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Metro & the Douglass Bridge Mess: Way to Alienate Your Riders!

From the start, everyone in the D.C. government was upfront about the fact that the demolition of the approach to the Frederick Douglass Bridge would result in a traffic mess of the first order. The District's warnings were accompanied by a recommendation--the sort of rote suggestion that accompanies most any road closing--that commuters should consider using Metro instead of driving.

That's of course good advice, because who wants to sit in double extra traffic waiting your turn to get on another bridge? But what the District didn't tell commuters was that Metro would respond to the crush of new customers arriving at its parking garages in Prince George's County and Southeast Washington by sending cops out to ticket drivers who dared to park in the reserved spaces in those lots.

As Dr. Gridlock reported, all those folks who are heeding the city's advice and piling onto already-packed trains need a place to park, and many of them are just taking whatever spaces they see open in the Metro lots, without regard for the fact that some of their fellow travelers have paid good money to reserve those spaces. I'm not going to condone parking in someone else's space--in this all too angry society these days, that's one of the most efficient ways of assuring that you will get badly hurt.

But Metro's handling of this situation leaves a lot to be desired. The temporary closing of one of the region's primary bridges--a commuter mainstay--is a thoroughly predictable event with obvious consequences. But now, rather than taking steps to get those new riders where they're going and turn them into happy customers, Metro is out there ticketing their new customers. This is all too reminiscent of the decision by the record industry to sue its youngest customers because they dare to use a new technology that the industry has failed to embrace.

It makes sense that desperate and not too kindly commuters would take a chance and park in someone else's spots--after all, the $20 fine they're risking is about the cost of parking downtown, anyway. Again, what these folks are doing is neither right nor excusable, but rather than spending time and energy going after those new customers, why doesn't Metro instead rent space in some of those sprawling suburban shopping center parking lots that sit largely empty during weekday hours, and then run shuttle buses to Metro stations? That way, people could know that they will indeed get on Metro and on their way to work--and that way, those new customers might at least stand a chance of being impressed by the Metro experience.

By Marc Fisher |  July 12, 2007; 7:45 AM ET
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Comments

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I agree with the comment above. I live in Fort Washington, Maryland and I commute on the P17 metro bus route. I hate having to ride the bus to the Southern Ave., and then catching the train to work. Its a rush situation for me everyday. The trains are crowded and you hardly ever get a seat after paying $6.10 a day. Riding the bus downtown was very relaxing for me and I hope that this is just a temporary situation for my commute.

Posted by: PD | July 12, 2007 8:17 AM

Marc Fisher, how dare you suggest that Metro "think outside the box" and lease space from adjoining shopping centers!! That would require planning and foresight, which requires an increase in fares. Shame on you! :-) I think Metro should have just cancelled the reserved spots for two months in anticipation of the crush of new parkers. Holding spots open until 10 a.m. basically makes them useless to 90% of the commuters who can use them. Many of these reserved spaces are not used everyday. The shuttle bus from nearby parking facilities is a good idea. There are THOUSANDS of unused spaces at Fedex field and Landover Mall, not to mention the BLVD at Cap Center which is literally across the street from the Largo Station. But that would require thought and planning. Too much to ask of a bureacracy.

Posted by: C-dog | July 12, 2007 8:32 AM

I agree that Metro should have more parking, but that's not just true now during this bridge crunch, but always! If there aren't enough bus routes from satellite parking lots to accommodate riders during normal commuting situations, how could anyone expect anything different during this bridge closure?

