Greater Greater Washington

Morning links: Pay for it


Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.
Could we see congestion pricing?: A Brookings study for MWCOG found that many people in the area could support tolling lanes, but have many misgivings; tolling certain zones or congestion charging faced strong opposition. (DCist)

Roads don't pay for themselves: The gas tax only covers about half of total road spending. with the remainder coming from state and federal general funds. Amtrak, meanwhile, covers 85% of its operating costs. (Streetsblog)

Inauguration data: Metro saw 800,000 riders on Inauguration Day with Franconia-Springfield beating out several other end-of-the-line stations for the most boardings before noon. Gallery Place led all stations in boardings after noon. (PlanItMetro)

VA GOP wants to change electoral college rules: Not content with redrawing district lines to give themselves more seats, Virginia Republicans also want to change the way the state allocates electoral votes to hand them out by Congressional district. That would have given Mitt Romney 9 more electoral votes in 2012. (Slate)

A more open campus: Gallaudet wants to open its campus to the surrounding neighborhoods starting with a new entrance at the campus's southwest corner, which is closest to the NoMa neighborhood and Metro station. (City Paper)

Pay without touching: London recently started allowing riders to pay on its transit system with contactless credit cards. But is the that the future of transit payment, or will mobile payment services become the norm? (Atlantic Cities)

And...: Metro will replace the escalators at Pentagon. (Post) ... Virginia's dooring bill passes the Senate. (FABB) ... DC leads in LEED, at least if you only compare it to states. (DCist) ... Why are some streets in Columbia Heights at strange angles? (City Paper)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

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The Virginia GOP Legislature is taking orders from the national brand. These are issues that were discussed at the GOP meeting in Williamsburg. The goal was how to get republicans elected in 2014 and 2016. The plan forward was to make elections more like the house vote, where each electoral vote would count on its own.

Of course that would mean that the republicans (after the gerrymandering of the 2000s) would win most elections if not all elections moving forward in the country... even though millions of more people would be voting democrat.

Its all in an effort to change democracy, the only way these kooks and nut jobs can hold on to their precious precious power which no one but their non-high school graduating idiocracy elected them to.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 24, 2013 9:14 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 24, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

You know, if Virginia dislikes NOVA voting democrat so much they could always just reverse the 1848 retrocession and hand Arlington and Old Alexandria back to D.C. :p Simple solution to ensuring that VA goes red? Could help D.C. statehood if there's more to make a state out of.

by The Maelstrom on Jan 24, 2013 9:23 am • linkreport

@Maelstrom, and Fairfax, and Fairfax City, and Loudoun, and Prince William. They all vote against the GOP because those nut jobs in south state are literally I believe insane. I think some of them have serious mental incapacity brought on by years of being told lies and bigotry.

I continue to propose that NOVA along with DC form the 51st state. I ran some numbers on this and if that happened it would be

- The 35th most populist state
- It would not be the smallest state( R.I. would be smaller in geographic size)
- It would have the 18th largest GDP (by the way the remainder of Virginia would go from 9th to 23rd)
- It would have the highest percentage of ALL of the following, highschool graduates, college graduates, masters graduates, and PHDs of any state
---> based off City-data stats

It would also have the added benefit of returning billions of dollars stolen from NOVA back to our area for use on transportation projects, education, etc.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 24, 2013 9:27 am • linkreport

VA GOP wants to change electoral college rules

Well done VA GOP. You have now officially abandoned democracy and turned into tyrants.

by Jasper on Jan 24, 2013 9:28 am • linkreport

Gallaudet wants to open its campus to the surrounding neighborhoods

Wow, a university that dares to release its students into the public!

by Jasper on Jan 24, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

I think the url link for "Metro will replace the escalators at Pentagon City. (Post)" is incorrect?

by pdovak on Jan 24, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

The only fair electoral reform is the national popular vote.

by Alan B. on Jan 24, 2013 9:30 am • linkreport

RE: Roads Don't Pay for Themselves

(to copy/paste my comment left over at Streetsblog)

Just to clarify, is it:

- Roads - 51% of capital+operating costs
- Transit - 21% of capital+operating costs
- Amtrak - 85% of operating costs only?

