The Daily Feed

Blue Bus is now Circulator

Georgetown Blue Bus / Circulator Notice

Hey Rosslyn, Georgetown, Dupont: notice anything different transit-wise? As of today, the Georgetown Metro Connection (AKA the “Blue Bus”) has switched over to the DC Circulator (AKA the “Red Bus”). The route and stops are the same, but the buses are different, and now you can use Smartrip. And the really good news is that most of the old Blue Bus drivers have also been moved over to driving Circulators, so they haven’t lost their jobs in the switchover.

One major change to watch out for, however: the Rosslyn stop has moved across 19th St to the Georgetown University shuttle pickup point. That sucks a bit since you now have to cross a street if you’re coming from Rosslyn Metro

More from TBD Neighborhoods.

Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: London Edition

All Aboard
‘All Aboard’
courtesy of Samer Farha

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” — Samuel Johnson

I recently spent a week working in London, and got to experience, again, London’s remarkable, ridiculous, insane, and fantastic transportation system first hand. Did I say “again?” Yes, this is probably the umpteenth time I’ve worked in London for a short stint, and the umpteenth time I’ve been exposed to the system of busses, subways, and insanity that is the Transport for London (TfL). I’ve been there for strikes and breakdowns, and I’ve been there in the heat and cold. I prefer it when things are running well and in the cold.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive article on the differences between Metro and the TfL. It’s more about what I see as obvious similarities and differences, and where one might have done a better job.

I’ll start with station architecture: Metro has this one down cold. Huge, cavernous stations with reasonably well marked platforms. The only time you feel claustrophobic in a Metro station is when the system breaks down during rush hour. The Tube is a little different. The system gets its name from the tube-like tunnels, which extend their presence into the stations. But each platform is its own tube, and the platforms get very crowded no matter the time of day. It feels much more closed in, and you will get jostled.
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The Daily Feed

How Green is this Green Community?

Photo courtesy of
‘2009 Solar Decathlon’
courtesy of ‘Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon’

Today the Washington Post tells the story of the revitalization of St. Charles in southern Maryland as a “green community”, with housing that features low-flow toilets, better insulation, and Energy Star certified appliances, among other things.  Developers call this a test for the commercial viability of green homes in a generally conservative area.

While I’m all for more green features in new homes, this doesn’t sound like the most green way to revitalize a community.  St. Charles is 22 miles from DC with no direct transit access to the city, so any new residents would be driving to jobs, schools, and shopping centers.  A more green alternative would be to focus this new development where the infrastructure already exists, so that residents can live without cars.

Also, this is a revitalization effort that aims to start fresh with new housing in the area– 11,000 new homes on 4,000 undeveloped acres.  Personally, I’d think that retrofitting existing homes with energy-efficient features, building more housing where housing already exists, and preserving that 4,000 acres of open space would be the way to go.  But good for St. Charles in taking this first step towards greening the community.

The Daily Feed

VRE Leaving Amtrak

Photo courtesy of
‘VRE heading south’
courtesy of ‘drewsaunders’

Final approval has been given to the Virginia Railway Express to abandon its 17 year relationship with Amtrak. The Northern Virginia and Potomac and Rappahannock transportation commissions all voted today in favor of awarding a new five-year contract to Keolis Rail Services America, a subsidiary of a French transport group. Keolis is the largest private sector transport group in Europe, based out of Paris, France.

The plan was initially approved by the VRE Operations Board in mid-October. The new contract begins July 1, 2010 and has two five-year renewal options.

Life in the Capital, The Features

This is Why You’re Fat

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

This past week, Time Magazine ran an article on why southerners are so fat.  The article was in response to a new report showing Mississippi as the state with the highest rate of obesity for the fifth year in a row.  The top five heaviest states are all in the south: Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Lousiana, and South Carolina.  The typical causes of obesity are all there: southerners tend to be poorer, so they have less money to buy nutritious food; southern food is greasy and fried; it’s too hot to exercise outdoors; the list goes on.  But this article also included the fact that many southern towns lack access to public transportation, that many places lack sidewalks, and that there are few safe places to bike.

It’s refreshing to see a national publication tie the physical environment to obesity.  Suburbs and more rural areas have typically been home to more overweight residents than central cities: by driving everywhere, you’re not getting the exercise you would be by walking to the bus stop, or biking down the block.  Suburbs also have fewer destinations within walking distance: going to the grocery store or heading to the movies require car trips, rather than bike or walking trips.   We’re lucky in the District that we have a great public transportation system, lots of sidewalks and crosswalks, and a growing system of bike lanes and paths– things that encourage us to lead more active lives.  Because of that, we’re on average about 6 pounds lighter than our exurban counterparts.

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The Daily Feed

A better iPhone Metro app

Photo courtesy of Me

courtesy of Me

Sunday’s WaPo had an article about online transit tools, including mention of an iPhone app for Metro times. I already had one but I thought I’d drop the $1 to see if the one they mention, iTrans DC Metro, was better. It was not.

If you’re of a mind to spend a buck on a tool for metro times – and I have found it worthwhile – grab iMetroMap DC instead. [Confusingly, it shows the above-pictured name once installed] While it currently lack one feature that iTrans DC Metro has – location awareness to tell you where the closest stop is – it has several others that are far more useful. In particular the ‘favorites’ option where you can have the stations you need information on most often.

There seem to be plenty of others out there – any of you have one you prefer over either the Post’s suggestion or mine?

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.

Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: Tysons and Trains

Photo courtesy of juan.barredo
DSC_9921, courtesy of juan.barredo

Two items of interest today for commuters on both sides of the Potomac: Tysons Corner and MARC.

Tysons Corner. It’s a name that sends shivers up most North Virginian commuters’ spines. Notorious for traffic flow “issues” and the spawning of language more suitable for “R” rated movies, the Tysons area is one big, over-bloated, dysfunctional urban mess.

So can it be fixed? Is it really possible to make Tysons a more commuter- and pedestrian-friendly place to be?

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