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No Time to Behave Normally

It's just not normal out there. The laws of commuting behavior that applied back in the days when it was 85 degees are not suited to these times. Even a little walking -- even a little standing for a bus or train -- is enough to wilt a person in this 100 degree weather.

If you're driving home from work, check the Web site's Traffic Page before you go. Ease up on the gas pedal. Things get annoying in a hurry on a day like this.

This afternoon, I-66 westbound looks sluggish out beyond the Beltway. There's a Jimmy Buffett concert tonight at 8 at Nissan Pavillion. They're going to let people bring bottles of water into the seating area. The Legg Mason tennis tournament continues this afternoon and evening at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center at 16th and Kennedy Streets NW.

It's a Code Orange day, meaning the air quality is predicted to be a bit better than yesterday and the suburban buses are charging fares again.

With the temperatures this high, Metro is imposing its rail slowdown again this afternoon, so trains will be spaced out more and will travel more slowly above ground to conserve power. Take a cue from Metro and conserve your own power.

Any vehicle -- bus or subway -- that has to open and close doors frequently is going to put heavy stress on its cooling system today. Wednesday afternoon, I rode the DC Circulator bus from 16th Street NW to Union Station, and it was hot. Not too many passengers to share body heat, plenty of seats available, but the bus has big windows and stops every couple of blocks.

Do things you wouldn't normally do: Don't walk up station escalators to get to the top a little quicker. The only thing at the top is a blast of amazingly hot air as you exit the station.

Wait under an overhang or canopy until the train or bus arrives. Move up or back a car if you're uncomfortable on the train. Try to sit on the western or northern side of the rail car if you're above ground.

If you're so bummed by your commuting experience of the past few days that you're thinking of changing your pattern, there's a lot of good advice on The Commuter Page, as well as schedules for many forms of transportation in the region.

By Robert Thomson  |  August 3, 2006; 7:16 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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Comments

This morning at Metro Center, the escalators to the street at 12th & G were not operating. While there is an elevator at that exit, it is extremely slow and a long line of people waiting to use it.

Why can't Metro staff put out a sign BEFORE the faregates directing commuters to an alternate exit. I would have gladly used the 13th Street exit, but was not aware of the problem until I already exited the station & turned the corner to use the escalator. Instead, there was a Metro employee standing next to the inoperable escaltor telling us that it isn't working (DUH!) and that the elevator was located down the hall. Couldn't he have been standing by the fare gates alerting people prior to their exit.

It's the little things that don't get taken care of on a regular basis that drive me up a wall with Metro.

Posted by: BDK | August 3, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

WHY is the yearly Jimmy Buffett / Nissan Pavilion traffic debacle on a weekday? Why today? Why can't they do it on a weekend? AAARGH. It's just now 3pm and already there are traffic alerts on 66 all the way back to Ballston.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I have a long standing gripe:

I commute back and forth over Chain Bridge each day --DC to Virginia and back. Yet I NEVER hear any mention of Chain Bridge on traffic 'blurbs' on the various radio stations--they're all worthless for my purposes; they just parrot each others' reports and are often out of date when you hear them; and they never, ever mention Chain Bridge, even when it is closed...

This evening (8/3) inbound traffic on Chain Bridge was totally blocked by the police--no explanation; I had to circle up to the beltway and down River Road to get home. No mention of this on any traffic network; nothing on the Post website. Why is this part of the DC commute so neglected?

Posted by: PB | August 3, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

So, on days like this in the future we have fewer seats, more people piled up in the middle of the cars to heat each other up, and big empty spaces with no handholds to spread people out in. Way to go Metro!

Posted by: JAG | August 3, 2006 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"... big empty spaces with no handholds to spread people out in."

From what I've seen in the pictures and descriptions that have been linked here and at Metro's site, it would appear that several improvements have been made in the placement of the overhead handholds; mention of spring-loaded, New York-style handholds in some configurations; and the inclusion of seat-back to ceiling bars. Not all the handholds will be accessable to everyone, but it would appear that the 'empty spaces' will not be handhold free.

After you've seen the new configurations, please come back and describe your experience. I'll bet it won't be quite the same as you now imagine it.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 3, 2006 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mike, the new config does nothing to help me at 5-1. The ceiling bars are unreachable even in heels (which I hate anyway) and people do not move into the center of the car. So unless you plan on leaving Baltimore and holding me upright for my trips to and from work, please refrain from suggesting "it won't be quite the same as I imagie".

Posted by: Shorty | August 4, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Hey Mike, the new config does nothing to help me at 5-1. The ceiling bars are unreachable even in heels (which I hate anyway) and people do not move into the center of the car. So unless you plan on leaving Baltimore and holding me upright for my trips to and from work, please refrain from suggesting "it won't be quite the same as I imagine".

Posted by: Shorty | August 4, 2006 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Plus, we'll have to hold on to those germy handrails - yuck! I don't look forward to interacting with everyone's germs like that twice a day.

So excuse me if I don't applaud the new fewer-seats layout.

Posted by: K | August 4, 2006 11:11 AM | Report abuse

'K' said, "Plus, we'll have to hold on to those germy handrails ..."

Do you hold onto the current upright poles? Made of metal just like the handrails. So what's the difference?

'Shorty' said, "So unless you plan on leaving Baltimore and holding me upright for my trips to and from work ..."

I live in Baltimore, but use MARC, MetroRail and MetroBus every day to go to and from work in the DC area. Since I'm on my way to and from work, I don't have the time to "hold[] you upright". That is, unless you want to pay me more than my regular job (total pay, not just hourly rate). If you did, then I could leave that job and work for you, 'holding you upright.'

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 4, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I thought the photo's showed a lot more poles to use then the current cars. And they go from seat back to ceiling so they are usable.

Posted by: N VA | August 4, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

No, I try not to hold on to them - that's what I was saying. In the current configuration, I have a better chance of finding a seat and therefore not having to grab onto anything.

Whatever - I like the Circulator better anyway. Maybe this will be a good reason to continue phasing out my Metro use in favor of the Circulator and additional walking.

Posted by: K | August 7, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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