Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: On the rise


Photo by Mr.TinDC on Flickr.
Fares. hiked: The long-awaited Metro fare increase kicked in yesterday. Train fares are up 5-10¢ a ride, with larger increases for Metrobus. MetroAccessrules will stay the same, but with a slightly lower maximum. (DCist)

Study the lane now!: At the MoveDC hearing, Mary Cheh urged DDOT to start a study of a bus lane on 16th Street already, "for heaven's sake!" A study is funded but still has no start date. (Post)

MoveDC draws AAA ire: AAA blasted the MoveDC plan, charging that congestion tolls will make driving into DC more difficult. When Mary Cheh asked if spokesman Lon Anderson has another idea to reduce congestion, he had none. (WAMU)

How to broaden CaBi?: Capital Bikeshare's users are still disproportionately white and wealthy. Transportation officials are trying to reach out across financial and language barriers, but even giving away free memberships can be a challenge. (Post)

Spies like us: An unassuming cluster of stone buildings near the Kennedy Center that once housed the OSS (the CIA's precursor) had been planned for redevelopment, but some agency alums have partnered with local preservationists to save it. (Post)

Give tours freely: DC's rules requiring all tour guides to pass a test and pay for a license are unconstitutional, a court found. There isn't much evidence the test actually improves tour quality. (DCist)

Mile high transit: The transportation plan approved by Denver voters in a 2004 referendum is finally bearing fruit. With 121 miles of new light rail and BRT going as far as Boulder, the city may soon have the best transit system in the west. (CityLab)

Dream of the 1890s: Bicycles took off in popularity in the late nineteenth century, and the freedom they granted women may have been instrumental in expanding women's rights (and upending fashion trends), despite warnings of Bicycle Face. (CityLab)

Don't stop for ducks?: A Montreal woman stopped at the side of the road to help a group of ducklings. A motorcyclist slammed into the car. A jury then found the woman guilty of causing the deaths. (WTOP)

And...: What Metro riders say about their experiences and frustrations today is very similar to what they said 14 years ago. (Post) ... Virginia's new law requiring 3 feet of clearance to pass a bike starts tomorrow. (FABB) ... Who needs a getaway driver? Bank robbers take the bus (or subway) more often than you'd think. (CityLab)

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Sam Sherwood moved to DC in 2007, and has lived on the same block of T Street NW (albeit in two different apartments) ever since. He is a commercial real estate appraiser with Integra Realty Resources, and spends his evenings playing guitar for Mittenfields

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Fourteen years of the exact. Same. Damn. Issues. What is going on? Is it a culture of incompetence at Metro? "Southern efficiency?" Despite obfuscation it's clearly not because of "the ongoing rebuilding project." And after that long, arguments I am normally 100% sympathetic to about underfunding just don't hold up. The refusal to seriously increase service anywhere ever just makes it worse. Take a look at the wonderful weekend headways from Saturday.

I already don't ride trains or buses on weekends; they're just too infrequent. And as soon as DDOT extends the Rosslyn circulator to U Street, I will never have to give WMATA a dime, even for commuting.

by LowHeadways on Jun 30, 2014 9:32 am • linkreport

I was taught a simple rule of thumb for animals when learning to drive: Hit anything small, swerve/stop for anything large. The reason was exactly why she was found guilty. Your actions in avoiding a duck (or, squirrel or cat) can cause an accident and it is better to hit the animal then endanger yourself & other road users. For large animals (very large dogs, deer, bear, cows, horses, etc.), breaking/swerving can/will save your life.

Finally, it appears that she stopped in a travel lane on a highway to try to save the ducks ... which is even more moronic.

by Thad on Jun 30, 2014 9:35 am • linkreport

Anderson did not provide a specific solution, but said MoveDC will make driving into the District more difficult while improving mobility for everyone else.

Well, if fewer people end up driving into DC (because they're taking transit or whatever) then that's an improvement for motorists.

I mean, maybe given a choice people will choose "free" congestion over paying a toll to mitigate that congestion but maybe that's something that should be debated as the DC council is now doing.

But if not, then Anderson's best bet is to start trying to convince people to move out of the DC area rather than push against MoveDC.

by drumz on Jun 30, 2014 9:39 am • linkreport

DDOT won't do anything until after the election in November and even then probably nothing. They aren't stupid, possibly terrible, but not stupid.

by BTA on Jun 30, 2014 9:39 am • linkreport

@Thad - not true. It doesn't matter what size the animal. When an animal/vehicle collision is unavoidable, swerving to avoid it is still the far worse course of action (for the vehicle occupants) than hitting said animal straight on.

by DaveG on Jun 30, 2014 9:44 am • linkreport

@Thad - not swerving in such a collision also protects the other road users by NOT colliding with them, i.e. making things worse.

by DaveG on Jun 30, 2014 9:45 am • linkreport

The best way to attack congestion is to price carbon in accordance with its impact on the environment. Congestion pricing is a nickle and dime strategy likely to be used as an argument against a broader pricing assault on fossil fuels. I wish the AAA would support something meaningful in respect to the environment.

