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Traffic, transit chat at noon

Join me at noon for our weekly discussion of the Washington area's traffic and transit concerns. Today, you'll see a new page design. Here's the link to read the chat and submit your questions and comments. You can go there before the chat starts to enter a question or comment.

On the Commuter page this Sunday, I reviewed the District Department of Transportation's effort to use technology in information sharing about traffic and transit projects. In my Dr. Gridlock column, a letter writer asked if we need to develop an etiquette for Metro platforms, since they're getting so crowded and hard to move around. Your ideas are welcome.

I was pleased to see there's at least one person out there who believes we can still be civil to each other, but also took the letter as a reminder of deteriorating conditions for transit riders. Richard Sarles, who will take over as Metro's interim general manager next month, faces a daunting challenge.

That was driven home yet again in the report to Congress on Metro's problems with its safety system. The Post ran an editorial today called "Metro, laid bare".

And in case you haven't seen it, the District Department of Transportation announced a new timetable for restoring the third lane on Chain Bridge: May 31 (though DDOT hopes it will be ready for Memorial Day weekend). The rehabilitation project has slowed travel for thousands of drivers since it started last spring, and it's a topic that comes up frequently during our chats.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 8, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock  
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May 31 is Memorial Day this year, so I'm slightly unclear as to the timetable--do you mean they intend to have the third lane reopen on the holiday but that they hope to have it done not later than Friday the 28th if possible? Seems like that wouldn't pose a huge problem, although one never knows with DC-area weather.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 8, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

2 separate comments about today's chat, that have come up a few times previously:


I wish "John Catoe's peer" wouldn't hide behind anonymity, so his boss could see his comments. Dude, without passengers, you wouldn't have a job, so stop slamming them. You can't change human nature, but Metro could do a better job at controlling it. Have trains with more doors; have employees on the platform to direct; offer more service so it's not overcrowded; set up lines and barricades on the platform to get people to line up to enter a train; only allow passengers from the mezzanine to the platform if there's room on the next train; experiment with more methods to get people to move to the center of cars - those are only a few methods to set some order to the crowds (and, yes, most would be hard, or maybe as unpalatable as the current disorder). But when the entire system is overcrowded, you can't blame people for simply "overcrowding the trains." They're there to ride; what else can they do? And, if people are actually interrupting drivers, then why not do something about the drivers? Lock them in the cab, keep the windows shut. If there are conversations, they're two-way.


And, second, why do people think rush hour fares should mean better service? Peak fares just mean you're paying for the privilege to ride at peak/expensive times. Metro would have less overcrowding issues if there was no rush hour, and trips were spread evenly through the day; if every train had the same number of passengers all day, then Metro's planning job would be easier. Peak fares force you to reconsider when you travel, if you can - it's just like congestion pricing on toll roads. And, it's also been proposed that Metro charge peak fares for late night service. If these trains are losing money (or losing more money), and the public service of running trains at these hours is warranted, then charge more.

Posted by: Chris737 | March 8, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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