My main complaint about this whole thing is MTA's unwillingness to their give bus riders who want to switch to Metro a cost break. If I want to use Metro to avoid the delays I've got to pay full bus fare in both directions on top of the metro fare. This would add $23/week to my commuting cost. Thankfully, this week on the bus, it's only taking about 30 minutes more in the morning--maybe 20 minutes more than Metro would. And for some reason, there's not been a noticeable time difference in the evening. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted by: Waldorf, MD | July 12, 2007 8:46 AM

So suddenly it's Metro's fault that DC officials opted to close down the bridge to beautify it for those who'll attend events at the Stadium?
I take Metro everyday, and I get there by bus. I know they have busses running in SE and some in PG county. No one is entitled to a parking space, it's first come first serve. If you pay for a reserved space, and someone parks there illegally, they deserve to get a ticket.
We can't stomp our foot and blame all of our transportation woes on Metro.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | July 12, 2007 9:21 AM

Seriously? You're feeling sorry for people who are parking in other people's spots? They should be ticketed. Hell, if it were my spot they were parking in, I'd advocate them being TOWED! Those people paid extra money to be assured of a parking spot. And metro's response is a ticket? What good does that do for the people who paid for their spot? Not a whole lot.

While agree that metro is mismanaging the situation, I disagree with what you are saying. I think they should go one step further and tow those cars. Of course, they should also put up a few signs directing the confused new customers to the right place. But metro is never forward thinking, instead always running to catch up after something has already happened.

Posted by: LV | July 12, 2007 9:29 AM

I have to think that the signage re the reserved spots must be inadequate. IF the sign said, "These spots reserved until 10 a.m. You will be ticketed and may be towed if you park here," then the problem would cease, I am pretty certain.

Posted by: Jack | July 12, 2007 9:39 AM

The problem of parking at Metro stations is a year around problem. If you don't get there early enough you might not get a parking space. I assume that folks can read the signs so there is no excuse for parking in a reserved space. The cars should be towed --

Posted by: James Moore | July 12, 2007 9:47 AM

The problem of parking at Metro stations is a year around problem. If you don't get there early enough you might not get a parking space. I assume that folks can read the signs so there is no excuse for parking in a reserved space. The cars should be towed --

Posted by: James Moore | July 12, 2007 9:47 AM

METRO are you listening?????

Posted by: Badwisky | July 12, 2007 9:53 AM

I think that metro handled this situation alright - if they let people start parking in reserved spots to start out with, then everyone would just continue doing it since there weren't any consequences to start out with (I certainly would). A $20 ticket isn't that bad - towing would be much, much worse...

Regarding Mark's suggestion, how exactly would Metro pay for renting out those suburban parking lots and paying for the extra buses to get people to the station? I guess that they could charge a $5-6 fee to take the shuttle to the station, though people would whine about that also (and probably not want to take the extra step of taking a shuttle). I do see the merits in Mark's idea, but if those extra commuters hadn't materialized, then Metro would be stuck with a huge bill in a system that already has deficit problems. Commuter flow is notoriously hard to predict, and I can't really blame metro managers for not taking that sort of risk for a situation that will probably only last a month or so.

Posted by: silver spring, md | July 12, 2007 9:55 AM

Why is this Metro's fault? Metro didn't tell commuters to take Metro during bridge renovations, the District Government did. Blame the District for this mess. If I pay money for a reserved parking spot and someone else in in my spot then they should be ticketed as they're parked illegally. Why is it so hard for Marc to comprehend punishment, fines, and consequences for illegal behavior? Marc would rather excuse illegal behavior in this case and blame Metro when people should take personal responsibility for their actions. If you park illegally and get ticketed then you got what you deserved.

Posted by: Give me a break | July 12, 2007 9:59 AM

Have you all even considered how absurd it is for Metro to even HAVE reserved spots? This is a public facility, not some fancy down town garage. To wall off hundreds of unused spaces everyday while people are willing to use Metro IF THEY COULD PARK THERE is just plain stupid. And for you enviro freaks who think eveything revolves around a carbon footprint, Metro is doing nothing to help the environment by forcing people to drive to work because some pretentious snot wants to have a reserved spot that he or she may or may not use. THat person who didn't use the space probably is out driving his car somewhere and the person who can't park there is also out there driving his car to work. So how's that working to save the environment and reduce congestion? It just makes the problem worse.

