29 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Metro: Here and Now”

  1. LOL Not this video!! I watched as Twitter exploded in commentary on the #WMATA hash, led by @FixWMATA and @unsuckdcmetro. It is sad to compare this optimistic video with WMATA of now, which is falling apart and causing nothing but grief.

    Be grateful that Sound Transit and King County Metro communicate with riders

    1. Nobody rides DC Metro any more. It’s too crowded!

      In fact, they’ve had to institute a peak-of-peak surcharge along the way, which is charged on tap-off, or, uh, failure to tap off. But it leaves Metro still having to charge $2 for SmarTrip cards after rebate, otherwise people would be letting their card go into negative balance, and throwing them away after each peak-of-peak ride. Our POP system should effectively deter such behavior here (i.e. riding too far with a negative balance).

      This is one more way the zone bus system doesn’t work well with smart-card technology. I don’t think Metro stops anyone from boarding a 2-zone peak bus if all the fare they have is just enough for one zone. (But even without smart cards, the zone system was largely an honor system.)

      SmarTrip would be free, if it weren’t for the negative balance conundrum. What’s that excuse again for ORCA costing $5, when nobody else charges more than $2 (after rebates) for a bus smart card in the entire rest of the country? DC has a good reason. San Diego still hasn’t discovered e-purse. Jacksonville just STARted. Spokane is a small system. Everyone else charges $1 (Atlanta and LA) or nothing at all (everyone else).

      1. “Nobody rides DC Metro any more. It’s too crowded!”

        In other news, Not a single person on earth eats ice cream because its always sold out.

      2. Where did you get SmarTrip for $2?? The SmarTrip I purchased, which is for Persons with Disabilities, cost me $5 for the card. Then I loaded $20 initially.

      3. All prices are for Persons with Disabilities. At the time of initial purchase, I loaded cash fare onto the respective cards.

        * SmarTrip cost me $5
        * ORCA cost me $3, when I traded in my old RRFP
        * WATA (Williamsburg (VA) Area Transit Authority) was no charge for the card and $5 to load a bundle of 6 Ride All Day passes

      4. “Nobody rides DC Metro any more. It’s too crowded!”

        Do you understand how that statement makes little sense? ;)

      5. Another tidbit about the Washington Metro area. If you ever need to do a suburb-to-suburb trip across the Patomic (e.g. Rockville->Tyson’s Corner), the only route available without backtracking all the way into the downtown is the beltway. Zero trains, zero buses, not even a path to bike across! In short, every mode of transportation besides a private car is forced into a long detour.

      6. Michael,

        According to Wikipedia, SmarTrip amended their policies to offer a $3 rebate for registered cards, beginning last September.

        Such adaptive policymaking is something Seattle could stand to learn a bit about.

    2. That video was produced at a time when Congress still believed that it was right for government to raise and spend money, including for public mass transit. 35 years later Congress in particular, along with many state legislatures including our own, are afraid to raise revenue. As a result our infrastructure and our services are starting to crumble. WMATA is being starved, and while Twitter hashtags can help draw attention to the problem, it’s not something a transit agency can solve on its own. The problem is political.

  2. Memories of early job out of college, driving for a stone quarry in Potomac that had the permit to store explosives for projects all over the DC area- including work on Metro.

    May have delivered the first cases of blasting gelatine (dynamite in the Snidely Whiplash days) to Dupont Circle and Rock Creek.

    Good comments on the side of the balance sheet current accounting leaves out. After forty years’ heavy use, any system shows wear- which any responsible business considers money well-spent to repair.

    Fare policy might be easier to think about if we used same philosophy as with sanitary sewers: precision in billing is less important than the general functioning of the system.

    Better to write off a few bills than force many people to disconnect.

    Mark Dublin

    1. People have been pissing and shitting in pioneer square and alleys all over downtown since long before McGinn’s election. This is not a new . And he’s actually having a Portland Loo installed. No other candidate has any more credible plan that I’ve heard (or even any plan at all).

