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Get There: January 28, 2007 - February 3, 2007

It's Only Mostly Dead

The "compromise" transportation plan worked out among some Republican leaders in Virginia was a compromise among those leaders, not a negotiated settlement with the General Assembly members who believe the commonwealth shouldn't set one public priority against the anothers. Now that the Senate Finance Committee has rejected that plan, it's time to work out a true compromise. The political mechanism for it exists in Richmond. The House of Delegates and Senate can do their dealing in a conference committee before the end of the legislative session. Big problem: The session has only three weeks to go. Northern Virginia's advocates for transportation improvements, many of whom were in Richmond on Thursday to lobby for the cause, should not give up now. Some people are pinning their hopes on the November elections to fashion a General Assembly more favorable to big investment in transportation. But that prospect is chancy at best. Just...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 2, 2007; 8:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Driving in Winter Weather

With snow showers and slush in the forecast, I thought I'd publish this reader's observation about his drive on the Capital Beltway during the Jan. 21 snowfall, and a request that you let me know about your travel experiences in today's weather. (Either here, on "Get There," or in an e-mail to drgridlock@washpost.com.) Before you leave today, check for current driving conditions on our Traffic Page. Our highway departments actually take a lot of pride in their ability to prepare for and execute a cleanup, while travelers are always on the lookout for lapses. Here's what dismayed one motorist last time. Dear Dr. Gridlock: Unfortunately I had to travel on the inner loop of the Beltway from the Wilson Bridge to Tysons Corner on the evening of January 21st. This snow event was well-forecasted on three counts: timing-wise, intensity-wise, and total accumulation: A light snow fell from 1 p.m. to...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 1, 2007; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Driving  
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Metro's Latest Problems

Some greeting for Metro's new GM. At the controls only a week and the new toy keeps breaking down. Some ride for Red Line passengers. You see the new T-shirt on the cover of The Post's Style section this morning? "I Rode the Red Line in January and it was Smokin' " Could be a big seller, even in February, if someone decides to produce it. Lena Sun wrote a story for today's Post about Metro's troubled Wednesday, which involved a bomb scare a small fire at Farragut North for the second day in a row and a fire aboard a bus for the second day in a row. With an excellent sense of timing, Metro also announced a new feature on its customer service phone line that allows callers to get more information about incidents likely to cause significant delays. The transit authority put out a lengthy statement about...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 1, 2007; 8:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Driving With GPS

I didn't get lost till I got to be Dr. Gridlock. I prided myself on having a pretty good sense of direction and knowing where I was. But that became far more of a challenge last summer when I began driving around the region with letters from readers on the passenger seat. I was often going to places I was unfamiliar with so I could experience the same thing the writers had gone through and better understand their complaints. So for Christmas, the Grid Spouse gave me a GPS navigation unit. (My sister, who is much lower tech, gave me a set of jumper cables and a flashlight.) Now I guess because I deal in dissatisfaction, I'm looking for the downside of navigating by GPS rather than the stack of map books I also keep in the car. First, the upside: I haven't gotten lost. If I trust the force,...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 31, 2007; 6:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Driving  
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Purple Line Rally Today

Backers of the proposed transitway between New Carrollton and Bethesda rallied today in front of the State House in Annapolis to show continued support for the project. Leaders of the effort have been feeling pretty good since the November elections, in which many Purple Line supporters were victorious. The change in administrations in Annapolis also suggests that planners will wind up focusing on it as a light rail line rather than the bus rapid transit system that so interested Bob Flanagan, who was former governor Bob Ehrlich's transportation secretary. These days, it's rare to find anyone refering to the project as the Bicounty Transitway, the name it had during the Ehrlich administration. Last week's Montgomery County Council hearing on transportation priorities was mostly about how much people love the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway along the I-270 corridor and how much they hate the intercounty connector. But as...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 30, 2007; 8:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  
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New Metro Chief Introduces Himself

The new guy looked pretty good: John B. Catoe Jr., the D.C. native who took over as Metro's general manager last Thursday, held his first press conference this moring to talk about his initial impressions and plans regarding the transit system. Nothing horrible has happened during his five-day watch, so this wasn't hardball. Still, he did many of the things that suggest his skills as a manager: Respect for his staff, a vision of what he can do to improve its performance, a focus on his customers, powers of observation and a sense that he's responsible for how this all comes together. His initial attention to the transit system's safety shows not only a good sense of priorities but also of timing, since the recent deaths of track workers and the derailment of a train are so prominent in the minds of transit workers and customers. Catoe said he wants...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 29, 2007; 2:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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More Information From Metro

Metro is going to launch an information program in a couple of weeks for those of us who actually want to know why the train got stopped and how long it's going to stand still. The program that Lena Sun wrote about in Sunday's Post reminds me of those AM radio broadcasts that police or highway departments use to tell us why traffic is stopped on the highway and whether we can do anything to get out of it. For Metro, it will be a phone call to the customer service line that gets us the information about the delay. Now, I know what you're going to say -- or at least the first thing you're going to say. If train operators or station managers were sharing information, or if all the announcements were clear, we wouldn't need this. And it's true. Another thing you'll point out is that if...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 29, 2007; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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