Posted by: C-dog | July 12, 2007 10:00 AM

What's frightening is how one bridge closure can affect everyone's commutes. We need more investment in transportation infrastructure here. Redundancy is key - give people more options so we don't all crowd on the same roads or Metro trains. I took the train in from VA today and felt like a sardine. I drove home last night and missed picking up my kid at daycare because traffic was at a standstill. This is becoming a crisis.

Posted by: Bob | July 12, 2007 10:01 AM

Tickets? Towing? Sometimes, a little vandalism goes a long way.

Posted by: HST | July 12, 2007 10:01 AM

C-dog, what the heck do environmentalists have to do with reserved parking? I realize it's always fun to take on our favorite punching-bags, but what does that have to do with the price of bananas?

Posted by: h3 | July 12, 2007 10:16 AM

"Sometimes, a little vandalism goes a long way."

They have cameras. It could take you away.

Posted by: Gary E. Masters | July 12, 2007 10:18 AM

I agree - the DC government should step up but regardless of who takes the lead, it can't be that difficult. I am pretty sure its Metro who has been running shuttles between Franconia Springfield and Springfield Mall for years now. They run every 10 minutes and cost well under $1. In addition, there are TAGS busses that hit the mall as well. A little good will by Metro might even convert drivers into regular Metro riders.

Posted by: metro commuter | July 12, 2007 10:33 AM

If metro is running buses and shuttles to the mall, it's so people can get to the mall to shop, NOT so they can park there and go somewhere else. As someone who was recently involved in a carpool where a bunch of our group got towed for parking at mall and leaving the cars for a couple hours, I can testify that malls often aren't that thrilled to have non-customers parking in their lots. I don't think that it would be exactly simple AND/OR cheap to arrange to sort of system that Marc envisions....it's a great idea, but I'm not sure if it would be worth the grief and financial risk for metro to have to work out that sort of contract with the mall for a construction project that will only take a month or so (and note that malls will tow you without any warning signage...and the cost to get your car back is a whole lot more than the $20 ticket that metro wrote up.)

Posted by: silver spring | July 12, 2007 11:08 AM

A thought experiment: what if Metro *had* rented the additional parking spaces and paid for bus service and... no one had shown up? (Recall that, per Dr. Gridlock, the parking garage roof at Anacostia was largely empty last Friday, the first day of the shutdown. Yes, I know it was a holiday week). Why do I strongly suspect that in such a case, Metro would have been lampooned, in this blog and elsewhere, for wasting money, poor planning, blah blah blah?

It isn't Metro's fault that DC decided to make people's lives difficult by closing this bridge so they could make it look pretty for a new ballpark (or should I say boondoggle), any more than it's Metro's fault that Maryland or Virginia or whoever it is is painting the Legion Bridge until November, making the GW Parkway and Inner Loop absolutely miserable. Should Metro have anticipated that too and paid for extra buses and transit to ferry people to and from downtown? Should they do that every time there's a major construction project in the works anywhere in Metro's service area?

Why should Metro (and, by extension, those of us who don't live in DC but do live in the region and whose tax dollars help fund Metro) foot the bill for a situation caused solely by DC? Why should my tax dollars be used for that purpose when I can't even get on an inbound Orange Line train at the Court House station during morning rush because it is packed like sardines, every single workday? Let DC pay to alleviate the woes caused by their pet project. Leave Metro out of it.

Posted by: CourtHouseRanter | July 12, 2007 11:31 AM

the situation that "metro commuter" is talking about is at springfield mall, where the practice of parking and taking a shuttle to the metro is condoned by both the mall and metro. there is a sign by the entrances of the metro parking garages saying that free parking is available on the sixth floor (i think) of the macy's parking garage. what marc is talking about is expanding this idea to the stations affected by the bridge closure with the idea if its possible here its probably possible there too.

Posted by: springfield | July 12, 2007 11:37 AM

Marc, your heart is bleeding all over your shoes. There should be NO SYMPATHY whatsoever for people who park in someone else's reserved space. I park at the Suitland station, which has been very crowded for the past three days, but I don't blame Metro for not taking the financial risk to set up some shuttle system.

