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Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 24

It's time for the 24th installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are five photos of the Washington Metro system. Can you identify the station depicted in each picture?

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Image 2

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Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Wednesday.


Muriel Bowser calls for "Vision Zero," more equity, Metro investment, and new task forces for transportation

On the heels of the release of David Catania's detailed platform, his rival for mayor, Muriel Bowser, has put out her own platform. Here are key parts of the transportation section.

Road safety: Muriel will lead the District's effort to join other cities like San Francisco, Chicago and New York in adopting "Vision Zero," a transportation safety approach that focuses on key areas including engineering, education, enforcement, and policy formulation, to eliminate dangerous behavior on our roadways, in all communities.

Photo by Tommy Wells on Flickr.

Transportation equity: From Capital Bikeshare and the Circulator to the DC Streetcar, the District continues to invest in innovative efforts to link our vibrant neighborhoods. Unfortunately, some efforts and policies have failed to address the needs of certain neigh­bor­hoods, particularly in underserved parts of the District.

Muriel Bowser will designate a senior District Department of Transportation (DDOT) official to be the agency's Transportation Equity and Inclusion Officer. This official will ensure that the agency's policies and plans address the needs and concerns of all residents, particularly those in the District's most underserved communities. This official will also coordinate with other agencies to ensure that all city services include accessibility as a priority.

Bus service: Muriel Bowser will continue to focus on strengthening options for residents that utilize Metrobus by improving transportation services provided to individuals with disabilities, adding capacity to underserved transit corridors, and encouraging the use of dedicated lanes, traffic signal priority, and real-time arrival screens at stops.

Metro: While Metro continues to be one of the highest quality transit systems in the United States, it faces ongoing challenges due to a lack of dedicated funding. As Mayor, Muriel Bowser will seek additional investments from local, regional, and federal partners to ensure that the system's infrastructure can effectively serve the region's needs today and into the future.

Streetcars: District residents have been rightfully concerned about the [streetcar] project's excess costs and delays. As Mayor, Muriel Bowser will lead a comprehensive assessment of the DC Streetcar project to learn from missteps made, correct planning and operational deficiencies by reforming the District's procurement apparatus, and responsibly and confidently move forward with an expansion of streetcar service in a way that meets the needs of District residents and visitors.

Bicycle infrastructure: Muriel Bowser will continue efforts to expand bicycle lanes throughout the District to ensure that bicyclists have a safe space to ride and pedestrians and drivers alike have more predictable streets and traffic patterns.

Muriel will also expand the Capital Bikeshare program to more neighborhoods, including those that have been historically underserved by public transit, increase educational outreach to promote bicycle safety, and dedicate the appropriate resources to complete the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT).

Parking and congestion: While the District is committed to long-term strategies that make it easier to travel the city without a car, many District residents continue to rely on their cars as a primary mode of transportation.

Muriel Bowser will create a Parking and Congestion Task Force to identify and recommend legislative and regulatory solutions to ease congestion and address the long-term parking needs and concerns of District residents and visitors. (e.g. accommodating parking near city churches).

Governance: Muriel Bowser will convene a cross-agency team of government officials to review the District's model of transportation governance, with the goal of identifying potential savings and/or efficiencies that could be realized by increased collaboration or consolidation.

Innovation: Muriel Bowser will encourage and promote transportation innovation by convening a working group comprised of transportation policy experts, thought leaders, inventors, and local residents, to identify efficiencies and technologies that can be utilized to expand and improve transportation access [w]ith a broad focus to include mobile application advances, roadway design, and the expanded use of electric vehicles, among other things.

Traffic cameras: Recent studies have shown that the [Automated Traffic Enforcement] program has resulted in fewer collision-related fatalities and injuries, and it has reduced speed-related traffic collisions across the District, even as the city's population has increased. Nonetheless, a recent Office of Inspector General report found that the program needs to be re-focused on public safety, with less emphasis on potentially unfairly profiting from District citizens.

Muriel Bowser will improve the administration of the program by preserving the utilization of speed enforcement cameras deployed in a manner that is supportable by data showing a reduction in driver speed and an increase in pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist safety.

