The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Breakfast links: Can Metro work with others?

Photo by FredoAlvarez on Flickr.
How can streetcars interoperate?: WMATA will study ways to best connect with light rail and streetcar projects throughout the region. Though the focus will be on DC's streetcars and the Purple Line, the study will also look at speculative projects in Virginia and upper Montgomery County. (Dr. Gridlock)

Relations between police union, Metro sour: Metro Transit Police's union voted to oust Chief Michael Taborn in mid-January, exacerbating rapidly souring relations between the union and WMATA. After months of negotiations, the union has filed suit alleging various violations. (Examiner)

Metro stuck between rock, hard place: While WMATA has trouble policing itself when it comes to escalator maintenance and performance as well as public records access and responsiveness, they haven't made particularly good decisions when outsourcing work, either. (Unsuck DC Metro, Dr. Gridlock, WAMU)

Maryland senators propose gas tax hikes: Two Maryland state senators want to add a 4% sales tax to gas for transportation, with ¼ of that specifically for the Purple Line and Baltimore's Red Line. Another senator proposed a flat 10¢/gallon hike in the state's current tax. (Examiner, Froggie)

Norton wants elected DC DA: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a bill to allow Washingtonians to elect a District Attorney. Currently, the federal US Attorney's office handles almost all local prosecution. (WUSA)

South PG has most growth: The southern part of Prince George's County absorbed the most population growth from 2000 to 2010, according to new Census numbers. While the county grew 8%, several southern communities grew by as much as 25%. (Gazette)

Amtrak ridership keeps growing: For the 15th month in a row, Amtrak ridership has grown, and set a new January record at 2.1 million passengers. (Dr. Gridlock)

Long-awaited projects move forward: Canal Park in Near Southeast will actually break ground next week after the official ground breaking 6 months ago. (DCmud) ... The CityMarket at O project will also begin work on the historic O Street Market building later this month. (TBD)

And...: Development heats up on lower Barracks Row; will linking retail streets under a freeway succeed? (JDLand) ... Bus riders aren't the only commuters losing parking spaces at Potomac Mills. (WTOP) ... Tesla Motors has opened a showroom in DC. (Dr. Gridlock)

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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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It's good that Metro is studying streetcar interoperability. Since Metro has shown no direct interest in actually expanding transit service themselves, they nevertheless still retain the role of the regional coordinating agency to ensure that these systems operate smoothly and present a seamless passenger experience.

by Alex B. on Feb 11, 2011 9:28 am • linkreport

Metro has lots of interest, they just don't have money. Virginia and the feds decided to give the toll road and Silver Line construction contract to MWAA instead of WMATA, for instance.

by David Alpert on Feb 11, 2011 9:30 am • linkreport


Is there a problem with private organizations doing the construction in that case? I realize it's unreliable, but if it means better access to metro I don't see the problem.

by Max D. on Feb 11, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

Sure, I should clarify - Metro has no actionable interest in expansion.

I think the RTSP plan is great, but the reason we have the Silver line run by VA and the Purple line run by MD and the Streetcar system being built by DC is because Metro had largely devolved these kinds of planning activities to their constituent jurisdictions.

That's not necessarily a bad thing - the locally planned projects are quite promising - but it doesn't stop the need for coordination.

by Alex B. on Feb 11, 2011 9:34 am • linkreport

Re DC Congressional Delegate Norton's bill for elected DA: I know that she sits in congress and her web site calls here a "Congresswoman". But as she has no vote, how can she claim the title?

Regarding the bill for an elected DA: it is probably a good idea, but since she fumbled getting DC true representation, it is hard to take her seriously. And since she has no vote, what are the chances of getting this passed in the republican House?

by goldfish on Feb 11, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

Electing the District Attorney is a terrible idea. In virtually every place where something like this has been tried (my hometown Pittsburgh, for example), the voting public has shown little interest or aptitude in discerning a candidate's qualifications for specialized, professional positions like this. The result is interest group capture. The voting public is far, far better qualified to evaluate the mayor or council who appoints the professionals.

by tom veil on Feb 11, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

That is great EHN wants an elected D.A.