Posted by: Chris | July 12, 2007 11:39 AM

This is a year-round problem. Metro has hundreds of reserved parking spots which go unused every day, while their unreserved spots get filled up well before 8 each morning, forcing many would-be riders to drive to work. So Metro is losing money through their incompetence, traffic and pollution are higher than they should be, and there are many angry commuters vainly looking for parking in lots which are barely more than half full. Even so, Metro did not build the lots big enough to begin with. Moreso, if there were more riders, they could not be accommodated. The trains are already dangerously full, with riders crammed in like sardines. Metro is not running enough trains, and ones with enough cars. In an ideal world where there was more money, the subway system would be expanded, with more lines to accommodate the increasing population of the area.

Posted by: Commuter Joe | July 12, 2007 11:45 AM

Mark the real question is this. Why is that in Prince George's County Metro spends millions to build new stations and then build the smallest most inadequate lots in the whole system. If you don't believe me take a look at the lot at "Naylor Road" the lot at "Capitol Heights" and the lot at "Morgan Blvd" just to name a few. When stations are built in other areas they build huge five story garages. What a waste. If the Naylor Road station and Capitol Heights Station had five story garages they would be full everyday.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 11:55 AM

H-3: Us suburbanites are always being blamed for global warming by the tree huggers because we live in the modern world and drive cars. They are forever pushing public transit down our throats, as if our public transit system is anything close to what is available in most European cities. The point I'm making is the Metro doesn't help the situation by reserving parking spaces when commuters actually try to use public transit. Just think of that next time some city dweller mouths off about suburban commuters and their SUV's destroying the environment. Also, as far as shuttle busses go, Metro seems to have no problem bringing out dozens of them during Redskins games to ferry people from the Metro to Fedex field. Why is it so impossible during the work week?

Posted by: C-dog | July 12, 2007 11:56 AM

I have seen many comments about reserved spaces not being used. This is simply not true. What you don't realize is that many people, like myself, who hold reserve permits work unusual hours. That is the reason we buy the passes in the first place. To ensure we have a space. I usually don't get to the lot until 9:00 or 10:00AM. So naturally everyone who parks before 9:00 AM thinks the reserved spaces are not used. But I do in fact park in my space everyday. If there were no reserved spaces, Metro lots would be a battle of the early birds. Anyone who is not there by 6:00 AM would not be able to ride Metro.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 12:06 PM

Marc, I understand where you're coming from but suppose Metro had not ticketed these cars. Wouldn't it then be just as easy to write a column criticizing Metro for reacting to the Douglass Bridge closure by punishing its highest-paying customers?

Posted by: Tom T. | July 12, 2007 12:09 PM

I live in the District, and never park at the Metro - how much do the reserved spaces cost?

Posted by: DC | July 12, 2007 12:34 PM

I agree that tree huggers need to go sit in a corner. Don't assume that city living-all-public-transportation is the answer. There are people in DC who live in condos and apartments much nicer than my suburban apartment. I take Metro to work, but that's because I live on the bus line and have a somewhat easy access to Metro (save for traffic which isn't much alleviated by HOV lanes.) I still don't see how Metro can be made to take the blame for the Douglas Bridge fiasco, which any conspiracy theorist would look at say "hmm, this must be DC's latest social project that involves trying to shut off DC's lower income residents and PG County from the rest of darling, revitalized DC. I'm not Metro's biggest fan, but I'm not going to jump on the beat-Metro-the-hell-up over this Douglas Bridge mess because it's not their fault, reserved parking or no reserved parking.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | July 12, 2007 1:10 PM

Marc, sorry but you are wrong on this one. It is not DCDPW's entire responsibility (see further comments below) beyond announcing well in advance that an unfortunate but necessary inconvenience will ensue, any more than it is the weatherman's job to hand out umbrellas to everyone when he forcasts that rain is on the horizon. People need to adjust -- and not by illegally parking in reserved spaces. The sorry nature of people is to ignore warnings until too late and then cry "I didn't know" or "poor poor pitiful me." Assuming adequate forwarning, they have opportunity to arrange alternatives or even scout out solutions.

