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Breakfast links: What's effective?

Photo by Jeff Hester on Flickr.
Tommy talks Metro & bags: New WMATA Board member Tommy Wells says the agency will likely pick a new GM by the end of January. He also said Metro needs to better justify the new bag inspections and that the bag fee has been more successful at curbing bag waste than anyone predicted. (TBD)

MD smart growth policies ineffective: Maryland's landmark Smart Growth laws, which tried to incentivize rather than require smarter growth in the state, have been largely ineffective at curbing unsustainable sprawl and poor development patterns. (Baltimore Sun)

Councilmember Biddle: The DC Democratic State Committee picked Sekou Biddle over Vincent Orange, who had long been considered the frontrunner. The voting was tied until some Councilmembers "worked the room" to push members. (Post)

Another fight in Metro station: While Metro Transit Police are swabbing people's bags at entrances, violence continues to plague the stations. On Sunday, a man was beaten in L'Enfant Plaza by a group of teenagers. In a reactionary move, MTP will increase patrols at that one station. (Unsuck DC Metro, WUSA)

Metro to use 3-day weekend closures more: WMATA will be using 3-day holiday weekends to close stations for major track work more than they have in the past. The agency has found it can do in one long weekend what would otherwise take 6 weekends of single-tracking. (WAMU)

Developments in the works for 2011: Lydia DePillis previews the development
expected to take place in the District in 2011. Major projects include the McMillan Sand Filtration Site, Walter Reed, Hill East, and St. Elizabeth's Hospital. (City Paper)

NY Ave redevelopment not held up by historic preservation: Matt Yglesias should not have listened to his neighbors, because it turns out the building he subsequently used as a foil to deride historic preservation laws as hindering development isn't even on the historic preservation list. (RPUS)

Ohio puts interstate extension in multimodal plan: Ohio has marked more than $800 million to extend I-74 through Cincinnati, part of a larger plan to eventually connect the Midwest section of 74 with the section in North Carolina. The money is somewhat buried in a major "multimodal project" called the Eastern Corridor. (UrbanCincy)

And...: Douglas Development, which has 5 million square feet of vacant space, and owes DC lots of taxes, was given a break on taxes for one blighted property for a year. (14th & You) ... Did you know that DC actually has another subway system? (BeyondDC) ... There's a chance that fast growth actually leads to poorer cities than slow, methodical growth. (Streetsblog)

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 


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@ Metro 3 day closures

This is what we need more of from Metro. Looking at data and actually using it to make effective decisions about projects.
The next step putting this information in the public’s hands. Make sure the paper and local news report how one 3 day weekend is worth eight 2 day weekends every time metro has to close for a 3 day weekend.
Something I learned about decision making at my job is to be effective with potentially controversial decisions which metro could take a hint from.
Say it first, say it loud, and say it often.

by Matt R on Jan 7, 2011 9:02 am • linkreport

I hate to pile on the Metro-sucks comments I see and hear everywhere: I was not opposed to the bag searches but now I am. How in the world can Metro come up with the personnel to search bags to protect us from terrorists, but they can't keep teenagers from "terrorizing" people while in the system? This is ridiculous. To make it even worse, DC teens can get a month-long, unlimited pass to Metro for $30!! So, let me get this straight - if I'm a DC teen I can get unlimited Metro rides for $30/month AND I can do whatever I want on the system, like eat, spit on people, assault them, etc. all without any consequences. Meanwhile, good people who have to pay the full-fare are subject to all the laws of metro AND get to be assaulted by teens. It's unbelievable...Metro, you can search my bag only IF you stop subsidizing these teens fares AND keep them from "terrorizing" us. After all, isn't it terrorists that you are looking for?

by dc denizen on Jan 7, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

Metro got money from the Federal Government to conduct these searches. If they didn't do the searches, they wouldn't get the money. If they didn't get the money, they'd have to lay off the police officers, raise fares, cut service or get more government support.

That's messed up.

by Michael Perkins on Jan 7, 2011 9:48 am • linkreport

@Michael Perkins:
No, that's not actually correct.

Nowhere in the federal grant does it say that Metro has to do random bag checks. It just says that the money has to be used to combat terrorism (and visibility is one of the criteria).

That's the information given to RAC by the MTPD on Monday.

by Matt Johnson on Jan 7, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

Michael: The money wasn't just for the searches. It was for hiring an antiterrorism team. That team could (and does) do other things as well. If they had teams of officers standing around looking tough against terror on the platforms instead, then those officers might have been able to respond to the assaults.

by David Alpert on Jan 7, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

Thanks for the clarification!

by Michael Perkins on Jan 7, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

Exactly how does "visibility" help deter terrorists?