by kob on Jun 30, 2014 9:51 am • linkreport

@kob That's a nice sentiment, but AAA's raison d'etre is literally to promote an environmentally devastating form of transportation. Unless they renounce their entire mission and disincorporate, there's no way they can/would do anything environmentally helpful.

by LowHeadways on Jun 30, 2014 9:56 am • linkreport

A more constructive course of action for AAA, consistent with their mission, would be to promote environmentally-friendlier motor vehicles.

by DaveG on Jun 30, 2014 10:03 am • linkreport

AAA is an ally of car manufacturers, oil companies, etc. It's completely counter to their interests to advocate for anything that means less driving.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 10:03 am • linkreport

DC deserves better than WMATA's incompetence, decreasing service and rising fares. It's time for MTR Corporation to operate Metro.

by Brett on Jun 30, 2014 10:05 am • linkreport

@DaveG - Maybe I should have made my rule-of-thumb more fine-grained for you ... so, here ... just hit small animals (ducks/cats/small dogs), try to stop for medium animals (dogs to small deer) but hit them if unavoidable, swerve for large animals (cows, horses, moose, & elk).

Hitting a large animal like a full-grown cow or a moose (I have seen them described as a 'compact car on stilts'), is like hitting a compact car with the possibility of the animal popping over the hood and coming through the windshield (see here for what a horse can do to a car - http://www.northescambia.com/2009/06/lucky-to-be-alive-horse-rips-through-van-flips-another-vehicle).

by Thad on Jun 30, 2014 10:08 am • linkreport

I've used metro bus on weekends, and also metro rail. Sure its not frequent, but thats mostly logical given the economics of transit. And depends mostly on the jurisdictions adding funding.

Its not surprising things haven't improved in rider perceptions as its only in the last few years that WMATA (with support from the jurisdictions) has really taken on the maintenance backlog.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 10:10 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

20+-minute headways on the weekend is mostly due to maintenance and not funding. The budget is written as if they are running the same 10-12 minute headways they used to. That's why WMATA gets to say they are running under budget every year.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 10:12 am • linkreport

I oppose congestion pricing for motor vehicles. Letting that market operate freely, so to speak, causes people to consider and use other methods of travel, carpools, etc. It also drives the expansion of transit, bicycle options, more/better sidewalks, etc. etc. Which is why I also support moving to motor vehicles that use less or no fossil fuel...less pollution.

by DaveG on Jun 30, 2014 10:14 am • linkreport

@AWITC induced demand works both ways.

And to not use more of the system's capacity is a huge waste of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure. What's the point of spending that when you're going to use like 40% of its capacity?

We want people out of cars, right? Run more trains; that's the only way to replicate the freedom they provide.

by LowHeadways on Jun 30, 2014 10:15 am • linkreport

I'm no logician (or speller), but shouldn't the message from AAA to its members be to take the most efficient form of transportation for a given trip? So it is acknowledged that driving downtown will either cost more or cost more time - there really are no alternatives, Andersen admits.

So if driving costs more or costs more time, wouldn't the message be to explore alternatives that would cost less or cost less time? Seems like that is not incompatible with preserving the rights of drivers. Sometimes I drive, but only when I have a reasonable degree of assurance that the drive will not cause me undue aggravation or cost. How come that cannot be a AAA message.

How 'bout this slogan: "Preserving the rights of drivers to have the most pleasant trip possible." Or is that an oxymoron?

by fongfong on Jun 30, 2014 10:16 am • linkreport

Yes, Thad, I know. But you overlooked my operative words "unavoidable collision." I have hit more than one deer. Swerving at high speed can cause your vehicle to lose control, roll over, etc. etc. How is one supposed to avoid a large animal in an unavoidable collision?

by DaveG on Jun 30, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

Here's an article on this from GEICO: https://www.geico.com/information/publications/newsletter/2009/deer-safety/

Seems like the common advice here is to never swerve as that increases the chance of an accident.

by KingmanPark on Jun 30, 2014 10:20 am • linkreport

Well, AAA may be an ally of Big Oil, but their Amtrak discounts are very good. A few rail trips will be pay the cost of an AAA membership.

by kob on Jun 30, 2014 10:30 am • linkreport

"Don't swerve" is all fine and dandy until a 1,200 pound moose steps out in front of you. I assure you, your instinct is to swerve when that happens. Even managed not to roll the car.

by Birdie on Jun 30, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

Regarding Denver's light rail...they're so smart out there! Even Republican Utah is with the program. I just don't get how they can get to so clearly our West and we mumble and grumble for decades before even digging one hole.

by Thayer-D on Jun 30, 2014 10:34 am • linkreport

The "Don't stop for ducks" isn't quite correct. The linked article says the woman stopped "stopped in the left lane", but your quote says "stopped at the side of the road"

by Jonathan B on Jun 30, 2014 10:34 am • linkreport

Related: We should also probably invest more in wildlife crossings across the country (and in Canada too, I guess.