I see two breakdowns. 1) DPW and Metro's apparent failure to meet, forecast the travel mode changes, and reach agreement on how it would affect their respective responsibilities, vis a vis, detours, signal changes, suspension of other work zones, and of course impact to Metro. If Metro deemed it necessary to create shuttles, off-site lots, or more resources, then DPW would be responsible to compensate Metro just like the Redskins do on game days. [C-Dog: note, the 'Skins pay for that shuttle service, but of course ultimatley they charge the patrons too!] The two agencies either did not talk, or talked and did not correctly plan. Either one is a sad comment on how to do business. 2) I feel sorry for the reserved parkers. I hope that Metro's end of the deal is to compensate them whenever the spaces are not kept available. As for the folks who dismiss the reserved-spaces system it is not unlike high occupancy toll lanes elsewhere (and soon to be in this region) wherein motorists willingly pay for a guarantee of service that is otherwise "take your chance" in the general purpose lot or lane. They ARE paying for it -- so they deserve the service and should expect compensation when the agency can't provide it. There is plenty of soci-economic justification that supports such a system that benefits both the general public and the target groups willing to pay extra. The supply of reserved spaces should be metered (up to some maximum) by the demand. If spaces are routinely unused, then Metro should monitor and adjust accordingly.


Posted by: SamSanity | July 12, 2007 1:14 PM

This isn't just Metro's problem, it's everyone's problem, and everyone needs to look for solutions. Reserved spaces are only reserved until 10AM. Why don't employers offer flexible working schedules or telecommuting options to employees who are affected by the bridge closure? Why don't commuters who live on bus roots take the bus to the Metro station? Why doesn't Metro operate complimentary bus service from park-and-ride lots like it does in upper Montgomery County? I'm sorry, but if people are paying through the nose for reserved spaces (and their not cheap), they should get them. There are ways around this situation, and it's not all Metro's responsibility.

Posted by: Jaredd | July 12, 2007 1:34 PM

Anything to make the "govey's" day a bit more miserable brings a warmness to my heart and a smile to my face.

Posted by: Chuck | July 12, 2007 1:44 PM

A few things occur to me. First, the bridge project is DDOT's and their's alone. Metro/WMATA is a regional transit authority. Not sure I like implicating MD's and VA's members of the board in a short-term parking "crisis" (if you can call it one). Granted, several older stations have scarce parking, but there are also many new parking structures (College Park, as an example) in place in the Metro system that have helped noticeably reduce parking volume at other stations (see Greenbelt and other stations nestled along/near the Beltway in PG County).

Second, why should Metro bear the responsibility for adding additional parking capacity during this "crisis"? Fisher talked about renting space, but (and for as much as I tend to think it sometimes needs a nudge first), why not let the market provide the capacity? If there's a nearby strip mall, why not encourage the owners to establish a parking concession in a cordoned-off, attended area of the lot? They could make their money and shut it down when it's no longer profitable. I've noticed that local business capably handles parking "overflow" at stations like Twinbrook. Yeah, it costs a little more, but you're near the station, you've got a spot, and you're on your way.

Granted, the impact maybe much more intense for folks coming into DC from the southeast reaches of the Beltway, but a "crisis" as this is a nice opportunity for business to cash in and "new" riders to feel slightly less aggrieved.

Third, who's to say that it was Metro that sicked parking enforcement on the parking ne'er-do-wells? I've been ticketed a few times in Metro lots, and in every instances, it was the local government that wrote the ticket, not Metro Transit Police. Local governments have every bit as much financial incentive to enforce and fill their own coffers writing these parking tickets as Metro would. So even if Metro offered some leniency of its own, any local government would see that as a golden opportunity and cash in on Metro's relaxed stand.

Posted by: Pete | July 12, 2007 2:08 PM

In the parking garage that I use most of the time, Glenmont, the regular spaces fill up at 7:30 and the reserved spaces NEVER are fully used (at any hour). You could take another 100 cars off the road if there were no reserved spaces.

