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Breakfast links: Transit power

Actual streetcar wire (ours will be the thinner kind). Photo by Brad Green.
Overhead wires approved by Council: The DC Council unanimously passed an emergency measure allowing overhead wires only on H Street/Benning Road. (Emergency bills are only temporary, so the Council must also pass a permanent bill, scheduled for July 13.) Even Phil Mendelson voted yes. This sets the stage for a potential showdown with NCPC. (Tommy Wells, Stanton Park)

Let me out!: Two riders were trapped in the Cheverly Metro station for 20 minutes after the station manager mistakenly closed up before the last train. The Metro customer service line had no way to reach a live person late at night, so one called 911 while the other posted on Facebook. It sounds like the 911 call was what got Metro staff over there to open the doors. (Lindsey Mastis/WJLA, Mark Berman/Post)

Unsuck DC Metro riders: A person fell on the Metro tracks, and two riders helped him up, but not until after many riders stood by without helping. (Unsuck DC Metro)

Very early fare hike news: Metro ridership was down a bit on the first workday of the fare hike, but service disruptions could have been to blame. It'll be important to track this long term. (Kytja Weir/Examiner) ... A software error let some riders keep paying the old fare at 34 stations Monday. (Lisa Rein/Post)

Another MARC screwup: Not long after a MARC train broke down in stifling heat, the same train missed Odenton station on Monday, and the crew initially misled passengers about the reason. Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, MTA head Ralign Wells, and Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman will be at Union Station this evening to talk to MARC riders. (Michael Dresser/Getting There)

Gray for Smart Growth, not bike lanes?: Vince Gray has started revealing more about his plans if elected Mayor. He seems supportive of Smart Growth but somewhat skeptical about bike lanes. (The Other 35 Percent, Eric Fidler)

LaHood the superstar: The U.S. Secretary of Transportation used to be a virtually invisible Cabinet member who accomplished little. Then Ray LaHood got the job, pushed major policy changes, and has blogged and Twittered up a storm. (Ashley Halsey/Post)

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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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Seems like people get stuck in Metro stations with some frequency. There isn't an emergency phone number for Metro (that could be posted inside stations)? Emergency callboxes inside stations?

by Gavin on Jun 30, 2010 9:20 am • linkreport

Wake me if either Metro or MARC fire their incompetent employees.

by Fritz on Jun 30, 2010 9:21 am • linkreport

The train crews (engineers and conductors) on the Penn Line MARC trains are Amtrak employees. The train crews on the Camden and Brunswick Line MARC trains are CSX employees.

by Miriam on Jun 30, 2010 9:40 am • linkreport

Gray for Smart Growth, not bike lanes

Any fool can see just by looking at him that Gray's a vehicular-cyclist in the John Forrester mold.

by oboe on Jun 30, 2010 9:42 am • linkreport

No doubt that's an outsize novelty pen, you're just trying to fool us.

by Steve S on Jun 30, 2010 9:42 am • linkreport

It is a nice first step for candidate Gray but he needs to really demonstrate this and not just use the language. When he says he wants small area plans that reflect the views of the community, does he mean the loud, vocal minority who have time to oppose everything, or does he mean, the community?

How can he embrace the idea of a sustainable future without supporting bike lanes? Or is it that he just doesn't like the bike lanes on PA Ave?

by William on Jun 30, 2010 9:50 am • linkreport

The most amazing thing about the folks getting locked in Metro is that 20 people got off the train at Cheverly during off-peak times.

by Dave Murphy on Jun 30, 2010 11:43 am • linkreport

@William When he says he wants small area plans that reflect the views of the community, does he mean the loud, vocal minority who have time to oppose everything, or does he mean, the community?

