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Breakfast links: Newer, faster, fairer, calmer

Photo by thisisbossi.
New New Carrollton: A new plan hopes to transform New Carrollton into a set of five walkable neighborhoods centered around a renovated "transit hub" combining Amtrak, MARC, Metro, the Purple Line, and buses. The plan envisions high-density mixed-use districts just north and south of the station, a more walkable mixed-use commercial corridor along Annapolis Road, and a "Garden City" mixed-use neighborhood replacing suburban office parks southeast of the station, next to the interchange of the Beltway and US-50. (Post, A.M, Scott)

High-speed VRE: Virginia will "apply" for federal stimulus funds to add a third track between Prince William and Stafford Counties. This would allow for 10-car express trains, traveling 90 to 110 mph with only two interim stops. VRE spokeman Mark Roeber says, "Those trains would take as much as one lane's worth of traffic off the highway in one fell swoop, and anyone who boarded the express service would be guaranteed to beat any car on the road and get to work faster." It's not clear from the article whether this is regular stimulus money Virginia gets no matter what, or an application for a competitive TIGER grant. (Inside NoVa, David C)

Now a fairer land for peds: After witnessing a pedestrian die on Fairland Road on his way to a press conference about pedestrian safety last year, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is now touting the new traffic signals and crosswalks on the road. (As an aside, he misuses "literally," saying, "Cars were literally flying down this road." If so, it'd be easier to solve Montgomery's congestion.) (Post, Stephen Miller)

Lawyers calmer, slimmer in Reston: Adam Tuss files a nice report on the Lawyers Road road diet and similar projects elsewhere. Cathy Hudgins repeats her "win-win" quote. According to FABB, the road has become much less of a racetrack since the lane went in. (WTOP, Stephen Miller)

Bixi in Boston: Boston is launching a bike sharing program using Montreal's Bixi, which DC is also reportedly considering. Stations are solar powered and easier to add than SmartBike, but at $76 for an annual membership and costs for using a bike longer than half an hour, it's pricier than SmartBike too. The system should open next year. (Christian Science Monitor, Gavin Baker)

Not a free parking space: 3rd Ward, a shared workspace for designers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is offering a free bike as a perk of membership. (Gavin Baker)

Strike! BART to shut down Monday: BART workers have voted to go on strike Monday after the union rejected a management proposal and BART then imposed a more austere contract on them. The Transport Politic looks at the history of transit strikes. (Michael P)

Amtrak ridership off highs: Lower gas prices meant lower Amtrak ridership nationwide from record highs last summer. Northeast Corridor ridership is off 6.5%, and the Acela Express dropped 12%. (Post, Gavin Baker)

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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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I think at least the Acela numbers are more influence by the overall economic downturn than gas prices. Less business=fewer face to face meetings. Since Acela is so dependent on the business traveler, it would be the most directly affected.

On a completely unrelated note: did anyone watch House Hunters last night? They had some young couple who wanted to "go green". It was a disaster of illogic. First they decide to leave their dense and walkable Long Beach condo to move to Northern California. Then they start looking at "green houses" which would all require taking up an acre of land and would all be car-dependent. Then in the end they simply chose the biggest house with the biggest property featuring minimal "green" features (e.g. "hey that tree gives us some nice natural shade. That's green!")

Listen if some people insist on sprawly lifestyle, fine. But don't package that choice as "green".

by Reid on Aug 14, 2009 9:21 am • linkreport

I happened upon it while surfing. I immediately surfed on when I heard they wanted to "go green" because I sensed the show was headed where you comment says it went. The couple did not strike me as the brightest bulbs on the circuit......

by rg on Aug 14, 2009 9:41 am • linkreport

Sounds to me like the VRE stimulus request is for part of the $8 billion that is to go to high speed rail. Minnesota just submitted its own request from the same money pot.

by Froggie on Aug 14, 2009 9:43 am • linkreport

Acela fares have been falling, too, presumably because of lower demand. I've taken a few $99 one-way trips on Acela to NYC in the last couple of months. Oddly, the Acela has sometimes been priced below Regional trains at the same times of day.