Posted by: E-man | July 12, 2007 2:24 PM

Marc believes

The government knows best

Laws are made to be broken

So Marc donate your entire paycheck to me and I'll be buy to get your stuff later

Posted by: How are you still employed | July 12, 2007 3:01 PM

Whether Metro SHOULD rent out those reserved spaces is a separate question. However, as long as they ARE renting out the spaces, they have a responsibility to keep them clear for those that have paid for them (whether they're used frequently or not).

Posted by: BLE | July 12, 2007 3:01 PM

I totally agree, the parking areas are very inadequate, not to mention very small. I parked at the Branch Avenue; the reserved parking area is almost two full parking lot. While I agree with those who say "reserved parking" is just that "reserved parking", please take into consideration that people can't actually wait until 10:00am to go to work. Vandalism is for idiots and whosoever suggest such behavior is an idiot. Also, during this crisis, it's really not fair to suggest that cars be towed, who knows, the one person who wants cars to be towed because they don't have a reserved parking sticker, may just be the one forced to park there and get their car towed. Be careful what you ask for, "YOU" just might get it.

Posted by: PM | July 12, 2007 3:42 PM

Metro is just concerned about making money and could care less whether the reserved spots are used or not. They get paid regardless. By the way, saying a spot opens up at 10 a.m. when I should be in my office on my second cup of coffee by then means the spot does not exist as far as I am concerned. Most commuters need to park before 8, not after 10! In the end, Metro needs more parking spaces and more trains to be an effective system.

Posted by: C-dog | July 12, 2007 3:44 PM

Marc said:

This is all too reminiscent of the decision by the record industry to sue its youngest customers because they dare to use a new technology that the industry has failed to embrace.

Everyone (yes, even kids) who uses P2P file sharing programs and downloads copyrighted music without paying are stealing. The mental backflips performed to deny this basic truth are hilariously deluded.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 3:59 PM

"Metro needs more parking spaces and more trains to be an effective system."

*************************

Once again you've hit the nail on the head. This whole situation is nothing new. The only thing that changed this week is that instead of the lots being full by 7:15 they are now full by 6:30. Lack of adequate parking is the main reason more people don't ride Metro. So I ask again, why does Metro spend millions to build stations and then build the smallest, cheapest lot to accompany the station ensuring that no one will be able to use the station. Look at the station on "Branch Avenue" and "Naylor Road." Neither station has a multi-level garage even though both stations could accomodate a multi-level garage. Because the lots are so small the stations are underutilized and people that live in the surrounding neighborhoods end up driving to other stations with bigger lots. This is not about reserved passes. There are really only a handful at each lot and eliminating won't help. The problem is that their is not enough parking at Metro lots inside the beltway.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 4:02 PM

They build the smallest, cheapest lot precisely because they spend millions building stations. There is not an endless supply of money. Not to mention that restricted parking availability is used as an attempt to get people to ride the bus to the station and therefore minimize auto usage.

I notice many posters on here seem to have no problem with WMATA spending lots of money for these solutions. I'll assume you have all contacted your local elected officials and told them you'd be more than happy to pay higher taxes if they went towards WMATA's bill.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 4:25 PM

They build the smallest, cheapest lot precisely because they spend millions building stations.

******************

Correction. They build the smallest, cheapest lots in certain neighborhoods. Now take a wild guess as to where those neighborhoods are. I won't play the race card here. I'll just let the size of the lots and their geographic locations speak for themselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 4:36 PM

To all those suburbanites complaining about commutes: Re-prioritize. I used to livein the burbs, dealt with the awfull commute. One day I decided I couldn't take it anymore! I moved into the city. My quality of life has greatly improved. My commute is now a leisurely, healthfull 10 minute walk from my home to my office. I actually feel safer in the city than I did in the burbs (constant foot traffic through the neighborhood, well lit streets etc), and i have time to have a life after work, rather than wasting my life in a car on the beltway. I also save a lit of money because I'm not spending outrageous sums on gas for the car and car repair.

