Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Welcome to 2013


Photo by cliff1066™ on Flickr.
Tejada to focus on affordable housing: Arlington's new County Board chairman Walter Tejada claims he will focus on affordable housing during his term. The average rent of $1768 and single-family home price of $695,000 are unaffordable for many. (Post)

Dispute brings down NextBus app: The NextBus DC app stopped operating December 20th, thanks to a dispute between 2 tech companies involved in operating it. Bus riders can still use Metro's own tools to view bus arrival times. (Examiner)

Talk ped safety in upcounty MoCo: After 2 pedestrians were killed crossing streets in upper Montgomery County and the county DOT refused to mark a crosswalk, ACT is organizing a forum on upcounty pedestrian safety for January 26.

2012's many bar closures: MPD police chief Cathy Lanier closed bars at a rate of more than 1 per month throughout 2012. Last month's closure of Bohemian Caverns was the first for a reason other than a shooting, stabbing, or drug trafficking. (Post)

A political 2012: A few DC politicians make an early exit, and others win their 1st elections, in DCist's rundown of 2012 in DC politics.

Free transit on big days?: Los Angeles offered free transit rides on New Year's Eve, while New York didn't. Should DC offer free rides on Inauguration Day, asks Richard Layman? (Atlantic Cities, RPUS)

Black gentrification vs. white: In one gentrifying Chicago neighborhood, the gentrifiers are black, not white. That's meant more neighborhood enthusiasm for the demographic changes, but also, the press hasn't depicted that neighborhood's changes like they have in other, racially-evolving neighborhoods. (Atlantic Cities)

And...: Prince William County will have two local newspapers. (Post) ... Temperatures measured at DCA are unrepresentative of the broader Washington region. (Post) ... Lowe's may come to DC's Dakota Crossing, near the new Costco. (WBJ)

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Comments

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The transit benefit article you linked to is from March 2012.

by Ginger on Jan 2, 2013 8:51 am • linkreport

Re: NextBus App

I've always found this app to be so frequently and wildly inaccurate so as to render it useless. No tears here from me.

Inauguration Day:

Why offer free transit on Inaugauration Day? For NYE, LA was trying to encourage people not to drink and drive, given the tradition of alcohol consumed on this holoday. That's not a fear for Inaugauration Day, which is outdoors, held mid-morning, and demands silence and stillness from the crowd.

Also, It costs more to run the extra trains and pay for extra staffing/security, and that burden needs to be recouped somehow. Given that the downtown area will be largely in a lock-down for security demands of the event, that will be incentive enough to get people out of their cars and onto trains/buses.

Metro is in a poor situation financially as it is without having to forgo the revenue such a large ridership would bring on this day.

by Adam on Jan 2, 2013 8:55 am • linkreport

NextBus App:
I didn't use it as I don't have an iPhone, but from what I heard from those who did use it, it failed to update bus route changes in any sort of timely manner. The route change to the 90/92/96 for the 18th street construction took months to show up in the app. The app I have for android was updated the day the route changed. The real shame here is that NextBusDC managed to get people to pay $3 for their trash.

by MLD on Jan 2, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport

I use the free "DC Metro Transit" app on my phone and it has proven to be very good with bus and train info. I have an Android phone, so I'm not sure if it's on the iPhone as well, but I've had it for years and have no complaints.

by Teyo on Jan 2, 2013 9:09 am • linkreport

Re: Free Rides on Metro

Absolutely not. Giving free rides to some people means that everyone else will have to pay more for their rides. The money for the free rides has to come from somewhere...there's no such thing as a free ride.

Actually, I'd say metro should charge higher fares for inauguration day. First of all, metro doesn't even cover its operational costs on those days because of all the extra security and other costs. Second, metro revenue has to exceed operational costs on peak days/times to be able to pay for the infrastructure that needs maintenance at all times.