What is Amtrak's value if capital costs are included? What about roads/transit if capital are excluded? If I'm understanding how those metrics are given, it'd seem an apples/oranges comparison at the moment.

by Bossi on Jan 24, 2013 9:31 am • linkreport

@ Tysons Engineer:It would also have the added benefit of returning billions of dollars stolen from NOVA back to our area for use on transportation projects, education, etc.

Well, until Marion Barry gets his hands on it. You think he is any less wasteful that southern VA farmers?

by Jasper on Jan 24, 2013 9:32 am • linkreport

Virginia is merely reverting to its Southern heritage. The GOP inherited the old Southern conservatives and they're basically just updating an old strategy. People who expect a world of bipartisan or nonpartisan solutions need to learn from history that only hardball works against this kind of thing.

by Rich on Jan 24, 2013 9:33 am • linkreport

Bossi what about the billions of dollars a year we spend securing oil reserves in foreign lands so SOVs can drive around?

by Alan B. on Jan 24, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

@Jasper

I think a bit of NOVA financing and accounting would do a world of good for DC. We are a region of social progressives but when it comes to money and spending, we usually weigh the investments and look at things in what one might call a "conservative" way. I think what you see in NOVA is an orphaned RINO group which is now simply cutting ties with the zealots down south.

I grew up in a republican household when it came to domestic financial issues at least, and I still consider myself fiscally conservative. unfortunately the hate and BS spewed by the republican party, on top of the wasteful spending they do on things that are not on my priority list has sent me to a party that atleast spends money on making money.

by Tysons Engineer on Jan 24, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

Wow, a university that dares to release its students into the public!

No, it's a university that dares to open up to the public. Big difference.

by thump on Jan 24, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

The gas tax only covers about half of total road spending. with the remainder coming from state and federal general funds. Amtrak, meanwhile, covers 85% of its operating costs.

While I think it is important to stress that roads don't pay for themselves, and gas taxes don't cover the costs of roads, this statement is a meaningless apples to oranges comparison of the TOTAL costs of roads to the OPERATING costs of Amtrak.

by Lucre on Jan 24, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

"And...: Metro will replace the escalators at Pentagon City. (Post)"

The link to the Post story is incorrect. Also, the text is wrong - they're replacing escalators at the Pentagon, not Pentagon City.

by Ginger on Jan 24, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

Ginger: Fixed both. Thanks.

by David Alpert on Jan 24, 2013 10:01 am • linkreport

@Jasper, Marion Barry can't win a District-wide election now. You think he's going to be in any position to do anything other than kvetch powerlessly from a back bench in a state formed out of Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and a Washington DC with a further x years of demographic change?

by cminus on Jan 24, 2013 10:04 am • linkreport

reversing 1848 doesnt get you fairfax - it gets you arlington and eastern half of City of alexandria only.

Great for DC (except the folks trying to preserve african american political dominance), and for Va GOP.

Not good at all for Va or national Dems.

For Arlington, well, the finances might be made to work with a good enough deal. But it also cuts them off from UVa and VTech instate access, which is a big deal.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jan 24, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

There are similar electoral vote manipulation proposals on the way in Pennsylvania and Michigan too -- basically any blue state where the Republicans control state offices. It sounds like the VA proposal is dead in the water because a Republican senator voted against it in committtee.

by aaa on Jan 24, 2013 10:21 am • linkreport

Anybody know why the up escalators weren't working at L'Enfant Plaza on I-Day? The news reports said it caused a massive back up that filled the mezzanine and platform.

That's a huge safety issue.

by Capt. Hilts on Jan 24, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

Which escalator and when, Capt. Hilts?

by selxic on Jan 24, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

Capt. Hilts, not sure why they were working but I imagine the sheer number probably stalled them and the decided to stop them altogether rather than risk someone being injured.

I was fortunate to get off at Capitol South this time around but the mezzanine and platform (LPlaza) were severely crowded 4 years ago. Not sure how they fix that...

by HogWash on Jan 24, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

@TysonsEngineer

Your idea would take a full constitutional ammendment (I think) to relax the limit of 10 miles square for the capitol, unless you were to consider the "federal district" to be just the mall and surrounding buildings while NOVA and DC formed their own separate state that was not the "seat of government". While an optimistic hope, it's about as likely as Delaware, Eastern Md, and the peninsula part of VA forming the state of Delmarva or Northern California forming the state of Jefferson. The remaining parts of the states would take a big hit from being unable to leech the parts that are leaving.

by The Maelstrom on Jan 24, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

I know we had bad weather and all but I got to Va. Square at about 8:30 and there was a too-crowded train. Next train 8 minutes. That one is way to packed as well. Next train wasn't for ten minutes again. I went ahead and took my liberal leave.

