Greater Greater Washington

Weekend links: Next time will be better


Photo by Halans on Flickr.
A mea culpa for the meltdown: WMATA has no excuses, only apologies and acknowledgment that Thursday's metro meltdown should never have happened. The reported cause was the failure of an uninterruptable power supply, shutting down all communications systems other than radio. (TBD)

Streetcars gone 50 years: 50 years ago today, the DC streetcar took its last trip. The next trip could be summer 2013, if the new streetcar stays on schedule. At least one man who saw the last trip as a kid plans to attend and bring his small child. (Post)

Condemn me: At least some owners of properties to be condemned by the Purple Line want their homes taken, as they'd rather move elsewhere than live with a wider street. Others are in a "bunker mentality," implying PR landmines lie ahead. (City Paper)

DC statehood gets mixed reception: Mayor Gray and several DC Councilmembers argued DC statehood in front of a New Hampshire House committee, only to see the supporting resolution voted down. The bill will still be reported to the floor. (DCist)

No more spending: The DC Council doesn't want to spend the unexpected $42 million surplus discovered this year until 2013. Mayor Gray wants to spend the money on this year's shortfalls, including a $21 million school deficit. (Post)

The health effects of urban design: Sprawl makes us fatter, sicker, and lowers our life expectancy. This is the subject of a new PBS documentary series, Designing Healthy Communities, which will look at connections between cities and health. (Streetsblog)

The great art of the train: From the London Underground to Chicago's El, transit advertising of the 1920s was nothing short of an art form, pushing speed and the natural world just a train away. What would WMATA have advertised? (Salon)

And...: Capital City Diner in Trinidad will close, partly due to a Denny's opening nearby. (DCist) ... Kojo analyzes the corporate contributions to recent DC candidates. (WAMU) ... Some neighbors don't want more 1-bedrooms for 20-somethings. (UrbanTurf)

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David Edmondson is a transportation and urban affairs enthusiast living in Mount Vernon Square. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin

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If you can't provide a better breakfast experience than Denny's, maybe you should close.

by Alan on Jan 28, 2012 11:26 am • linkreport

Oh, for a second there I thought you were making a snarky comment about "Breakfast Links", Alan. :)

by Frank IBC on Jan 28, 2012 7:20 pm • linkreport

The Post article on how DC's original street car system ended ought to be taught in every urban design school. The free market needs regulations to maintain some level of freedom.

by Thayer-D on Jan 28, 2012 8:18 pm • linkreport

@Thayer-D -

This is one time that the free market can't be blamed.

The people of Washington DC wanted the streetcars. O. Roy Chalk, owner of DC Transit, wanted the streetcars. But Congress, which ran the District in the years before Home Rule, said no more streetcars, and they were gone.

by Frank IBC on Jan 28, 2012 9:14 pm • linkreport

Re: suburbs vs cities and longevity.

Suburban sprawl leads to obesity. Well, ok maybe.

But does that mean necessarily that cities are better?

Some of the longest living people I know live in a given city's first ring of suburbs. They drive to work.

I am not trying to be difficult, I'm just saying that it is about more than walkability of a place (lots of obesity in cities) and the unhealthiness of driving (again, some of the longest-lived people live in cities' first suburban ring).

Let's factor in wealth and status (see various Lancet studies) and now, maybe we can talk.

And while we're at it, can we PLEASE see some longevity studies (not that superficial piece of a few weeks ago) of cities and suburbs.

by Jazzy on Jan 28, 2012 10:50 pm • linkreport

I actually agree with you Frank IBC. Maybe I mispoke, but the conglomerate that bought up the streetcar systems against peoples wishes seems to have had inordinate influence in congress, especially around WWII when the great military industrial complex was born.

As for obesity and how our built environment relates to it, it seems quite simple. The more physical excersize one fits into their daily routine, the easier it is to stay healthy. One can still have their suburban lifestyle if they chose, but if we retrofit the suburbs to include walking and replace some massivly polluting highways with light rail for most commuters, you could have less of a belt lie and asthma while enjoying the manicured lawns.
As many more people become aware of this correlation, my guess is that the haters will have less opportuity to divide and conquer an electorate by pitting yoga loving snobs against the heartland.

by Thayer-D on Jan 29, 2012 6:58 am • linkreport

Can you please add a tag on health or longevity?

by Jazzy on Jan 29, 2012 8:31 am • linkreport

Jazzy, is this what you are looking for?
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/tag/public+health/

by David Alpert on Jan 29, 2012 9:12 am • linkreport

WRT the article on the Purple Line, I feel like the last 2 paragraphs were complaints of a random guy. His house will not be bought out. He's president of some civic association, but they don't imply that the whole civic association feels the same way. "Random guy is not happy with something" - who cares.

by Amber on Jan 29, 2012 10:13 am • linkreport

Yes, was it the public health tag there before? I guess I did not see it. Thank you.

by Jazzy on Jan 29, 2012 11:18 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D - Yes, Congress's mandate to remove the streetcars in the District was most likely due to influence from that bunch. They were able to avoid the need to buy the streetcar systems as they did in other cities.

by Frank IBC on Jan 29, 2012 6:21 pm • linkreport

I hope that Mayor One-City didn't spend DC taxpayer funds on his quizotic trip to argue DC statehood in New Hampshire. Gray and his friends had better accept reality: as long as DC politics is plagued by the likes of Marion Barry, Harry Thomas Jr. and others, Newt's moon colony will be a state long before DC.

by Bob on Jan 29, 2012 8:58 pm • linkreport

I can't believe the Post hauled out that hoary old National City Lines chestnut. NCL did engage in a conspiracy, but it was to monopolize the conversion of streetcars to buses that was already taking place all over the country. Demographic shifts and the rise in popularity of the automobile had made streetcars, with their extensive infrastructure requirements, uneconomical in most cities. At the same time, running trolleys through traffic on fixed rails became increasingly difficult. Cities were eager to abandon the old streetcar technology in favor of cheaper, more flexible buses, and NCL took as much of that business as it could.

by jimble on Jan 30, 2012 3:42 pm • linkreport

WRT WMATA & the power outage: I don't think it is unrealistic to describe Metro (rail + bus) are critical infrastructure. Given that this event has happened, I hope we get an honest appraisal of the event and a plan to eliminate what appears to be a single point of failure.

by wr on Jan 30, 2012 7:20 pm • linkreport

This is the way of Metro. For the first x number of years, the system was not challenged, it was a new system, and things were more or less fine and the riders were happy and the personnel were happy. Test it, and it's a different story. But this is the reality now. There will be something else in a few days. And, there will be a fare increase.

For me, the ongoing mistake that blogs like this one make is in not focusing much more aggressively and urgently on improving transit around the city, and that requires non-stop efforts to improve the bus system, a system openly scoffed at by the founder of this blog. He just can't be bothered. This has been a fatal mistake. Instead the emphasis has been on apps and the like, things that the majority of metrobus and train users (certainly metrobus) do not care that much about. The emphasis should have been on improving and INCREASING bus service. This is a hallmark of a FANTASTIC city.

It's a herculean effort, no question, but what's the alternative?

by Jazzy on Jan 30, 2012 10:01 pm • linkreport

Alan: Can you elaborate? What about Capital City Diner and the experience there did you dislike?

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Feb 1, 2012 5:35 pm • linkreport

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