The Upside of Heat
Most suburban buses are free today, because of the Code Red forecast for air quality. It's not a good thing to have a Code Red and it's not a good thing to have a temperature reading in the 100 degree range, but it might have been a chance for some people to learn about transit and avoid some of the hassles of driving themselves.
Anybody take advantage of that?
I know you couldn't prove it by southbound Route 29 this morning, which was its usual bad self. An accident blocked the left lane at Burnt Mills Avenue, but there were also the usual delays in the right lane at Four Corners approaching the ramp to the Beltway's outer loop.
You can get your own view of traffic conditions by checking the reports and the cameras on the traffic page.
By the way, another recommendation for motorists on a Code Red day is to avoid pumping gas during the daytime hours.
Meanwhile, Metro transit says it is making sure air conditioning units are working inside all rail cars and Metrobuses. The transit authority will also temporarily suspend daytime weekday heavy track maintenance work if the temperatures are near 100 degrees.
It's pretty hot in some of the underground stations. Definitely not a day for the suits. Cooling those stations is like turning on your home air conditioner with the windows open. Dress for transit this week.
Metro says that it is upgrading the cooling system over a five-year period. The project, says Metro, will include the replacement of eight cooling towers, five chiller units, and 40 station air-conditioning units.
"Metrorail stations were designed to be 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperatures," Metro said in a statement about the hot weather. "However, it may feel warmer to passengers due to increased ridership, doors opening, which releases the cooler air during stops and heat generated from more frequent train operation."
Out-of-service escalators and elevators at stations have been a source of annoyance for years, but really watch out for yourselves on the escalators in this heat. No heart-pounding walks up those steps.
There's a way of checking on the status of the equipment in each station.
Metro provides information at this link.
If you find yourself on a rail car or a Metrobus that doesn't have air conditioning, Metro asks that you take down the number of the car or bus and report it by calling this number: 202-637-1328.
-- Robert Thomson
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