Greater Greater Washington

Dinner links: The future of sitting, driving, biking


Photo by Audrey Penven.
New BART seating strategy: Some BART commuters discovered a new feature on their trains: swings. Some local pranksters installed them, then left. Something Metro should consider for the next generation of rail cars? (Laughing Squid, Jim)

Road pricing: the time is now: Pricing our roads based on congestion could speed commutes, reduce pollution, and improve the transit system, argue Alice Rivlin and Benjamin Orr of Brookings.

Look at all the traffic: GOOD shows some photos of LA traffic from the air. (Michael P)

Road closures and parking divide Eastern Market: Capitol Hill residents and business are debating whether to reopen 7th Street in front of Eastern Market. The city closed it after the fire to add more space. Now some merchants say the competition from weekend outdoor vendors is too great, and farmers say they need room to park trucks on the street. Many residents, especially younger ones, want the road to stay closed. In addition, market visitors are supposed to be able to park at Hine Junior High, but many Maryland and Virginia drivers are parking there and taking Metro with impunity. (Hill Rag)

German city more neighborly: GGW contributor Dave Murphy is in Germany for work. His city, about the same size as Columbia, MD, "has more parkland, more greenspace within walking distance, less traffic, less crime..." Plus, he's met many of his neighbors and the owners of local shops, unlike most of our experiences in similarly-sized cities here.

Arlington needs a few good counters: Arlington could use a few more people to count pedestrians and cyclists on Thursday during morning and evening rush around the county. If you can help, email bikearlington@arlingtonva.us. (Michael)

Some Fairfax Connector buses raise fare to $7: Routes 380, 595, and 597 will have a one-way fare of $7. Fairfax is also cutting some routes and reducing service on others. (Wesley, Transport)

Give the robot your bike: Here's what we could do with the unused parking space at DC USA: build an enormous robotic bike parking system. We covered this before, but now there's an even better video with more information (though also ads). This system grew the Tokyo neighborhood's already-high rate of bicycle usage by another 20%. (Hard Drive, Nat)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. 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 daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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Fairfax giant mistake all i have to say to $7 fares is f**k that; $7 dollars is the amount in which most people will choose to drive. I cant think of anyone who would pay almost $10 for bus fare per trip

by Kk on May 5, 2009 5:24 pm • linkreport

Clearly Fairfax wants these bus lines to go away.

by NikolasM on May 5, 2009 6:05 pm • linkreport

If they're going to have a penny farthing on their bike parking card, it really should be the one from The Prisoner.

by цarьchitect on May 5, 2009 6:36 pm • linkreport

$7 for the 595? Are they nuts? I used to take that bus, and at $14 round trip, driving is a much, much cheaper option, especially since my commute needed Metro in addition to the bus. I'm with Kk, they must want those routes to go away. Those routes are always crowded, too, speaking from experience.

by dcseain on May 5, 2009 6:58 pm • linkreport

For info, the old Fairfax fare was $3.00 with a smartrip card. I should call fairfax a couple of months in to see what the effect of more than doubling the fare is. Of course that's after I go on paternity leave so I might not have time!

by Michael Perkins on May 5, 2009 7:03 pm • linkreport

VMT: Once again, great in theory, pretty damn hard to implement at reasonable cost.

by ah on May 5, 2009 8:42 pm • linkreport

For the 380:

Metrorail travels the same route (Franconia to Pentagon) in only 3-4 minutes longer, costs only $3.65, travels twice as frequently, and almost guarantees you a seat in the AM peak direction since you're boarding at the end of the line. I wouldn't expect this bus to survive.

The 595 and 597 are more likely to survive. They provide service direct from Reston East park and ride to the Pentagon (about 40 minutes one-way) or to Crystal City (40-50 minutes). Comparable service is available with three vehicles (some 500 series bus, orange line, and blue line, takes about 50-55) minutes) for about $3.75. Most Pentagon employees that take transit will qualify for the new $230 per month Federal transit subsidy, which would pay for $12.50 per day, leaving you $1.50 out of pocket per day. Not bad.

by Michael Perkins on May 5, 2009 9:39 pm • linkreport

7th Street Closing: You assert, "Many residents, especially younger ones, want the road to stay closed." Ummm, prove it? I don't see any evidence of that, at all.

Even the Hill Rag is more circumspect: "Ward Six City Council member Tommy Wells, who has pushed hard for a “livable, walkable” neighborhood and initially supported the closing, noted that many of the young people who have moved to the Hill support the closure."

Oh, I see, it's not that anyone has any proof that young people want 7th Street permanently closed (no proof of that anywhere). It's that "liveable, walkable" Wells, who wants people to park cars E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. in the neighborhood (including in the public space in front of houses, which he supports, and in two or three stories of underground parking over 100% of the Hine lot, which he supports) *says* young people want 7th Street permanently closed. Then that goes for Wells, too: Prove it.

Funny, if GGW and Wells have their way, there will be cars parked everywhere in the neighborhood, EXCEPT on 7th Street, where they will be banned. How "liveable, walkable" is that?

by Trulee Pist on May 5, 2009 10:14 pm • linkreport

oh damn! i want that robot parking my bike NOW!

by IMGoph on May 6, 2009 12:30 am • linkreport

It's not like it was that easy to find parking on 7th in the first place. Except on Mondays when the market was closed, it was damn near impossible. If they're going to close the street permanently, they need to make it a plaza with MORE street vendors.

by monkeyrotica on May 6, 2009 7:06 am • linkreport

@ Fairfax Connector: I agree that Fairfax wants to kill some of those bus lines. $7 is ridiculous. Fairly hypocritical of them to not just eliminate them straight away. Luckily my line got of the chopping block.