LA might be different because over there they're trying to create a transit culture by enticing folks to try transit at least once.

by Falls Church on Jan 2, 2013 9:14 am • linkreport

The "secret" GPS enabled web app that Andrew discovered from the nextbus web site is by far the best out there. I was very confused with the "nextbus" app and I suspect the writers of the various articles this weekend are too.

by charlie on Jan 2, 2013 9:25 am • linkreport

Also nextbus apparently decided to drop Arlington Transit wholesale. I don't know what was behind that, only that its been missing.

Anyway you can use the mobile site but the app is now worthless but the mobile site is much less useful

by drumz on Jan 2, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

Since the transit benefit blurb and link was deleted after my comment, I'll assume that it was a mistake and that the fiscal cliff deal had no impact on the benefit amount.

by Ginger on Jan 2, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

Ginger: That article was old, but the news is real. I've just posted a new article about it: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/17224/fiscal-cliff-deal-restores-transit-benefit/

Thanks for pointing out that the article was old. I had the news from some sources and was looking to see if it had been reported somewhere, and didn't find it at first, but then at the last minute found that one, and popped it in without looking closely.

by David Alpert on Jan 2, 2013 9:34 am • linkreport

Re: Arlington housing, two things.

1. Lots of mentions about "Upscale condos" and such in the story but its written as if they don't have an effect, good or bad, on affordable (read: subsidized) housing. Very little effort to connect the dots either on Tejada or the post.

2. Libby Garvey straight up lied about her anti-streetcar stance during the election. Campaigning she was very wishy washy and just wanted to know more and now she's convinced that BRT is the cheaper alternative without even having an estimate. Which to have true BRT would require taking away a lane anyway you might as well put rails down.

by drumz on Jan 2, 2013 9:35 am • linkreport

David: Good to know!

by Ginger on Jan 2, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

It seems the issue with Nextbus DC also affects the DC Metro Transit app. I've been getting "No prediction" on functional routes since about the same December 20th date. I see the bus times when I go directly to the nextbus.com mobile website. I assume "Nextbus Information Systems" was providing the data stream for DC Metro Transit too. This is really annoying.
I've been able to bookmark links to my common busses, but I need a separate bookmark for every useful bus at every stop, which is more than a bit annoying.

by Dan H on Jan 2, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

I actually rode the LA metro over the holidays (but not on NYE) and they are really going all out to encourage people to try it. They even have staff stationed at the (modern, touchscreen) ticket machines who are actually friendly and helpful unlike WMATA staff. I definitely saw first time riders who were not tourists - the new Expo Line and the other massive expansions underway seem to be a draw for people to try the system out.

Between this promotional effort and the general epidemic of drunk driving in LA I can understand why free Metro on NYE made sense for them. We already have a transit culture in DC, though, so free Inauguration metro does not make sense for us. Indeed since driving to downtown will be impossible that day there is an argument for raising fares as others have said..

by Phil on Jan 2, 2013 10:24 am • linkreport

@Dan H

Which Routes are you getting "no prediction" on with the DC Metro Transit app? I have the same app on Android and have not had any problems.

The DC Metro Transit app uses the WMATA API as far as I know.

by MLD on Jan 2, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

Another note: I deleted the Nextbus DC app months ago. They never update the route definitions so it returns errors for any bus route that has been changed in the past 2-3 years. The app doesn't support basic iOS features that have been around for years like multitasking and the Retina Display. I can see why these developers were cut loose, they were putting out a crap product.

The web app is way better and does everything you might need.

by Phil on Jan 2, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

@MLD, I've been getting "No prediction" on the J1,J2,& J3 bus routes for my stops. It still sporadically works, so it might be a different issue, but that's been so rare, that I've essentially given up on using the app.

by Dan H on Jan 2, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

@Dan H

More likely that the J buses are just messed up. :-)

by Adam L on Jan 2, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

Falls Church -- [deleted for violating the comment policy.] Yes I know all about free rider issues. The point is that the crush of high ridership in a short time window overwhelms the system and so it becomes easier to just let people ride for free.

To deal with your concerns you could just do it from open to say 6pm, when everyone should have cleared out.