I recall last year that some republicans attacked plans to build more as wasteful but it's not so much for the animals per se as it is for the people who are at risk from hitting an animal.

by drumz on Jun 30, 2014 10:38 am • linkreport

"AWalkerInTheCity
20+-minute headways on the weekend is mostly due to maintenance and not funding."

Er not on bus routes. And IIUC on any given weekend the headways on most metrorail lines (on any given weekend most lines dont have trackwork) are better than 20 minutes, but still low enough to get people looking for car or bike alternatives.

but yeah, the trackwork is a problem. What were WMATA/jurisdictions supposed to do, put off dealing with the backlog even further? Just wait for more accidents, and for the whole system to collapse?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 10:43 am • linkreport

Would the woman have been convicted and jailed if her car had broken down on the highway?

Seems to me it's the responsibility of all drivers to be able to avoid crashes precisely when something like this happens.

There's probably a minimum speed on the highway, so stopping on the highway was probably illegal as well as foolish.

But the larger doctrine of culpability for "being in the way" is troubling. What if there had been a toddler wandering next to the road, not an animal?

Some animal collisions are truly accidents that can't be avoided, but I can't help thinking that the real culpability in the Canadian crash was high speed and being unable to avoid a road obstruction safely.

by Greenbelt on Jun 30, 2014 10:45 am • linkreport

@AWITC
Sorry, I was talking about rail. Bus headways it's mostly about demand.

but yeah, the trackwork is a problem. What were WMATA/jurisdictions supposed to do, put off dealing with the backlog even further? Just wait for more accidents, and for the whole system to collapse?

Run more trains and short-turn them at work sites. But they don't do this because its easier just to run trains at 24 minutes and pocket the savings/use the savings to cover up your overtime budget.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 10:48 am • linkreport

"@AWITC induced demand works both ways. "

within limits (and that applies to both modes, BTW)

"And to not use more of the system's capacity is a huge waste of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure. "

It may or may not be a waste - one would need to see the actual cost of improving off hour headways, versus the new ridership. Note, poor headways is not the only reason for higher auto mode share on weekends - its also (compared to weekday rush) lower auto congestion, cheaper parking, more ridesharing, and different destination patterns. Thats why lower weekend frequency is almost universal in transit systems.

"We want people out of cars, right? Run more trains; that's the only way to replicate the freedom they provide."

Getting transit to replicate the flexibility of autos is, IMO, a fools errand - which is why AFAIK no transit system does that. Most riders don't need that - most transit users have cars (many are in car lite households, though some are fully "carred") and many carfree folks rely heavily on cycling or carsharing. Its great that carfree folks who rely on transit for weekend rides exist, but thats only one way to reduce VMT.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 10:49 am • linkreport

"But they don't do this because its easier just to run trains at 24 minutes and pocket the savings"

So we are back to it being about money. Which has to come from the juridictions - or maybe there is some way to reduce OT and get more money that WMATA has not thought of or has been unwilling to implement. Of course given many needs, its not clear that if OT were reduced, that the WMATA bd would choose to use that money for more frequency - reducing fare hikes might be higher on the agenda.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 10:51 am • linkreport

@Greenbelt
Would the woman have been convicted and jailed if her car had broken down on the highway?

Possibly not - that's the difference in responsibility between choosing to stop and having to stop. It's also the fact that she stopped and then failed to put her hazard lights on (see article posted by kob) indicating that her car was an obstruction.

But the larger doctrine of culpability for "being in the way" is troubling. What if there had been a toddler wandering next to the road, not an animal?

Again - totally different circumstance. Saving a human life vs animal life.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 10:56 am • linkreport

AAA is an ally of car manufacturers, oil companies, etc.

I'm no fan of AAA but they're not allies of car manufacturers or oil companies. They've lobbied for increased safety requirements to cars (to the cost and annoyance of manufacturers), proven that the MPG posted by car companies was overstated (requiring them to decrease MPG claims across the board), and published tips for getting greater fuel efficiency from your vehicle.

AAA is primarily funded by individual driver's membership dues and they seem to act in what they believe are driver's (not corporation's) best interests.

by Falls Church on Jun 30, 2014 11:12 am • linkreport

Not a SINGLE mention of the plan being for a RUSH HOUR bus lane. I want an explanation why.

And how much is this updated proposal going to cost over the original one? Mission creep is, as always, a really good way to ruin a plan.

Sunday bus service is still going to stink and that's why having it be bus-only full-time is ridiculous from any view.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:16 am • linkreport

Also, if someone makes bus lanes physically separated with barriers and everything, they've created an overpriced monster if there's any closures or construction.
If it's only paint, the plans can move around. This isn't about planning in an ideal world, this is about DC area.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:19 am • linkreport

Also, AAA is a bargain, not only for discounts, but if you need to be towed even once during a year or your battery dies in your driveway, a subscription pays for itself. If you want bash a corporation, find the many who promise many things and delivers on none. AAA's service is excellent, and the fury mentioned here sounds like sour grapes.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:21 am • linkreport

asffa - but on Sundays car congestion is (usually) less, right?

