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Breakfast links: Cracks in the surface


Photos by Claudia Ficca & Davide Luciano.
Adaptive reuse for potholes: Frustrated by Montreal's inability to fix potholes, two Montreal artists came up with their own comic ideas for using the spaces. (Jaime via @seeclickfix)

Irate riders and serious policy ideas: Lena Sun recaps last night's Metro town hall, including my comments about a "peak of the peak" fare. The next one is now on the GGW calendar, Wednesday evening in Falls Church. (Post)

VRE sets a record: VRE ridership is up, and the railroad set a new ridership record last Wednesday. There wasn't a special event that day. Officials aren't sure why, but suspect the new, higher federal transit benefit played a big role. (WTOP)

The unappealing plan vs. the impractical one: The Virginia gubernatorial campaign has largely focused on transportation, but it's been a minefield, with Deeds getting political flak for suggesting he might raise taxes and McDonnell not really having a plan at all. Ryan Avent says congestion pricing is the only way, but we're still far from being ready politically to embrace such ideaas. (Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

Neighbors jab at Boxer Girl: Bloomingdalians debated the Boxer Girl mural last night. Should neighbors get to veto controversial art? Is it different if the art is on private property? (Bloomingdale (for now?))

Win a Nobel, get free parking (not free transit): Nobel Prize winners at UC Berkeley get a free reserved parking space, including new economics prize winner Oliver Williamson. The space is worth $1,500 a year. Has any winner, in economics or otherwise, ever tried to "cash out" their space by renting it to others, or asking the university to offer this perk in a BART pass or other alternative form? (NPR)

"Complying" with the ADA: Jackson, Mississippi is spending millions to build curb ramps to comply with ADA requirements. But many of them connect to nonexistent sidewalks, have deep trenches separating them ramps from the street, or are otherwise unusable. (Planetizen)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. 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 loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Williamson's an economist -- he'll figure out it's best use. Why is he so eager to get it? Because he knows the time value of money, of course.

by ah on Oct 20, 2009 9:30 am • linkreport

I like the idea of peak of peak fare. Of course, I pay for the metro out of my own pocket (and smartbenefits is not offered to me) so I would have to pay.

Metro seems to run 3 levels of service, (with the middle of the peak time having the most frequent trains) and there being less trains towards the ends of rush hour, while still paying the same peak fee for less service.

by Steve on Oct 20, 2009 9:48 am • linkreport

The peak of peak (PoP) fare has appeal. I don't think the justification is a very good one, at least as reported "most PoP folks are government workers with fares paid for". That smacks of "stick it to the taxpayers", which is neither a good rhetorical strategy nor a particular justifiable one. In addition, keep in mind that there is a cap on those benefits, and for riders from more distant stations (you know, the ones that reduce VMT the most) they may still be paying out of pocket.

by ah on Oct 20, 2009 9:58 am • linkreport

I gave a much more nuanced argument but Lena Sun ended up condensing it into what you read. I noted that the feds and many other employers will contribute some of that cost, but the bigger argument was that this could shift ridership off the periods of highest load.

by David Alpert on Oct 20, 2009 10:19 am • linkreport

David, certainly figured that your point there is what should be the lead argument.

by ah on Oct 20, 2009 10:23 am • linkreport

As a former Berkeley student, I can tell you that those reserved parking spots are underpriced at $1,500/year. That's probably the price for garage parking at the outskirts of campus--you CAN'T buy a reserved parking spot in the center of campus. All of the center campus parking spots (maybe there are 100?) are reserved for campus vehicles, handicapped parking, or those with "NL" parking spaces....

by Elizabeth on Oct 20, 2009 10:25 am • linkreport

VRE ridership is at in all-time high because driving on I-66 has become more difficult since they started the HOT Lanes project.

by MCS on Oct 20, 2009 11:13 am • linkreport

The curb ramps to nowhere happened in my hometown of Beaumont too. My parents found it frustrating, but for a different reason. They couldn't believe that the federal government required them to build the curb ramps when no one in a wheelchair used the road. I was frustrated that they weren't required to build sidewalks so that people in wheelchairs could use the road. Still, common ground.

by David C on Oct 20, 2009 11:16 am • linkreport

@ MCS: Funny that you say that. I was just thinking that VRE ridership might be up due to the roadwork around I-95. The "extra" fourth lane is currently taking up a lot of space, basically narrowing a good stretch from Occoquan to beyond Lorton, and causing a lot of delay. Furthermore, the Eisenhower project is still causing delays. These are not delays that might make it to traffic reports much, but they're pretty annoying and unpredictable. That might be pushing some folks form the south into VRE. Good for them!

So, perhaps it's just roadwork in general.

by Jasper on Oct 20, 2009 11:25 am • linkreport

Occoquan to Lorton was 3 lanes each way to begin with...only thing the construction is doing there is narrowing the shoulders. Not much traffic impact in my experience, unless that happens to be the location where a crash occurs.

by Froggie on Oct 20, 2009 12:14 pm • linkreport

VRE Ridership on the Fredericksburg Line (I-95) is actually down 2.5% YOY, while the Manassas Line (I-66) is up 5% YOY.

http://vre.org/about/company/performance-measures.pdf

by MCS on Oct 20, 2009 1:01 pm • linkreport

I found the town hall very interesting, particularly as I learned about some rider advocacy groups previously unknown to me. I plan to attend the Riders' Advisory Council meeting next month to see what goes on there.

I was happy with a lot of ideas that I heard, including a third fare tier, increasing average bus speed, and demanding more from jurisdictions in return for the value that Metro adds to the area. Hopefully the public input in these meetings will drive beneficial changes. And, what a great plug for GGW!

by Matthias on Oct 20, 2009 1:51 pm • linkreport

and demanding more from jurisdictions in return for the value that Metro adds to the area

Unless Metro plans on adding value above and beyond what they already provide to a given jurisdiction, this one is going to be a hard sell. And rightfully so.

by Froggie on Oct 20, 2009 6:00 pm • linkreport

Gee, you know what would add value to jurisdictions from Metro as well as to Metro riders? Signing with Google Transit so it's easier to get around the myriad bus routes in the city.

Since I'm on about this, I'll continue. Metro objects to Google Transit because they can't update their info often enough to take into account station closings, route changes, delays, accidents, and all sorts of tomfoolery. Has it ever occurred to them that nonsense like that is exactly what shouldn't be happening regularly in their system?

by James on Oct 20, 2009 10:12 pm • linkreport

I'm skeptical that a peak of the peak fare would shift enough riders to make a difference (unless it was exorbitantly high, which would make it politically impossible). I figure most people, even if they pay their fares out of pocket, would shrug at an extra $0.10 each way (or what have you). Most people still want to be there at 9 and leave at 5.

But maybe it's a tipping point situation, where reducing ridership 3% during peak makes it 15% more comfortable. Who knows, unless you study it or experiment? Maybe Metro can switch one line for a month or something (and publicize the hell out of it) and see if it improves.

by Gavin Baker on Oct 20, 2009 11:17 pm • linkreport

RE: Curbs to nowhere.

You can see them all over the country. The problem is, in most places it is up to the lot owner to pay for a sidewalk, while the city/county does the intersection. The good news is that the day the sidewalk is installed, there will be a nice ramp at the intersection. Until that day comes, they look like a waste of money.

As for the first part of the video, which shows that the ramps were simply installed incorrectly...wtf? Contractor needs to go out there and resurface the ramps at no cost to the government.

by J on Oct 21, 2009 12:46 am • linkreport

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