In the platform, Bowser also says she wants to "appoint an experienced, energetic, innovative leader to run DDOT," which echoes one of Adrian Fenty's leadership practices of trying to find outside-the-box choices to run agencies. In his cabinet picks, including for DDOT, Mayor Gray tended to just elevate a number two or other insider at many agencies.

How do you think this compares to David Catania's platform?


Computers will start driving Red Line trains again

Starting in early October, Metro will turn control of six non-peak Red Line trains over to computers. If all goes well, every Red Line train should be under computer control by March 2015.

Photo by Jesse Alexander on Flickr.

This marks the first return to automatic train operation on Metro's original system since WMATA switched all trains to manual control following the 2009 train crash.

Since then, WMATA has fixed the faulty electric systems responsible for the crash, but only on the Red Line. Fixing the rest of the system will take another three years.

When it works, automatic train operation runs Metrorail more efficiently and smoothly as compared to manual control. That means fewer delays, faster trips, higher passenger capacity, and more comfortable rides.

This is great news to riders who have suffered from motion sickness on manually-driven trains. And it's an important step forward in Metro's long, painful rebuilding process.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 23

On Monday, we posted our twenty-third photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 25 guesses this week. Twelvealmost halfof you got all five correct. Great work, Aaron, Mike B, Peter K, iaom, Andy L, MZEBE, Alex B, Eyendis, King Terrapin, Sand Box John, Rob K, and Matt and Sarah!

Image 1: Fort Totten

The first image shows the north end of the Red Line platform at Fort Totten. The primary clue here are the radio towers visible in the distance. The other clue is the single freight rail track on the left side of the fence, narrowing it down to the Red Line shared corridor between Brookland and Silver Spring. Fifteen of you got this one right.

Image 2: NoMa

The second image was taken from the platform at NoMa station. The primary clues here are the canopy ("Gull II"), which is present at only three stations, and the electrified Amtrak corridor just north of Union Station. This could only be NoMa, and 24 of you (all but one) got it right. Great job!

Image 3: Largo

The third image also has the "Gull II" canopy like at NoMa. But this is Largo Town Center. The main clue here is the parking garage at left. NoMa doesn't have any parking and Morgan Boulevard (which also has this canopy type) is below grade, so it has concrete walls on either side. Eighteen of you knew this one.

Image 4: Silver Spring

The fourth image shows Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring through the windows of an arriving train. From the image, you can tell that this is an elevated station over a major arterial, and you may have been able to recognize some of the high-rises visible above the train. As with image two, 24 of you (all but one) also got this one correct. Excellent work!

Image 5: West Falls Church

The final image shows the westbound track at West Falls Church. Only West Falls Church has this diagonal glass canopy over the trackway like this. An additional clue is visible at center left: the distinctive canopy at the north bus loop. Twenty of you got this one right.

Next Monday we'll have five more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!


Do you know the station? It's whichWMATA week 23

It's time for the twenty-third installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of five stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?

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Image 2

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Image 4

Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Wednesday.


WMATA truck parks on the sidewalk, crashes into a light pole

The NoMa Metro station sports large areas of sidewalk. Unfortunately, some WMATA employees treat this sidewalk as a private parking lot. This past weekend, one even backed into a light pole. This employee was violating WMATA internal policies and was disciplined.

Photos by the author.

This has been a periodic problem for years. Geoff Hatchard observed employee vehicles on the sidewalk and even blocking the bike racks back in 2010.

A minivan with a placard identifying it as belonging to a WMATA employee blocks the bike racks in 2010. Photos by Geoff Hatchard.

If a driver can't avoid a light pole, would he miss a pedestrian?

Here in DC, the sidewalk on M Street at the NoMa station is always filled with people walking their dogs, kids running around their parents, waiting for rides, and more.

One WMATA driver not only hit a light pole, but struck it hard enough to shatter his windshield. What if that had been a smaller, moving object like my 3-foot-tall son, who was walking with us here that afternoon? This station also serves Gallaudet University, where the thousands of deaf students and staff would have never even heard a vehicle backing up.

I cleaned up the glass

The next day, glass still littered the sidewalk. By then, shards had spread across several hundred square feet of sidewalk, making this situation especially hazardous for dog walkers and young parents.

