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Join Me for Online Discussion

We start the regular Monday online chat at noon. Pitch in with your questions or comments about any of our local transportation issues, whether it's the problem of today or the solution of tomorrow. Use this link if you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance.

Last Monday, we ranged quite a bit among traffic and transit topics. As is often the case, some travelers wanted to talk about what government is doing wrong and some wanted to talk about what other travelers are doing wrong.

Here are a few comments that I wasn't able to publish last week. They're on one of our themes, which was behavior aboard trains.

Infrequent Red Line rider: I don't ride Metro that often because I find it easier just to walk, but have the following observations/questions:
1. When I'm standing, I frequently will see people who "deserve" to be offered seats. I always feel guilty that I can't offer one. Is this just my overactive conscience that I need to learn to deal with, or is there Metro etiquette for pointing out the pregnant rider to someone sitting who maybe can't see into the crush of people by the door?

2. Frequently on crowded trains, people who were sitting will get off the train and no one will take their seats. So then there are crowds standing by the door while there are available seats. What can we do about that?

Me: I see a difference between the rush hour commuters and the peak travelers aboard trains. The rush hour crowd generally uses the train car more efficiently. People take all the seats. The off-peak crowd has a lot of standers, who leave empty seats. (There also are a lot of sprawlers, who take up two seats.)

Silver Spring, Md.: Not everyone who needs priority seating is visible to someone who is able-bodied. I wear a knee brace and unless I'm wearing shorts, you can't see I have this disability. Yet I won't hesitate to sit in priority seating, nor will I budge when asked.

Me: There are some transit system rules that the passengers themselves enforce, to the extent they are enforced at all. The federal rule about priority seating is one of them. Some of the issues raised here are a bit squishy. For example, I wouldn't be pointing out to someone else that he or she is sitting in a priority seat and should give it up. I'd ask the standee if he or she would like to have my seat, wherever it was. If I had a disability -- visible or invisible -- I certainly wouldn't feel obligated to give up a priority seat to anyone. But a short explanation might help keep things friendly and help win a different seat for the standee.

Two issues: 1. I'm annoyed that you do not take questions about Metro service in this forum. I submitted one about how Metro is proposing cuts to a bus line (with no alternative reasonable routes) based on false information about current level of service.

2. There are many of us with invisible disabilities and physical limitation. I am only 36 but have rheumatoid arthritis. That means to the average person I look young and fine, but cannot hold on to the poles and my balance and standing skills are not so great. I cannot sit in regular seats because of lack of range of motion in my knees and ankles. I make a general request to those in priority seating for a seat. My request is generally (though sadly not always) granted. If not granted, I get off (especially cannot stand on the bus). I don't think people should expect travelers to read their minds or needs, but I hope that if people are asked to give up their seat and are able to, will without delay.

3. If you are able to take the escalator, please do so and don't tie up the elevator (and increase wear and tear) just to save yourself a half a block walk.

Me: We're open to all topics on local travel, as I think the discussions archive will show. People sitting priority seats -- or any seats -- shouldn't be assessing the physical condition of standees who ask if they can sit down. Just get up and take the credit in heaven.

And I think the commenter is right about the elevators. It would be best if that equipment were maintained better and didn't break down so regularly. But one thing we can do for each other is leave them for people who are older or disabled, who don't have a choice about using the escalators or stairs.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 27, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
 
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Comments

Dr Gridlock,

In trying to get to work, which entails going N on Route 1 from Alexandria to the outer loop of 495 to 295N, I have been encountering a number of frustrations.

#1: the right lane immediately before the onramp to the outer loop on Route 1 has been closed for some weeks with no information as to why, or how long it will remain closed. This is backing traffic up almost to South Kings Highway some mornings. In an attempt to avoid this, it leads to...
#2: if you take N Kings Highway to Telegraph, the light at Huntington and Telegraph is timed such that the traffic turning right onto Telegraph from N Kings Highway doesn't get a chance to actually move when it has the arrows to do so, and the one sole green arrow that allows the right lane to move when the rest of the arrows are red is ineffective because of the onslaught of traffic from Telegraph hurrying to make the light at the aforementioned Huntington/Telegraph intersection! This backs traffic up to the metro station on N Kings Hwy!

Talk about darned if you do, darned if you don't, but I *do* need to get to work... Can you shed some light on either of these situations? I can't leave any earlier for work (or later, for that matter) so I'm stuck without a workaround and cursing the Route 1 folks for meddling with something that actually worked.

Posted by: rabidreader | April 27, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

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