Note within a couple of months the City of Alexandria will be opening a busway on Rte 1 (north of Old Town) with barriers and all.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 11:22 am • linkreport

Criminal negligence is a function of behavior in the circumstances of the defendant, not the victim. So we can concede that the deceased driver was also negligent, but that does not get the driver who stopped off the hook.

Signage warning about an animal crossing might change the reasonableness of stopping fir animals because drivers who have vlbwwn warned to watch for animals can be presumed to be warned to stop for anything in the road.

by JimT on Jun 30, 2014 11:25 am • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity Why are you asking to close a lane on Sunday for the bus which doesn't hardly run that day, but is still a big day for travelling in DC? The only motive I see would be to be nasty to commuters.

So, Alexandria is trying something new there, so what. How about seeing how well these confined bus lanes work for years in major cities in the US before forcing them around everywhere? It's called "CrapidTransit" in some areas that already have it, what does that suggest?

Montgomery County for example, its residents may not want to be the next experiment, already having to see multiple boondoggle stupidities take place for millions of dollars.
Yay, Transit Centers galore planned.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:36 am • linkreport

@AWITC "Getting transit to replicate the flexibility of autos is, IMO, a fools errand - which is why AFAIK no transit system does that."

I'm not really sure what you're talking about - most European cities (much less capitals) have turn-up-and-go service all week. Some lines in London even run better headways on weekends than they do during the week.

It's only an unrealistic goal if you call it such. I know I've stopped using the system because it's so infrequent; I'm certainly not the only one who would ride more frequent trains and buses.

by LowHeadways on Jun 30, 2014 11:36 am • linkreport

Through traffic stalled by curb build-outs around dedicated bus lanes http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/02/passing-a-rapidride-bus-youre-getting-curbed/

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:45 am • linkreport

"AWalkerInTheCity Why are you asking to close a lane on Sunday for the bus which doesn't hardly run that day, but is still a big day for travelling in DC? The only motive I see would be to be nasty to commuters."

Im not asking for it. Im suggesting the proposal to do it in DC may well make sense. Barriers would reduce violations by cars going into the bus lane and add the permanence that would show developers this won't go away - a benefit that might dwarf the cost to drivers on sunday, which big day for treavling by car or not, is still a day when arterials are usually less congested.

"So, Alexandria is trying something new there, so what. How about seeing how well these confined bus lanes work for years in major cities in the US before forcing them around everywhere?"

They are not going in everywhere - we are discussing one line on 16th street - and yes, Alexandria is trying something new. I think it will work out well, but we shall see.

" It's called "CrapidTransit" in some areas that already have it, what does that suggest?"

I dont know what it suggests since I dont know who is saying that. Its clearly not as good as heavy rail transit. Its better than regular local bus service. It pisses off SOME motorists, who may be the ones using that term.

"Montgomery County for example,"

This post was not about MoCo. It was about a lane in DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 11:48 am • linkreport

@asffa There are no plans for bus bulbs on 16th Street. There is no plan to have a bus lane outside of peak-direction commuting hours. The lane might be marked somehow, but will not be enforced. I'm not sure why you're so upset.

Of course, I wish it were a 24/7 operation, but then again I think we need to do everything possible to make transit a more attractive option.

by LowHeadways on Jun 30, 2014 11:50 am • linkreport

"I'm not really sure what you're talking about - most European cities (much less capitals) have turn-up-and-go service all week. Some lines in London even run better headways on weekends than they do during the week."

I probably should have said north america. Note almost every euro country has much higher gas taxes (and in some cases higher taxes on cars) than we do, as well as higher transit appropriations. London even has a congestion charge/cordon. Not much WMATA can do about those things.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 11:51 am • linkreport

LowHeadways Here instead we have WMATA which though people try, whose management is pretty unreasonable to defend, and in Montgomery County, a Council who wants to cut RideOn. I was kind of impressed with the bus service in Boston.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:51 am • linkreport

LowHeadways Hey, I'm not upset at all if its a Rush Hour bus lane done by paint and signs. I think that'd be good.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:53 am • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity BRT isn't better bus service as planned by MontCo. I've detailed the reasons why before, so you can look them up rather than read me repeat them today.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 11:56 am • linkreport

Read https://www.facebook.com/CrapidRide for Ballard local opinions about their bus.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 12:01 pm • linkreport

asffa

You neednt repeat them as I am uninterested in discussing MoCo BRT yet again. I am interested in plans for BRT in NoVa and DC. Here in NoVa local buses get slowed down in traffic - and even express buses on highways do so until the reach an entrance to an HOV lane. Seperate transitways will allow them to go faster, which can draw more users, and justify greater frequency. I look forward to the imminent opening of the Alexandria transitway.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 12:02 pm • linkreport

asffa

Im not clear on what the issue is in ballard - it seems a combination of its too crowded (Yogi Berra had a good comment on that) and its not as good as the BRT on the other side of town, which runs in more seperated lanes.