Anyway, when you have this week the state senate basically playing dirty tricks on someone invited to the inauguration and then this electoral college scheme which is less democratic than than the status quo. Cool guys, the GOP is clearly just interested in fair elections which is why they make ID a huge issue when voting while making it harder to actually obtain said ID

by Drumz on Jan 24, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

Creating a new state with NoVa and DC is a great idea! Unfortunately, creating it would require the approval of both VA and Congress ... http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2012/08/how-to-make-a-state-three-ways-to-redraw-the-u-s-a/ ... and I don't think that any Republican would want to add another two senators to the Senate, especially since they would likely be Democrats.

Cheers!

by Thad on Jan 24, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

The real big story today is that Metro officially wants a separated Blue Line as of today, as well as a (far less likely, IMO) separated Yellow Line. Both lines would end abruptly at Thomas Circle.

They're also asking for near-term funding to build the tunnel between Metro Center & Gallery Place, a possible second tunnel between the Farraguts, and to upgrade the Rosslyn Junction to allow Virginia trains to bypass Rosslyn (enabling a single-seat Franconia/Huntington->Dulles/Vienna service).

Also, a few proposals for Orange Line extensions in Maryland and VA (but no Silver/Orange express track), a Blue Line extension to PW County, and (surprisingly) nothing for the Yellow or Green Lines.

The report also mentions Metro's desire to better coordinate (but apparently not run) the various Streetcar and Commuter Rail systems being planned for the region.

by andrew on Jan 24, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

Oh, one addendum that I missed: No new extensions until core capacity is addressed. GOOD.

by andrew on Jan 24, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

@andrew
There is a post about this:
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/17467/wmata-lays-out-a-plan-for-some-of-whats-next/

by MLD on Jan 24, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

Re Gallaudet initiative... Gentrification snark should be avoided. The university's challenges are very unique & real.

A scenic campus cut-through linking Union Market with the emerging charms of NE (distillery, brewery, dispensary, arboretum, etc.) would be selfishly convenient for cyclists. Even more so because WV Ave and Ivy City remain among the toughest streets--by my estimation--in the entire area. And I'm rarely bothered by most so-called "tough" streets.

Kudos and much deference to Gallaudet's admins.

by JFMAMJJASON on Jan 24, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

Speaking of track extensions - I know some people who would love to see Green go up the BW parkway median to Fort Meade. I think I have read somewhere that it would be extremely prohibitively expensive though.

by The Maelstrom on Jan 24, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

Interesting, but wouldn't that be redundant with MARC a bit? Why not just run MARC 7 days a week at higher frequency?

by Alan B. on Jan 24, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity "But it also cuts them off from UVa and VTech instate access, which is a big deal."

I thought DC high school graduates had instate tuition to all state schools.

by CZM on Jan 24, 2013 12:53 pm • linkreport

@Andrew

Interesting. I suppose the answer is ALWAYS no if you don't ask. At least they have a plan. I am certain the country has spent 26 billion in much worse ways than this plan. See example 1: Iraq.

@TysonsEngineer

That state would be an absolute powerhouse economically. Would certainly take over from MD the highest income per family. RE: Marion Barry, he is already irrelevant outside of W8. If this ever did happen, he would be just a crazy state senator of 30 or so, much like I am sure there are some interesting ones in the Virginia State Senate.

by Kyle-W on Jan 24, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

@ thump:No, it's a university that dares to open up to the public. Big difference.

It's not the universities that want their students kept on campus. It's the neighborhoods forcing the universities to keep their students on campus.

by Jasper on Jan 24, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

It would also have the added benefit of returning billions of dollars stolen from NOVA back to our area for use on transportation projects, education, etc.

The DC government is very adept at wasting money. I don't think there is any indication that revenue would be any better spent by this region's leaders than those working out of Richmond.

by Scoot on Jan 24, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

@CZM: I thought DC high school graduates had instate tuition to all state schools.

