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Get There: June 29, 2008 - July 5, 2008

Schedules Adjusted On July 4

Independence Day is a unique holiday for Washington's transportation system. No other day-off brings so many people to the region's center for so public a celebration. So the region's transit system has to approach it differently: Metrorail will run on a special schedule from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Reduced fares will be in effect all day Friday. No bikes on trains, because of the crowding. Smithsonian Station is closed all day, for security reasons, the transit authority says. Parking at Metro's lots and garages will be free. Metrobus will operate on a Saturday schedule, and MetroAccess, the service for disabled people, will operate from 5:30 a.m. to midnight. Click here to see Metro's guide to getting where you want to be on July 4. What's Different -- No Pentagon shuttles. After the fireworks on the mall, Metro will not operate any shuttle buses to the Pentagon. Low ridership on...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 3, 2008; 6:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  transit  
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Red Line Rail Repaired; Delays Ease

The cracked rail near Takoma Station has been repaired and Red Line riders should find service back to normal now, the transit authority says. During this morning's repairs, trains in both directions had to share a single track between Fort Totten and Silver Spring, resulting in delays. The rail problem was discovered at 6:20 a.m., and track workers went to the scene immediately to make the fix. The Red Line is the most heavily used in the Metrorail system....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 2, 2008; 8:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Metro  
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Summertime, And the Letters Are Local

As July begins, something is different among my readers: There's been a dropoff in "Dear Dr. Gridlock" letters asking for advice about summer driving. Normally, a bunch will come in asking about best routes to avoid tolls, or best routes around congested areas, or best scenic choices. Maybe it will be from someone traveling to New England or to the Outer Banks. So far this summer, it's not the same. Letter writers are pretty much sticking to local transportation topics, rather than branching out. When they mention the price of gasoline, it's usually to support a complaint about the timing of local traffic signals. Or they talk about the record-setting crowds we're seeing on Metrorail, because some drivers switched to transit. What are you hearing around the water cooler as the long Fourth of July weekend approaches? Are more people skipping the weekend trip and staying put? AAA's weekly report...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 2, 2008; 6:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Driving  
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Doors Open in Tunnel on Six-Car Train

The transit authority confirms that the doors on a six-car Blue Line train opened while the train was stopped in the tunnel outside Smithsonian Station last Wednesday. While no one was hurt, this is the latest in a string of disturbing incidents involving doors opening in tunnels. Wesley D. Wilson, a passenger on the train, had reported the latest incident to me this way: "I was riding in a six-car Franconia-Springfield-bound Blue Line train [Wednesday] morning (car number 4017) at approximately 8:45 a.m., when the train stopped short of the platform at the Smithsonian Station, and opened its doors into the tunnel. "There is no reason this should be happening, and someone is going to get hurt." Until now, all the reports had involved eight-car trains. Metro's internal investigations indicate the operators forgot they had eight cars behind them, thinking they had the usual six. They stopped too short on...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 1, 2008; 6:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Metro  
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The Commuter: Going Purple

By the end of the year, Maryland planners hope to have decided on whether to build a light rail or bus rapid transit across Montgomery and Prince George's counties. This week's Commuter graphic walks you through the arguments for and against the proposed Purple Line link....

By Mike McPhate  |  June 30, 2008; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Commuting  
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New Service Today on Old Bus Line

Weekday bus commuters this morning are having their first experiences with the big fix on the 30s Line, one of the oldest, longest and most heavily traveled routes in the Metrobus system. Traveling through the most congested part of our region, the line had all the problems with slow, erratic service that other lines experience -- only more so. If the new plan developed by Metro and the District Department of Transportation works, it could be a model for revamping some other difficult routes. While riders still can travel the entire route across Washington, the new setup on the 30s Line provides two limited-stop routes during morning and evening rushes and three neighborhood shuttle services. There are supervisors stationed along routes who are supposed to respond quickly to problems, such as buses getting bunched up. Routes 37 and 39 are new limited-stop bus routes. -- Route 37 (Wisconsin Avenue Limited...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2008; 8:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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