Aggregating every complaint someone has about anything does not an argument make. It would be like suggesting fewer lanes for cars, and linking to people's complaints about traffic congestion on some road in Dallas.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 12:05 pm • linkreport

How about seeing how well these confined bus lanes work for years in major cities in the US before forcing them around everywhere?

Isn't this a major city? Some places have to implement them for them to be studied!

Through traffic stalled by curb build-outs around dedicated bus lanes

SF found the opposite - when they installed bus bulbs, speeds for all motor vehicle traffic (buses and private cars) improved.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 12:06 pm • linkreport

MLD How about making WMATA current systems work first, and running Metro late, before messing with adding another layer of complication to the system.
I think the focus is on wasting billions of dollars rather than on benefiting riders and communities the most. That kind of money is going to paying someone, and it's already clear that even if they mess up construction - once they win that contract, they're going to be paid - maybe 2 or 3 times as much as the original budget.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 12:17 pm • linkreport

Running Metro late at night doesn't help people get to work at 8:30 AM when the bus line is packed. What percent of people are out past midnight anyway? Not saying it isn't a decent idea, but you've put late night Metro towards the top of the list of things that will "help most."

What part of the bus system "doesn't work" now that needs to be fixed before we can implement these things?

You're talking about two entirely separate issues.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 12:22 pm • linkreport

MLD Metro runs on a track you think it's been getting people to work on time? No, because they keep reducing service and what service they have is terrible.
The most optimistic speed increase predictions for repurposed lanes in Montgomery County speed up the bus by less than a 1/3rd for its route, most much less. Getting that much is unlikely, and that's by reducing service to most of the area at enormous cost. It's no panacea and doesn't change what people need.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 12:29 pm • linkreport

Metro runs on a track you think it's been getting people to work on time? No, because they keep reducing service and what service they have is terrible.

I thought we were talking about bus lanes, specifically a bus lane on 16th.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 12:32 pm • linkreport

MLD but I already support a Rush Hour bus lane on 16th

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 12:32 pm • linkreport

"Metro runs on a track you think it's been getting people to work on time?"

Huge numbers of people get to work on time on metro rail every day.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 12:34 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity- when they're lucky.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 12:37 pm • linkreport

I take a train and a bus to work every day. I'm rarely late and when I am it's usually my fault rather than WMATA.

Matt Johnson tracked every ride he took for two years. He was seriously delayed for 2% of trips.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/21724/i-tracked-every-metro-trip-i-made-for-two-years-and-heres-what-i-found/

by drumz on Jun 30, 2014 12:42 pm • linkreport

I would wager if DDOT spent at least as much time, talent and energy on completing the H Street streetcar project it started 8-9 years ago (and getting started on the remaining lines) as it spends on coming up with more creative ways to fleece and incovenience commuters who drive in from the suburbs (especially African-Americans from PG County), DC would have a citywide streetcar system within a couple of years if not already.

But schemes like "Move DC" which are arguably mainly driven by car-angst, play well to the choir since they provide yet another opportunity to villanize car commuters and trash AAA plus garner publicity and create the appearance that DDOT is "forward-thinking" and "doing something progressive". Meanwhile the traffic gets worse.

BTW, unlike metro DC, Denver built out its planned highway network. One can get nearly anywhere within the 8,000+ sq mile Denver region within an hour by car or by transit. Here, it takes an hour to travel 5 miles.

by august4 on Jun 30, 2014 12:48 pm • linkreport

My comment was a response to Thayer's comment which rightfully commended Denver's transporation planning and execution.

Other places get things done. Here we indulge obstructionists and blame drivers forv all our problems. And live with the results.

by august4 on Jun 30, 2014 12:52 pm • linkreport

drumz Bogglingly lucky, lucky person or his route just happened to be one that worked out better than the average.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

no assfa, metro rail is not that bad.

Folks who constantly complain about it need to consider how their complaints are used by folks pushing back against any transit infra.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 1:03 pm • linkreport

Let's see. First this do-gooding woman stops her car in the travel lane, then tries to adopt a bunch of ducklings crossing the road (the mother was probably nearby but not visible). Then, according to one witness who passed this bizarre scene going in the other direction, she looks back and sees the motorcyclist go flying because he couldn't see all this in time. Yep, I'd call all this unavoidable on the motorcyclist's part, and very avoidable on the woman's part. It would have been far better had she pulled off on the shoulder well out of traffic and called 911 who would have advised her one way or the other. It would have been too bad if the ducklings were killed, but it's not like their species is in danger of extinction.

by DaveG on Jun 30, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

Bogglingly lucky, lucky person or his route just happened to be one that worked out better than the average.

Or he tracked his data and looked at the numbers as a whole, actually defining a set of averagese, rather than relying on recall of individual subpar experiences.

by worthing on Jun 30, 2014 2:56 pm • linkreport

It would have been too bad if the ducklings were killed, but it's not like their species is in danger of extinction.