Thy myth was in-state tuition rates at any state school, but it's just a subsidy - I think $10,000. not chump change, but certainly not in-state rates. And the larger issue is admissions, not tuition. Admission rates at highly competitive state schools are the same as Ivy League schools. If you're from Arlington and you're all of a sudden thrust into the out-of-state admissions pool, that's a big deal.

by dcd on Jan 24, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity
@CZM
Also a "big deal" is the fact that adults in ceded parts of VA would lose access to instate schools as well. So you'd be taking the most highly educated part of VA and cutting off local opportunities to earn another degree or increase employability.

by spookiness on Jan 24, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

Maine and Nebraska already allocate electoral votes based on districts, and many other states are headed in that direction. It's not some big Republican conspiracy, as this site makes it out to be. It's a way of making the electoral college represent the people in the state. Why is that such a bad thing? The GOP-bashing on GGW is starting to grasp at strings here...

by Restonite on Jan 24, 2013 5:00 pm • linkreport

@Restonite

Actually, it IS a big GOP conspiracy. It does not make the electoral college represent the people in a state in any more accurate way. If every state did this, the GOP would stand to gain 30-50 electoral votes. If you wanted to split up EVs proportionally based on the split of the popular vote in the state, then you might get some traction, but that's not what this is. The research shows that Democratic votes are more concentrated in certain congressional districts and GOP votes more spread out. This, combined with the fact that the GOP wins smaller states (less to split) means the GOP has a leg-up if you allocate based on congressional districts.

To give you an example, if the election had been decided this way in every state in 2000, Bush would have won 302-236 (rather than 271-266), in a year in which he LOST the popular vote.

by MLD on Jan 24, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

Plus while we can live in a world where ME and NE (because its not ideal they do it this way either) apportion theirs this way because its only 10 total votes this would start having real consequences if even 10 middle to large states adopt this.

Moreover, as this past Election Day shows with wildly different experiences for certain populations seems to make a case for having a uniform standard for voting for federal office, starting with just a straight popular vote.

by Drumz on Jan 24, 2013 5:24 pm • linkreport

@Restonite, no, the move by the Republicans is an attempt to bypass the popular vote, because of major gerrymandering of the House districts in the states that went for Obama that they control (PA, OH, VA, NC, MI). If they had their way, Obama could have gotten 5 million more votes nationally, but would lose in the electoral college. Romney would be President with 47% of the national vote - which would have been quite ironic.

If the state electoral votes are to be done by the House districts, then the drawing of the district lines should be taken from the state legislature and done by an independent commission, chartered to draw districts with no favoritism to either party or incumbents. This is the way it was done in California because of a state ballot prior to 2010, so the districts were redrawn in a way that shook up the power structures for both parties.

by AlanF on Jan 24, 2013 5:24 pm • linkreport

@Drumz You can't say that only ME and NE can do it because it doesn't have consequences. Every state has the right to determine how to apportion its electoral votes, and we can't make the idea of doing it by congressional district a thing only small states are entitled to do. If one state can do it, all states should be allowed.

@AlanF A powerplay by Republicans? Sure, maybe it is. But gerrymandering isn't a Republican thing. In states where Democrats control the legislature, they've gerrymandered districts left and right as well (see: Maryland). These things wax and wane, and a plan today will eventually benefit the other side as the political ideology of different states evolve in both directions. I think all states should have independent boards draw district boundaries. Then again, it's not like California's district aren't gerrymandered EVEN WITH an independent board...

by Restonite on Jan 24, 2013 7:05 pm • linkreport

FYI: Here's all info you need to draw districts fairly: http://bmander.com/dotmap/index.html

by Jasper on Jan 24, 2013 8:28 pm • linkreport

I love the strangely-angled, narrow streets of Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant. It feels like a whole different city (or continent) once you cross Florida Avenue.

by Frank IBC on Jan 25, 2013 12:01 am • linkreport

Please, lets just abolish the electoral college.

by spookiness on Jan 25, 2013 8:26 am • linkreport

Agreed. And repeal the Second and Tenth Amendments. All three are useless fossils.

by Frank IBC on Jan 25, 2013 8:59 am • linkreport

@ Frank IBC: And while you're at it, get rid of the Federal District stuff. Oh, and perhaps reaffirm the fourth amendment.

by Jasper on Jan 25, 2013 3:10 pm • linkreport

@Restonite - This would explain why the Republicans are also pushing similar schemes to allocate EVs by congressional district in all-or-nothing states that reliably go red... oh wait, nevermind.

by Chris on Jan 25, 2013 8:54 pm • linkreport

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