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Breakfast links: Transportation deaths in Montgomery

Photo by willandbeyond.
In Rockville, on the rails: Just as press coverage of Metro was turning positive, two more track workers died on the Red Line near Rockville. The Post has a timeline of worker fatalities that already shows the epidemic of these incidents before today's. Shuttle buses are jammed; take buses or MARC.

In Wheaton, on the roads: A driver killed an elderly woman as she was trying to cross Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. Police haven't been able to identify her. (Post)

VA bike legislation moving forward: The Virginia Bicycling Federation is covering bike-related legislation in the Virginia legislature, which does all its work in a short period of time at the start of each year. A bill to reduce liability for railroads that allow trails on their rights-of-way cleared committee yesterday; another that sets a three-foot passing distance (consistent with most other jurisdictions) is up tomorrow.

Archives banning photography: The National Archives plans to ban photography. Flashes may be damaging documents, but the policy also shows an ignorance of the value of sophisticated amateur photography. One DC Photo Rights commenter suggests an easy way for non-professionals to get permission to take pictures after showing they understand the importance of not using the flash. (Post, We Love DC, Flickr)

WSJ pounces on small bag fee confusion: The bag fee, as passed, applies to anyone selling food or drink, which has created some confusion at businesses that sell a tiny amount of food and drink. DDOE plans to issue regulations to fix this, but that doesn't stop the WSJ's Sara Murray from making snide remarks about how "government is having trouble legislating its way out of a plastic bag." How many of the private companies you cover end up having a few customers affected strangely by new policies? For answers, look here. (WSJ, A. Moussako)

Dulles AeroTrain opens: Dulles Airport's new $1.5 billion AeroTrain is now open for passengers. The MWAA site has photos of the construction and the rail cars. Sorry United passengers, most of you will still have to take a mobile lounge (D gates) or walk along a walkway from the station (C gates).

Union Station more intermodal now with buses: Bolt Bus, DC2NY, and Washington Deluxe will now stop at Union Station, in a 6-month pilot of having intercity buses stop in the station's garage. (DDOT)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
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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FIRE THE HEAD OF METRO, Catoe must go!

Oh, yeah..he quit last week. Ooops, I guess all of you can now see how ridiculous it was to call for this guys retirement 18 months after he started. To think any person could change a 33yr old, 10,000 employee broken system immediately just goes to show how little of anything the people calling for Catoes head know.

Golly gee, who to blame now? The ADD generation who posts here got their wish, Catoe is gone, so whose head are you "demanding" now?

by nookie on Jan 26, 2010 9:06 am • linkreport

Can we get an over/under on how many workers/people Metro will kill this year? Maybe a deathclock?

by Redline SOS on Jan 26, 2010 9:16 am • linkreport

@Nookie - Let's just have Catoe leave today and let the federales run the system. I'm a federal worker, make Congress pick up the tab and the responsibility for running the transit system in the federal city.

by Redline SOS on Jan 26, 2010 9:18 am • linkreport

Was someone operating the piece of equipment that killed the track workers? If so, you should really be consistent and say, "A Metro worker killed two of his/her colleagues." Since this was a piece of diesel-powered track equipment, the only way it could have been operated was by a human being in the vehicle.

by Tim on Jan 26, 2010 9:25 am • linkreport

I had a feeling the official note on WSJ article I linked to would have keyed in on the somewhat slanted nature of the article. I mean, while one may disagree with the implicit point of the article, the story itself looked at the law from an interesting angle, in my opinion. This is certainly more legitimate than an article featuring drivers complaining about meter increases...

by Abraham Moussako on Jan 26, 2010 9:43 am • linkreport

I hate to say this 8 hours after these two workers lost their lives, but I have to. These two people were killed due to a lack of communication....when they were installing new communication equipment on the response to an accident cause by a failure of communication. If that doesn't sum up Metro recently, I'm not sure what does.

by Brian S. on Jan 26, 2010 9:48 am • linkreport

I get a sinking feeling every time I hear of more track workers being killed. Nothing changes, and too soon we hear of more deaths. The lack of communication is just unacceptable.