Realistically, cats, dogs, coyotes, microbes, a funny looking stick, some rain, I dunno a badger, some other car, another duck, the duckling's mother, birds, fish, frogs, and other cars were going to kill most or all of those ducklings anyhow, which makes it even more pointless.

by Another Nick on Jun 30, 2014 3:26 pm • linkreport

worthing - Yes, he had to get lucky, or there's something off about that story. It could be coincidence that he was simply fortunate or his situation remarkably rosy, avoiding where there's a lot of track work and delays, and of course- weekends.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 3:32 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity I used to praise it all the time, when it more often worked right

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 3:33 pm • linkreport

asffa

most people go to work on weekdays, and most lines are better than the red line.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 3:42 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity True both statements, but you understand the Metro's inefficiency is a problem and a barrier to relying on it for work or for fun. WMATA shouldn't be able to hide behind excuses or only caring about well it runs elsewhere.
I'll see a boast about a new shiny thing or new line while they let something else or another line break down and decay. not cool.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 3:55 pm • linkreport

They should certainly improve it. I am all for that.

But in fact some of the problems on weekends are exactly BECAUSE they are improving it - because of the mtnce backlog.

And to stop all improvements to infrastructure, including even a bus lane, until every problem on metrorail is fixed makes no sense.

City of Alexandria is building their transitway. That does not take any WMATA resources or attention.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 4:01 pm • linkreport

@affsa:
I'm the person who tracked my Metro commute and wrote about it here.

It is anecdotal evidence, because it is only my experience. It's not a statistical sample.

But I measured every trip I took for 24 months - 2 years. Every single trip. I can assure you that my data is honestly reported.

It's true. My situation may be remarkably rosy. Certainly. But I take the Red Line and the Green Line. Every day. It's not like I'm riding some isolated part of the system. I ride the busiest of the lines. Every day. Twice a day.

As someone who values his time, I do do my research. For example, on weekends when there is trackwork, I check the trip planner (which is generally updated). So if I know they're running trains every 24 minutes, and one is going to leave at 10:02, I don't show up at 10:03 and wait 23 minutes.

As for random delays, they happen. Remember two Julys ago when a Green Line train derailed outside West Hyattsville and the Green Line was closed for hours? I got stuck in that. It's counted in the list of delays.

I suspect your skepticism comes from "observer bias". We all have it, myself included.

Think about it. I can remember (in detail) a derailment that happened 2 years ago. But I have absolutely no memory of the flawless commute I had 3 weeks ago on Tuesday. Humans are programmed to remember bad things. We forget normal, mundane things.

So if you ride the train 100 times and you get delayed 10 times, you can probably easily remember the 10 times you got delayed. But you won't remember the 90 times you weren't delayed, or at least not as strongly. Our brains then overestimate the impact of the bad stuff.

The other thing that happens is the echo chamber. If you're on twitter, I guarantee you'll see at least 1 person complaining about a Metro delay each day (and it's probably a lot more than 1). And that makes you think "God, Metro is delayed again." Even if you personally weren't delayed.

That reinforces the observer bias. It's exacerbated by the fact that people generally don't tweet when they're having a good commute.

I take Metro most days (I have been biking more recently for the exercise), and I can tell you that I experience delays. But most of my trips are perfectly fine.

I'm sure most of yours are, too.

The way to overcome your observer bias (and again, we all have it) is to keep the data. I'd encourage you to do it. Maybe just for a month.

Count every single trip. And then count how many are delayed.

by Matt' Johnson on Jun 30, 2014 4:12 pm • linkreport

I work in an office where 99% of us take transit to work every day. Many people take Metro (I take the bus). My coworkers arrive on time, around the same time, every day. They do not talk about having to spend lots of time waiting. Every once in a while there is some terrible delay that means people are 15-20 minutes late. That happens maybe once a month.

Maybe if you take the twitter complaints at face value then there are constant, crippling delays on Metro. But I think many of those complaints are just instant overreactions, with no follow-up when the situation is resolved minutes later. So you may see a picture of a crowded station, but no picture when a mostly-empty train comes by a couple minutes later and clears all those people away.

Metro's performance certainly isn't great but there seems to be this opinion that the system is completely unusable at any time, which just isn't true.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 4:26 pm • linkreport

Matt Johnson - thank you for piping in. Unless I'm wrong about your route, you didn't regularly go into town, and you rode the Red line from Ft. Totten to Silver Spring - two stops which doesn't require a Glenmont train, nor going on the other horn of the Red Line. That does avoid a lot.
http://www.wmata.com/rail/docs/colormap_lettersize.pdf
Sure you still dealt with some delays, and there's potential bias - all it takes is a few times of having inexcusably terrible service and a sane person wants another choice. And I'm glad of your efforts, but I'm not going to excuse WMATA nor do I say it's efficient, reliable, and trustworthy based on what's generally your luck. Nope.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 4:35 pm • linkreport

"Sure you still dealt with some delays, and there's potential bias - all it takes is a few times of having inexcusably terrible service and a sane person wants another choice."

There are occacional really bad delays on metro. Also some occasional horrible traffic jams.

