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Get There: December 10, 2006 - December 16, 2006

Would You Stop Riding?

You can see in today's Post story on the Metro budget proposal that many people told staff writer Lena Sun they'd stop riding if the fares went up. But the last two times the fares went up, people grumbled about not getting what they were paying for, but they kept riding. Would Metro really take a big hit on ridership this time? The fare increase proposal is more complex this time, and part of the intent is to limit the impact on people who are most sensitive to price changes. That includes low income riders, people who have a relatively easy alternative to Metro, off-peak travelers and reverse commuters. If you live and work in the congested heart of this region and you're relatively well off, the transit authority figures, you're less likely to abandon Metro. Most of us will act in our own best interests, rather than out of...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 15, 2006; 12:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (60)
Categories:  Metro  
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Major Highway Improvement Today

Travelers heading south onto I-95 from the Capital Beltway's outer loop should find the new highway ramp open this morning at the Springfield interchange . The project's managers have been anxious to get the thing open, because the new, easier merge represents one of the final big improvements in the eight-year reconstruction of the massive interchange. Plans to open the ramp were set back several times by the fall weather -- too cool or wet for the new lane paint to stick to the pavement. For Local Traffic: The Virginia Department of Transportation says the old ramp that was going to remain open for local traffic to use Exit 169B/A (Old Keene Mill/Franconia Road) will close for about six months to allow for construction work in the local ramp area. The local ramp was to remain open until later December or January, but the work schedule has been moved up....

By Robert Thomson  |  December 15, 2006; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Springfield Interchange  
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Metro Board Cool to Fare Increase

Metro officials presented a budget proposal for next year to the transit authority board this afternoon, then listened as board member after board member stomped hard on the idea of a fare increase. Collectively, the board members placed the fare increases and service cutbacks at the bottom of the pile of ideas for closing Metro's $116 million gap in the budget that will take effect in July. Jim Graham, the D.C. council member who chairs Metro's budget committee, arrived with a prepared statement that opened with "I will be unable to support any fare increase, or any change in fare policy that results in a fare increase, until I am satisfied that we have as a board done all we could to insure that every possible step was taken to address the shortfall by other means." As board member after board member weighed in, it was clear that Graham's position...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 14, 2006; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Metro  
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Creating a Fair Fare

If the Metro board winds up approving the fare increases that its staff is proposing today, I'd hate to be the designer who has to figure out how to get all that information onto the signs in the stations. This new fare structure, reported in The Post today by Lena Sun, is the most interesting aspect of the transit authority's effort to close its budget gap. In fact, the staff study of the fare structure began separately, as a strategic review of the fare policy. It's possible that this review should have remained a separate effort. Metro will be trying to sell a complicated new concept in fares at the same time its trying to sell the basic idea that Metro needs a lot more money. Riders are bound to be angry about the fare increase, which would be the third in this decade. Metro board members must know they're...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 14, 2006; 8:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (56)
Categories:  Metro  
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Arlington Cutting Teen Fares

Arlington County has a smart idea: If you want people to get in the habit of riding transit, get them while they're young. Even smarter: Ask them what it would take to get them to ride. The county, always progressive on transit ideas, has a Teen Transit Advisory Board made up of 8th to 12th graders. They identified what they and their peers see as some of the hurdles that transit systems put up, and they included a lack of information (as in, when is the bus coming) and the cost of a ride. At their early sessions this summer, the teens began brainstorming about how to take down some of the barriers and they reviewed the results of a county survey of teenagers. The Arlington County Board has now responded by establishing a youth fare on its ART buses. Starting Jan. 1, the base fare for people with a...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 13, 2006; 6:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  transit  
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D.C. Bike Station Proposed

Concerned about rising Metro fares and looking for an alternative way of getting into the city? Check this out: The District government tonight will present its proposal to create a Bicycle Transit Center at Union Station. The idea is to offer bike parking, rentals, repairs and accessories in a very modern looking structure of glazed panels and steel just to the west side of the train station. It's near where the Metropolitan Branch Trail, a planned bike route from Silver Spring, would pass by the station. There would be parking for about 200 bikes, some changing rooms and lockers. Models for such centers exist in California, Seattle, and Chicago, says DDOT, but this would be the first of its kind on the East Coast. The center could be open in 2008. DDOT is looking for suggestions on the plan, and will take questions and comments after a presentation about it....

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2006; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  Biking  
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What Should Metro Do?

At two Metro town hall meetings in the past several weeks, riders asked the transit authority to improve bus and rail service. People want longer and more frequent trains, more reliable buses and more late night service. Now, Lena Sun reports in today's Post that Metro is considering fare increases and service cutbacks. If the folks at those meetings who asked for better service get to see the improvements they were hoping for, it's likely to come at the expense of other riders, given the financial picture that Metro is presenting to the public this week. If Metro is worried about its financial picture for next year, it's unlikely to boost a service without imposing a compensating cutback on another. The first question riders will have is bound to be whether Metro has done enough to control its expenses. The transit authority says it's not making as much money as...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 11, 2006; 7:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (86)
Categories:  Metro  
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