      I’ve long advocated giving some sort of tax break or other incentive to local businesses and building owners for providing public restrooms.

    2. Yeah, Alki, as a regular denizen of Pioneer Square, it’s only been better in the last few years. More businesses with more stability and cleaner alleys.

      If you want to blame anyone for Pioneer Square, blame the Council. The mayor proposed development rules that would have brought investment, including money for more public services. The Council said no.

    3. The complaints from the business owners about losing business strike me as myopic, when the neighborhood stood up against any upzoning that might allow more residents to move in and “destroy the character of Pioneer Square”. Karma.

  3. People here know two things about me. That english is my sixth language, and that I started reading the New York Times at the age of two and a half. I honestly believe I am the most important person to have ever written on this blog. And yes, that includes the bloggers and founder of this blog. That said, I now present to you my NYT link of the week.


    You’re welcome.

  4. Good interview with Ford’s futurist, Sheryl Connelly.


    “Q: How will traffic congestion affect the car industry?

    A: Global gridlock is what our chairman, Bill Ford, worries about. Some people project up to 4 billion cars on the road, but if those cars aren’t moving, they benefit no one. He believes in an idea that was shared by his great-grandfather, Henry: Mobility is a fundamental component to the advancement of freedom and innovation.

    What he is thinking about right now is: How do we make sure Ford is positioned to be part of the solution and not the problem? He spent the last 30 years of his life worried about selling as many cars as possible, and now he worries what will happen if we continue to sell as many cars as possible.”

    So perhaps the future is about mobility solutions that are multimodal: bike, rail, car. I don’t think individual vehicle ownership is going away, but in some parts of the world that might not be the pinnacle of aspiration.

  5. Perhaps we need to reopen the proposal to close Sounder North and replace it with more frequent buses…

    I mention this as since 3/2011 I’ve taken 10 trips via mass transit to Seattle or Tacoma. Due to a lack of weekend service and the fact I need a cab to take an earlier county connector to intercept a Sounder North run… I’ve only used Sounder North once. As of a week from now it’ll be 1 for 11.

    Each boarding on Sounder North costs $32.38 versus “$7.54 on the crowded Sound Express Snohomish County-Seattle buses which run in the I-5 corridor” (1). Furthermore, buses are what the folks want – not trains that cost a $27.88 subsidy per boarding AFTER a $4.50 fare. Frankly, one could get from Seattle to Mount Vernon at that fare on Amtrak Cascades!

    I’m just reopening the issue because of the executed, ongoing and inbound further transit cuts that perhaps we need to look at everything. Yes, I’d like to once again take Sounder North since 8/2011 and enjoy the scenic coast… but at what cost?

    I’ll stop there.
    (1) SOURCE: http://socialcapitalreview.org/north-sounder-low-ridership-not-acceptable-says-oversight-body/

      1. Trust me, I know how hard that is. Perhaps this blog could create a groundswell of support to “fix this” as they said on “The West Wing”.

        Here is the best reason why:

        COP also called out Sound Transit for resource misallocation. Reiterating a point from a critical special report it issued last fall, COP says that while passengers are being left behind or forced to stand on runs of overstuffed and too-infrequent express buses in the I-5 Everett-to-Seattle corridor, ST continues to sink too much money into the underperforming Sounder North commuter rail line serving the same general area. Sound Transit has said it is bound under the last ballot measure to maintain Sounder North service at current levels and that large sunken costs to get usage rights on the tracks also dictate maintaining the service. COP wants performance benchmarks set and a timeline for cutting at least one of the four weekday trains if those aren;t met. This, it says, would free up cash for 10 or more express bus trips daily up and back on I-5.


        1 Sounder North run = 10 or more express bus trips daily.

        Not a hard choice.

      2. With the opening of the new parking area at Edmonds, it will be interesting to see if the perception that low ridership there is due to lack of parking, will be validated.

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