As the economic character of an area shifts, so too does the school performance.

Myron Orfield's Metropolitics books discuss this in great detail, and how the insularity of exclusionairy zoning and a lack of dense, mixed use development will eventually backfire on those communities. As their economic character shifts and the tax base declines, their costs will rise and they'll have no large commercial/mixed use sector to draw upon.

http://books.google.com/books?id=WypGIjIkKZsC&dq=metropolitics+schools&source=gbs_similarbooks_s&cad=1

http://books.google.com/books?id=ShhpBkQz1UAC&dq=metropolitics%20schools&source=gbs_similarbooks

by Alex B. on Dec 2, 2011 5:07 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church:

Careful, are you promising us jetpacks?

Anyway, I think the diagnosis isn't that folks won't be able to keep up with their mortgage payments, but rather a creeping artereosclerosis. There will be concentrated urban nodes, housing that's accessible to those nodes, and one big traffic jam in between.

by oboe on Dec 2, 2011 5:28 pm • linkreport

@oboe - i think FC is talking about things like the internet. As it is, teleworking makes longer commutes possible. Its not clear what the limits on teleworking are. Its also not clear who is helped and hurt by it - suburbs with major job concentrations that sell convenience, like Loudoun, may not benefit - OTOH rural areas may benefit.

@alex - what jurisdictions in greater DC would you consider insular? All tend to be diverse in multiple ways. Almost all incorporate a mix of housing styles - some with better planning, some with worse. Some like Loudoun are still betting on SFH growth (LC has the vacant land to pursue that for decades) while others like FFX and MoCo are going long on dense centers. Even LC is hedging its bets.

I hope Oboe prospers - but if he does it will be for having gone long on DC, not going short on the suburbs, all of which have strategies for dealing with the future.

BTW, if Oboe means that the BRAC fiasco is suburban collapse, I would remind him that its in Alexandria, not only technically a city, but one with an urban core that predates the district of columbia. You might as well crow about problems in a more auto dependent part of DC. Oh, and of course Alex is not collapsing by a long shot - but the armys action is still irresponsible.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2011 12:01 am • linkreport

correction - most have plans for the future - im not sure if PG and PWC really do.

PWC probably hopes to benefit from the Ft Belvoir moves for some time. And for VRE improvement (and telework) to make longer commutes more viable.

PG is probably the only major suburban jurisdiction in the DC area really facing a death spiral anytime soon.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 3, 2011 12:05 am • linkreport

Those streetcar options (except for the hopscotch option) are so awful I am actually stunned.

And the fact that they show the ped route from the stops by the SEC going all the way to the front door of Union Station just totally galls me. God forbid they put an entrance on the eastern side of that enormous structure. Those of us who have to take Metro or a train will obviously schlep where-ever, but we cannot be inconveniencing the restaurant crowd.

Gosh, the way that place is run ticks me off.

by DavidDuck on Dec 3, 2011 12:10 am • linkreport

The crest of the H Street bridge would be a nasty place to spend 25 minutes waiting for a streetcar. No culture or supervision up there. By comparison, the 2nd & F location would be pretty nice... farther from shelter, but not really farther from Metro, which runs along the southern (front) part of the far west edge of the edifice.

by Turnip on Dec 3, 2011 8:17 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity:

BTW, if Oboe means that the BRAC fiasco is suburban collapse, I would remind him that its in Alexandria, not only technically a city, but one with an urban core that predates the district of columbia.

Sure, this is technically in Alexandria, but it's almost as far from the urban core of Alexandria as it is from Tyson's. On the map, it looks like it's basically Bailey's Crossroads south. This is a fiasco, but it's an inevitable one, as places like Tyson's and Rockville struggle mightily to reconfigure themselves along more urban lines, there will always be some short-sighted corporate or governmental decision-maker who'll decide to relocate to one of these dead-zones that lie between urban nodes. The cost savings will be very attractive.

As far as telework coming to rescue us all, I think that's overblown. There are very good reasons why managers are loathe to permit wholesale teleworking. That may or may not continue, but it's by no means a sure thing that we'll all be "phoning it in" by 2021.

by oboe on Dec 3, 2011 10:55 am • linkreport

@Turnip

Why is the crest of the bridge so bad ? Thousands of bus stops around the world are similar "no culture or supervision up there" but people survive with them so they can with this.

The bridge location gives better access to people west of Union Station access plain and simple.

by kk on Dec 3, 2011 4:06 pm • linkreport

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