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Get There: February 10, 2008 - February 16, 2008

Weekend-Long Delays on Metro

Metrorail riders are used to service delays caused by weekend repair and testing projects, but this one more extensive. It's phase two -- the final phase -- of a bridge rehab job at Metro Center, and it's going to disrupt service on three lines for the entire President's Day weekend. The problem is that the Red Line tracks are sagging where they cross over the Blue and Orange Line tracks. There's a bridge at that point that needs to have its bearing pads replaced to eliminate the sag. You'll see the work in progress if you ride the Blue and Orange Lines this weekend, but it's probably not worth it. You'd be better off finding a way around Metro Center, even though the station will be open. The bridge is still safe, Metro says. (You can walk across the sagging part without realizing it. I had to stare down at...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 15, 2008; 8:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Metro  
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Metro Looking at New Message Boards

Metro is looking at a new system of big flat screen display panels to carry advertising, information and entertainment in the rail stations, on buses and at bus shelters. The video screens would supplement the electronic boards that display the times and car lengths of arriving trains, as well as some other information about delays and elevator problems. The contract with the company that puts advertising throughout the transit system expires in 2010, and Metro plans to seek proposals from companies interested in using the new technology for a contract that would run about 10 years. Metro could customize the displays for individual stations, and in an emergency could take over control of the boards to get more information to passengers, such as information about bus shuttles around problems. So far so good. But a Metro board committee this morning spent about 45 minutes on questions and comments about how...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 14, 2008; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (245)
Categories:  Metro  
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Three Plans for Better Bus Service

Metro is planning three improvements in its bus service that make a lot of sense. Metro Extra bus at a downtown stop. (Robert Thomson) -- Expand the service that links Union Station and the Navy Yard Station. The N22 line now shuttles commuters between Union Station, Eastern Market and the rapidly developing area around the Navy Yard near the Anacostia Waterfront. When the 41,000 seat Nationals Park opens at the end of March, there will be increased pressure on Metro to provide transportation for fans, and the Green Line can't do it all. The plan is to add night and weekend service on the N22, so fans can connect directly to the Red Line at Union Station or pick up the Blue and Orange Lines at Eastern Market. The buses would run every 10 minutes. -- Expand service on Georgia Avenue's Metro Extra. The route now provides rush period passengers...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 14, 2008; 5:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Perfectly Awful Conditions

This storm fit an unfortunate pattern: Just as rush hour is beginning, the forecast turns out to be slightly off, road conditions take a turn for the worse and the highway crews trying to treat the streets and highways are out in the same traffic as the rest of us. In early December, a similar pattern left many drivers stuck during the morning rush when the first light snow of the season landed. But that was small stuff compared the the regional shutdown that occurred in January 2000. Four-tenths of an inch of snow starting as the afternoon rush was beginning halted traffic for hours. The light snow -- not much but more than the flurries forecasters had predicted -- glazed the chilled roadways before many of the highway crews could get in position to treat them. Drivers talked about five-hour trips up 16th Street NW. Tuesday's afternoon glazing created...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 13, 2008; 10:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Weather  
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Creative Fixes for Bus Line

The Metrobus line with the highest ridership runs between Friendship Heights in upper northwest Washington and the District's far southeastern border, carrying about 20,000 riders a day. A stop on the 30s Line. (Metro photo) The routes along Wisconsin and Pennsylvania avenues that make up the 30s Line can be as long as 14 miles, and despite the high ridership, the buses are slow and the schedules unreliable. Metro has looked at this problem before, but no action resulted. The obvious solution was to break up the lengthy line into shorter routes, but that wasn't popular with people who depended on the bus to take them farther than the proposed cutoff for their segment. A better idea: Since June, Metro has been with the District Department of Transportation and with many of the people who actually ride the buses to reorganize the service. Planners held community meetings and listened to...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 13, 2008; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Metro  
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Tools for the Morning Rush

It's getting better but still slick in spots. You may find your car encrusted in ice, but the rain and morning warming are helping. If you can do as many school districts are doing and start late, you'll probably be better off. Here's the National Weather Service forecast. If you must go, make sure the interior of the car has warmed up so the windows won't be coated in ice again before you get out of the neighborhood. Here's a link to our storm story. And this link takes you to the closings and delays page, which may provide some extra incentive for staying in. If you must go out, here's the traffic page, which has a map pinpointing accidents and slowdowns across the Washington region, as well as traffic cameras. There are numerous reports of traffic signals not working. The Weather Channel has a good list of tips from...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 13, 2008; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Advisories  
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More Newspaper Bins on Platforms

Metro says it has placed newspaper recycling bins on nine station platforms for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks. I hope this helps with the cleanliness of the Metrorail cars as well as with the problem track fires. The Express and The Examiner, the popular publications given away at the station entrances, are too often left aboard the cars. (The Express is part of The Washington Post Co., as am I.) If you think you're doing other riders a favor by placing a copy on your seat as you depart, please reconsider. They can always get their own, and too often, the papers wind up ground into the carpet, where they are amazingly slippery under foot. Worse yet, papers can become part of the trash pile on the tracks. All too often, the trash ignites and train service comes to a halt until the fire can be extinguished....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 12, 2008; 5:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Metro  
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Blue Line Diversion Proposed

The transit authority is considering a plan to send some Blue Line trains across the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac, rather than through the Rosslyn tunnel, and will present its proposal to a Metro board committee this week. How the line's riders will react to the idea probably will depend on whether they work on the eastern or western sides of downtown Washington. If the board were to adopt the proposal -- something that would not occur for many months -- then fewer Blue Line trains would travel up from the Pentagon and through the Rosslyn tunnel to the stops at Foggy Bottom, Farragut West, Metro Center and Federal Triangle during the morning rush. (Or along the reverse path during the afternoon rush.) But for riders who board at Springfield to reach stations on the eastern side of downtown, such as L'Enfant Plaza or Gallery Place or the Navy...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 11, 2008; 9:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (91)
Categories:  Metro  
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