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Join me for D.C. area traffic, transit chat

To read our weekly discussion at noon, use this link. To submit a question or comment in advance, use this one.

Some recent topics:

  • I heard few complaints over the weekend about how our local transportation agencies handled a storm that brought more snow more quickly than many of us had anticipated. How do you rate the performance of the highway and transit agencies? How do you rate the performance of your fellow drivers and transit users? (I noticed a commenter on one of my posts advocated not turning on the windshield defroster when the temperature is 25 degrees or below. Does that work for others?)

  • Metro riders may be having trouble keeping up with all the changes they face. The transit authority board approved a fare surcharge of 10 cents to start March 1. The same day, the transit authority released General Manager John B. Catoe Jr.'s proposed budget for the fiscal year starting in July. That will renew the debate about fare increases and service cuts.

  • In my Sunday column, I published a response from Montgomery County about the statement by Action Committee for Transit and other groups that the county has a secret plan to build a roadway under Rockville Pike between the National Naval Medical Center and the Medical Center Metro station.

  • We had yet another tragedy on the Metro tracks when two workers were killed on the Red Line. On Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board issued an update on its investigation into the cause.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 1, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Hearings this week on D.C. suburban bus service
Next: D.C. Metro to test regional response to attacks in transit system with three safety exercises


After reading today's chat comments, recent columns, and Get There posts I noticed this:

1) Metro says that they have not reduced rail service in any way (including the number of 8-car trains).

2) Metro says that ridership numbers have gone down.

Dr G' own observations, the observations of Metro's riders, and (I believe) Metro's own admissions indicate that there are fewer trains, longer waits between trains, and trains and platforms are consistently crowded to over-crowded.

To me, this means either Metro is being untruthful about #1 (same service with fewer riders should mean LESS crowding) or #2 (fewer riders means less income which means a justification to raise fares, etc.) or maybe both.

When you talk to the Metro spokespeople, you need to tell them that their canned answers don't add up.

Posted by: ceebee2 | February 1, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Metro Lies.

Posted by: member5 | February 1, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm not convinced by those transportation experts. The speed of the trains has no effect on their arrival spacing. If they depart their origin at 6 minute headways, they'll pass all the downline stations at 6 minute headways, assuming they all have the same stops and delays.

For example, if passengers just walked from Glenmont to Union Station, 1 person leaving every six minutes, they'll still get to Union Station 6 minutes apart; it doesn't matter that they're travelling at a slower speed. Same holds true for trains going an average of 50mph, or 40mph (or whatever it is).

If 1 train has a delay that affects the next train behind, at some point that delay works itself out, either by staying in the system until the loads are lighter after the rush, or by ripping back to the 1st station on the line, at which point the trains wouldn't be departing on schedule anymore.

So, point is, somebody just needs to camp out at Union Station (or anywhere in the middle of the system) and count the trains in the morning. Average it up, and see if it matches what Metro's saying, and/or if it's more or less than last year. The Post ought to be able to spare an intern for a day, rather than rely on hearsay from riders who spend only minutes at various station. (I'm not doubting riders, but we don't need to wait to hear this from Metro either - somebody just go out and count - and I'd be happy to do it if the Post would pay me)

Posted by: Chris737 | February 1, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

You don't even have to go to the station. Just watch the next train signs online.... if they're working.

Posted by: member5 | February 1, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Right now, Orange line at Landover:

6 New Carrollton 4
6 New Carrollton 10
6 New Carrollton 18

No 8 car trains. 6-8 minute gaps instead of 3-4.

Posted by: member5 | February 1, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

To be fair, you have to watch for an hour or two, to let the trains go end-to-end and back. You don't really know that Metro doesn't bias more 8's where they're needed most (or maybe where they're not needed most), and then has to wait for them to return.

Posted by: Chris737 | February 1, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Shame on me for posting a common example instead of conducting a rigorous statistical study for a freaking blog comment.

Posted by: member5 | February 3, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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