@ Congestion Pricing: I can not believe that at the one hand, we whine here about having to pay operational costs on metro "because road use is free", while at the same time hailing the idea of congestion pricing "because it will lower car use". It is inconsistent and hypocritical.

What we need in this area a much more transportation options. Seen as how car-dependent the region is, more transit would seem logical. Redevelopment of certain areas to less car-dependend designs would be good too.

However, I can not agree with this simple view that all car driving is bad. It is not. There are many people that live in the suburbs. Taxing them extra with a congestion charge does nothing for them, other than taxing them.

The only way you are going to get people out of their car, is by offering them a superior alternative in transit. People are just like children and pets. You can only train them by rewarding good behavior, not by punishing bad behavior. The latter will only make them bitter.

by Jasper on May 6, 2009 10:41 am • linkreport

@Jasper, I don't think they're trying to kill off the lines, the people taking the bus are more likely than not going to qualify for the $230 per month commuter benefit and would therefore be likely to pay for the $14 round trip since it's "not their money". I'm asking Fairfax to provide numbers once the change occurs to see if the demand drops significantly. It's possible that we may have our first 100% fare-funded bus line in the region, and it's thanks to Uncle Sam.

by Michael Perkins on May 6, 2009 10:58 am • linkreport

Why would anybody talk a $7 (380) bus if you can take a $3.65 metro ride? Remember, the $230 a month may be tax-free, but it's still money. And if it's their employer's money, they will notice too.

As for the other two, if I am not mistaking, you can take the 5a from that Reston bus stop to Rosslyn, and then take the metro. I am not current on the pricing out there, but I would guess that is cheaper too.

by Jasper on May 6, 2009 11:35 am • linkreport

Funny, if GGW and Wells have their way, there will be cars parked everywhere in the neighborhood, EXCEPT on 7th Street, where they will be banned. How "liveable, walkable" is that?

Hmm. You sound truly pissed by all this. For the record, I'm young, and I want 7th Street closed to car traffic, too.

So there's at least one more datapoint...

by ibc on May 7, 2009 2:40 pm • linkreport

the people taking the bus are more likely than not going to qualify for the $230 per month commuter benefit



Whether you qualify, and whether you can persuade your employer to sign up for the program, are unfortunately two different things. (I've been fighting my organization over this issue since I started; they are unswayed by logic.)

by Erica on May 8, 2009 7:17 am • linkreport

@Erica, these buses serve the Pentagon, a major Federal installation. More likely than not, most workers there are Federal or Military employees. They should be getting the transit subsidy.

Are you federal or military and not getting the subsidy!?

by Michael Perkins on May 8, 2009 8:13 am • linkreport

Micael, when i rode 595, at least half the people riding were contractors, and so did not get transit benefits.

by dcseain on May 8, 2009 10:10 am • linkreport

At NIH, contractors are required to give transit benefits to on-site employees. The Pentagon should be pushed to adopt the same policy as it renews contracts.

by Ben Ross on May 8, 2009 10:55 am • linkreport

Coauthor of the road-use pricing piece here.

ah: What we are proposing is not the same as a VMT tax, though it is similar. In addition to charging by vehicle miles traveled, we are also charging by the level of congestion (likely operationalized through location and time of day), and type of vehicle. In terms of what the cost is, I don't think 9.3 cents per mile on average is that onerous. For example, if I switched from MARC and Metro to solo driving, my commuting costs from Baltimore to D.C. would only be $7.44 (before parking). If I carpooled, my portion would be even less.

by Benjamin Orr on May 8, 2009 11:03 am • linkreport

Benjamin, as I said it's great in theory. I'm generally a fan of creating markets in as many things as possible so that people pay the actual cost and don't overconsume. (I should get a picture of Garrett Hardin on my wall.)

That said, I also know that one of the major reasons why many goods are given away for free is that the costs of charging for them (including the direct costs of technology) are higher than the revenues and benefits (including changed behavior that requires transparency) that could be generated. I'm not sure we're there yet on congestion pricing.

by ah on May 8, 2009 11:09 am • linkreport

Jasper: I'm not sure who you think is whining about paying for Metro's operational costs, but it isn't me. Nor do I believe that all car use is bad. You are right to point out that some people do not have access to quality transit. Personal vehicles can also make errands such as food shopping easier. This is further complicated from a policy standpoint because low-income motorists are the most negatively affected. That is why we propose using revenues for improving mass transit and tax credits for low-income motorists, as well as highway maintenance.

I would also argue that suburban motorists do gain something from road-use pricing. Benefits include shorter travel times, more reliable travel times, fewer accidents, less pollution, expanded access to better mass transit, and more sustainable funding for all types of surface transportation.

by Benjamin Orr on May 8, 2009 11:14 am • linkreport

As for the other two, if I am not mistaking, you can take the 5a from that Reston bus stop to Rosslyn, and then take the metro. I am not current on the pricing out there, but I would guess that is cheaper too.
The 5A stops at Herndon-Monroe (near Monroe Street southwest of Herndon), while the 595&7 run from Reston East (Whiele Ave). You'd have to backtrack (not easy bus commute) to switch to the 5A.

by Wesley on May 22, 2009 5:24 am • linkreport

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