Who is going to pay for it?

by charlie on Feb 11, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

@gas tax

They were taking about this on the news recently and some people made a big deal about it hurting their bottom line etc. I am not sure how ten cents gallon, perhaps an extra buck a week is a huge deal.

Now what could be a big deal is since gas prices are linked to the cost of everything, will we see prices overall go up.

Another valid point is should people who live in say the Eastern shore pay for a metro line they will never use? Or does the fact that wealthy counties like Montgomery alreay pay more in taxes then they get back make it fair?

by Matt R on Feb 11, 2011 10:28 am • linkreport

For the 15th month in a row, Amtrak ridership has grown

hmm... must be because there's no demand for rail travel...

by Tina on Feb 11, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

@Matt R

And should people who live in Baltimore pay for highways to the Eastern shore they will never use? Everyone pays some taxes for things they don't use, that doesn't make the whole system unfair.

by Dave on Feb 11, 2011 10:38 am • linkreport

Certainly the decision by ANC6B to abandon its defacto liquor license moratorium will help. Two restaurants the lame duck ANC voted to protest in November for no good reason except they did not want any new liquor licenses on Barracks Row won ANC support in February, and with that, the threat of a defacto moratorium ended.

Good news!

by Trulee Pist on Feb 11, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport


EHN sits in Congress, therefore she is a Congresswoman. She's not a Representative however.

by MLD on Feb 11, 2011 11:36 am • linkreport

Matt: "Or does the fact that wealthy counties like Montgomery alreay pay more in taxes then they get back make it fair?"

Yep. Also, we ALL pay for things we never use. I'm very unlikely to ever use a rural Interstate highway ramp in Wyoming, but money from the central highway coffers pays for it because nonetheless it's useful to someone, even if that someone doesn't happen to be me.

by Raimondo on Feb 11, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

@MLD: thanks, that was a good answer. In any case, she utterly ineffective and should resign.

by goldfish on Feb 11, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

I am old enough to remember when DC had streetcars. In 1958 and 1959 when our family lived in Shepherd Park, I used to take the Georgia Ave. streetcar line from Eastern Ave. to Missouri Ave., and then walked one block to Paul Junior High (now Paul Charter) School. Sadly, that line was discontinued in January, 1960. The last remaining lines were discontinued in January, 1962. I always found the streetcars to be clean, quiet and efficient. I can't wait to see them return.
Why were they discontinued? This was a terrible scandal.
General Motors pressured DC and a number of other American cities to get rid of their streetcars so they could be replaced with GM's smelly buses. (The Clean Air Act which forced buses, cars and trucks to reduce the pollution from their tailpipes was not enacted into law until the 1970s.)
Nor was the decision to end streetcars in DC the will of the people. The Home Rule government did not start in DC until 1973. When the streetcars were discontinued in 1962, we had no Mayor and no City Council. DC was nominally run by 3 Commissioners appointed by the President; but the real power in those days was John McMillan, the Chair of the House District Committee and a dedicated segregationist.
I'd love to hear stories from other people who remember the DC streetcars.

by Jeff Norman on Feb 11, 2011 5:41 pm • linkreport

Norton's proposal to have an elected DC District Attorney comes the same day as the House Republicans' proposal to reduce funding for District government in general. Exactly where does she think the funding will come from for her proposal: Is there a magic money-pot she thinks will be available in coming years, not dependent on which party controls Congress and the White House?
Her proposal should be recognized for the cheap stunt (and fiscally disastrous policy) that it is. One thing that DC shouldn't sneer at is a federal-government-provided office that saves the District tens of millions of dollars annually -- money that is therefore freed up for schools, social services, and other worthy projects.

by GGW Reader on Feb 12, 2011 12:04 pm • linkreport

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