Somehow when we have horrible traffic jams the reaction from some is "stop punishing drivers, lets build more roads, no more bike lanes or bus lanes"

When we have horrible metro delays the reaction is "lets not build any more transit, even more bus lanes, until metro is fixed"

note what they have in common - "lets not build any more transit"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 4:40 pm • linkreport

I think where I part ways with some of you is that I find the mere possibility of having to wait 24 minutes absolutely maddening and unacceptable. That's commuter-rail or worse quality not just elsewhere in the world, but elsewhere in the country. And I don't have a car or a bike or other options - I expect to have transit there when I need to ride it.

I get the whole "that's not normal; it's the trackwork" defense. And that's true up to a point. But even without trackwork, 12 minute headways are simply too long, and those are the same headways one finds even at 8PM on a Tuesday (e.g., 15 minutes for a Yellow Line at Braddock Road last week. 13 minutes for one the preceding Thursday).

Frequency is freedom, and all the more so when living in the core. This is not reflected by our transit agencies.

by LowHeadways on Jun 30, 2014 4:42 pm • linkreport

@LowHeadways
I agree completely. I think the absolute maximum headway for rail should be 15 minutes, even nights and during trackwork.

I also agree that if trackwork for some reason precludes that standard, that WMATA operate as much of the line as possible at that headway. (Or better).

by Matt' Johnson on Jun 30, 2014 4:54 pm • linkreport

I'm someone else who hates the long headways. Last summer I went into Boston on a Sunday afternoon. I never had to wait more than 3 minutes for a train. THREE MINUTES on a SUNDAY!!! The trains were not packed, but still reasonably full (the Red Sox were out of town).

Of course, on Sundays I can't even get to transit without using my car -- the buses don't run and the roads between central Greenbelt and the Greenbelt Metro are way too busy and dangerous for cycling. That's 14 percent of my life right there.

Don't even suggest that I move elsewhere -- I've lived here so long that my mortgage is half of what I would pay for an equivalent-sized apartment anywhere else around here.

by Greenbelt Gal on Jun 30, 2014 5:01 pm • linkreport

@asffa

I agree with you that WMATA is inefficient...overall. I've ridden it for many years and rail service has gotten worse.

It's not just the unreliable weekend service...every single aspect of WMATA's operations are inefficient, from escalator maintenance to platform lighting. That's why it has some of the highest operating costs on earth, and fares must rise so frequently.

by Brett on Jun 30, 2014 5:04 pm • linkreport

@Low Headways
Totally agree, Metro needs to work harder to make the system more usable even when they are doing track work.

by MLD on Jun 30, 2014 5:04 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity - well they're mostly done building the Silver Line, so that's covered. I'm good with adding more pedestrian and bike paths, and of course, more bus shelters and bike racks.
I don't like horrid traffic jams, and don't encourage poor designs that deliberately congest roads and create more of them. If that's somebody's idea of "encouraging use of public transit" - no doubt they also say "the beatings will continue until morale improves." There needs to be built more roads in some areas.
Metro Rail I'm often stuck waiting for an unknown length of time inside a tunnel with no fan or air conditioning and that's called "single tracking".
I agree a lot with LowHeadways here about too few cars some directions. Even before the track work, Glenmont waits were too long.
Some of WMATA's policies could be construed as making sense, what never does is the obvious incompetence - people don't get accurate times about train arrivals, they get offloaded without notice when it was planned by WMATA in advance they'd offload said train to pick up more passengers from another game or something.. you don't learn about a delay promptly from their official site so you really have to rely on unsuckdcmetro or you'll not know of anything until an hour and a half too late.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 5:06 pm • linkreport

12 minutes means an average wait of 6 minutes. Still quite useable.

"Of course, on Sundays I can't even get to transit without using my car -- the buses don't run and the roads between central Greenbelt and the Greenbelt Metro are way too busy and dangerous for cycling."

Good point. The entire layout of the system, and of the metro area, is not designed for carfree living and for reliance on metro 7 days a week. The system was built for rush hour commuters, most areas outside central DC are built for rush hour commuters who own cars - and either drive to a WMATA garage or who use a bus thats only convenient on weekdays. In that context, WMATA adding more trains on weekends will not add that much to ridership - though the encouragement to carfree living will help a lot with certain policy goals for DC and Arlington.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 5:10 pm • linkreport

Greenbelt Gal - I visited Boston, and arrived at Logan Airport 8 am. Got donuts and coffee and cleaned up, then got a ride from the airport on a bus to the subway, took the subway to another bus and arrived a block away from my destination in Arlington, Ma before 10 am (9:45 am).
You could NOT do that in DC, not using public transportation.

by asffa on Jun 30, 2014 5:11 pm • linkreport

"I don't like horrid traffic jams, and don't encourage poor designs that deliberately congest roads and create more of them."

I will not discuss MoCo, but I know the Alexandria transit lanes are not designed to congest roads - they are designed to improve bus transit times, but seperating them from traffic. Even a small increase in transit time can be very helpful, by drawing riders who might be on the margin of using transit or not. AFAICT no bus lanes have been added with the purpose of slowing traffic.

