Talkin' Transit, The Features, WMATA, WTF?!

Talkin’ Transit: Same Old, Same Old

Photo courtesy of
‘Service Advisory’
courtesy of ‘MattHurst’

WMATA quietly announced last night it has lifted a long-standing ban on allowing independent safety monitors access to Metro tracks. Metro board Chairman Jim Graham met with WMATA higher-ups yesterday and it had some result, supposedly. Late Tuesday, WMATA officials said that the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TSOC TOC) does have the authority to carry out safety inspections and ensuring employees are complying with safety rules and regulations.

But once again, Metro fails to communicate. Eric Madison, chairman of the oversight committee, told the Washington Post that as of last night, no one from Metro had contacted him about removing the ban; he considers the ban still in place. The Metro press release appears contradictory to what the TSOC TOC has heard previously and didn’t contain any new information, so until WMATA provides the committee with a formal written agreement, they consider the ban still in effect. Madison told WaPo “[w]e want to get something in writing that lays out the specifics of how we access the right of way and that sort of thing. This has gone on long enough.”

We feel your pain, Mr. Madison. Continue reading

Essential DC, News, Talkin' Transit, The Features, WMATA

Talkin’ Transit: Mish-Mash Morning

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘bankbryan’

Mish-mash of transit for your morning perusal.

HOT Lanes Delayed: While the Beltway HOT Lane construction continues forward, Virigina has decided to delay building additional HOT lanes on I-395 and I-95. The economy is the answer that’s been trotted out; state leaders fear that they won’t be able to get money from the bond market and the state has no more money to spend. The Beltway project is expected to be completed by 2012, with the outer lanes opening as early as next year.

Officials were pretty specific in stating the project has been delayed, not abandoned, though there is still a lot of concern with local officials, who feel the proposed project will adversely affect their communities and neighborhood traffic patterns.

Construction was supposed to begin next summer.

ICC & I-95: This week began a traffic pattern shift along I-95 as construction continues on the Intercounty Connector in Prince George’s County. Several lanes are being closed or shifted in both northbound and southbound directions from Route 198 to Route 212. Closures begin as early as 8 p.m. and re-open before morning rush. The closures will be in effect until Sept. 29.

VRE Gets Stimulated: The federal government has awarded $9.8 million to the Virginia Railway Express, money needed to purchase 12 more locomotives. The funds fall under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will be administered by the Federal Transit Administration.

The current locomotive fleet consists of 20 engines that can pull an average of six cars; the new engines the VRE is purchasing are more powerful and efficient, capable of pulling 10 cars each (at 144 passengers a car) and will help the service expand its current capacity.

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Talkin' Transit, The Features, WMATA

Talkin’ Transit: We’re Number Two

Photo courtesy of
‘Typical Beltway traffic’ courtesy of ‘brianmka’

Just like death and taxes, transportation woes never seem to go away around here.

The annual Texas Transportation Institute traffic study released today shows that while traffic is lighter in every other major metro area, it’s only increased our misery here. The DC area continues to rank second to LA in congestion, wasting about 62 hours a year as we crawl along our major routes. That’s an increase of 3 hours over the previous year, by the way.

Sitting in traffic around here has cost us nearly $2.8 billion and 90 million gallons of gas. The data is from 2007, by the way, so next year’s study may (hopefully) show a decline due to increased focus on transit options after soaring gas prices last year.

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Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: HOT! HOT! HOT!

Photo courtesy of magandafille

In Traffic, courtesy of magandafille

And so it begins.

The like-it-or-not High-Occupancy Toll lanes are now a step closer to reality – at least in Northern Virginia.

So what are these HOT lanes, exactly?

These are specialized lanes that will reside on the ‘inside’ of the Beltway (specifically, a stretch of I-495 in NoVA) where carpools can use them for free and individual drivers looking to ditch the rest of us pokies will have to cough up some money. But there’s no actual ‘tollbooth’ to deal with. Continue reading