Come on. Those teens were get horsing around. We all did that once, right. I have many fond memories of being sucker punched, called "whitey" (I'm not white), surrounded by 15 black youth who wanted my change, and what not. Essential part of growing up, and it is a waste of government resources for MTPD to combat that. I'd rather see them pull kittens from burning trees or whatever did last time to win some award.

And remember, they are making over 100K with overtime as they sit around and do nothing.

Now, how do we get more homeless people on buses? That should really help drive passengers numbers down.

by charlie on Jan 7, 2011 9:57 am • linkreport

@ Matt Johnson and @ David Alpert So you guys think Metro should have taken the DHS grant and used it for something that has no anti-terrorism purpose?

I suppose you could argue that these out of control teens are terrorists themselves, but I'm not sure that's what DHS had in mind for their money.

by jcm on Jan 7, 2011 9:59 am • linkreport

RE: Capitol Subway

Heh, I was actually detained a couple months ago when I inadverently found myself in those tunnels.

by Bossi on Jan 7, 2011 10:04 am • linkreport

jcm: No, it's just that some antiterror purposes also situate officers so that they can respond to non-terror incidents in the process of serving their antiterror purpose.

On Monday, the police said that if they find other illegal things in the process of their bag checks, they will still arrest the rider. So while the checks have a primary antiterror purpose, they might lead to non-antiterror police activity.

This would be the same. Having officers on platforms to look for terrorists serves an antiterror purpose. But it also allows them to be available for other problems if they crop up. Since almost all of the time there is not an assault going on, the officers will almost always be doing their antiterror activity.

by David Alpert on Jan 7, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

The real question here is why "visibility" was a criterion for the grant. If you are actually trying to catch terrorists, don't you want to be invisible? Isn't that why Metro doesn't like to talk about some of its security measures?

If Metro's use of its grant for something other than random bag checks would divert money from the original purpose of the grant, it would not divert money away from security. It would take money from a security theater grant and use it for security.

by Ben Ross on Jan 7, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

@ David Alpert How many officers are being paid by the grant to conduct searches? A half dozen? Maybe a dozen? To cover 86 stations? Either you stick them at the same station all the time to watch for assaults, which defeats the anti-terrorism purpose, or you move them around, and we get to read posts about the RAC whining that the cops are patrolling the wrong stations.

For the record, I think having cops permanently at known trouble stations like L'enfant and Galley Place is good policy, it's just not anti-terrorism.

@ Ben Ross The theory is that terrorists like predictabilty, so you want to reduce that. To do so, you use a mix of public measures, secret measures, and random measures.

by jcm on Jan 7, 2011 10:18 am • linkreport

re: "Councilmember Biddle"

And to think only 36 hours ago, Vincent Orange was crowing about how he had this whole thing sewn up. So glad to see him consigned to the wastebin of history.

by oboe on Jan 7, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

jcm: They wouldn't say how many, I think. But they said there are a number of different programs going on, some visible, some not.

As for the officers doing the bag searches, now, they have a small team of people on the mezzanine searching bags at 1-2 stations, randomly selected. If they instead had a small team of people on platforms keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior, they would still not have covered all the stations, but at least there's a greater chance they would be able to respond to an incident, and meanwhile they're not violating anyone's civil rights.

by David Alpert on Jan 7, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

@dc denizen

Where do you get the idea that teenagers are completely unaccountable for their actions on the Metro system? Your logic is insane, and hate-driven. Stop confusing unrelated issues.

(And, seriously. If random fights amongst teenagers is the worst sort of crime that DC residents have to worry about, it's a marked improvement over the old status quo)

by andrew on Jan 7, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

The voting was tied until some Councilmembers "worked the room" to push members.

Now that's democracy! The council choosing its own members! DC is now officially less democratic than China.

@ Metro safety: There was a big MTPD dude in Rosslyn looking all tough at the crowd.

The agency has found it can do in one long weekend what would otherwise take 6 weekends of single-tracking.

Seriously? They find that out after 30 years?

@ I-74: I-74 will actually provide some handy diagonal connectivity throughout the MidWest to NC, alleviating some of the traffic (trucker) pressure on nearby interstates. We don't have to worry about Cincinnati getting messed up by interstates. That already happened decades ago, just as it did in Columbus and Cleveland. It's the way Ohio (DOT) likes it. I-74 will largely run over roads that have slowly been upgraded to interstate specs anyway. So will I-73 that also comes from NC but will go by Columbus and up to MI. I actually used to drive that route and it's mostly a matter of getting rid of the last few at grade intersections and slapping interstate signs next to the US-route signs. Down in NC, US-220 is already marked Future-73 and Future-74.

