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Breakfast links: It's an oversight

Photo by tomeppy.
Fighting terror with theater: Metro is having 50 people play-act a terrorist attack and response this morning at Union Station. This will cost $9.6 million from a DHS grant for random visible "shows of force" to try to deter terrorists. Experts say that really wouldn't deter anyone. (Post)

Who you gotta call?: Icy tracks caused the driver of a Metro maintenance vehicle to hit a contractor's truck and damage several vehicles. WMATA should have notified Tri-State Oversight within two hours, but didn't until Monday. (Examiner)

$30M for oversight: President Obama's budget not only includes WMATA's $150 million for capital, but also $30 million for safety oversight of nationwide transit systems. (Examiner) ... It also halves DC arts funding, among other changes. (Gavin Baker)

Streetcars on Wisconsin?: Wisconsin Avenue residents led by GGW contributor Ben Thielen are pushing for streetcars from Georgetown to Tenleytown, and created a Facebook page to rally supporters. (NBCWashington, Ben)

Don't DASH on Sundays: Alexandria proposes cutting DASH service on Sundays along with other drastic service cuts and fare increases for its bus system. (Examiner)

A vision for Hampton Roads: BeyondDC created a transit vision for the Hampton Roads area; the state DRPT actually has a vision, which shares some elements of BeyondDC's and varies in others.

Ag Reserve megachurch not dead yet: Frederick County denied approval for a megachurch in farmland and forest next to Montgomery's Agricultural Reserve (which Leggett approved), but the church is appealing, and will get another hearing based on septic impacts. (Frederick News Post)

How green is your road project?: Greenroads is a new rating system for roadway projects, similar to LEED for buildings. It gives points for stormwater management, pedestrian access, recycling by contractors, and more. (Stanton Park)

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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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$9.6 million for a theater show of guns and uniforms!!! It's obvious where this administration's priorities stand. Plus ça change...

by Eric F. on Feb 2, 2010 9:27 am • linkreport

Robberies and Violent Crime on Metro - Up 50%
Terrorism Attempts - 0

Waste of resources? Definitely.

Why not redeploy these jackboots to the stations with the highest incidents of crime and violence...

like the Morgan Blvd station (see unsuck for the video)

by Redline SOS on Feb 2, 2010 9:29 am • linkreport

David- thanks for posting the info about the Wisconsin Avenue streetcar line. The link seems to not work. Here is the address to the NBC article:

The Glover Park Community Association will be meeting tonight at 7 PM at the Guy Mason Community Center. DDOT will be presenting about streetcars and the Circulator bus. I won't be able to attend tonight's meeting because of class at George Mason but if anyone is available to attend and would like to advocate for the clean, reliable transportation on this corridor that a streetcar will bring, it would be greatly appreciated. The no-growth crowd that reflexively opposes transit-oriented development and more housing options next to the Metro stations in Tenley and Friendship Heights is fighting pretty hard against this and advocating for the status quo of crowded, delayed, 30s-line buses.

by Ben on Feb 2, 2010 9:39 am • linkreport

Well, I hadn't realized that Security Theater had gotten so literal. I should've brought a bowl of popcorn and some 3D glasses.

by Alex B. on Feb 2, 2010 9:42 am • linkreport

We don't call this the porkulus bill for nothing. Now, they're talking about another stimulus bill (a.k.a. "jobs bill") when the economy is in recovery. Yes, boys and girls, the recession is officially over (2 consecutive quarters of positive growth). As is usual, job growth lags the recovery. If you really want to create jobs now, lower or abolish the minimum wage and repeal the Wagner Act for good to get rid of labor cartels (a.k.a. unions). Wages will fall and employment will rise. That's ECON 101. Anything else could trigger inflation or an unnecessary increase in interest rates which will abort the recovery.

BTW, the streetcar link is broken. The correct link is

by Chuck Coleman on Feb 2, 2010 9:42 am • linkreport

So our police forces are not supposed to train? This was not simply a show of force but was practice. What's wrong with that exactly? Or are you all just feeling particularly snarky this morning? "Jackboots," really?

by rdhd on Feb 2, 2010 9:49 am • linkreport

Hey Chuck, why not just amend the Constitution to reverse that pesky old 13th Amendment? That would create plenty of jobs without any risk of wage inflation -- or wages, for that matter.

I'm glad that Ben and co. are pushing for the Wisconsin Ave. streetcar. It was a little surprising that such an obvious route for streetcars had been overlooked in previous plans.

by Matt W on Feb 2, 2010 9:51 am • linkreport


Yes, they should train. So call it a training session. Calling it a deterrent is just silly.

by Alex B. on Feb 2, 2010 9:59 am • linkreport

Metro still isn't taking safety protocols seriously. More Metro managers need to be fired before the culture at WMATA changes.

by Fritz on Feb 2, 2010 9:59 am • linkreport

Real terror on the metro:

by Pw on Feb 2, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

Matt W., thank you for your support of a Wisconsin Avenue Streetcar route.

