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Va. Rep. to DC: Leave slugs alone

Don't mess with the slugs (or those who drive them).

That's what U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) said in a letter to D.C. Police--who said they agreed--after reports of ticketing slugging commuters made headlines last month. Connolly, a first-term congressman from Northern Virginia facing re-election this fall, contacted D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier following a WJLA/ABC 7 report last month that suggested police were targeting slugging commuters, handing out $100 tickets. WTOP found that police were specifically cluing in on a spot at 14th Street and Independence Avenue in Southwest Washington because it is a no-stopping zone.

"Chief Lanier was very gracious and made it clear that the D.C. police were not mounting a campaign against slugging commuters," Connolly said in a statement Wednesday, who called the practice "win-win-win," particularly for residents not served by Metro.

Slugging, or instant carpooling, is a unique Washington area commuting tradition dating back to the 1970s, involving drivers stopping to pick up passengers (the "slugs") on their way into D.C., Arlington, the Pentagon or other destinations. The commuters take advantage of HOV lanes and typically adhere to an unwritten rule of decorum (Check out The Post's Steve Ginsberg's take on the slug's life).

As a press release from Connolly's office recalled, "Slugging is a home-grown system that was put in place by commuters for commuters without government assistance, although local Northern Virginia governments support the concept as a way to reduce traffic congestion."

It continued: "There are at least 18 slug lines in Springfield, Woodbridge, Stafford, and Fredericksburg, Virginia which serve thousands of commuters daily. Slug lines along 14th Street in the District are located at the intersection of 14th and New York, Constitution, and Independence."

--Derek Kravitz

By Luke Rosiak  | July 29, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting, District, Virginia  | Tags:  Slugging  
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Next: McCartney: Get serious, Metro


I think, like so many other things, this needs to be subject to a rule of reasonableness.

Yes, if the drivers stopped in a no-stopping zone they violated the law and are subject to ticketing.

Perhaps, then, the signs ought to be changed to allow for momentary stopping for pickup or discharge of passengers while prohibiting parking or standing.

The real problem isn't with people who quickly stop to pick up or drop off slugs. The problem is with people who, when there are no slugs heading to their destination, want to sit there waiting for slugs to arrive. That blocks traffic and cannot be allowed to continue. (The 14th and Constitution slug line is worse because there is nowhere for drivers to stop that doesn't obstruct traffic. The slug line ought to be around the corner on Madison between 14th and 15th because there is a bus cut-out where drivers could stop without blocking a thru lane.) While slugging may alleviate congestion on I-395, it's not helpful to allow the slug system to cause congestion on 14th Street, or other streets, if drivers are attempting to sit illegally waiting for passengers. Go around the block or go to the Pentagon slug lines.

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 29, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Who tickets the tour buses, those stop everywhere and create traffic mayhem.

Posted by: 123cartoon | July 29, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

We need more police working traffic duty instead of harassing photographers and eating doughnuts.

Connolly also could stand to eat fewer doughnuts.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 29, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for setting up an official "Carpool Staging Zone" on 14th Street, with a 1 minute limit for stopping/standing during rush hour. I think it is a resaonable compromise.

San Francisco does this, they have officially signed carpool staging areas downtown for Bay Bridge (the other Bay Bridge) 'slugs' (they are not called slugs there).

I agree that slugging is a win-win-win-win for solo drivers who get to use the HOV lanes, slugs who get a quick/free ride, NOVA residents who have less cars on the roads, and DC residents who have less cars in the city. It should be accomplished within the bounds of the law though, and in this case I'm strongly recommending that the laws be changed to accomodate this practice.

Posted by: thetan | July 29, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

this is nonsense ... daily you have slug drivers parked in the curb lane on 14th St. Southbound, south of Constitution, holding up traffic ... either find a better place to let the slugs get picked up or ticket them, just as I would be ticketed if I left my car unattended with its flashers on for minutes on end during rush hour restrictions...

Posted by: fendertweed | July 29, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Who does Rep. Gerald E. Connolly think he is telling another jurisdiction how to enforce their laws? I bet he would never tell Maryland or West Virgina how to enforce their laws. He can get away with this because the District can't do anything to him.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | July 29, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

It's as if Congress thinks it has jurisdiction over the federal district. Silly Congressmen.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 29, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

... Connolly should put some money where his mouth is .. come up with an appropriation to build a slug staging area OFF THE STREET, so it doesn't hold up my carpool every day as we have to deal with illegal lane blockages & congestion due to loitering slug drivers...

Posted by: fendertweed | July 29, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

how about putting on pressure about all the traffic tickets and over zealous parking enforcement in DC too.

Posted by: oknow1 | July 29, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Kudos the Congressman Connolly for speaking up to DC officials on behalf of the people whom he was elected to represent. Now, its high tile for Steny Hoyer, Donna Edwards and the other members of the Maryland congressional delegation to do the same for their constituents who are annually hit up for millions by strategically placed traffic speed cameras.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | July 29, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Actually, slugging isn't unique to DC. San Francisco commuters use slug lines to commute to/from the East Bay to SF. The slug lines have been around since at least the late 70s. For info, go to:

Posted by: RockvilleBear | July 29, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Actually, slugging isn't unique to DC. San Francisco commuters use slug lines to commute to/from the East Bay to SF. The slug lines have been around since at least the late 70s. For info, go to:

Posted by: RockvilleBear | July 29, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but in San Francisco it's generally known as "casual carpooling." The term "slugging" is generally considered a DC-specific term. Notice that "thetan" mentioned San Francisco.

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 29, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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