I grabbed a broom, large battery and a vacuum from my house and walked several blocks to clean up the sidewalk outside the station. It took me two hours.

The next day, two WMATA vehicles parked on the nearby sidewalk once again.

Driving on sidewalks can be dangerous without a spotter

Many cities only allow government vehicles on sidewalks for certain prescribed reasons, and require a spotter to ensure that the driver does not strike people or objects.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) updated its policy recently to require spotters walking ahead of full-sized vehicles on sidewalks after a maintenance truck driver struck a cyclist in a caged bike/ped lane on a Norfolk bridge.

Other times, policies are in place but not followed. For example, last year in San Francisco a woman playing with her infant daughter was struck and killed by a parks employee who was driving a truck through the park against city policy.

Metro policy prohibits most parking on the sidewalk

WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel looked into the issue and sent us this statement:

As a general matter, Metro vehicles should not be parked on sidewalks at any time. There may be times when no other option is available, depending on the station and the exigency of the circumstances (e.g. elevator technicians responding to an entrapment, track workers responding to an arcing insulator, rail supervisors responding to a person struck by train).

However, for routine work, Metro vehicles should only be parked in marked, legal spaces (except for ADA spaces). Employees who violate parking policies are subject to ticketing (for which the employee pays the fine), as well as internal discipline.

In the case of the NoMa incident you referenced, the vehicle was being operated by a new Red Line supervisor who was assigned to NoMa-Gallaudet as a terminal supervisor to manage the single-track operation and turn-back of selected trains at the station. He should not have parked on the sidewalk.

When departing the station, the vehicle made contact with a pole, causing the rear window to break. The employee was removed from service, taken for post-incident testing (drug/alcohol) which is standard, and will be subject to discipline.

This issue does come up from time to time, and requires occasional reinforcement with our 11,000-employee workforce. (For additional context, we maintain a fleet of nearly 1,500 service vehicles across a myriad departments, such as elevator/escalator, systems maintenance, plant maintenance, rail transportation, bus transportation, car maintenance, revenue/fare collection, etc.)

The vast majority of employees follow the rules and park properly. However, those that don't create a negative impression for the rest of us. Which is exactly why we encourage anyone who wants to report a parking issue to directly contact Metro Transit Police, either by calling 202-962-2121 or by texting "MyMTPD" (696873) 24 hours a day.


Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 22

On Monday, we posted our twenty-second photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. Reader Peter K took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 31 guesses this week. 10 of you got all five correct. Great work, Alex B, Merarch, Patrick, Mr. Johnson, TheOtherGlenmont, Kwasi, Sand Box John, Aaron, JS2008, and Rob K!

Image 1: Dupont Circle

Since Peter K took all the photos this week, the answer paragraphs below are all in his words.

Across all 91 stations, WMATA operates 613 escalators to keep passengers moving efficiently through the system. That's really quite an impressive number considering there are only 35,000 escalators in the US, meaning that slightly more than 1 out of every 60 escalators in this country is on Metro. Since escalators are a key part of nearly all Metrorail commutes, I thought it'd be appropriate to take a moment and look at a few unique escalator installations.

First up is an overhead view of the surface-mezzanine escalators at the Q Street (north) entrance to Dupont Circle. This configuration, with three escalators separated by wide balustrades, is somewhat unusual in the system and is most commonly seen at deeper and/or high-volume stations since it allows each escalator to be taken offline for maintenance without impacting the others. The lighting and point of view narrow the location down further: here, we're above the escalator and have natural light, which eliminates places like Bethesda and Tenleytown.

But the real key here are the building materials. The darker metal along the balustrades rules out renovated escalators like the ones at Medical Center and Potomac Avenue, and the brickwork along the sides definitively puts us in the open, circular pit of Dupont's north entrance. 28 of you got Dupont Circle right.

Image 2: National Airport

The second image is at National Airport, specifically the escalators at the southern end of the District-bound platform. The main hint here is the Gull Wing I roof, which is only used at 13 island platform stations. Of those, National Airport's platforms are distinctly narrower than the others, being barely wide enough to accommodate 2 escalators side-by-side, due to its 3-tracked configuration.

