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December 16, 2010

D.C. Metro Police to search bags at stations

The Washington subway system  will conduct random searches of passengers' bags and other carry-on items in order to increase security, the Metro Transit Police said today.

The Metro police said the program, under which it will inspect bags at station entrances, is based on programs now in effect in New York and  Boston.  According to the police, the inspections -- conducted in conjunction with the Trransportation Security Administration, are designed to minimize intrusiveness by using ionization technology and explosives-sniffing dogs.

Nevertheless, the police said the inspections are mandatory for those who are selected and who want to ride the subway. They said Metro customers who refuse the inspection will not be allowed to bring their carry-on items into the station. They said passengers who see a bagage checkpoint at a station entrance and do not want to submit to inspection can leave without entering.

The police said they usually will not conduct a physical inspection of an item unless a less intrusive test shows a  need for greater scrutiny.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

December 13, 2010

Tax break for transit commuters extended in bill

A tax break for MARC and other  transit riders that had been imperiled in earlier versions of the tax bill making its way through appears to have a good chance of staying alive -- at least for another year.

Paul Dean, director of government relations for the American Public Transit Association, said the version of the tax bill the Senate voted on today includes a continuation of the benefit at its current level. Without the provision, the benefit would be cut roughly in half as of Jan. 1.

The benefit allows transit riders to pay up to $230 in transit fares each month with pre-taxed dollars. That amount was raised from $120 in President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill, but that provision had been on the chopping block until House and Senate negotiators agreed to write a one-year extension in the bill continuing the tax cuts implementred under President George W. Bush, Dean said.

 

Continue reading "Tax break for transit commuters extended in bill" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:57 PM | | Comments (1)
        

November 17, 2010

O'Malley applauds WMATA task force report

Gov. Martin O'Malley commended the task force that released a report Wednesday on the governance of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (see below), but his statement falls short of full agreement with its conclusions. Here's what the governor said:

We appreciate the effort of the task force, the Board of Trade and WashCOG to examine WMATA’s current governance structure and to develop a series of recommendations aimed at improving that structure. Maryland agrees with the conclusion that changes in the way WMATA is governed could produce a more effective organization.  We look forward to working with the leadership in our fellow jurisdictions and with other stakeholders as, together, we move toward the common goal of making Metro a better, safer system for citizens throughout the region.

Artful dodge, no?

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:52 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

Task force urges change in Metro board structure

A task force launched by a leading Washington business groups and council of local elected officials is recommending a sweeping change in the governance of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority -- giving added clout to the governors of Maryland and Virginia and to the mayor of Washington.

Contending that flaws in Metro's governance structure are "contributing to its decline," the panel issued a report  Wednesday  in which it urged creation of a new  WMATA Governance Commission to hold the Metro board itself accountable.

The task force, set up by the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, recommended that the commission include the two governors and the District of Columbia's mayor but conspicuously omitted any role for the governments of the counties surrounding Washington. Other commission members would be the chairs of the Washington Suburban Transiit Commission, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the District of Columbia Council, as well as the chief of the federal General Services Administration.

 

Continue reading "Task force urges change in Metro board structure" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:12 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

November 9, 2010

Transit savings in Baltimore put at $9,549 a year

The American Publiic Transit Association estimates that a typical commuter to downtown Baltimore could save $9,549 a year by taking bus or rail to work and jettisoning a car.

Now APTA is a trade group and lobbying arm of the nation's transit agencies, so the fact the organization has come up with a large number for Baltimore and other cities is hardly a surprise. (New York tops that list at $13,962 a year.) But for certain commuters who would like to cut household expenses, the Baltimore number might be worth considering. That's $796 a month, if APTA's calaculations are valid.

Here's APTA's explanation of its methodology:

 

 

Continue reading "Transit savings in Baltimore put at $9,549 a year" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:45 AM | | Comments (7)
        

November 5, 2010

Election provides mixed news for transit projects

This week's election provided mixed news for supporters of expansion of Maryland's transit system -- positive at the local level but foreboding on the national scene.

The big local story was Gov. Martin O'Malley defeat of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich  Jr. in a contest that pitted two very different views of public transit.  Ehrlich prmoised to scuttle Baltimore's Red Line and the Washington suburban Purple Line as light rail projects if elected. His stance in favor of a bus alternative was a turn-off to influential players in Montgomery and Prince Georges' counties -- as reflected in the Greater Washington Board of Trade's endorsement of O'Malley. His numbers in the Washington suburbs would have been anemic anyway, but his stance on the Purple Line deepened his problems. 

Ehrlich's Red Line position might have won him a few stray votes in Canton, but there are no signs it helped him much in the Baltimore area.

 

Continue reading "Election provides mixed news for transit projects" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:42 AM | | Comments (1)
        

October 21, 2010

MTA: CharmCard a work in progress

JIn a recent email, Jerry McCann of Lutherville raised some interesting points about how the MTA's new CharmCard works  on the light rail. We posted it on this blog.

Now  MTA spokesman David Clark has replied on behalf of the agency. Here's what he had to say:

Machines at the Lexington Market Northbound Light Rail Station are temporarily unable to accept CharmCards due to underground utility problems.  Additional notices placed on the TVM’s inform patrons that the machines currently accept “Cash Only” and CharmCard access will be available soon at that location. 

Continue reading "MTA: CharmCard a work in progress" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:03 PM | | Comments (6)
        

October 14, 2010

CharmCard for seniors due in early 2011

This just in from the MTA website:

Based on card sales and fare purchases, MTA’s new CharmCard has been positively
received by full-fare customers.  The reduced-fare CharmCard for seniors is in the final stages of development, and is scheduled to be available in early 2011. 
When the Senior CharmCard is available the MTA will provide purchase information
at the MTA Reduced Fare Certification Office, at the Transit Store, on transit vehicles, and through direct mail.

