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Get There: December 9, 2007 - December 15, 2007

The Weekend and Beyond

The Weather Sleet, snow and freezing rain are all in the forecast for Saturday afternoon into Sunday. Here's a link to the National Weather Service forecast at AccuWeather.com. Our Traffic page now has road camera views on a clickable map of the region. Metrorail This Weekend The transit authority abandoned the experiment with four-car trains. (Yea!) But you'll still be dealing with delays resulting from single tracking around track maintenance and rail car testing. This will involve the Red, Blue, Orange and Green lines. Here's a link to a full description on Metro's Web site. Humpback Bridge Work Reconstruction of the Humpback Bridge on the George Washington Parkway just north of Interstate 395 is scheduled to begin on Jan. 7. Traffic delays on the parkway are likely during the 2-1/2 years the project will take to complete. All four lanes will be open during the rush periods, but some will...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 14, 2007; 9:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Advisories  
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What Metro Left Unresolved

Metro customers will start to absorb the biggest ever increase in the cost of riding on Monday, Jan. 7, when the new peak fares and parking fees approved today kick in across the region. Highlights: The Metro board adopted the compromise pushed by its Maryland representatives, somewhat blunting the impact of the increases on suburban commuters who park at the outer stations and ride the trains for long distances while killing the proposal to offer more reserved parking spaces. Over 18 months, the plan should raise about enough money to balance the transit authority budget. But the Metro board's action today did not answer many questions that riders are asking of Metro, and that Metro board members are asking each other. Let's look at a few. Will customers desert? Nobody really knows. Among the 422 people who spoke during the six public hearings or submitted written comments to Metro, about...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 13, 2007; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Metro  
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Help For Crowded MARC and Metrorail

Two sources of some joy today for rail riders: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that MARC's Penn Line will be getting three new trains to ease crowding during the afternoon rush and add night service, all starting in February. These are the three new trains: -- A 500-seat express leaving Union Station at 5:14 p.m., which the governor's announcement says should relieve crowding on the 5:20 p.m. train. -- A train leaving Baltimore at 10:30 p.m. and stopping at BWI Thurgood Marshall station to pick up late-arriving airport passengers heading for Washington. -- A train leaving Washington for Baltimore at 11:45 p.m., offering more flexibility for people who need to work late but want to take transit. Here's a link to the full text of the announcement from the governor's office. Meanwhile, Lena Sun wrote in today's Post that the prayers of many Metrorail riders have been answered: The transit...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2007; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  
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Fare Cards and Magnets

This reader has a problem so common among Metro riders that I thought I'd seek your advice. Dear Dr. Gridlock: I must say I've debated about who, at The Post, could best help me with a little problem I've been experiencing: Dr. Gridlock or Suzanne D'Amato in her fashion column. It's a dumb question that probably every commuter knows the answer to, but I clearly need some help. A couple of months ago, I found that my Metro fare card, with plenty of money on it, wouldn't work. At the window I was told it had become de-magnetized. Solution: Go to Metro Center, to the Sales Office, to get new cards issued. I admitted that I suspected it was my purse, with its many magnetic closures. The guy was patient enough to let me experiment with exactly how magnetic they were. Once satisfied that I knew which sections of the...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2007; 5:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Metro  
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Crowding on MARC

All our local rail systems -- Metro, MARC and VRE -- are providing a useful service to riders through their e-mail alerts, and MARC just upgraded its system. But useful as these systems are, they can also serve as a sad catalogue of inconvenience to customers. Just now, I saw this one for MARC riders: "Penn Line - Due to a shortage of available cars train 428 (415p DP WASH) tonight and train 405 (555a DP BALT)tomorrow morning will be short one car. Expect severe overcrowding on both of these trains. We regret the inconvenience." My mailbag often includes letters from MARC riders contending for the dubious honor of riding on the most delayed or most crowded line. Just judging from the mail, the winner often appears to be the Brunswick Line, to the west of Washington, but lately I've been hearing from Camden and Penn riders. An online chat...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 11, 2007; 4:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  
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5-Minute Drill on Transportation

It was a great idea: Get a bunch of transportation experts into a room and tell them they can each talk for five minutes. By the time they were done, they had knit together the progress made and the challenges still ahead as the Washington region struggles to keep people mobile. The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, which sponsored this seminar on Oct. 4, has put the speakers' talking points, charts and maps online. Here's a link to a 100-page pdf file based on the presentation. The focus was on the problems and potential for transportation progress in Northern Virginia -- the Dulles rail project, the efforts to improve the Virginia Railway Express and the HOT lane construction program -- but much of the material was of interest to the entire region, including population growth, land use issues and travel trends. Like this, from John McClain, deputy director of the Center...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 11, 2007; 8:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Service Resumes on Green Line

A previous incident was creating major delays for afternoon commuters. Release from wmata.com warns commuters of Green Line delays: Metrorail customers can expect major delays along the Green Line this afternoon due to an individual who was struck by a train as it pulled into the Fort Totten Metrorail station headed in the direction of Branch Avenue.Trains are single-tracking through the area, taking turns headed in both directions between West Hyattsville and Georgia Ave-Petworth Metrorail stations. Shuttle buses have also been requested to help passengers get around the incident. The free shuttles are likely to start arriving at these affected stations by 5:30 p.m. Customers who can use the Red Line to get around the situation by transferring at Gallery Place-Chinatown Metrorail station or at the Fort Totten Metrorail station are encouraged to do so....

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  December 10, 2007; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Longer Trains, Shorter Trains

There are more eight car trains on Metro during peak periods this week, and more four car trains during off peak periods. Metro adds and subtracts train cars. (Gerald Martineau) Metro today will expand lengthen three Red Line trains into eight-car trains. On the Orange and Green lines, two trains will be lengthened to eight cars during the rush periods. This is because Metro has added 20 new cars to its fleet. The remaining cars out of the 20 will be held in reserve in case another train must be withdrawn from service because of mechanical problems. But the gap between peak and off peak service is growing this winter. During the off peak periods and weekends, you're more likely to see four-car trains on all the lines. Metro is trying to save money during the season when the ridership is lower. When the tourists return in March, the trains...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 10, 2007; 8:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting  
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