Other unique features include the "THANKS FOR RIDING METRO" inscription on the way to the mezzanine and the placement of the escalator at the very end of the platform. Another tip could have been the airport shuttles and distinctive yellow pedestrian bridge barely visible on the left side of the picture. 18 of you got this one correct.

Image 3: L'Enfant Plaza

The third image shows a few of the platform-mezzanine escalators at L'Enfant Plaza on the upper level, heading up to the 7th/Maryland entrance. The upper level of L'Enfant is unique within the system for how wide its upper level is, providing a cavernous amount of space on the platforms and allowing the floating mezzanine to be pulled away from the walls to create a second walkway on the outside of the escalators.

Metro Center can be ruled out, since it now has signs installed in the space between the parapet and the escalator. This particular entrance also has 3 escalators serving each platform, which among side platform stations is a trait shared only with Ballston (to my knowledge). 21 of you correctly guessed L'Enfant Plaza.

Image 4: Farragut North

The fourth image shows the escalators up to the L Street (northernmost) mezzanine at Farragut North. Like a handful of other stations, the L Street mezzanine at Farragut North is located in a separate room beyond the end of the platform. The distinctive feature here, aside from the bank of 3 escalators and the arriving Red Line train, is the especially low (and newly renovated!) tiled ceiling, eliminating other similar stations.

Stadium-Armory also has a bank of 3 escalators right at the end of the platform, but the ceiling is full-height there. Union Station, which has a flat ceiling at its north end, only has 2 escalators, separated by the elevator. 23 of you knew this was Farragut North.

Image 5: Rosslyn

The fifth image shows the west (older) mezzanine at Rosslyn. The unique feature here is simply the size of the escalator bank. Rosslyn is one of only 3 stations to have 4 escalators in one bank serving a single mezzanine, the others being Mount Vernon Square at the Washington Convention Center and the Verizon Center entrance of Gallery Place. However, both of those installations are much, much shorter than Rosslyn and feature a staircase in between two sets of two escalators.

In this picture, the extra-wide, stair-free gap in the middle is there because of a now-disused elevator shaft bisecting the escalators (week 15) that's been closed due to development above the station and replaced by the new, elevator-only east mezzanine (week 12). 20 of you correctly guessed Rosslyn.

Next Monday we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing! And a special thanks to Peter K for supplying the photos this week.


Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 22

It's time for the twenty-second installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?

This week, we have a guest photographer. These 5 photos were all taken by Peter K.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Thursday. Good luck! Thanks again to Peter K for his submissions.


Here are the answers to week 21 of whichWMATA

On Tuesday, we posted our twenty-first photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 14 guesses this week. Only 2 of you got all 5 correct. Great work, Alex B and Peter K!

Image 1: Prince George's Plaza

The first image shows the mezzanine and the bottom of the parking structure at Prince George's Plaza. This station has a unique design, and the roof is actually the base of the parking garage, giving it an appearance similar to a squared-off vault. All but one of you got this one right. Great work!

Image 2: New Carrollton

The second image depicts the pedestrian bridge across Ellin Road at New Carrollton station. This bridge is built as an arc, making it quite distinctive. The visible office building is also a clue. 10 of you knew this one.

Image 3: Anacostia

The third image shows the unique vaults at Anacostia station. Because of the water table, this station is very shallow, and there wasn't room for a high vault. As a result, the ceiling is lower, and has smaller perpendicular vaults running across the space. 12 of you guessed correctly.

Image 4: Wiehle Avenue

The fourth image shows the entrance to the northern bus loop at Wiehle Avenue station. This glass entrance is unique in the system, but the angles are reminiscent of the angles present in the other Silver Line stations. 6 of you knew this one.

Image 5: Gallery Place

The final image shows the street elevator entrance at Gallery Place. The narrow bridge and the sign make it clear that this is an elevator entrance, and not the main entrance into a station. But the clue to narrow this to Gallery Place is the depth of the vault coffers. Because the vault here is higher (to accommodate 2 levels of trains), the coffers get much narrower shallower toward the bottom than they would at shorter stations. 5 of you correctly guessed Gallery Place.

Next Monday we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

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