As much as I don't like interstates dissect cities, these roads are truly connecting states, and will take the pressure of other interstates and US routes that are heavily used.

Finally, I-74 won't actually go through downtown Cincinnati, so nothing's really lost there either. And who knows, perhaps they'll put some nice bike paths next to it.

And Cincinnati will get streetcars.

by Jasper on Jan 7, 2011 10:35 am • linkreport

I have never seen a single teen accountable for any of their actions on a train. Period. I have seen them eating on the trains as if it's a sit-down restaurant, I've seen them mock passangers, harass them, you name it, and not once have I seen them even as much as reprimand from any officer or Metro employee. Maybe you have, but I haven't. And don't give me this "hate-driven" dribble. These kids are the ones that "hate", not me. And my logic is not "insane", it's these kids actions that are insane. Gee, I guess beating a guy just reading on the Metro platform is very sane, isn't it? And, lastly, don't give me this "it's better than it was" bs either; that's not an excuse for their behavior.

by dc denizen on Jan 7, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

David, your proposal only makes sense if you assume the bag checks are useless, so replacing them with something equally useless terrorism-wise is a wash. I happen to disagree. I also reject the contention that anyone's civil liberties are being violated. I believe we'll have to agree to disagree.

Also, I'd like to apologize for referring to the rac's discussion as "whining". That's an unfair characterization, and I wish I hadn't written it.

by Jcm on Jan 7, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

The tech behind the newer (driverless) portions of the capitol subway is actually pretty cool. The trains themselves are unpowered, and are propelled by linear induction motors on the trackbed. This system was installed in 1993.

The photos of the Subway in the BeyondDC article show the portion built on the Senate side in the 1960s between the Capitol and Russell Office Building, which contains two unconnected tracks, with two trains that run back and forth under the command of a (very bored) driver.

by andrew on Jan 7, 2011 11:06 am • linkreport

@DCDenizen, I'm sure I can be corrected but don't teens receive the passes because they are considered DCPS students? That's what I always thought. If that is the case, then you are suggesting that a 10yr's metro fare should not be subsidized?

Also, on these trains where the irresponsible teens have been, are you claiming that even though officers have been present at the time, NOTHING happened to them? Really? Sounds a bit far-fetched if you ask me though.

Now I will agree that teens are allowed to get away from these acts because no one, you included, is willing to say anything to them out of fear of indifference. In both cases, there is a such thing called adult responsibility. I've corrected many in my day and although some have cursed me out, most have complied.

by HogWash on Jan 7, 2011 11:22 am • linkreport

What's effective??!!

I know what's not: the O Street Market Project. More delays for those who care.

by Jim McMahon on Jan 7, 2011 11:23 am • linkreport

I agree with the intent of DA's proposal. However, we're almost talking about two different things. Metro needs to step up security of its system to prevent Sunday's attack. Metro needs to develop some reasonable sort of anti-terrorism effort.

On the former, they do need to have officers to routinely populate problem stations. Is there enough money in the budget for that?

On the latter, it would seem as if the bomb sniffing dogs would be enough of a "visual" deterrent to warrant the bag checks unnecessary.

by HogWash on Jan 7, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

Yes, I think you are correct and they do receive them for being DCPS student. I'm not sure what you mean by "a 10yr's metro fare", but if you mean if I am willing to deny a 10 year old's metro fare then I say, yes, if unprovoked assaults keep occurring. In the incident on the L'Enfant platform a witness said the youngest attacker appeared to be 12. I realize that full-fare is expensive but this is a last-resort measure since Metro almost seems to refuse to do anything about it.
Furthermore, I don't claim that I've witnessed being on a train with teens acting up while an officer was on the train. I'm not sure where you read that in either of my comments. But when people complain to officers or Metro employees, I see that the officer or employee do not go after the teens to reprimand them or fine them (or whatever they are supposed to do to scofflaws). Again, this is what I've witnessed. Your experience may be different.
Lastly, it's easy to sound tough-on-teens in a comment. I hear that all the time "tell 'em to shut up" or "put them in their place" but it's different on the train when you're in a car by yourself with a loud and obnoxious group. Everyone is a tough guy in comments, a bar, and around the water-cooler; it's different in real life. I have spoken to teens (again you infer that I don't even though I didn't say it in my comments) for eating or being loud and gotten cursed at just like you. But there are some situations where things can quickly spiral out of control and you don't want to be at their mercy. In the L'Enfant incident the victim did speak up and kept getting beat.

by dc denizen on Jan 7, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

I've ridden the Capitol subway several times before! It's really fun, but I haven't been fortunate enough to see any "celebrities" riding it.

by Scoot on Jan 7, 2011 11:42 am • linkreport

DCDenizen, your objection to the subsidized fare is likely due to the acts of less than 5-10 percent of DCPS students. Proposing rejecting the subsidy means the remaining 90 or so percent (those we assume aren't unruly or violent) would be affected. So while I understand the sentiment behind your idea, it's illogical. By comparison, I'm sure that there the welfare rolls have more than their share of those who abuse the system. But do you rescind the benefits of every welfare recipient?