 

September 21, 2010

CharmCard "a first step," MTA chief says

The chief of the Maryland Transit Administration says the launch Tuesday of the system's new CharmCard electronic payment system is just the first step in an effort to streamline the use of transportation services in the Baltimore region.


MTA Administrator Ralign T. Wells said at a news conference at the Charles Center Metro Station that  “nothing is  off the table” in terms of future applications of the new “smart cards, which now can be used to pay fares on local buses, the Metro and the light rail system.


“We’re open to anything that will allow more accessibility to various transportation modes,” Wells said at the long-awaited CharmCard, which has been more  than a decade in development.

 

Continue reading "CharmCard "a first step," MTA chief says" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:20 PM | | Comments (2)
        

September 17, 2010

MTA smart card coming Tuesday

After more than a decade of development, the Maryland Transit Administration plans to launch its often-delayed electronic fare payment system Tuesday -- giving rider the option of using a plastic card to use the Metro, light rail and local buses.

MTA spokesman Terrry Owens called the introduction of what will be known as the CharmCard a "huge step forward" for the agency. He said it will be "one of the largest integrated transit  fare payment systems in the  nation."

Continue reading "MTA smart card coming Tuesday" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:21 PM | | Comments (5)
        

August 10, 2010

O'Malley supports Purple Line, dodges on gas tax

It was no accident that Gov. Martin O’Malley wore a purple tie to his campaign event in Silver Spring this morning.

The governor met with about two dozen small business owners and other voters at the Tastee Diner in this Montgomery County community to discuss his approach to transit issues -- and to underscore his support for a light rail project known as the Purple Line and the opposition of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to it.

While O’Malley launched no new verbal missiles at his prospective Republican opponent, he used the Purple Line issue to underscore a stark policy difference between the two.

Continue reading "O'Malley supports Purple Line, dodges on gas tax" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:31 PM | | Comments (1)
        

O'Malley supports Purple Line, dodges on gas tax

It was no accident that Gov. Martin O’Malley wore a purple tie to his campaign event in Silver Spring this morning.

The governor met with about two dozen small business owners and other voters at the Tastee Diner in this Montgomery County community to discuss his approach to transit issues -- and to underscore his support for a light rail project known as the Purple Line and the opposition of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to it.

While O’Malley launched no new verbal missiles at his prospective Republican opponent, he used the Purple Line issue to underscore a stark policy difference between the two.

Ehrlich has said he would scrap the O’Malley administration’s plan to build a light rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton, saying the state can’t afford it. O’Maley cast that position an an example of a retrun to the past -- a central theme of his re-election campaign.

“For whatever reason, Bob Ehrlich has decided to turn back the clock and take Maryland back,” OMalley said. “I think it shows a contrast between the way the two of us look at the future.”

Continue reading "O'Malley supports Purple Line, dodges on gas tax" »

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 12:46 PM |
        

July 30, 2010

WMATA cited in deaths of 2 workers in Rockville

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health confirmed yesterday that it has issued citations against the operator of the Washington Metro system for four violations -- three of them classified as serious -- in connection with the deaths of two Metrorail workers.

The charges stem from an investigation of a fatal workplace accident that killed two employees in Rockville in January. MOSH, which conducted an investigation of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority along with the National Transportation Safety Board, found that WMATA had departed from its own workplace rules. The NTSB issued a scathing report earlier this week criticizing Metro for what it called the lack of a safety culture after a probe of last summer’s Red Line crash that killed nine.

In the Rockville incident, two veteran Metro employees who were working on the Red Line were killed when a truck-like vehicle used in track maintenance backed over them. MOSH recommended that WMTA improve its communications system so that uses dedicated frequencies and eliminates dead zones,

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:35 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

June 3, 2010

Feds seek public input on transit project criteria

Here's an opportunity for those with strong feelings about the Red Line, Purple Line or other proposed transit projects to weigh in on the criteria the federal government uses to evaluate proposals for such infrastructure investments.

The Federal Transit Administration, which under the Obama administration has altered Bush administration rules subjecting such proposals to a rigid cost-benefit test,  is seeking public comments on changes to its rating system. According to the FTA, it is seeking better ways to reflect the community benefits of transit projects.

The FTA is seeking comments at the federal government's Regulations website as well as holding public meetings -- the first two of which will take place next week:

TRB Environment and Energy Research Conference
Raleigh Convention Center
500 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
Monday, June 7 at 4:30 p.m.
 
APTA 2010 Rail Conference
Hyatt Regency Vancouver
655 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6C 2R7
Tuesday, June 8 at 1:30 p.m. (Federal Register reflects 2:30 p.m. start time. It will be corrected.)
 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:09 AM |
        

June 2, 2010

Brown announces guaranteed-ride plan

In his role as the state's coordinator of military base relocation actions, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown says the state will spend  $200,000 toward creation of Maryland's first "guaranteed ride home" program to provide Fort Meade transit users with an emergency backup plan.

Brown, chairman of the Governor's Subcabinet on Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), announced the ride initiative as part of an overall Transportation Demand Management Plan for Fort Meade.

The guaranteed-ride program is based on a 13-year-old program in the  Washington area that ensures rides home during the day for transit riders who need a ride home because of an unexpected emergency  or because they have to work unscheduled overtime.

Under that program, registered participants who use transit  twice a week or more are eligible for up to four free rides home each year. The rides are provided by taxi or rental car, depending on distance. Commuters must work in the Baltimore Metropolitan area and live in a somewhat larger region that includes the metro area plus  parts of the Eastern Shore and southern Pennsylvania.

 

 

Continue reading "Brown announces guaranteed-ride plan" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:15 PM | | Comments (1)
        

May 28, 2010

Did Metro kill the B30 bus?

