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Get There: January 7, 2007 - January 13, 2007

Getting Around This Weekend

Can't go skiing this weekend because there's nothing around here to ski on? Some Virginians are on a four-day weekend, thanks to the Lee-Jackson Day state holiday on Friday. While others must settle for the three-day weekend provided by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday. The weather outlook isn't great for travelers, but at least it's consistent: It's a headlights and windshield wipers weekend. Showers through Monday, with high temperatures in the 50s and lows in the high 30s and 40s. If you're hanging around town, and maybe taking in the "Monster Jam" of trucks at Verizon Center or "King Lear" at the Folger Shakespeare Library (anybody got tickets for both?) or seeing "King: A Filmed Record" at the AFI Silver Theatre, you can reach all of those by Metro. But here are some things to know about the weekend transit schedule: -- Track work: Arlington Cemetery...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 12, 2007; 8:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  holiday travel  
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Etiquette for Transit Riders?

A friend of mine from Baltimore who takes the MARC train to Washington asked me whether we've talked about the standards of behavior in crowded cars. Like other MARC riders, and VRE riders and Metrorail and Metrobus riders, she's used to traveling in vehicles where there is little or no room for passengers to maneuver. Who stands, who sits, and where? Which way do you lean to get out of the way of a conductor or passengers moving along the aisles? Can you save a seat for someone? The commuters who form the slug lines to carpool into Washington have their own standards of behavior for riding in groups, such as: Only the driver should initiate a conversation and talking on cell phones is not allowed. Who's got some practical advice for transit passengers during the everyday crowding we encounter? I'm trying to be focused here: I don't mean stand...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 11, 2007; 8:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  
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Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss. Martin O'Malley, who will become Maryland governor next week, introduced his designated transportation secretary at a jammed town hall meeting in Montgomery County last night. John D. Porcari has served most recently as vice president for administrative affairs at the University of Maryland in College Park. But before that, he spent four years as Maryland's transportation secretary under Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Porcari helped get the big reconstruction projects started at BWI-Marshall Airport and the Wilson Bridge. He also helped improve Maryland's Department of Motor Vehicles services. When O'Malley introduced Porcari last night in the auditorium at Einstein High School, many people stood to applaud, in what generally proved to be a love-fest for the governor-elect and the new Montgomery County executive, Ike Leggett. When Leggett invited the public to approach two microphones, scores of people took up the offer. The first transportation topic that...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 10, 2007; 8:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Learning About Long Commutes

Would you agree that there are two basic issues in a long-distance commute: How do you endure it, and what makes it worth enduring? I had my own version of it: When I worked at the Long Island, N.Y., newspaper Newsday, I commuted 50 miles from my home in Westchester County, north of New York City, to the middle of the island. I did that 100 mile round trip, including two toll plazas and a bridge each way, for five years because I wanted to. Of course, I could have moved when I took the job on Long Island, but I didn't see anything out there that I lived in my price range, wanted to live near my old friends and had a very nice apartment in a great location. Always drove solo. Transit wasn't a good option on that route at those unstable hours. Michael Leahy, a magazine writer...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2007; 8:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Metro's Problem-Plagued Cars

Metro and the National Transportation Safety Board have not determined the cause of Sunday's derailment at Mount Vernon Square, but it's interesting to note that it involved the troublesome 5000 Series of railcars. The transit authority bought 192 of these cars, which were the first to have the red, white and blue color scheme (although by now, many other cars also have that color scheme). They began to enter service in 2001 and last of them started running in 2004. The cars were built by CAF Inc., a Spanish manufacturer that was hoping to enter the U.S. transit market. The cars has troubles all through the construction process, plus there were many mechanical and electronic problems once they entered service. They were involved in four derailments in less than 18 months. There was a debate within Metro over whether the design of the cars was a contributing factor, but they...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 8, 2007; 8:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Metro  
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