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Photo by Daimler AG.
Car sharing: the next generation: Today's car sharing is very useful, but requires you to return the car to the same spot you found it. The cars spend a lot of their time parked at the driver's destination before making the return trip. Is a car sharing feasible where people simply drop off cars anywhere? Ulm, Germany is trying that, and the Mercedes-owned car2go next hopes to try the program in Austin, Texas. (CoolTown Studios)

Cleveland replaces quiet with false safety: After a bus driver hit and killed a pedestrian in Cleveland, all buses now have to honk their horns every time they turn. How about just looking? And this will surely irritate anyone who lives or works near a turn in the bus route. Tipster Rob P. also writes, "I can't imagine the same response if the pedestrian had been hit by a car rather than a bus." (AP/Plain Dealer)

Potomac Yard station on the "wrong side of the tracks"?: The Arlandrian examines options for the Potomac Yard Metro station. Unfortunately, the current line runs on the opposite side of the freight tracks from proposed development. Moving them to an underground tunnel would, of course, be very expensive. Can developers pay some of the cost of the enhanced value a more central station would bring?

European annoyed by Metro broken ticket machines, escalators: One European visitor was very disappointed to find four ticket machines unable to trade in a farecard, not to mention the oft-broken escalators. (Unsuck DC Metro) The farecards really do make Metro tough for tourists: they demagnetize easily, creating confusion and lost money, and the machines are very confusing to operate. In fact, Metro keeps a staff member at National Airport to help visitors buy farecards.

Amtrak underspending on marketing: Amtrak spends proportionately less on advertising than most businesses, argues the pro-rail but Amtrak-critical United Rail Passenger Alliance. That gap contributes to underutilization of Amtrak services and increased need for public subsidies.

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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The story about Cleveland bus drivers having to honk their horns every time they make a turn is not really all that different from the response here in DC to that tragic accident involving the couple of pedestrians run down by a bus making a turn while they were in the crosswalk. Now all our buses have these flashing lights going night and day and which not only distract other drivers but are a nuisance to residences along the routes. It's that old "micromanagement" bit again. Rather than just hold people (and organizations) accountable for their actions, "tell how to do it" ... resulting in most instances in bad decisions and bad policies.

by Lance on Apr 3, 2009 9:49 am • linkreport

Zipcar 2.0!!!

by Justin from ReadysetDC on Apr 3, 2009 10:12 am • linkreport

David: Its unlikely its the credit cards, more likely a cell phone.

Amtrak could use a little more advertising. Especially about off the NEC types rides. I have a friend in Philly who takes Acela to go to NY and DC. She had no idea she could take Amtrak back to our hometown. She took a bus for the holidays instead.

I see Acela ads all the time, but the Lake Shore or Capitol Lmtds? Never

by Kiran on Apr 3, 2009 10:27 am • linkreport


Ha.. Mitch Hedberg was a genius...

by Justin from ReadysetDC on Apr 3, 2009 10:35 am • linkreport

I agree with JTS about the escalators. They're never broken. They're merely stairs sometimes. The problem is for those who can't walk and the elevtor is out of service at the same time.

And on this topic - I hate it when i'm taking my bike onto a metro and the elevator gets overwhelmed with people who could be taking the escalator/stairs. This happens at Woodley. i wait in a long long line to get on the elevator w/ my bike b/c there are a bunch of people who don't walk the extra 25 yrds to the escalator/stairs.

by Bianchi on Apr 3, 2009 10:47 am • linkreport

I never had a paper farecard demagnetize in my wallet. The only times I've had that happen were when I put it next to my cell phone. I've had the same thing happen at hotels with their plastic room keys.

by Alex B. on Apr 3, 2009 12:22 pm • linkreport

Regarding the honking busses in Cleveland - they seem to have been rewired so that the noise they would typically make when the bus is in reverse now occurs whenever the driver has the turn signal engaged. You can't really hear much while riding a bus, but it's already annoying to walk downtown before/after work or during lunch and hear all of the high-pitched beeping. Some intersections are obviously worse than others.

by Rob on Apr 3, 2009 1:19 pm • linkreport

"And on this topic - I hate it when i'm taking my bike onto a metro and the elevator gets overwhelmed with people who could be taking the escalator/stairs. This happens at Woodley. i wait in a long long line to get on the elevator w/ my bike b/c there are a bunch of people who don't walk the extra 25 yrds to the escalator/stairs.

by Bianchi "

The reason is because the escalators and elevators don't end in the same place at most stations. Take for example any of the stations with long escalators they usually end anywhere from 1-3 away from the elevator if they ended right beside each other people would take the escalators.

Good examples are

VanNess people go to the elevator because either there walking south on Conn. ave and its less distance or there using it because it leads directly to in front of UDC which the escalators don't. If the escalators were directly in front of UDC people would use those instead of the elevator.

Bethesda the elevator is nowhere near the escalators therefore if people are going to a place closer to the elevator they will choose it rather than walk around the building and down a block to use the elevator.

People will always take the path of less distance you see this everywhere look at people walk most people will not go to a corner and walk all around if there is empty space they will cut around; look around different metro station you can see paths that have been created in the ground were people have walked on the grass because its a shorter distance

When the escalators are not working people take the elevator because people don't want to walk the distance, and if anyone calls someone out on it is just bias because they know not the reason for why they don't want to walk it some people walk more than others and that's a given fact.

by Kk on Apr 3, 2009 9:26 pm • linkreport

Secondary reason:

They didn't build enough elevator capacity to serve a reasonable fraction of the station at peak times. It took a great deal of discussion to get elevators put in at all - one of the designers took to theatrically demonstrating how one could precariously take a wheelchair up and down the escalators in order to defend the openness of the vault design.

by Squalish on Apr 4, 2009 4:16 am • linkreport

Just out of curiosity - what are your contemporary opinions on elevators vs escalators?

If Metro were to start building stations that relied on a bank of several fast, redundant elevators (4-8, depending on load) rather than escalators, would it detract from the design/atmosphere or the usability of the stations?

by Squalish on Apr 4, 2009 4:27 am • linkreport

Metro does rely on banks of elevators at Forest Glen and the south entrance to Friendship Heights. The new south entrance in Bethesda will be elevators too. Elevators were found to have lower cost than escalators, as well as providing a better connection to the Purple Line.

by Ben Ross on Apr 4, 2009 9:08 am • linkreport

"i wait in a long long line to get on the elevator w/ my bike b/c there are a bunch of people who don't walk the extra 25 yrds to the escalator/stairs."

Bianchi, as another poster mentioned, there can be many reasons (some valid and some not) why people are taking elevators vs. escalators. One I can think off the top of my head is a parent with children. (It's probably a lot easier to watch a couple of kids in an elevator than on an escalator.) Also, I know I have a fear of heights, and while I can do most of the escalators, there are some I'd rather not ... for example Dupont. Metro (like our new stadium) was not designed with everyone in mind. Open multi-story escalotors, platforms sitting precariously between two sets of electrified rails, ominous gray and brown "cavern" rooms ... It's not like the Metro is very welcoming. Of course, part of the problem is that it was designed during a period when the NYC subway was perceived as being extremely dangerous ... and the designers of Metro were instructed to make it inhospitable so that people with bad intentions wouldn't find it a place to hang around in. The problem though is that these same elements make it a place than many of us would rather avoid altogether. Incidentally, those platforms placed between the electrified rails were placed as such so that vandals wouldn't have walls to put graffitti on ... which was at that time a real problem in the NYC subways.

by Lance on Apr 5, 2009 2:57 pm • linkreport

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