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's board adopted a sweeping package of fare increases last night while protecting the system from most service cuts.

I don't doubt the necessity or the increases or the wisdom of preserving service, but the one far increase that strikes me as counterproductive is the jump in the fare of the B30 bus from Greenbelt Metro to BWI from $3.10 to $6.

This near-doubling will be a real shock to the budgets of those who depend on it, and will discourage its use as a transit bridge between Baltimore  and Washington on weekends or when MARC is disabled. It's not that the fare shouldn't have risen -- $3 was a bargain -- but transit agencies ought to implement increases more incrementally.

We'll just have to see what this does to ridership on the bus. It would be a shame if this were a death blow.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:56 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

May 7, 2010

Union chief blasts D.C. Metro on safety secrecy

Jackie L. Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Uniion Local 689 in Washington, just threw a little thunderbolt in the direction of the safety-impaired Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority regarding its openness about safety issues in the aftermath of last summer's nine-person fatality on the Red Line.

When is WMATA going to learn that stonewalling the union is counterproductive? I was almost going to call it a strategy, but it's unclear that the Lords of WMATA have any idea that is.

Since last June’s fatal Metrorail crash, Metro has added bricks to its wall of secrecy about safety issues. This week alone, I learned about two near-collisions on Metrorail from the news media, not WMATA.

Continue reading "Union chief blasts D.C. Metro on safety secrecy" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:04 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

April 30, 2010

D.C. Metro considers menu of fare increases

The board of the Washington Metro system is considering a broad range of fare increases, higher fees  and service cutbacks to deal with its budget woes, Greater Greater Washington reports.

All of the proposed increases are unpleasant, though there is little doubt that revenue will have to go up. But some of the proposals are especially onerous for Baltimore-area resident who make  use of the Washington Metro system.

Commuters who drive to the nearest Metro station -- notably Greenbelt, New Carrollton, Glenmont or Shady Grove -- and hop a train could face a parking fee increase of 50 cents a day or $5 a  month. Some board members are resisting the proposal because of its disproportionate effect on long-distance commuters.

One particularly obnoxious proposal for Marylanders is to raise the fare on the B30 bus from BWI to Greenbelt from $3.10 to $6. It is perhaps the nature of transit agencies to put off fare increases far too long and then to jack them up dramatically, but this is ridiculous. A near-doubling of the fares is a prescription for losing ridership on a bus route that is a key link between Washington and Baltimore (via light rail) -- especially on weekends when there are no MARC trains. It could be seen as a covert attempt to kill off the route entirely. An increase of roughly 33 percent -- to $4 -- is plenty for now.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:47 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

April 20, 2010

Leaders of Md., Va., D.C. agree on Metro plans

Gov. Martin O'Malley and the chief executives of Virginia and the District of Columbia agreed Tuesday on a plan to deal with safety issues on Washington's troubled Metro system, which experienced a catastrophic train collision last summer and a spate of fatal workplace accidents since then.

The agreement wiith Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Washington Mayor Adrian  Fenty calls for the three jurisdiction to quickly carry out a ""Phase One" oversight program without complex negotiations. The interim phase would be followed  by a long-term "Phase Two" plan that would bring about a safety oversight plan -- involving either a regional commission or a federal oversight agency. The leaders agreed to make that decision after the passage  of federal legislation governing transit  system safety or  the issuance of regulations or a presidential executive order.

Shaun Adamec, O'Malley's spokesman, said the three chief executives agreed to draft and send a joint letter to Congress outlining the changes they want  to make in a 40-year-old compact governing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to bolster their roles in system governance.

 

Continue reading "Leaders of Md., Va., D.C. agree on Metro plans" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:46 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

March 22, 2010

D.C. Metro board to vote on plan to replace rail cars

The board of Washington's Metro system is expected to vote Thursday on a staff recommendation for the purchase of a new generation of rail cars that is expected to push its oldest cars into retirement.

Under the $2 billion program, Metro plans to eventually buy 648 new rail cars and rebuild 100 others. The identity of the vendor selected for the program is expected  to be announced at the meeting, said Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel,

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority does not have the money to finance the entire purchase now but does have the funding to buy 64 cars to launch service on its planned Silver Line to Dulles International Airport, Taubenkibel said.

The spokesman said the rail car replacement program will allow Metro to retire its 1970s-era Series 1000 cars. The transit agency has come under pressure from the National Transportation Safety Board to replace the cars, six of which were in use on the train the slammed into a stopped tarin last June, killing nine.

The board contends the old cars are not built strongly enough to resist crumpling in a collision.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:19 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

March 16, 2010

Baltimore Metro compares well on speed

The Greater Greater Washington blog is running a chart that provides an interesting comparison ofr heavy rail subway systems in the United States. It turns out that Baltimore's Metro is one of the speedier in that category. It may not get many places, but where it does it gets there fast.
Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:33 PM | | Comments (3)
        

February 12, 2010

D.C. subway line reopens after derailment

The snake-bit Washington Metro has recorded yet another safety problem -- this time a derailment on the Red Line that injured three. Here's how the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is reporting the mishap:

The Farragut North Metrorail station reopened at 12:11 p.m. today (Feb. 12) after a six-car Red Line train headed in the direction of Shady Grove Metrorail station, which derailed from a pocket track (side track) just after it serviced the Farragut North Metrorail station.

There were three minor injuries of bumps and bruises reported. The incident took place at 10:13 a.m. Trains will be restricted to a speed of 25 mph between Dupont Circle and Farragut North Metrorail stations while Metro officials investigate the incident.

 Metro officials and local first responders are at the scene to investigate. Metro officials moved all customers to the rear four cars of the train. Those four cars then were separated from the front two cars to allow the four car train to move to the platform to unload the passengers. There were approximately 345 people on board the train.

