Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: Parking Edition

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Danilo.Lewis|Fotography’

I hate parking meters. I think they’re an awful concept. Not because they make you pay for what you use, but rather how they make you pay for it: with change.  As rates have increased in the downtown core to $2/hr, it means that you need to carry with you rolls and rolls of quarters if you’re going to do any parking in the core that isn’t in a garage.

We started to see pay-by-phone metering last year, with a number of trials in Dupont Circle and in Foggy Bottom with a pair of services that work on a zone-based system.  Call a number, enter a credit card (the first time) and then enter the zone where you’re parked.  Bam, you’re good for as long as you’re within the limit for the zone.  If you only intend to stay for 50 minutes, that’s all you pay for, instead of the potential for overpaying at a traditional coin meter.  It’s a revolution.

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Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: Weekend Edition

Photo courtesy of
‘eat right. get lots of sleep. drink plenty of fluids. go like hell.’
courtesy of ‘Jess J’

Two weeks ago, Metro’s board heard, again, about the possibility of eliminating late night service on the weekends. This has reopened the debate about what direction Metro should be going, and whom it should be serving.

Two of the most vociferous opponents of such a change on the WMATA board have recently left, and the new board seemed more amenable to the idea.

There are those who believe that late night service is a big boon to Metro’s bottom line and that it should be continued. Others, especially within Metro, argue that closing the system earlier would give them the equivalent of 45 days more maintenance time per year, and lower costs for overtime.

As always with Metro, it’s a balancing act. On the one hand, the system is overloaded during the rush hours, has long lead times in the evening, and pretty crappy service on the weekends. It is constantly facing budget shortfalls, and its funding is always under attack. It is aging, and it isn’t in a state of good repair. It wasn’t designed to handle the service we’re asking of it, and we won’t fund it well enough to even make it run “normally”.
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Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit

Photo courtesy of
‘Horton #23’
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Some of you might know me from my photo posts here, and I hope you’ll humor me as I branch out to talk about a subject I love. Or, well, more accurately, a subject I love to hate. As anyone who follows my Twitter stream can attest, I’m not exactly happy with the state of Metro Rail at the moment. But I thought I’d start my new contribution to Talkin’ Transit on a more positive note.

Many times, you’re on the platform waiting for a train and it breaks down. You’re headed home, tired, impatient. The big board was saying ten minutes until your train; now it says “No Passengers,” instead. The announcer makes some vague pronouncement of a problem that is now cleared, “and all trains are moving normally.” When the next train arrives, though, you see it is jam packed — a Caps or Nationals game was just wrapping up, or worse, it’s still rush hour.

A few years ago, Metro installed big expensive signs in every station. They were there to tell you a few bits of information: which elevators were out, when the next train was coming, and so on. On the screen that displays the trains, it also told you what color line the train was servicing and how many cars made up that train.
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The Daily Feed

Senate Subway, Then and Now

From historical photoblog Shorpy we get this underground gem:

Senate Subway, 1915

That’s the Senate Subway, c. 1915, just two years after it started operation, part of the whole Capitol Subway System. After the jump, you can see how the Senate Subway still uses open-air cars, though somewhat more modernized.

(Update: Well, boy is my face red; the ‘today’ photo after the jump is actually from the House subway, not Senate. You can tell I’ve never ridden either system, not having had the privilege of working on the Hill myself.) Continue reading

The Daily Feed

“We’re not pleased with either candidate’s position”

Photo courtesy of
‘Road Work Ahead on New Hampshire Avenue’
courtesy of ‘Wayan Vota’

Well, it’s not even October and I am already sick of the gubernatorial race in Virginia. Good job, guys. Between the Washington Post’s story on Bob McDonnell’s misogynistic thesis and the onslaught of ads and direct mail that Creigh Deeds has put out in the wake of it, it’s enough to make any voter apathetic.

The Washington Business Journal has an article today on the two candidates’ opinions on transportation issues in Virginia, with a great quote from Richard McDonough, a Chantilly assistant district manager for Lane Construction Corp. and past president of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance. “We’re not pleased with either candidate’s position,” pretty much sums up the race so far, but is especially concerning considering how many Virginians who commute into DC are affected by this issue.

News, The Daily Feed

Passenger Buses, Train Collide in Riverdale

Photo courtesy of
‘EMD AEM-7 MARC #4902’
courtesy of ‘cliff1066’

The rainy day commute just got a lot worse if you’re on public rail. According to BNO News, a MARC train struck a passenger bus on the tracks in Hyattsville, and 40 people are being tended to after the incident. NBC 4 is on the scene, and reports it’s a pair of buses that collided, not a train and a bus.

Update 1: The accident took place at Queensbury Road and Rhode Island Ave in Riverdale Park:


Update 2: WTOP is reporting it was a train and two passenger buses that collided, with six injuries requiring a trip to the hospital. Thankfully, no one was killed.

Foggy Bottom, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed

Goodbye to the Rock Creek Parkway Pedestrian Crossing Button Moat

Button Moat IMG_0185

Much gratitude to DC DDOT for paving over what I affectionately call “The Button Moat” around the pedestrian crossing button at Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Ave NW in Foggy Bottom. (Bigger before-and-after-pictures after the jump.) Continue reading

The Daily Feed

MARC Commuter Alert: Major Delays on Penn Line


Via WaPo’s Get There blog, an alert for MARC Penn Line Riders: major electrical system damage near Landover has left only one of three tracks open for inbound and outbound commuter trains, so MARC’s going to be a mess.

MTA MD’s official MARC alert page says Metro will honor MARC tickets to New Carrollton to get past the rail bottleneck.

Baltimore-bound riders may also want to consider the Camden Line tonight, or, as a last resort, the Green Line to Greenbelt, then B30 Bus to BWI, and Light Rail from there.