I had an eye-opening experience on Sunday. I was riding in the lead car of a Green Line train to Greenbelt when just above Mt Vernon Sq I noticed track workers in the tunnel. One of them pounded the side of the train with a fist and we abruptly slowed. Metro policy is to operate at only 5mph where track workers are present. I suddenly realized that the operator must have been unaware of their presence until he saw them. Has anyone else experienced this?

by Matthias on Jan 26, 2010 10:11 am • linkreport

If I understand correctly, the C/D concourse at Dulles (the main United concourse) were only supposed to be temporary. So they built an Aerotrain station where the permanent concourse is supposed to be built, a little bit south of the current C/D.

by Tim on Jan 26, 2010 10:22 am • linkreport

I was saddened when I heard about the metro deaths this morning on the radio. It seems that being a metro employee is becoming one of the most dangerous jobs in the region.
I think it is clear that metro needs a complete overhaul. The safety regulations need to be completely rewritten, and employees need to be let go on the first infraction (or at worst the 2nd).

by Matt R on Jan 26, 2010 10:27 am • linkreport

Redline SOS:
Having the feds run Metro would be the quickest way to ensure it becoming strictly a commuter rail. They'd eviscerate off peak hours (even more than what WMATA is currently considering). They would also have an even less innovative approach to customer service than WMATA.

Things are bad with WMATA right now, but the federal government would do much worse if you ask me.

by Reid on Jan 26, 2010 10:32 am • linkreport

Tim, isn't it supposed to be extended also on the B terminal side to reach the D terminal? Just not yet . . .

by ah on Jan 26, 2010 10:35 am • linkreport

Concerning the photography ban at the National Archives, how does this sound? "Skip the camera, save the Constitution"

Not to snipe, but I'm fairly sure that from the viewpoint of the National Archives, amateur photography, however skilled, doesn't provide much added value.

by steve s on Jan 26, 2010 10:37 am • linkreport

About the bag fee: I agree with the idea but the WSJ highlighted concerncs about applying it fairly. Why didn't DC just charge a special tax on suppliers of the bags when they sell them to retailers and let them pass the burden on to consumers in an easier way? Yes, it would still be difficult for businesses but not as much as the current situation. It would be comprable to the special sales tax on alchohol and food.
I wonder if DC is going to spend more money trying to enforce this law than the revenue it generates. It was a good idea but the implementaion plan needed to be better thought out.

by Pat on Jan 26, 2010 10:44 am • linkreport

@Reid - as a federal employee I resent the implications of your statement and wholeheartedly disagree.

Anything is better then the status quo. Three jurisdictions have kept the system from developing to it's potential for 33 years. One master is much better then three.

by Redline SOS on Jan 26, 2010 10:45 am • linkreport

I think Union Station is a great place for an inter-city bus loop, but is it large enough? After construction starts on the Convention Center Hotel project, where will all those Chinatown buses drop-off and load?

by Adam L on Jan 26, 2010 11:00 am • linkreport


This is how the bag tax works, I believe. Retailers pay the tax when they buy the bags from bag suppliers in bulk. The reason the law requires that they pass the cost on to consumers as a per-bag surcharge is so that people use fewer bags.

The goal of the law is twofold: raise money for the river cleanup, but also to reduce the use of bags in the first place.

by MLD on Jan 26, 2010 11:11 am • linkreport

Redline SOS: I do not think Reid was attacking federal employees. He was simply pointing out that if the federal government had final say, they would focus on peak hour commuting and would be more likely to cut off-peak service. He is likely correct. Not because the federal government is evil or because of some flaw inherent in federal employees, but because from the federal perspective, they need Metro to get its workforce to and from work, with all other considerations being secondary or even tertiary. As someone who commutes on Metro but also relies on it for other transportation, I woudl be very wary of complete federal control of Metro.

by rg on Jan 26, 2010 11:13 am • linkreport

@ Matthias - The next time you or anyone else observes anything even 1/10 as horrifying as what you described, I implore you to call Metro as soon as you possibly can with as detailed information as you have. That's more than an eye-opening experience. It is, without the slightest exaggeration whatsoever, a matter of life and death.

I would suggest calling 202-962-1234 and ask for the Safety Officer. If you don't feel satisfied with the response, my next suggestion would be to contact Metro's Inspector General at 202-962-2400.

by Dennis Jaffe on Jan 26, 2010 11:19 am • linkreport

So does anyone have any insight as to when C/D will be replaced by something less temporary?

And they really need to look into some kind of train/moving walkway set up for international arrivals to the international arrivals building. Surely in the long run that will be cheaper than maintaining the aging Saarinen people movers.

by NikolasM on Jan 26, 2010 11:28 am • linkreport


That would be logically consistent, but inconsistent with the overriding theme of this blog:

cars and drivers = bad
Mass transit = good
cyclists = best people on earth

by dcd on Jan 26, 2010 11:53 am • linkreport

@NikolasM They haven't even scheduled design of the replacment concourse yet. Here's MWAA's Dulles Development site.

by jcm on Jan 26, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

@So does anyone have any insight as to when C/D will be replaced by something less temporary?

Concourse C/D recently received an extensive refurbishing to extend its usefulness for several years; that project was completed in January 2006.