The District of Columbia Transit Improvements Alternatives Analysis report from October 2005 found that the a Wisconsin Avenue streetcar route from Friendship Heights to Georgetown would have the highest ridership of the nine future streetcar routes examined ( , with 6,000 riders per mile. The overall rank for this corridor was second out of the nine corridors. The DDOT report also notes this corridor is forecasted to have “a 2030 population and employment of 30,000 and 40,000 respectively.”

According to DDOTÂ’s transit alternatives report, the 30s eastbound buses had the third highest percentage of buses arriving more than 5 minutes late of all the routes that were studied. The study also notes the 30s buses are already overcrowded. A Wisconsin Avenue streetcar route, especially with dedicated north/south median lanes from Calvert to the Tenley and Friendship Heights metro station, would provide a much cleaner, more reliable mode of transportation than the 30s buses.

Another benefit of a Wisconsin Avenue streetcar is that it would provide much-needed capacity relief on both the Orange/Blue lines and Red Line. The Orange/Blue lines are already at or near capacity and this problem will become more acute as the Silver Line extension to Tysons and Dulles opens in the next few years. Connecting with the terminus of the Minnesota Avenue – Georgetown streetcar route on K Street (,a,1250,q,648154,ddotNav_GID,1746,ddotNav,|34060|.asp ), a Wisconsin Avenue streetcar route will give passengers heading to Tenley, Friendship Heights, and points beyond an another option to transferring at Metro Center. This will alleviate the capacity-crises on these lines and potentially save passengers significant travel time, as the can avoid several stations on the Orange/Blue lines and the Red Line. The Same argument also applies for passengers heading south on the Red Line from Maryland. With Montgomery County’s plans for continued development in Bethesda and White Flint, the Red Line will only become more crowded. With stops preliminary in Tenley and Friendship Heights, passengers in this area will have another alternative to the Red Line. Linkage to Bethesda and the Purple Line may also be an option as funding becomes available.

by Ben on Feb 2, 2010 10:47 am • linkreport

If there ever was a terrorist attack on the Metro system, or Union Station, and the transit police weren't prepared to respond, the internet would be on fire with comments about Metro's ineptitude and lack of preparedness.

Its easy to call this theater. But the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that drills like this do work, not as a deterrant, but rather as way to keeping the first responders sharp. If it ever does hit the fan on Metro, you are I will be thankful that the police are ready.

By the way, after the 93 bombing of the WTC, the Port Authority established a massive emergency preparedness plan, that included things like floor wardens, and drills. People scoffed. What waste of time and money! The WTC was attacked once, all that happened was damage to the parking garage! Besides, we're all adults, we will know what to do when the time comes.

And when the time came, the people in the WTC did know what to do, because they were prepared. In fact, many security experts say that, outside of military facilities, the WTC complex was the most prepared building for a terrorist attack in the entire country, and that the 8 years of preparedness, training, drills, and what you would call theater, prevented panic, allowed for an orderly evacuation, and saved thousands of lives.

by realist on Feb 2, 2010 11:00 am • linkreport

@Alex B They are calling it a training session. It's not meant to be a deterrent. I'm not sure how the Post reporter got the idea that it was.

by jcm on Feb 2, 2010 11:05 am • linkreport


"Its easy to call this theater. " That's because it is.

by Fud on Feb 2, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport


I have no doubt that they're using this as a training exercise, but Metro's own press release calls it a "show of force."

"The Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) launched Blue TIDE, a new initiative today (Feb. 2) aimed at deterring terrorist activity in the Metro system. Blue TIDE—Terrorism Identification and Deterrence Effort—included about 50 MTPD officers conducting a major, high-visibility, anti-terrorism show of force at Union Station during this morning’s rush hour."

I'm guessing that's where the Post got the idea that this was supposed to be a deterrent.

by Alex B. on Feb 2, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

Hmm, good point Alex B. Maybe that's what they need to say to get DHS to pay for it? Either way, it's obviously a training exercise, and I'm glad they do them.

by jcm on Feb 2, 2010 11:18 am • linkreport

They need to deal with the real terror metro commuters face:

Robberies on the Metro system soared 50 percent through the first 11 months of 2009 over the same period in 2008

by Fud on Feb 2, 2010 11:20 am • linkreport

Details about the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs funding cuts are on page 70 of the document. The proposal reduces funding from $9.5 million to $4.5 million and makes the grants competitive, rather than awarding them on a 25-year-old formula. The funding supports DC arts institutions like the Kennedy Center and the National Building Museum (some of which are also funded through other federal sources).

by Gavin Baker on Feb 2, 2010 11:29 am • linkreport

@Matt W

You really should pick up a textbook on economics. Price floors increase quantity supplied and decrease quantity demanded. The gap between the two is excess supply. In the labor market, this is called unemployment.