On the BART strike: the article says the Governor can order a 60-day "cooling-off period" to delay the strike. I assume he'll do so. If California's government is good at anything, it's kicking the can down the road.

by Josh B on Aug 14, 2009 9:57 am • linkreport

I think the reason for the Amtrak fall off is that the Airlines have dropped their prices but Amtrak has not.

I take the Acela all the time to NYC, but the last time up there I took the plane because it was $100 cheaper.

by beatbox on Aug 14, 2009 10:49 am • linkreport

The Bixi pricing seems reasonable to me if they have LOTS of stations. Then you're always driving from one Bixi station to a station close to your destination and checking it back in. In that scenario it should rarely take > 30 mins. Right now with just 10 smartbike stations that's not the user experience.

The Bixi pricing may be high for people who *regularly* need to use a bike for > 1hr - but those people should probably own their own bike...

by Paul S on Aug 14, 2009 11:00 am • linkreport

I find that even with only 10 stations, I rarely have a bike for more than 10 minutes. However, because there are only 10 stations, there are many trips I don't take in the first place simply because the stations aren't there.

by Reid on Aug 14, 2009 11:06 am • linkreport

I would gladly pay $80 per year if smart bike had 290 stations. The system that we have now only has limited value. Actually, $40 per year in DC might be a worse value than the Boston $76 per year.

by Tom on Aug 14, 2009 11:12 am • linkreport

i have a feeling the New Carrollton project will completely ignore bikes.

the 'literally' thing is interesting -- i and everyone i know seems to use it incorrectly b/c we just do. our English sucks or something. to us, it means 'really actually really!'.

that Lawyers Rd. thing, while a marginal improvement for bikers, is just that. why not scrap the middle lane and provide a cycletrack? blah. just one bold change just once is all i'm looking for.

by Peter Smith on Aug 14, 2009 11:43 am • linkreport

@ BART: I would love to see this strike go through. Just to show the mayhem that happens then. The problem is that if it's only a short strike, people will just take a couple days off. Transit strikes are only fun when they last for a while.

by Jasper on Aug 14, 2009 11:53 am • linkreport

"anyone who boarded the express service would be guaranteed to beat any car on the road and get to work faster"

Is that station to station to door to door? In other words, does it factor in getting from Union Station in DC to an office on, say, K St?

by metronic on Aug 14, 2009 12:23 pm • linkreport

IOUs, budget deficits, 11.6% unemployment, and now a transit strike. I used to think that the only thing California and Italy had in common was the climate.

by Monumentality on Aug 14, 2009 12:26 pm • linkreport

@ metronic: Do you ever travel over I-95/395 in the morning? A turtle can beat traffic there.

by Jasper on Aug 14, 2009 1:58 pm • linkreport

According to the article, it's not clear if Boston will use the same pricing system as Montreal. (Keep in mind, too, Montreal's prices are in Canadian dollars.) Another factor is that the company behind Bixi wants to actually make money off the service -- so they have an incentive to maximize revenue -- whereas ClearChannel is just in it for the ad space.

A survey I saw recently asked whether SmartBike should change its pricing system. Currently, it's free for the first 3 hours, but after that they assume you stole it.

by Gavin Baker on Aug 14, 2009 3:42 pm • linkreport

The third track from PW to Stafford is part of the $1.5B Virginia HSR application. Virginia is willing to break that piece off as a Track 1 application, if FRA is more likely to fund it that way. In any case that third track would be in by late 2011.

I like the idea that VRE would then use that track to run express trains.

VRE needs to be careful in talking this up, though, since the $8B HSR stimulus money is not supposed to go for commuter rail improvements. As long as it's part of DC-Richmond (which in turn is part of DC-Richmond-Raleigh-Charlotte), FRA can fund it from the HSR pot. But if it's primarily to speed commuters from Fredericksburg, they can't.

by jim on Aug 14, 2009 5:12 pm • linkreport

Clear Channel apparently knows how to run a big program in other places.

They just entered into a contract to add 1100 bikes (and phase up to 6000 bikes) in Mexico City.

by Shawn on Aug 16, 2009 12:16 pm • linkreport

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