The front wheels of train number 156’s lead car came off the tracks. The rail cars that comprised the train were 6096 (lead car), 6097, 1197, 1196, 6039 and 6038. The first two cars of the train (rail cars 6096 and 6097) remain in the pocket track. They are expected to be removed after the rail system closes tonight at midnight.

Metro officials notified the Tri-State Oversight Committee and the National Transportation Safety Board of the incident.

Metro is offering limited service on the Red Line between Glenmont and White Flint. The Shady Grove, Twinbrook and Rockville stations remain closed for snow removal. All other lines are operating end to end.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:44 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

February 4, 2010

Metro to close stations if snow exceeds 8 inches

The Washington Metro will close its above-ground stations if this weekend's expected snow accumulation exceeds 8 inches. The Maryland Transit Administration is warning MARC riders to be sure they can make their train connections Friday evvening if the snow falls faster than expected. Here's the MTA's release:

Attention MARC Passengers who transfer from Washington Metrorail to MARC at New Carrollton, College Park, Greenbelt, Silver Spring, and Rockville-- Please be aware that Washington Metrorail will close all above-ground stations when snow accumulation reaches eight inches or more. While that level of accumulation is not anticipated by the end of tomorrow's rush hour, please have a backup plan to get to your MARC station in the event your Metro station closes.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:02 PM |
        

February 1, 2010

WMATA faces new budget woes

Last week the Washington Metro system averted service cutbacks to close a $40 million gap in its fiscal 2010 budget by enacting a 1--cent, across-the-board fare increase. No sooner had it done so, Greater Greater Washington reports, than its management released a fiscal 2011 budget showing a $190 million deficit -- along with a highly unpalatable menu of choices to close the gap.

One of the possibilities suggested is extracting a higher contribution from local jurisdictions -- including Maryland. That would be a tough sell in hard budget times even if it weren't  an election year. Other alternatives include fare increases, service  cuts and  additional staff cuts.

My least favorite proposals: A doubling of the fare on the B30 bus between BWI and Greenbelt Metro to $6 and an increase in the annual cost of a bike locker from $70 to $200. 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

January 28, 2010

D.C. Metro chooses fare increase, not service cuts

Facing a serious shortfall of revenue midway through its fiscal year, the Washington Metro board decided today to reject proposed cuts to rail and bus service and instead impose a 10-cent, across-the-board fare increase.

In addition, the board directed  the staff to  make  an additional $6 billion in "non-operational" cuts. It also OK'd the use of $10 million in stimulus funds -- which had originally been directed to capital projects that later came in under budget  -- for operations.

 The board's action appeared to track the sentiment of riders who appeared at a public hearing Wednesday night, where calls for protection from service cutbacks outweighed opposition to increases in fares. Among the proposed service cutbacks on the table were a  decrease in late-night Metrorail service, a reduction in the number of eight-car trains at peak times and the  elimination of  some bus routes

In another action, the board elected Maryland's Peter Benjamin to serve as Metro chairman for the next year. In that capacity, Benjamin will presumably lead the search for a new general manager to replace John Catoe, who resigned early this month.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:44 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

January 26, 2010

What is it with the Washington Metro?

The deaths of two Washington Metro workers in an overnight incident near Rockville adds to a growing list of fatalities on a subway system that has been repeatedly criticized for iits safety lapses.

The deaths of the two track workers follow a bloody 2009 on the Washington subway tracks, which saw a series of employee fatalities as well as the worst single crash in the syatem's history -- a collision of two  trains on the Red Line last summer that killed eight passengers and a train operator.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which has  previously chastised Metro for its safety performance, quickly announced it would  investigate the double fatality, which occurred about 1:45 a.m. a few blocks from the Rockville Metro station.

A representative of the workers' union, Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 699, identified the two men as Jeffrey Garrard and Sung 0h, noth automatic train technicians and longtime Metro employees.

Continue reading "What is it with the Washington Metro?" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:30 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

January 14, 2010

Catoe stepping down as D.C. Metro chief

John Catoe, the embattled head of Washington's Metro system, has announced his retirement, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Catoe has been under fire for his leadership of Metro after a long string of safety problems affecting both the Washington subway and Metrobus operations -- most notably the collision of two subway trains that killed nine last July.

Here's how WMATA explained the move in a brief press release:

Continue reading "Catoe stepping down as D.C. Metro chief" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

December 23, 2009

Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009

Apart from disasters, transportation stories tend to unfold over the course of many years. Some of the ones that garner big headlines at the time will be all but forgotten in a few years time. So in choosing the Top 10 Maryland transportation stories of the past decade, it helps to project forward to 2020 or 2030 and look back at what made a lasting difference.

A little disclosure is in order. I have covered transportation for The Sun since 2004 and before that followed many transportation-related stories as a State House Bureau reporter. So there might be a bias in favor of the stories I covered. (Thanks to my colleague Scott Calvert to reminding me of the Howard Street Tunnel fire, which occurred before my time on the beat.)

With those caveats, I present my top 10 in the bottom-to-top format made wildly popular by David Letterman:

10. Light rail double-tracking project completed. When Baltimore's light rail system opened early in the 1990s, it soon became clear that the system had been built on the cheap. The decision to run trains on a single track over long stretches led to constant delays and operational difficulties. Thus, under the Glendening administration, the decision was made to add a second track. The Ehrlich administration then made a tough decision to expedite the work by closing down the southern and northern stretches of the system for periods of about a year. It was a rough time for light rail users, but the project was finally completed in early 2006, and the result has been much more reliable service on this still image-impaired system.

 

                                                                                                 Sun photo/Amy Davis/2006      

Continue reading "Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:33 AM | | Comments (7)
        

December 21, 2009

MTA keeps going through the snow

 

                                                                                        The Sun/Karl Merton Ferron            

An MTA bus passenger waits for a ride Saturday.          

