Breakfast links: Metro security, safety and ingenuity
Bag searches before Board this morning: The WMATA Board will be discussing bag searches this morning. Bob Thomson argues this is a "policy" issue because the program "has fundamentally changed [Metro's] relationship with its customers." Given Board chair Cathy Hudgins' statements at a recent town hall, it's unlikely the Board will take action against the searches. (MCCRC)
ATU skeptical about Metro safety progress: ATU leadership has accused WMATA leadership of window-dressing on safety issues to "appease the Board of Directors and local media" and says the agency's policy forbidding employees to talk to the media violates their right to speak out about safety issues. (Dr. Gridlock)
Metro "MacGyvers" SmarTrip sensors: After last summer's fare increase made the fare table so complicated that SmarTrip sensors took extra time to read riders' cards, WMATA is installing plastic domes over every sensor that improve the positioning of swiped cards with respect to the antenna in the sensor. (Dr. Gridlock)
Montgomery now majority-minority: Population growth in Maryland over the last decade is primarily due to increases in minority populations. Montgomery County, like Prince George's, is now a minority-majority county. Baltimore City was the only Maryland county that lost population, albeit at the lowest rate since 1950. (WTOP)
VA Senate passes distracted driving bills: The Virginia Senate has passed two bills to strengthen the state's distracted driving laws. One would make texting while driving a primary offense, while another would make it illegal to talk on a cell phone except in hands-free mode. The bills now go to the House. (WAMU)
Arlington may get hotel tax surcharge after all: After being blocked once by Fairfax's Tim Hugo (R), a bill to renew Arlington's ability to charge a 1/4% surcharge on hotel rooms has passed out of subcommittee and stands a 60-40 chance of passing the House. (ARLnow)
White House proposes $53 billion in 6 years for high-speed rail: Vice President Biden announced the President's proposal to invest $53 billion in 6 years which will focus investment on three levels of service from true high-speed rail on core stretches to so slower "emerging" corridors. (Fast Lane, Gavin)
MD, VA, Feds looking at wind power: Maryland is proposing to require utility companies to buy power from off-shore wind turbines. (WUSA) ... The Federal government is wants to place wind farms in federal waters off the coast of several mid-Atlantic states, including near Virginia Beach. (NBC Washington)
And...: The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will open a Small Business Resource Office this spring to help expedite business permitting. (DCmud) ... Maryland's infrastructure has been graded a C-, slightly above the national average of D. (WUSA) ... After the Committee of 100 suggested a different alignment for the 8th Street streetcar, The Hill is Home wants to know, where would you put it?Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
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