As for the Constitution:

Article I, Section 10: "No State shall pass...any Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts..." This used to apply to employment contracts.

Amendment 10: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Your use of the 13th Amendment is out of bounds: it applies to involuntary labor, that is, slavery.

by Chuck Coleman on Feb 2, 2010 11:46 am • linkreport

Price floors increase quantity supplied and decrease quantity demanded. The gap between the two is excess supply. In the labor market, this is called unemployment.

Can we get some price floors on Wall Street to increase the unemployment of overpaid CEOs?

by Vicente Fox on Feb 2, 2010 12:00 pm • linkreport

@Chuck Coleman I hate to break it to you, but the actual effects of the minimum wage and unions on unemployment are massively more complex than your Econ 101 textbook may have suggested. There's actually a good overview of the subject at Wikipedia, if you're interested.

by jcm on Feb 2, 2010 12:19 pm • linkreport

Wisconsin Ave is a historic streetcar corridor and if not for the lack of a streetcar, many neighborhoods appear to be developed around lines that disappeared in the 1950's.

Streetcars would do wonders for neighborhoods like Glover Park, Tenleytown, and Georgetown and take a lot of the traffic that strangles the Avenue off the road.

by John on Feb 2, 2010 12:22 pm • linkreport

Streetcars are charming. But I don't see how they will reduce traffic much beyond what the 31, 32, and 36 buses already do, while taking up as much, if not more, of the street.

by ah on Feb 2, 2010 12:27 pm • linkreport

Thanks, Ben, for the information about the projected ridership on the Wisconsin Ave. streetcars. I would suspect that streetcars, particularly in that neighborhood, would attract a number of riders who rarely ride buses, so the numbers might be even better than what you're suggesting.

Chuck, this is really beyond the scope of this blog, so I'll leave it at this: there is no measurable causal relationship between rates of unemployment and modest increases in the minimum wage. There are simply too many factors that influence employment decisions to tease out any one factor. I can point you in the direction of some actual research by actual economists, if you're interested.

by Matt W on Feb 2, 2010 12:30 pm • linkreport

"Experts say that wouldn't really deter anyone." What experts? Certainly not the one quoted in the Post article since that's not exactly what he said.

Just because everyone else on the internet exaggerates in order to attract and keep readers doesn't mean GGW needs to.

by Josh S on Feb 2, 2010 12:53 pm • linkreport

A Streetcar line up Wisconsin would be a wonderful idea. Imagine being able to go from Washington Harbor down at the water front all the way up to Friendship Heights on the Maryland border! On another listserv someone mentioned the problem of the street being too narrow on its lower reaches to accommodate the streetcar as well as cars. And that could be a problem since a streetcar stuck in traffic doesn't do us any good ... nor does a streetcar causing traffic to snarl help anyone. However, in the lower reaches of Wisconsin Avenue, where it narrows, there are lots and lots of alternate roads running parallel to it. We could easily just close lowere Wisconsin Avenue to non-streetcar traffic ... say, starting at M Street and up to where the new Safeway us. Cross street traffic could still operate since the object wouldn't be to create a car-free zone, but rather avoid the potential traffic problems on Wisconsin itself. Overall, if a streetcar system is going to work, the streetcars are going to need their own dedicated lanes ... both for their own sake and for the sake of the motor traffic which should get stuck behind slow moving streetcars. (San Francisco's Market Street streetcar line is a good example of where poor planning has resulted in intolerable traffic problems for motorists as motor cars try to 'beat the streetcar' by using the lane that should be exclusively devoted to the streetcar to overtake traffic in other lanes ... creating a mess as they try to merge back in.) I.e., If we're going to create streetcars 'lanes' let's recognize that just as pedestrian traffic should/must be separated from motor traffic, so should streetcar traffic be separated from motor traffic ... for eveyone's sake and benefit.

by Lance on Feb 3, 2010 9:17 am • linkreport


Ideally, I would like to have the Wisconsin Avenue streetcar go from the Tenley and Frienship Heights metro stations to the terminus of the Minnesota Ave - K Street line. This would provide much-needed capacity relief on the Orange/Blue lines. Between M Street/K Street and Calvert where Wisconsin Avenue narrows, a streetcar route can have a curbside alignment. Curbside parking would have to be eliminated but the improvement in mobility would still be significant. Each block has approximately 10 curbside spots. Assuming (this is just an estimate) that each car has 1.2 passengers per vehicle, this is 12 passengers for each block of curbside parking. The Skoda streetcars the District is purchasing can accomodate 157 passengers for each streetcar. I’d glad take the 157 passengers over the one block of curbside parking. Currently, a lot of people avoid going to Georgetown in the evenings and on the weekends because they expect parking to be scarce. An improved transit option that connects the metro stations in Tenley and Friendship Heights with the Minnesota Ave – Georgetown streetcar line will make Georgetown and Glover Park more accessible to residents and tourists throughout our region.

by Ben on Feb 3, 2010 10:08 am • linkreport

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