The Maryland Transit Administration did a little crowing Monday -- but I don't think you can blame the agency. They kept the buses and trains rolling through the worst of the weekend's snowstorm.

In a news release Monday, the agency noted that it kept local bus, light rail and Metro subway servvice going through the worst of the storm. It might not have run perfectly -- who could expect that with 21 inches of snow coming down? -- but it never ground to a halt as some regional transit agencies did.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley had good reason to be proud of her people when she released the following statement.

Despite severe weather conditions, the MTA maintained service throughout the
blizzard. I have tremendous pride in our employees who persevered, literally, in the eye of the storm to keep our service moving assafely and efficiently as possible.

The MTA's operations people deserve such kudos. It was a tough job -- especially with the Ravens hosting a game Sunday. And they came through. That's what happens when you let real professionals run a transit system.

November 11, 2009

Montgomery Council opens door for transit study

The Montgomery County Council, led by Chairman Phil Andrews, might just have opened a door they would have preferred to keep closed.

Ben Ross of the Action Committee for Transit points out that the solution Andrews suggested and the Council endorsed for relieving congestion in the Interstate 270 corridor -- the addition of two reversible express lanes between Shady Grove and Frederick -- is not  one of the alternatives included in the State Highway Administration's I-270 Corridor Study.

To move in the direction the Council suggests would require a new study of the plan's costs and feasibilty, Ross notes. So if transportation officials decide to reopen the study to examine one plan, Ross asks, why not open it up to other alternatives -- including ACT's suggestion of an all-transit option for relieving the corridor's stress?

It seems to me that Ross has a point. A lot has happened since transit was last  looked  at, including massive cost increases for some of the alternatives that have been studied. I'd also like to have them take a glance, at least, at my suggestion of a single reversible lane for buses and high-occupancy vans only at peak times. (Let trucks use it off-peak to separate them from cars.)

Some proponents of widening I-270 to the max have dismissed the notion of any further study -- insisting it will only delay the project. But all you have to do is look at the finances of the Maryland Transportation Authority and you'll see it may be a long time before any project of the magnitude of an I-270 widening can be financed.

So let's study away: the Andrews plan, the Ross plan, the off-the-wall-Baltimore-Guy plan, whatever.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:20 PM | | Comments (3)
        

November 3, 2009

Prince George's eyes Green Line to Fort Meade

The Greater Greater Washington blog reports that Prince George's County has added to its master plan a proposal to extend the Washington Metro Green Line to Fort Meade. This would be big news for Baltimore and even bigger for Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

Currently, the Washington Metro comes no closer to Baltimore than Greenbelt -- a destination that's difficult to reach on weekday mornings without slogging through fierce congestion on Interstate 95 and the Capital Beltway.

The proposal being batted around in Prince George's would take the Green Line as far north as Route 32 near Savage before it  would curve east toward Fort Meade and Odenton. That would make it a lot easier to get to Washington via Metro without getting mixed up in traffic jams.

The one thing that's striking about the proposal is how close it would come to Baltimore's light rail system without actually linking up to it. That is something that may need to be addressed jointly by the Maryland Transit Administration and WMATA. A robust, seven-day-a-week connection between the cities would be a tremendous advance for car-free mobility in the region. At the very least, as an interim measure if the MTA lags, it could allow the B30 bus from BWI to run much more frequent connections to the Metro by terminating at the nearest Green Line station.

A wild card in this plan would be how it would affect service on the MARC Camden Line. Is it possible the Green Line and Camden Line could meet at Savage or Laurel on weekends or off-peak times? That could be an even faster connection than light rail.

Fascinating possibilities. We should all live long enough to see what results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:41 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

September 24, 2009

WMATA sacks driver who hit pedestrian

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced it has fired a bus operator who struck and seriously injured a pedestrian Sept. 3 and Florida and Connecticut Avenues. The agency said the eight-year veteran driver had beeen found to have violated the agency's operating procedures.

It's great to see some accountability at WMATA, but it would be better if that concept were applied to those in managerial ranks as well.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:42 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

September 22, 2009

NTSB finds track signal flaw in June 22 Metro crash

The National Transportation Safety Board has identified a flaw in the Washington Metro's train control system as the likely culprit in the June 22 crash that killed nine people on the Red Line. The agency also has made nine safety recommendations, six of them classified as urgent.

The NTSB said it discovered that a "spurious" signal had been generated by a transmitter in a track circuit. It recommended that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the system's manufacturer, Alstom Signaling, work together to eliminate the problem. The agency recommended that federal regulators notify other transit agencies that use similar systems about the problems that arose on the Washington subway.

A copy of the full release appears below:

Continue reading "NTSB finds track signal flaw in June 22 Metro crash" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:59 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

September 10, 2009

D.C. Metro worker struck by train

A Washington Metro was struck by a train in Northern Virginia Thursday, causing major delays on the Blue and Yellow lines in the morning and early afternoon. According to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration, the worker was taken to a local hospital with what are apparently serious injuries.

The accident took place about 10:40 a.m. between the the Ronald Reagan National Airport and Braddock Road stations. Full service on the Blue and Yellow lines was restored at 12:43 p.m. According to WMATA, the incident is under investigation.

The latest injury is one in a long list of safety-related problems to crop up within WMATA in recent months -- most notably the June 22 Metro collision that killed nine. Problems have included fatal accidents, cracked rails and employee misconduct.

It appears that WMATA has a way to go in creating a culture that emphasizes safety.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:53 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

September 8, 2009

Bolt offers option to D.C.

Martin Johnson of Baltimore  notes an everyday option for getting to and from Washington without a car that might not be familiar to most readers.

Bolt Bus offers seven buses a day from Penn Station to the Greenbelt Metro Station each day at a cost of $15 on weekdays and $16 on weekends.  Once you're in Greenbelt, you can reach almost anywhere you'd want to go in the Washington area via subway and Metrobus.

