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A View From the Pope's Traffic

Standing atop the Anacostia Metro garage:

I can see that traffic is very heavy on I-295, on the Suitland Parkway and other approaches to the 11th Street Bridge. Traffic is diverting from the closed Frederick Douglass Bridge and instead traffic is taking detour routes that most veteran commuters are familiar with from shutdown of the Douglass Bridge last summer.

11th%20Street%20Bridge%20%282%29.jpg Traffic was okay on 11th Street Bridge. (Thomson)

While traffic is very heavy here this morning, it's not as bad as the first few days of last summer's Douglass Bridge shutdown. Commuters have either learned some new routes or are are avoiding the area today.

On Metro rail:

The Greenline is extremely heavy this morning, as would be expected. Hundreds of people are crowding onto the trains heading toward the Navy Yard Station. You can tell the difference between the worshippers and the commuters: The worshippers are smiling! (And I mean that literally.)

The worst problem I saw occurred when a train malfunctioned at L'Enfant Plaza at about 7:45 a.m. It caused a 15-minute gap in getting Branch Avenue-bound trains to the Navy Yard Station. However, the platform at Navy Yard Station was able to handle the crowding.

It's taking about five minutes to clear the platform, compared to three minutes to clear the platform during recent baseball games. The Metro transit police are lined along the platform and are directing arriving passengers to the two exits.

-- Dr. Gridlock

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 17, 2008; 8:40 AM ET
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Next: Metro Handles Stadium-Bound Crowds


Metro gets a D- from me today. Although they claimed that they would run extra trains, today it seems like they ran less. My trip from Suitland station to L'Enfant took approximately 50 minutes and we only had a few worshippers onboard.

Posted by: Chris | April 17, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Commuter bus is my usual mode of transportation to work. However, I chose to go in via Metro just to avoid traffic congestion. Boarded the train at Branch Ave around 7:15 or so and arrived at Farragut North around 7:50. Thanks Metro for a smooth ride with no problems whatsoever. My experience was GREAT!!

Posted by: Deb | April 17, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering the Metro has told people using the "Pope Pass" that they will need a SmarTrip to get out of the parking lots. It could make rush hour parking exits hell.

Posted by: Rockville | April 17, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I thought the "Mass Pass" was a SmarTrip card?

Which if it is, it definitely throws cold water on the theory that Metro can't program its 1 and 7 day passes onto SmarTrip cards...

Posted by: Woodley Park | April 17, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

From "The $9 commemorative Mass Pass is a paper farecard that can be used for unlimited travel on Metrorail all day long on April 17 only"

Posted by: Rockville | April 17, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse bad! I had heard SmarTrip on other news sources...

Posted by: Woodley Park | April 17, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

They ought to start accepting E-ZPass for the parking, same as is done at Kennedy Airport.

Posted by: Rich | April 17, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure if Metro decided to accept EZ-Pass that would take years, like everything else Metro tries to do.

Brilliant plan to sell a $9 paper farecard to infrequent users of the system who nonetheless need a $5 Smartrip card to exeunt from the garages.

Posted by: MetroOpensNothing | April 17, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Actually E-ZPass for parking at Metro would be a nightmare even if Metro did everything right. See, E-ZPass is a conglomeration of toll agencies, and E-ZPass as we know it can *ONLY* be used on toll roads and bridges/tunnels. What Rich saw at JFK airport was actually something called E-ZPass plus. Three things differentiate E-ZPass Plus from E-ZPass. 1) E-ZPass toll transactions are shared from agency to agency. So if I have a NY E-ZPass and I cross the Verrazano Bridge in NYC, it deducts in real time. If I drive on the Dulles Toll Road, VDOT notes my tag number and then reconciles every NY E-ZPass holder's VDOT charges once a day. E-ZPass Plus transactions cannot be shared between E-ZPass agencies. Thus, if I tried paying for parking at JFK with my NY E-ZPass, the charges would be accepted. If I had a VDOT transponder, I would have to pay cash for parking.
2) E-ZPass Plus is opt-in. I log into my account page and I have the option to allow E-ZPass Plus charges on my account or not. So if I had a NY account and opted out, I would have to pay cash for parking at JFK.
3) Since there are several ways E-ZPass Plus transactions can fail, there has to be an opportunity to accept cash for payment. Unlike a "ticket" toll road like the Jersey Turnpike where your entry interchange is written onto your E-ZPass and then read off of it when you exit, at JFK, you still have to take a ticket when you enter the parking structures. When you exit, you hand the ticket in and the charges are computed. You can just tell them "E-ZPass" and it will try to deduct from your account. If it doesn't work you still have the option of handing the attendant cash.

So here are the problems with E-ZPass for Metro parking. Maryland and Virginia each issue their own tags. It would be extremely costly to have two systems whereby MD tags work in MD and VA tags work in VA lots. Not to mention there is no guarantee that all MD residents have MD tags and VA residents have VA tags. I still have my NY E-ZPass account (and have paid for JFK parking with it) from when I was in High School back in the early 1990's. Then there are also lots in DC as well,and DC is not a member state of the E-ZPass network so it would cost them at least $1 million in dues to the interagency group just to join. Can you imagine the confusion tourists would face...."I'm not going to buy a SmarTrip card because my E-ZPass from PA will work"....then find out it doesn't. Or someone from MD tries using it in VA. Or someone in VA tries using it VA but didn't know the "opted out" of E-ZPass Plus.

I know these are all rules and people might just say "change them". But that would require the approval of a majority of member states, everywhere from Maine to Illinois. Not likely that they will want to make an exception just for Metro without allowing exceptions for their states too. And that would defeat the purpose of the ban on inter-issuing agency E-ZPass Plus transactions...there are a finite number of toll booths in the USA but an infinite number of potential E-ZPass Plus collection locations. The accounting would be a nightmare, so it was decided way back when that those transactions would be intra-agency only.

Posted by: Woodley Park | April 17, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse

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