If It's Like This Now ...
These next couple of weeks are supposed to be as good as it gets for Washington travelers. As many people are out of town now as there are at any point of the year. At least, that's the theory. It's certainly possible that the rise in gas prices and last week's air terror threat could dampen enthusiasm for long distance travel.
As I make my rounds and try to develop a better understanding of the traffic and transit issues we confront, I'm imagining what it will be like in September, with everyone back. I've done some trips by car, rail and bus at various times of day in Virginia, Maryland and the District -- and I don't like what I see.
The best and worst experiences have been aboard buses. For yesterday's newspaper column, I wrote about riding the Circulator bus, an innovative system sponsored by a public-private partnership that operates three routes in downtown Washington. There weren't many people aboard on any of my trips and downtown traffic was relatively light, so it felt great. Some evenings, I would walk over to 16th Street NW and ride the Circulator to Union Station, the pick up the Red Line train -- just to be out in the open for a little longer than if I had taken the train from Farragut North.
The worst feeling was being jammed into a J2 Metrobus for an evening rush period trip from Bethesda to Silver Spring. You're shoulder to shoulder in the bus and you're stuck in the East-West Highway traffic, for a double dip of unpleasantness.
I could use your advice for a Dr. Gridlock newspaper column I plan to write that anticipates the shock that September always brings us. I want to give Post readers some advice on what to watch out for and what might actually be better because of recent improvements. One obvious example is that the new Wilson Bridge opened up over the summer.
I'll ask around among the various transportation and transit departments, but I'd also like to include your thoughts on what's bad and what's better. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I've gotten a lot of good ideas on various topics from the comments on these blog entries. For this upcoming column, I'd like to use a couple of observations and credit the senders, so please include your names and home communities when you send the e-mails.
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