Of course it has to be paid for. [Deleted.] That's why I suggested it could be borne by the Inauguration Committee.

The reality is that the actual revenues generated by paying riders, even if 1.5 million people, if the average fare would be $3.50, isn't all that much money, around $5 million in direct revenue. Figuring the costs on the machines, for collecting and counting the money, etc., that would eat into it.

by Richard Layman on Jan 2, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

For those with iPhones, I'd also suggest the free DC Next Bus app (distinct from NextBus DC). It's got all the stops overlaid on a map, and now includes Metro stations as well. Only drawback is that you can't search by specific route, but if you know where your stop is then it's pretty good.

by AR on Jan 2, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

@Richard Layman

No, I didn't read your article. Just the LA one. You make some valid points and if the Inauguration Committee paid for it, it would be a no-brainer. I'm sure the Committee would resist but there's a safety/security aspect to what you're saying that they're probably not considering.

by Falls Church on Jan 2, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

Since a few people have mentioned it so far, the "good" NextBus site can be accessed by going to www.nextbus.com on a mobile device, or www.nextbus.com/webkit on a desktop (although it'll probably have no clue where your desktop is located).

It's not perfect -- the site is clunky once you get past the home page -- but the home page alone is better than any other Next Bus app I've used.

by andrew on Jan 2, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

Considering that I bus a lot, I have had very, very, little issue with wmata's next bus portal. I tried next bus once or twice but thought it didn't offer me much more than the wmata app.

by HogWash on Jan 2, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

I second AR's comment. I have the "DC Next Bus" app, and it is still working fine (actually I was confused when I heard about the Nextbus app failing, I didn't realize what I had was different).

by JW on Jan 2, 2013 3:43 pm • linkreport

I don't believe the gentrification entry here is reflective of the actual article...which left me longing for a serious point as to why it was written in the first place.

by HogWash on Jan 2, 2013 3:55 pm • linkreport

Hogwash are you talking about bronzeville article? I see two things.

Most people do focus on the racial aspects of gentrification. But an example like this shows thats not the case all the time and it really is about money.

Moreover, by not highlighting this it's still an implicit an acknowledgement that black neighborhoods are ghetto when that's not the case either but if you don't mention it then you don't have to worry about challenges and dialogue about that stereotype.

So those are the reasons I think why its necessary to have an article to point this out.

by drumz on Jan 2, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

@Drumz, I agree, most people do focus on the racial aspect which is solely in terms of black and white.

Yes there is the thing about black n'hoods being perceived as ghetto even when it's not. But I guess I'm so accustomed to this that reading it doesn't move my meter. I think we've had enough about EOTR being ghetto and PG to kinda make me numb to such discussions.

Back the article. It actually compares "gentrification" in Brownsville to that in Pilsen and does conclude that the negative perception of Brownsville remains steady even though it's economic demographic has changed. The article interviews middle class white folk who:

sounds almost as if they can’t distinguish between poor and middle-class blacks living there. It’s as if gentrification can’t happen without an influx of white residents, and so it must not be happening there. How can the neighborhood’s prospects have really changed if its demographics haven’t? Bronzeville's historic "blackness" – to borrow a term from the academics – appears to overwhelm any sense of its identity as a neighborhood on the way up.

Gentrification in Bronzeville not only has a different meaning; it has a different set of limits. The neighborhood needs more sit-down restaurants, but outside of the immediate community, who will patronize them? How would things change if whites did move in? Or what would happen if middle-class blacks gentrified a part of town that wasn’t associated in the city’s memory with housing projects and gang violence?

That said, the article's headline speaks to how black folk have affected the perception of Brownsville. The blurb here suggests that the press hasn't covered it as they have in other "racially-evolving" n'hoods. The problem is that the article concludes that white folk still have a negative perception of the gentrifying area and that it still doesn't have the "amenities" of a gentrifying n'hood..like a sit down restaurant that might not be patronized by those outside the community.