Whether this is a good deal depends on how you value your time and how easy it is to catch the bus. The Bolt Bus ride takes 45 minutes. Greyhound takes 55 minutes to deliver you to downtown D.C. at a prevailing cost of $13.50 nonrefundable, $17.50 refundable. It has many more trips but a poorly located station in an industrial area south of the stadiums.

The most economical 7-day-a-week option is still the combination of the light rail ($1.60) to BWI and the B-30 bus ($3) to Greenbelt Metro. That trip (measured from Mount Royal station to Greenbelt) can take anywhere from an hour and a quarter (roughly) to an hour and three-quarters depending on whether you catch the train that's synchronized with the B30. Checking the schedules is well worth the time.

Of course, the MARC train remains the best way to get between the two cities on weekdays -- except during periodic service meltdowns. It's a wise MARC rider who prints out the Bolt Bus,  Greyhound, light rail and B30 schedules and keeps copies in a purse or briefcase. You never know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:31 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Light rail, Local bus lines, MARC train, WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

August 18, 2009

Summer of horrors continues on D.C. transit

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority reports that a contractor was killed Tuesday morning in an electrocution accident at its Bladensburg bus depot in Northeast Washington. Meanwhile, a crack was found in the  track on the Metrorail Red Line.

It was just last week that a man apparently committed suicide by placing himslef on the tracks at the West Falls Chruch station in Virginia. Earlier in the summer, a  Metro employee was killed on the job. And of the course the worst was the June 22 crash of two trains on the Red Line that left nine dead.

If that wasn't enough, last week brought the news of the firings of two bus operators for serious infractions.

When will it all end?

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:38 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

D.C. Metro to bring wireless underground

The Washington Metro system announced that it will equip 20 underground stations for wireless service on the Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile networks so that riders can make calls, text or get access to the Web while in the subway.
Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:37 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

August 14, 2009

WMATA fires 2 operators, reinstates another

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has fired two operators for serious infraction but has reinstated a third whose use of a cell phone was found not to have violated the agency's strict prohibition on use of the electronic devices while driving.

WMATA on Friday announced the firing this week of one operator who was charged with kidnapping after refusing to let a passenger leave a bus after a verbal dispute in Prince Georges' County July 25. Another operator, who was involved in a crash with a passenger vehicle July 30 in Southeast Washington, was also fired. While  the driver of the car in the accident was charged with failure to yield the right of way, the operator was found to have been driving on a suspended license, WMATA said.

In the third incident, a bus operator was accused by some passengers of violating the agency's newly adopted "one-strike-and-you're-out" policy against cell phone use while operating transit vehicles. According to the agency, the operator was determined to have used a personal cell phone to report a mechanical problem with the bus. WMATA said investigators found that she was not operating the bus at the time she was talking on the phone. The agency said she was "re-instructed regarding operating procedures" and returned to her job.

The announcement confirms a report on the Maryland Politics Watch blog Monday that early reports of a flagrant violation of WMATA's cell phone policy had been mistaken. The article raises pertinent questions about who really needs re-instruction -- the operator or WMATA management.

Continue reading "WMATA fires 2 operators, reinstates another" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:42 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

August 12, 2009

Man killed on D.C. Metro tracks

A man who intentionally positioned himself on the tracks at the West Falls Church Metro station in Northern Virginia was struck and killed today, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration. The man, identified as Sangjin Lee, 45, of Arlington, Va., was hit by an Orange Line train bound for New Carrollton at 11:18 a.m.

This is shaping up as the worst summer ever for the D.C. Metro. There was the fatal Red Line crash June 22, reports of operators driving while distracted, a Metro worker killed on the job and more. Where will it end?

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:58 AM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

August 4, 2009

Purple Line could be Baltimore asset

For Baltimore readers, Gov. Martin O'Malley's announcement of a choice of plans to build the Red Line far overshadowed his support for light rail on the Purple Line from New Carrollton to Bethesda. But for some Baltimore residents, the Purple Line could be an important part of their commuting future.

If it comes to fruition, the Purple Line will connect with the MARC Penn Line at New Carrollton and the MARC Camden Line  at Colllege Park. From those points, riders  will be able to travel to various employment centers along the east-west line without having to go into downtown Washington.

 It might not be a vast number of Baltimore-area residents  who benefit. The Maryland Transit Administration did not  have an estimate on how  many might make the transfer from MARC to the Purple Line. But certainly there will be hundreds, if not thousands, who end up  making that connection after it opens (2016 at the earliest).

The estimated one-way travel time of 56 minutes from New Carrollton to Bethesda makes it unlikely that many Baltimore-area riders would travel the  full length of the line. But the Purple Line will certainly improve access to the University of Maryland College park campus, as  well as Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

So unlike that goofy proposal to wiiden Interstate 270  at the cost of $4.6 billion, this is a true One Maryland project that will bring the state together and open up job opportunities that otherwise might be out of reach. The $1.5 billion project also balances out politically with Baltimore's $1.6 billion Red Line aspirations. The only way I can figure to balance that I-270 boondoggle with a Baltimore project would be to gold-plate the Key  Bridge.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:52 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

July 30, 2009

D.C. Metro expects weekend delays

If you're traveling to Washington this weekend and are planning to ride the Metro, be warned: There will be maintenance work taking place on all five lines requiring inbound and outbound trains to share a single track at various times. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration is urging passengers to build  an extra 30 minutes into their travel plans.

The work will begin Friday at 10 p.m. and continue until closing Sunday night.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:50 AM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

July 24, 2009

Man hit by train on D.C. Red Line

The Washington Metro is reporting that a  man has been struck by a subway train at the Van Ness station on the Red Line. According to Metro, a train headed toward Shady Grove hit the person around 12:30 p.m. The victim was transported to a local hospital but his  condition is not yet known. Major delay are expected on the Red Line.