That's a good question. His quick turnaround on the streetcar funding issue during the budget deliberations indicates that at least in that one instance he was looking to the 'loud vocal minority' and not to the community. But I think that was done 'by mistake'. He mistook the cyber-amplified voices of a few lonely voices to represent the community. Hopefully, that's a mistake he won't repeat again soon.

by Lance on Jun 30, 2010 12:30 pm • linkreport

The Post had an interesting editorial about a week ago concerning Vincent Gray. They looked at his experience in the executive during Sharon Pratt Kelley's administration. They found him to be earnest and honest, and great with procedures. Lacking, however, were results. Perhaps implied was that the focus on procedure obscured getting results. Fenty has problems, but he has at least tried to shake things up and get results.

by SJE on Jun 30, 2010 12:59 pm • linkreport

I just reread that... 2 people for 20 minutes. Still amazing that two people got off the last train to Cheverly on a weeknight. I thought I was the only person on earth that used that station.

by Dave Murphy on Jun 30, 2010 1:27 pm • linkreport

Fenty is high handed and a bit too generous with his friends. But I have yet to see why Gray would do anything better or strike out into any useful new directions. The idea that DC should be a financial center is wishful thinking to an extreme--it lost most of its locally owned financial institutions years ago and has no significant insurance or brokerage base. And most of us would appreciate having fewer financial services lobbyists here.

by Rich on Jun 30, 2010 3:25 pm • linkreport


So do you define "community" as the 20 or 30 people who live in a neighborhood, who dominate unnamed community groups and potentially ANCs to speak on behalf of everyone when in fact, they only speak for themselves?

Look at the Cleveland Park Citizens Association as but one example of this.

I look forward to your response.

by William on Jun 30, 2010 3:34 pm • linkreport

@William, It's been my experience that those '20 or 30 people' are the tip of the iceberg. They only thing they usually have in common with each other is a passion for seeing their neighborhood and the city 'do better'. Otherwise they usually come from all walks of life and give voice to opinions from the community at large in which they live as well as the city by representing all those different walks of life and life experiences when they come together in community-base meetings and groups.

Now contrast that to a group of people who come together for nothing more than one specific purpose ... say, for example, to advance what they define as 'Smart Growth'. Their agenda and goal is necessarily slanted by the vision they want to see materialize. They aren't open to ideas or more specifically to people who think counter to their agenda. Unlike those '20 or 30' who don't necessarily agree on where they want to go ... other than to 'improve things', this other single-purpose group knows in advance exactly where they want to go ... As such, they can really only represent those folks also wanting to advance that specific agenda ... no matter how numerous they can make themselves seem via the click of a key or a quick phone call. By definition they are backers of a specific idea ... and not community-based but issue-based. They aren't representative of the community ... Those 20 or 30 are ...

by Lance on Jun 30, 2010 6:12 pm • linkreport

Regarding the low Metro ridership on Monday, the story doesn't mention one Red Line disruption that went on for several hours with no explanation until later in the day. Switching problems at Tenley and Silver Spring meant trains running only every 6-7 minutes during the morning rush. That'll keep ridership down, for sure.

Honestly, I was wondering if some service cuts were quietly pushed through.

by TJ on Jun 30, 2010 6:16 pm • linkreport

It is not possible to be for 'smart growth' while at the same time being against bike lanes.

Of course, that's not just Gray -- that's 90% of Smart Growthers, and 85% of bike 'advocates'.

by Peter Smith on Jun 30, 2010 6:39 pm • linkreport


Interesting comment. Are you saying that few Smart Growth advocates are for bike lanes? And you see that as inconsistent with their philosphy? Please explain.

Are your thoughts somewhere along the lines that it is far more efficient to use limited surface space for transportation modes that can be used by everyone ... irrespective of their age or condition of health and irrespective of whether they need to travel 1 mile or 100?

by Lance on Jun 30, 2010 8:13 pm • linkreport

Lance, I appreciate the reply. I guess my experience is different than yours. I can use the afore mentioned Cleveland Park Citizens Association and the corresponding Wisconsin Neighborhood Alliance (and the predecessor GiantGiant group) who came together for the specific purpose of defeating any sort of new development at the Wisconsin Avenue and Newark Street site.

10 years ago, they were successful in derailing a relatively modest proposal. After using Historic Preservation to handcuff an awful redevelopment plan, the property owner shelved anything until a couple of years ago. Aghast at the new proposal, the same cabal offered to endorse a proposal strikingly similar to what had been proposed in 2000. However that ship sailed. In the meantime hundreds of residents rallied to support the new plans, simply out of frustration of a stagnant commercial strip.