It was you who stated that you've never seen a teen held accountable. My point to you is that you not seeing it doesn't mean it hasnt' happened. As evidence, I spoke of incidents where it has happened as well as when I was cursed out behind it. That said, I'm not sure where your "tough behind the computer" statement comes from. Well, nevermind. Yes I do

Lastly, did u read anywhere in my post the suggestion that you interject yourself into a possibly violent situation? What I said is what I said and obviously, common sense has its place.

In the case of the unfortunate metro passenger, after pleading with and beign attacked by the girl, I would have just commenced to whipping her ass. And if her male counterparts decided to join in, at least two of them would have been seriously injured..whether my ass was kicked or not.

by HogWash on Jan 7, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

In the case of the unfortunate metro passenger, after pleading with and beign attacked by the girl, I would have just commenced to whipping her ass. And if her male counterparts decided to join in, at least two of them would have been seriously injured..whether my ass was kicked or not.

...sounds like hogwash to me.

by dc denizen on Jan 7, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

Maryland's landmark Smart Growth laws, which tried to incentivize rather than require smarter growth in the state, have been largely ineffective at curbing unsustainable sprawl and poor development patterns.

Shocking news indeed. If one were cynical, one would almost say that the suburbs are incapable of the political will and sustained effort needed to break themselves of the sprawl habit.

Good for urban real estate values, though.

by oboe on Jan 7, 2011 12:36 pm • linkreport

Don't consign perpetual candidate Vincent Orange to the dustbin of history just yet. Remember perpetual candidate Michael Brown who ran for mayor before finally getting on the council and then whose name recognition was so high that someone by the same name almost got elected? It's no wonder that months after the September primary Orange still has his signs littering lamp posts all over DC. For him, it's a never-ending campaign - for any open office.

by Bob on Jan 7, 2011 12:46 pm • linkreport

sounds like hogwash to me.

by dc denizen on Jan 7, 2011 12:25 pm

Nope, just sounds like a grown man who's not going to allow a 12yr old to beat on him. I live in Anacostia and will beat a child's ass in Anacostia as well as on metro. What you consider hogwash, I call self-defense.

by HogWash on Jan 7, 2011 12:48 pm • linkreport

Interesting. I lived in Cincinnati for 6 years and never knew there was an I-74.

by ksu499 on Jan 7, 2011 12:53 pm • linkreport

Interesting, cause you'd go to jail for beating a 12 year old. I can't afford to go to jail, but I guess you can.

by dc denizen on Jan 7, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

How many WMATA Officers are there ?

1 What about placing an officer at every other station except for where there is a long distance between stations

2 Have uniformed and plainclothed officers travel the lines from end to end during certain times of day.

by kk on Jan 7, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

@kk They don't have enough police to do that. They have 420 sworn police officers, 106 security special police, and 24 civilian personnel. To cover every other one of the 86 stations, two shifts a day is 602 shifts a week. They'd have to increase their personnel budget by over 50% for that much coverage, and they'd be ignoring the buses.

They need to focus on the trouble spots, because there just aren't enough of them to be everywhere at once.

by jcm on Jan 7, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

DCDeni, would I really be jailed for defending myself against an attack (especially one such as in this video) or is that simply the meme you've developed for yourself to explain why you would acquiesce?

Either way, I'm sure the victim would not have been jailed for his act of self-defense.

by HogWash on Jan 7, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

@hogwash you said "beat a child's ass" and "I would have just commenced to whipping her ass". That doesn't sound like self-defense. The law makes a distinction.

by dc denizen on Jan 7, 2011 3:28 pm • linkreport

This is off topic, but what's up with the Union Station Metro chaos? The Metro station staff have closed down one of 2 narrow escalators and an already extremely crowded bottleneck of people getting from Metro to MARC basically crawled to a stop. People started shouting and cursing, trying to push and elbow through to walk up one side of an escalator while others walked down. This did not work well: Individuals in this commuter crowd are often not narrow enough to fit past each other on an escalator.

This situation at 5pm today was ripe for a disaster like the German concert where people died being trampled. It sounds hyperbolic - only if you don't use this station during rush hour.

by Rose on Jan 10, 2011 8:22 pm • linkreport

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