According to Metro, witnesses said the man intentionally placed himself of the track.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:16 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

July 13, 2009

D.C. Metro replies to NTSB

Washington Metro officials say they can't immediately comply with a  recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board that they add another layer of safety precautions to the subway system because such a technology is  not commercially available.

The NTSB issued an emergency  recommendation Monday that the Metro incorporate a new backup system into its crash-protection measures in the wake of the  June 22 collision of two trains. Nine people died in that ccrash -- the worst in the history of the Washington Metro.

The NTSB investigation has reached a preliminary finding that a circuit failure in Metro's current crash avoidance system failed, leaving the operator of a following train unaware that another train had stopped  on the tracks ahead. The board said the crash showed the Metro "is susceptible to a single-point failure" and should add a level of redundancy to its protections.

However, in its reply, the Metro board said its system is not compatible with any other existing transit system and  that any new protection technology would have to be  invented.

The Metro system's full reply follows:

 

Continue reading "D.C. Metro replies to NTSB" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:37 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

July 9, 2009

WMATA stiffens cell-text ban for operators

WMATA general manager John Catoe has just announced a strict no-tolerance policy for operators using cell phones and text messaging devices on the job. One strike and you're out -- as in fired. The new policy replaces a three-strikes-and-you're out approach that prevailed before.

WMATA says the preliminary indication is that cell phones use was not involved in the June 22 Red Line crash that killed 9, but a You Tube video has emerged purporting to show a WMATA operator texting.

D.. Metro operators have become unwitting stars at You Tube lately. Another video (shown above) making the rounds appears to show a Green Line driver sleeping on the job.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:41 AM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

Expect D.C. Metro delays this weekend

Travelers to the Washington area this weekend could encounter delays on the Metro as a result of track maintenance work Friday through Sunday on four of its lines.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration urged riders to allow an extra 30 minutes into their travel plans if they will be using the  Red, Orange Blue of Yellow  lines.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 8:44 AM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

July 6, 2009

D.C. Metro sets July 4 record

Just two weeks after the most catastrophic accident in its history, the Washington Metro set a record for Fourth of July ridership -- 631,206 trips, an increase of 32,308 from the previous year.

On June 22, nine people were killed in the collission of two trains on the Red Line near Fort Totten station. The National Transportation Safety Baord is continuing its investigation of that crash.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:35 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

July 2, 2009

Reader warns of irrational transit-phobia

Every once and a while I get an email that displays uncommon good sense in the face of nonsense. This, from Terry Shepard of Baltimore, is one of them. After passing  along some compliments that are too extravagant to inflict on readers, Shepard writes concerning the June 22 Metro crash that killed nine in Washington:


The Sun and other papers continue to run follow-up stories on it and that is understandable.  What is less explicable is the employment of this accident by some to spread fear of and opposition to public transit.  Auto commuters say "See, that's why I don't ride transit" and even the Sun ran one of its reader polls on whether this would make people less likely to do so. 


Meanwhile, a June 30 story in the Sun reports on "a tractor-trailer that plowed into stalled cars in a turnpike accident that killed 10 people" and no one is running polls or saying "See, that's why I don't drive on the highway."  (I realize that crash was in Oklahoma, but you get the point.)


This despite the fact, reported in a June 24 story in the Sun, that:  "According to the National Safety Council, the number of accident fatalities per vehicle miles traveled is about 14 times worse for passenger cars than trains and subways. Only transit buses are considered safer."


Perhaps you could repeat those statistics and interview a psychologist who works on transportation as to why people refuse to accept this (beyond the obvious answer that many Americans reject facts that suggest they should get out of their cars and ride on public transit with people they don't know.)


As you know and have argued, more and better mass transit are both possible and absolutely vital if we are to avoid killing our environment, our cities and ourselves.  Americans must get past their unreasoning fear of transit and you can help them do it:

I have to disagree, Terry. If anyone, you are the one that can help them do it. And just have. Thanks.


I don't think you need a psychologist to explain what's at  work: Transit is unfamiliar to most middle-class, auto-oriented Americans. Cars are something they encounter every day. That  which is unfamiliar is more scary than what is familiar, even when the familiar is demonstrably more dangerous. Transit also involves contact with unfamiliar people.


The point on the poll is well-taken. It should be noted that it comes with the disclaimer: "results not scientific." Still, it is encouraging that only 17 percent answered yes. And I'm going to venture an unscientific guess that those most of those folks don't ride transit now.

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:32 PM | | Comments (1)
        

July 1, 2009

Baltimore subway passes safety test

Baltimore subway

A Maryland Transit Administration official said early Wednesday morning that Baltimore's Metro subway had passed reliability tests on its control and collision prevention system.

Conducted in the aftermath of the fatal June 22 crash of two Washington Metro trains, MTA testing engineer John Forbes said a third night of so-called "integrity tests" was completed about 3:30 a.m. and the examination had found "no anomalies whatsoever" in the speed controls on one of the two tracks from Johns Hopkins Hospital to Owings Mills.

Forbes said the other track was found to have no speed control problems the previous night, while a test of the Metro's collision avoidance system last week also uncovered no malfunctions.

Posted by Maryann James at 8:53 AM |
        

June 29, 2009

Man killed on D.C. Metro tracks

The Washington Metro system's string of ill fortune continued Monday as a man was struck and killed by a train headed for Shady Grove at the Forest Glen station on the Red Line in Montgomery County.

Just a week ago, nine people were killed in the collision of two trains near the Fort Totten Station, also on the Red Line. Later in the week, cracks in Metro tracks caused delays on at least two lines.

Monday's incident took place about 4:10 p.m. Metro said a preliminary investigation indicated that the victim was on the tracks intentionally. Metro said it is single tracking trains around the site. It warned Red Line riders to expect delays of about 30 minutes for the rest of the evening.