The CPCA, behind essentially closed doors, passed a resolution to support the handful of residents fighting the development. This caused a major rift in the community and for the organization, which was vilified in this and other forums.

This is but one example of many I have seen throughout the city where yes, a handful of residents have banded together out of a single purpose issue, as you have defined it.

Like I said, I guess we have very different experiences with this sort of thing, and it will be telling for this voter which way the candidates go on defining "community" and how the city and different stakeholders engage in outreach.

by William on Jun 30, 2010 9:34 pm • linkreport

@William This is but one example of many I have seen throughout the city where yes, a handful of residents have banded together out of a single purpose issue, as you have defined it.

Then we're talking about different sets of people. I thought you'd mentioned ANC commissioners as an example. I certainly wouldn't say they'd come together for a single purpose issue. They couldn't if they wanted to ... given that they are elected.

by Lance on Jun 30, 2010 11:05 pm • linkreport

Incidentally, I haven't been following the Cleveland Park issue closely ... just what I've seen here ... and then, I've only read some of the posting about it. I don't live there and it doesn't directly affect me ... However, I have heard someone put a totally different spin on what happened there than what you've said ... and what I've seen posted on here. What I heard was that the people actually living there are totally against a building up of that street ... but that people NOT from there, egged on by developers with a large fianancial interest in developing that area, have been the ones advocating for more. I even heard that people who didn't even live in Cleveland Park tried to join their citizens association in order to get that body to go along with the developer's wishes.

Is there any truth to this? Do you know for a fact that all those advocating for more building here are already living in that neighborhood ... in the adjacent houses and apartment buildings?

by Lance on Jul 1, 2010 12:00 am • linkreport


He who writes the history defines the history.

As I understand it, the plat of development in question barely falls within the boundaries of Cleveland Park. There were many longtime members of the CPCA who lived just outside of the boundaries who were purged from the membership, despite paying dues for years, and were thus denied the right to participate in the process.

As the city has defined the parcel in process as a neighborhood center with proximity to Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, Catherdral Heights, Observatory Circle and Spring Valley, the decisions around it impact more than just the people who live one block in each direction. Will those who live closest be impacted? Possibly, but there have been many steps taken to mitigate suggested issues. We do live in a city, afterall, and people who live a block from a major road like Wisconsin Avenue ought to expect that main street to have commercial activity.

I do know for a fact that there were hundreds of supporters who were all volunteers - the suggestion that "developers with large financial interests" perhaps bought this support is simply false and misleading. It is actually pretty impressive that there were that many active supporters "for" something, as it is always easier to rally support "against" something.

I would submit that the extortion that those opposed to the proposal is far worse, and appears to be a much smaller nucleus of people.

The point still stands however, that it is a small minority who have come together for a single purpose of stalling or defeating a development proposal. They do not speak for the "community" and while some of their concerns may be valid, it isn't "fair" to the rest of the residents of the area to force them to travel father to shop for food and basic amenities, as has been the case for many years.

Since the original proposal, there have been new grocery stores, or renovated and expanded grocery stores in the West End, Georgetown, Columbia Heights, Tenleytown, Friendship Heights and Van Ness, just to name a few. The idea that this particular store is going to be a destination for all of these residents of other neighborhoods, who already have viable food options, is a sham.

I cannot speak to the allegation that people from outside the CPCA boundaries tried to join to help influence the outcome, but what I do know is that there were about 15 to 20 people at the CPCA meeting where the organization voted to support the opposition and use the CPCA name to carry this water. Certainly that small number is not sufficient to represent the "community", and the hundreds of people who subsequently joined speaks to that action.

Again, this is but one example. There are other examples in communities throughout the city where relatively small numbers of people force their agenda on the majority (both pro and anti development, or whatever issue). I hope that Chairman Gray, as a candidate, takes these definitions of "community" under consideration when making these statements.

We need more transparency at all levels of our government and within our citizen groups, from the Executive Branch, to the Council, the ANCs and Civic and Community Associations. I would hope we could agree on that.

by William on Jul 1, 2010 6:32 am • linkreport

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