With the opening of AeroTrain, most of the D2 Dulles Development plan is now complete. The only remaining projects are the IAB (International Arrivals Building) expansion, which is currently under construction; the fifth runway; and the permanent C/D concourse.

Because of the recent C/D refurbishment, the new permanent concourse may be the last project to get underway. But having said that, MWAA will not want to put it off for long. It's very possible we'll see a new C/D built no later than 2020. By that date, the renovation of temporary C/D will be 15 years old and showing signs of wear. Look for the new C/D project to begin around 2016.

by Anonymous on Jan 26, 2010 12:56 pm • linkreport

@ah: Come to think of it, yeah, I'm pretty sure you're right. But it would be to the new D, if/when that's built. I think the full plan actually calls for a loop.

by Tim on Jan 26, 2010 12:58 pm • linkreport

Got it, Tim. I can see how it makes sense to do what they did if the plan calls for replacing C/D in the (relatively) near term based on the linked map.

Too bad they didn't/can't find a way for a "secure" train for international arrivals, or perhaps when the new C/D is built they can put passport control there (although I suppose there's still a customs issue, unless they could have a "carryon only" customs located in C/D, but then a checked-luggage customs check in the main terminal.) All too complicated I imagine..

by ah on Jan 26, 2010 1:04 pm • linkreport

@ dcd: Applying the same lack of context that you are using, I could say that you speak in oddly capitalized word equations. But that would not be fair would it?

by Jasper on Jan 26, 2010 1:17 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy, I'm okay with local (or anyone) complaining about this ... and wouldn't suggest that he or she instead look for a workaround since, for starters, we'd don't know if he or she hasn't that's not the issue. But your trying to deflect the complaint and put the onus back on the complainer is typical of 'elites' who think they know what is best for others. It's like Obama complaining that people who don't approve of his ideas are 'not cooperating' ... it shows a complete aloofness toward people's varying viewpoints and concerns. At its heart is the assumption 'I know better, how dare anyone even question what I have decided should be done?!' ... And that at the heart is what is sooooo wrong and onerous about this law ... or those and those who sponsor or promote it. It's an authoritarian viewpoint on life that doesn't sit well in a democracy (or even a republic).

by Lance on Jan 26, 2010 1:28 pm • linkreport

oops posted this to the wrong breakfast links (meant to post it to yesterdays)

by Lance on Jan 26, 2010 1:32 pm • linkreport

@ Matthias

That is incredible. It's almost as if Metro is just a coalition of several groups who don't really want to be together. The Metro operators, according to a report earlier, intentionally antagonize the safety inspectors and track workers. The Board isn't even composed of people that consistently ride the system they're overseeing. Staff isn't talking to Leadership.

I almost wonder if they should hire someone like Booz Allen or Accenture to come in and do an optimization study. That, or close the whole thing down for a month, fire everyone, and start over.

by Teo on Jan 26, 2010 3:13 pm • linkreport

So, according to David Alpert, two Metro workers "died" on the Red line. Note the passive voice. Was it concurrent heart attacks? Strokes? Murder-suicide? We don't know based on that slanted statement. All we know is that two workers died.

Yet, in the next summary, a driver "killed" an elderly pedestrian as she tried to cross Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. Oddly enough, this story has a lot more info on how the death (or is it murder) occurred.

If you're going to use the rather petulant argument that vehicle drivers kill pedestrians, at least be consistent and also refer to the drivers of Metro trains and buses as also being "killers."

by Fritz on Jan 26, 2010 3:26 pm • linkreport

Nothing temporary about C/D--been there forever. Their replacement and other aspects of the renovation plan were altered after 9/11.

by Rich on Jan 26, 2010 4:15 pm • linkreport

True, it has been there forever, but it was built to cruddy 'build it quick' standards compared to the 'permanent' A/B terminal.

by NikolasM on Jan 26, 2010 5:51 pm • linkreport

Is something strange happening to Greater Greater?

On this page, responding to a comment about a near miss, Dennis advised to report the incident to Metro. Hello? Hello? Call the WaPo!

And on Jan.14, David praised Catoe's "grasp"... even as evidence was mounting that Catoe was neither informed nor in charge.

The sharp-eyed, solidly-reasoned blog is turning into an apologist for the bungling establishment.

by Turnip on Jan 26, 2010 9:24 pm • linkreport


"That would be logically consistent, but inconsistent with the overriding theme of this blog:

cars and drivers = bad
Mass transit = good
cyclists = best people on earth"

I Think you mean to say

cars and drivers = bad
Mass transit = bad but better than cars
cyclists = bad causes problems for people walking which is the best because it is human
walking = perfect

by kk on Jan 26, 2010 9:48 pm • linkreport

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