In a few cases bike lanes have been so added, but only in residential areas where local residents want to discourage speeding cut through traffic. Thats why FFX has some bike lanes in odd, unconnected locations.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 5:14 pm • linkreport

Matt Johnson was reverse commuting out the red line if I remember. I did that once for a year from Dupont Circle to Bethesda and never had more than 10 or 15 people in a car with me. Saying you were never "late" when your comutting pattern is in the vast minorty doesn't prove anything. Heck, I am looking at wmata's website right now and the blue and yellow lines are showing up as delayed.

I live in Columbia Heights and work in Rosslyn. For the first two years I lived there, I would take the train to L'Enfant to capitalize on having both the blue/orange line going the direct I needed. I was significantly delayed (10 minutes or more) atleast twice a week on one of those lines. It got so bad, I simply stopped taking metro and starting driving to Rosslyn (it was always faster to begin with) to save myself the inconvenience of having my daily metro ride be a crap shoot. And we know weekends the system is completely useless. 20 minute headways under the best case scenario? God forbid you have to change trains.

Anyone here who tries to paint a Rockwellian portrait of Metro, is simply lying to themselves, or doesn't use it.

by Kyle on Jun 30, 2014 5:42 pm • linkreport

kyle

I take the yellow line inbound.

I am rarely late - but I do allow some time for modest delays. But I need to do the same when I drive. So I don't see why thats such a big deal.

It would certainly be better if metro were more reliable.I donr know anyone who disagrees with that. But its still a very useful system. And to delay dedicated lanes for buses till metro is all fixed seems unwise.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 30, 2014 5:56 pm • linkreport

As someone who commutes from Brookland to Vienna then taking a bus I have encountered delay almost every trip I take from either the train or the bus.

I use Metro almost every single day I work 7 days a week including holidays. Out of 365 days I probably work 355 unless sick or request off to go out of town and deal with delays almost every trip when taking into account the trains I use Red & Orange and then the buses.

PIDS are almost always incorrect I have timed them before many times one of them could say 3 minutes for the next train and then less than a minute later it would switch to arriving and a train coming through. Sometimes they will show nothing and a train will just suddenly appear. When they are delays and single tracking the pids show very inaccurate info; one time I was at Union Station and it said I had 15 minutes for the next train long behold two minutes after I left the station to buy something to drink so I would not have to wait in a hot ass station for 15 minutes the train came. Before leaving out I checked Next Train for trains arriving at Noma, Rhode Island Ave & Judiciary Sq to be sure no trains would be coming

Trip planner is inaccurate so much of the time I have stopped bothering with it excpect for when to report complaints to WMATA. I have seen supposed to depart at one time but depart 2 minutes early. It commonly list bus stops that have been discontinued or gives you wrong information about going to one bus stop when another is closer.

Buses will leave early almost all the time I take buses sometimes at 12 and 1 am and these buses will leave sometimes 5 minutes early; it does not matter if not one is out there a person could arrive 1 minute before a bus is scheduled to depart and should be able to catch especially at the beginning of the line

Complaints I have been reporting complaints to WMATA since 1994 and most of them have never been fixed. One time I called a complaint was fixed the following year after I threatened to sue.

Travel times listed in stations are far accurate for example it says it takes 29 minutes from Metro Center to Vienna & 22 minutes from Metro Center to WFC I have never reach those stations in that amount of time it is commonly 2 to 3 minutes longer than what is stated.

Delays WMATA needs to learn what a delay is. If some is stated to take x amount of minutes and it takes longer no matter how much time it is a delay. This week WMATA said the Orange Line had regular service but they were single tracking near EFC & WFC the time it takes to switch tracks delays the train for a bout a 2-5 minutes so there was an unreported delay.

Also when trains are running every 20 or 24 minutes and are single tracking out of 24 minutes you can not plan the schedule according so that trains do not have to wait for another one to come across a single tracking area! So in reality you could have a 24 minute wait in a station plus a 5-10 minute wait for trains crossing the single tracking.

by kk on Jun 30, 2014 8:17 pm • linkreport

Since starting a new job last summer, I've been riding Metro 5 days a week minimum and sometimes 6. Usually, I take Metro in the morning and ride my bike home after work. Sometimes, I go both ways depending on weather and other engagements. My route is the Blue Line to Farragut West.

In that time, I've probably faced two major delays. Others have been minor and not really consequential. In spite of of minor delays, I've always made it to work on time.

On weekends, I take the metro delays as a sign of improvement of the system after years of neglect and just deal with it. The Next Train arrivals webpage is fairly reliable and I haven't had to spend too much time waiting at stations to get home on weekends unless I am out very late.

Overall, the Metro does the job, in my opinion. It could improve just like any other mass transit system however it serves its purpose.

by CyclistinAlexandria on Jul 1, 2014 11:11 am • linkreport

BTW the people whose cars were hit by the horse survived because, or in spite, of the fact that they hit the horse head on.

by DaveG on Jul 2, 2014 4:22 pm • linkreport

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