So I have no idea how black folk have changed the perception of Brownsville. IMO (and I don't mean it in my usual cynical way) it seems like an opportunity for someone to say, "see, it ain't only white folk who gentrify.

by HogWash on Jan 2, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash: "Brownsville...seems like an opportunity for someone to say, 'see, it ain't only white folk who gentrify.'"

I totally agree; we need those opportunities.

Long ago I lived not very far away and often biked through (what would later be called) Bronzeville on my way to other places. As in many such neighborhoods, I admired the old houses and apartment buildings and hoped that they'd some day be rehabilitated rather than allowed to succumb to entropy. I'm rather thrilled to learn that this has in fact happened to at least some of those terrific structures, and that some of my fellow African-Americans are responsible for that. I'm confident that they'll attract or generate reasonable amenities eventually, if not exactly make the place another Pilsen. (Which I have fond memories of also. This isn't the place or time to go into that, but I should at least mention that Pilsen has physical advantages Bronzeville doesn't, such as having lost many fewer buildings during the mid-20th century urban dark ages.)

by A Streeter on Jan 3, 2013 12:49 am • linkreport

it seems like an opportunity for someone to say, "see, it ain't only white folk who gentrify.

Well I think that's something that needs to be said, not necessarily to assuage white guilt but rather to examine the actual causes and effects of gentrification. Because otherwise you have journalists even at NPR writing stories about gentrification through a racial lens when its more about money.*

*I'm talking about the guy on NPR who grew up in Anacostia then moved to PG county to get more house for his money. The story was that gentrification pushed him out ignoring the fact that, the demographics of Anacostia haven't changed and he explicitly said in the article that he'd rather have a bigger house with 4 or 5 bedrooms and he could afford that in Capitol Heights.

by drumz on Jan 3, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

I totally agree; we need those opportunities./Well I think that's something that needs to be said, not necessarily to assuage white guilt but rather to examine the actual causes and effects of gentrification.

Sure, there could be such advantages..but this article doesn't get into that at all. In fact, I haven't been able to figure out "what" about Brownsville (don't know the area) has changed that could be considered "gentrification." I don't know how the properties values have changed, whether crime has decreased, whether there are now more amenities normally associated w/gentrifying n'hoods. In short, beyond black folk moving in, what about Brownsville makes it a case study for gentrification in ways consistent w/how we've always discussed it?

The article suggests that the effects of black folk moving into Brownsville (gentrification) is that white folk can't disassociate it's current from it's past. At least here in DC, stories about gentrification actually get into noticeable changes w/in the n'hoods. I just don't know what about Brownsville that has changed....at least by reading the article.

Does anybody?

by HogWash on Jan 3, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

Well property values have risen and there's been new construction, that's stated in the first paragraph. That equals gentrification. Maybe not the very obvious signals like fro-yo and yoga studios but apparently the neighborhood is filling in (which helps lower income residents stay rather than move out).

But I think you hit it on your second paragraph and it'd help to know more. I don't know Chicago well either so I can only assume.

by drumz on Jan 3, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

I am a life time Chicagoan - I grew up in Chatham (middle class to upper middle class black neighborhood), went to college in Lincoln Park, graduated and moved to Roscoe Village, and then, when I got married and had a child, moved into Bronzeville. The problems of Bronzeville are simple ones - it's a food desert. The majority of places to eat are fast food with no seating; there is very little commercial property, and even though its growing in terms of culture and things to do, it's also undervalued. That is due to the fact that for years, via many means, people have kept values down - for example, my house is 1900 sq ft condo with 3 bed, 2 bath, new construction - cost 300K in 2005; that house in the near south would be 425K, in Hyde Park the same. People are scared to come there because they are taught early in their lives in Chicago, whether born here or moved here that Bronzeville is bad and you'll get hurt there. I heard it growing up. When you stop that, you'll get people, of all races, to move in

by Marc Dumas on Jan 3, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

Thanks for the perspective Marc

by HogWash on Jan 3, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

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