Posted by: NotTheRedBaron | July 12, 2007 4:41 PM

Ok, there seems to be enough blame to spread it around but why doesn't the city and Metro work TOGETHER to be part of a solution rather than blame someone else as the problem. A little planning and foresight could have helped this entire situation. Metro needs to plan for options when its parking lots get full and someone who wants to take Metro can't because they there are no spots left. Rent the spaces somewhere else and if people don't use them then un-rent them. A little non-traditional thinking goes a long way.

Posted by: Chris | July 12, 2007 4:49 PM

Bob @ 10:01 AM was spot on, by the way.

Once upon a time, DC was looking at evacuation plans and routes in the case of an emergency. Not quite sure whatever happened to that plan, but I just pray that no such mass evacuation is needed during this bridge project. It was only a few Septembers ago when people were fleeing downtown (urbanites and suburbanites alike) in en masse and authorities had determined out of caution - I won't call it wisdom - to shut down the 14th Street bridge (traffic forced to divert to Route 1) and, for a time, Metro.

Remember that?

I recall 3.5 hours to get 8 miles from the intersection of 14th and Constitution. I pray we're never forced to deal with another emergency that encourages or requires that type of en masse evacuation. You could imagine the result if we did and the Douglass Bridge is still closed. But at that point, I don't think anyone would have their minds on how many spaces are open at the metro station, or if they got a ticket for parking illegally.

Posted by: Pete | July 12, 2007 5:02 PM

While I think that Metro is perfectly justified in ticketing the cars that are parked illegally, I do have empathy for all the commuters trying to find spaces.

When I moved to Suitland 3 years ago, I looked into getting a reserved space at the Suitland Metro station but I was told that there was a waiting list and it could take up to a year to get one. (For those asking before, I believe that the reserved space costs a fixed fee of $60 per month plus the regular parking fee that all users get charged when they exit the garage.) I ended up never getting the reserved parking and just getting to the garage at 10am, and except for this past week there has never been a problem. (All the spaces eventually do get filled up, but not until 10:45 or so.)

I think the reserved spaces are definitely needed, because not everyone works the same hours and having to park at 7am for a job that doesn't start until 10:30am is ridiculous. However, I think that Metro should either give out more reserved permits if there are people on the waiting lists or they should cut the number of spaces that are reserved.

Also, for those of you advocating towing the cars that are parked in the reserved spots, let me assure you that if you have a reserved parking permit, you a guaranteed a spot somewhere if you arrive before 10am. At the Suitland station, there is a little-used lot for car-pools that you can park in if all the reserved parking is filled up.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 5:51 PM

I truly sympathize with commuters who are now forced to endure the traffic headache as a result of the bridge re-construction that's currently taking place. It was already hard enough commuting as it was. However, I'm a regular commuter to the Suiltand metro station, and there are PLENTY of signs that specify which spaces are reserved for those who have such spaces.

Folks who paid for a reserve space have to pay a meaty monthly fee IN ADDITION to their metro fare AND the $3.50 per day fee it costs for the unreserved spaces. With that said, Metro is rightly justified in towing folks to ignore the signs that identify those reserved spaces. Fortunately, this process is only supposed to be for a couple of months. Just think about how it would be if school were back in session (OH THE HORROR!).

In the meantime, folks should consider leaving early to beat the traffic, or allow additional time for their commute.

And also, believe it or not, you'd be surprised at some of the less traveled short cuts there are to get downtown. I would tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. :-)

For those who like geography. Take a good look at Mapquest or Google earth. Trust me. I've legally gotten to the 295/395 freeway from Forestville in 10-15 minutes during rush hour. You gotta study to find them.


Posted by: Bo in Suitland | July 12, 2007 6:26 PM

Blah, blah, blah. Blame it on Metro. Blame it on DC officials. Blame it on yo momma! Everyone is pointing the finger in every direction except at those who created this mess to begin with - the new major league baseball stadium.

