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Get There: November 11, 2007 - November 17, 2007

Advice For The Weekend and Beyond

Have a safe Thanksgiving week. Our Post commuter page on Sunday, Nov. 18, will have some suggestions about holiday routes. Remember this good advice from many other travelers: Have alternative routes in mind for when you encounter heavy congestion, but realize that there are no undiscovered shortcuts in our region. Timing your departure for off hours is your best shot at a good trip. Walkathon Saturday Metrorail will open at 6 a.m., an hour early, on Saturday, Nov. 17, for people attending the 20th Annual Help the Homeless Walkathon, which begins at 9 a.m. and goes from 7th to 14th Street NW along the mall. Metro Weekend Work The track maintenance and rail car testing on the Red, Orange and Green lines this weekend, Nov. 17 and 18, menas there will be delays as trains share a single open track. Here's a link to the full details on Metro's Web...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 16, 2007; 3:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Commuters Blast Fare Hikes

Long distance commuters who will bear the brunt of Metro's fare and fee increases told transit authority board members Wednesday night that the plan is unfair. The hearing in Rockville, attended by about 70 people with 26 testifying, was the confrontation I had expected to see on Tuesday night in Reston, at Metro's first hearing on the proposals. Last night's session drew battle lines between city and suburban interests. Many commuters noted that the impact of the increases would fall most heavily on those who drive to the Metrorail stations at the ends of the lines and take the trains to downtown Washington. Their traveling costs will go up much more sharply than those of people who travel by bus or take shorter rail trips. "The proposal assumes that commuters who ride longer distances should be punished financially because they ride farther," Laraine Balk Hope of Rockville said in her...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 15, 2007; 9:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Happy About Fare Increases?

Couldn't blame Metro board members if they thought so, based on the turnout at last night's hearing in Reston on the fare and fee increases that could take effect in January. The hearing was in Reston. (See Lena Sun's story in today's Post.) I had expected to hear many questions about service on suburban bus routes and the Orange Line, along with complaints about the combined impact of increasing parking fees and train fares for long-distance riders. In fact, there was articulate, reasonable and specific testimony on those topics. The problem was that only a handful of people were there to voice it. The burden of speaking for hundreds of thousands of transit riders fell to Cali Ence of Vienna, Peg Owens of Upton, Ray Rowley of Lorton and a couple of other local residents who commute by train and bus. The session started at 7 p.m. with a brief...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 14, 2007; 7:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Should Holiday Rules Change?

After Veterans Day, I got several letters suggesting that on certain holidays, local governments maintain their regular weekday traffic patterns. Normally, governments ease the rules on lane use and parking, and they keep traffic signals set at off-peak timings. Is that out of date? Please share your experiences. See if they match what the letter writer here had to say. Dear Dr. Gridlock: Can anything be done to maintain normal rush hour traffic patterns on some federal holidays? Many businesses in the District work on some federal holidays, and having traffic flow stay on weekend patterns creates havoc with already difficult commutes. For instance, the Clara Barton Parkway and Canal Road go one way in and out during morning and afternoon rush. On holidays they remain on two way traffic. Monday was Veteran's Day, but many businesses were open as normal. Traffic backed up on the Clara Barton from the...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 14, 2007; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Metro Hearings Start Tonight

If I printed all the letters coming in about the Metro fare increase proposals, the Dr. Gridlock column would be nothing but that till the end of the year. Most oppose the plan, but some say fare hikes are needed. Just about everyone has questions or comments comparing the increases with the current level of service. Metro trains pass at L'Enfant Plaza Station. (Michael Williamson) Metro management says the cost of the service is increasing. Customers are not focused on Metro's internal issues. They relate the cost of the service to the quality of the product. Here are extracts from some of the letters. (You can write to me at drgridlock@washpost.com.) These aren't weighted to reflect majority sentiments in the mailbag. Rather, I wanted you to sample the range of ideas people have about what should be done, since the Metro fare increase hearings start tonight. Dear Dr. Gridlock. Just...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 13, 2007; 7:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Metro  
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Lessons From Out of Town

An out-of-town television news crew interviewed me last week about our traffic problems. The two reporters explained to me that their city now finds itself overwhelmed with congestion. Turning to other places for ideas, they were fascinated by the notion that getting around Washington is so difficult that the local newspaper has a columnist who writes about nothing but transportation issues. The TV crew was from Belgrade. The Serbian capital has too many cars for its roads and bridges. When more and more people can drive, fewer and fewer want to wait for a bus to come along. It was all starting to sound very familiar. Are there lessons we can learn from the experiences of other cities, both positive and negative. One letter-writer things we can. Here's what he suggested: "I was wondering if you could start a series about suggestions from other cities that could work here in...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 12, 2007; 8:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Commuting  
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