 

Continue reading "Man killed on D.C. Metro tracks" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:09 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

June 27, 2009

D.C. Metro Red Line back in full operations

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration says the Metro Red Line has resumed full operations for the first time since Monday's fatal train accident that killed nine people.
Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:32 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

June 25, 2009

More trouble on D.C. Metro

Update from Twitter:

(WMATA_AllRed Line: Trains are sharing the same track between Medical Center & Grosvenor due to a report of a cracked rail outside Medical Center stat.)

As if the Washington Metro system didn't have enough problems with its recovery from the fatal accident on the Red Line Monday, Thursday brought new problems on the Green Line.

Metro inspectors discovered a cracked rail at 12:58 p.m. near the West Hyattsville Metrorail station, causing mid-day delays on the line used by many Baltimore-area residents who park at Greenbelt.

During repairs, Green Line trains are sharing a single track between the Fort Totten and Prince George’s Plaza Metrorail stations. The Washingtoon Metropolitan Area Transit Administration warned that passengers Riders could run into delays up to 20 minutes.

Metro said that while it expects to complete the repair by later afternoon, however, the evening rush hour period could be affected.

Update from Twitter:

(WMATA_AllRed Line: Trains are sharing the same track between Medical Center & Grosvenor due to a report of a cracked rail outside Medical Center stat.)

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:57 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

June 24, 2009

Chat with Carol Carmody, former NTSB member

Former National Transportation Safety Board member Carol J. Carmody will discuss Monday's fatal Washington Metro crash Wednesday at noon. Until 11:30, you can submit questions in the comments below; after that, questions can be taken directly in the chat.

Posted by Maryann James at 7:45 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

June 23, 2009

Ex-NTSB member to discuss Metro crash

Former National Transportation Safety Board member Carol J. Carmody will appear on the  Baltimore Sun's Getting There blog to discuss Monday's fatal Washington Metro crash Wednesday at noon for a live chat.

The discussion with Carmody will last for 45 minutes, but could be extended if  there is sufficient interest. Carmody, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, served  on the board from 2000 to 2005.

Readers  can join in here; questions can be submitted beginning at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 8:48 PM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

WMATA breakdown?

 

WMATA's message breakdown on Twitter

 

The public affairs office at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration appears to have had a systemic breakdown in the wake of Monday's fatal crash.

At 9:30 a.m. WMATA general manager John Catoe told the Washington Post the death toll in the crash was up to nine. But as of 11:20 a.m., WMATA's web site was still at six and hadn't been updated in hours. Meanwhile, WMATA's use of Twitter has been staggeringly ineffective and not up with the news.

Meanwhile, its press releases are giving the media more spin than background on Metro's safety history.  I can understand that folks there are exhausted, but the media affairs shop is not exactly stepping up in a time of crisis.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:15 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

WMATA history sanitized

I finally found a once-accessible on-line history of Washington's Metro that is now buried deep on the WMATA web site.

It started off in a reasonably honest way, but in recent years it has played all kinds of games with history. For example, its timeline for 2005 conveniently overlooks the on-the-job death of an employee in October of that year but is careful to note that buus operator Robertt Miles had won his 17th Metrobus Roadeo.

In 2006,  the "history" notes the deaths of two employees struck by a train in November. but overlooks the death of another employee in a similar incident that May.

It does note the deaths of two  Metro transit officers over the years, If you were to count their deaths along with the crash fatalities, the toll on the Mtero system would stand at 19.

Funny, the timeline ignores any mention of NTSB reports on its past actions.

The timeline ends after April 17, 2008 -- marking the end of history, at least for WMATA.

 

 

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:07 AM |
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

Hey, WMATA! Stop spinning already

In the initial hours after the worst tragedy in its history, you could understand that the public relations shop at the Washington Metro wouldn't take the time to recount the full history of its fatal accidents over the years.

 But now it's the next morning -- and it's getting a little tiresome to read press releases pointing out that Monday's horrific collision was only the second fatal PASSENGER accident in Metro's history.

 "The only other time in Metrorail’s 33-year history that there were customer fatalities was in January 1982, when three people died as a result of a derailment between the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian Metrorail stations. The only other time that Metrorail had a collision was in 2004 when two trains collided at the Woodley Park/Zoo-Adams Morgan Metrorail station, in which there were some minor injuries," reads this morning's release.

Excuse me, what about the four incidents in which five WMATA employees were killed? One took place in 1996, one in 2005 and two others in 2006. With the nine people killed in Monday's crash -- an employee and eight passengers -- that brings the death toll on Metro since it opened to at least 17.

Trying to put forward any lesser number is pure spin -- maybe appropriate for a political campaign but appalling in the midst of tragedy.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 8:25 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

June 3, 2009

Getting it right in Northern Virginia

Yglesias Think Progress blog has a good post on transit-oriented development and how it has worked in Arlington, Va.

Meanwhile, GreaterGreaterWashington reports on planning for a new Metro station in Alexandria.

Why does Maryland seem to be so far behind Northern Virginia on transit matters?

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:37 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: WMATA/D.C. Metro
        

June 2, 2009

New MTA "smart" card to work on D.C. metro

According to Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman Jawauna Greene, the MTA has worked out an agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration that would let holders of the soon-to-be-introduced MTA "smart cards" use them on the Washington Metro system and WMATA-operated buses.

WMATA users would also be able to use their SmarTrip cards on MTA buses, the Baltimore Mettro and the light rail (not MARC).

This makes so much sense it's a surprise it could actually happen.

These smart cards, which store value added in advance, make the experience of riding public transit much smoother. Users can eliminate much of the fumbling for change that complicates a simple bus or rail trip.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:00 PM | | Comments (5)
        
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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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