Nuff said

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 6:40 PM

Blah, blah, blah. Blame it on Metro. Blame it on DC officials. Blame it on yo momma! Everyone is pointing the finger in every direction except at those who created this mess to begin with - the new major league baseball stadium.

Nuff said

Posted by: Canjac Canjar | July 12, 2007 6:40 PM

To those of you complaining about being jammed into Metro cars like "sardines" -- please spare your fellow readers such hysterical hyperbole. I lived in or near Washington for 13 years and rode the Metro just about every day during that time. Now, I work in Lower Manhattan and ride the 4/5 line from Grand Central to Brooklyn Bridge every day. The Metro is luxurious compared to the NYC subway. In the NYC subway, every car of nearly every line is filled to bursting -- every seat taken, multiple people trying to occupy the same 1 square foot of space, someone's armpit in your face, someone else's rear end rubbing up against you, and all of you swaying back and forth as the trains lurch from station to station. And, before living in Washington, I lived in Japan, where the crowding on mass transit is 5 times worse than NYC. So give it a rest. You have ease and luxury compared to other large metropolitan areas around the world.

Posted by: Eagle97 | July 12, 2007 7:17 PM

We have a crisis of competence in this country. We have too many people in positions of importance in this country who are doing a lousy job. Sadly, it's hardly limited to Metro.

Posted by: StevieB | July 12, 2007 8:28 PM

I say instead of complaining online go complain in person to the people responsible for this MESS.

Posted by: Speak 4 Urself | July 13, 2007 7:24 AM

Well said, "Jarred", I agree with your statement that "This isn't just Metro's problem, it's everyone's problem, and everyone needs to look for solutions."

The energy and focus needs to be spent on finding a long-term solution to the area's transportation woes. Yesterday, it was the Wilson bridge, the Springfield interchange, today its the Douglas Bridge, tomorrow its the Purple line....the day after that its "x"....

Interim fixes are only bandaids ~

ENFORCE illegal parking - those who signed up for reserve spots and are paying a preimum for those service, is only asking to get what Metro advertised and they are paying for.

We need to maintain Respect for others in our society!

Posted by: STUCK IN GRIDLOCK | July 13, 2007 9:25 AM

I got one of those tickets, and frankly I am pissed! The ticket was written 15-minutes before the expiration of the reserved time. I called metro to inquire about getting a reserved spot and they only allow you to start at the beginning of the month. so I knew reserved spots were available and how many people missed out with 15 to 30-minutes to go. Its just another thing that makes you wonder about your government. Now I have a $50 ticket, but can someone catch the person that vandalised my car, stole my trash can, etc. Can metro fix its new signs to accurately show the train and estimated time its arriving.

Posted by: RobGreg | July 13, 2007 9:34 AM

I got one of those tickets, and frankly I am pissed! The ticket was written 15-minutes before the expiration of the reserved time. I called metro to inquire about getting a reserved spot and they only allow you to start at the beginning of the month. so I knew reserved spots were available and how many people missed out with 15 to 30-minutes to go. Its just another thing that makes you wonder about your government. Now I have a $50 ticket, but can someone catch the person that vandalised my car, stole my trash can, etc. Can metro fix its new signs to accurately show the train and estimated time its arriving.

Posted by: RobGreg | July 13, 2007 9:34 AM

I got one of those tickets, and frankly I am pissed! The ticket was written 15-minutes before the expiration of the reserved time. I called metro to inquire about getting a reserved spot and they only allow you to start at the beginning of the month. so I knew reserved spots were available and how many people missed out with 15 to 30-minutes to go. Its just another thing that makes you wonder about your government. Now I have a $50 ticket, but can someone catch the person that vandalised my car, stole my trash can, etc. Can metro fix its new signs to accurately show the train and estimated time its arriving.

Posted by: RobGreg | July 13, 2007 9:34 AM

with this bridge being closed down, it has caused some much congestion just walk to work or take vacation.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2007 12:19 PM

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