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The Way to Expand Transit

John D. Porcari, Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley's (D) designee for Maryland transportation secretary, told Montgomery County residents last week that the Democratic administration plans to conduct a 30-day audit of the state's transportation trust fund to assess what can be done. But he said there are "real limitations" to adding projects. At some point, he said, the state will need additional revenue for new work.

One person in the large crowd at Kensington's Albert Einstein High School asked Porcari whether MARC train service could be expanded to weekends. Porcari gave a realistic answer, based on the commuter line's history of crowded and irregular service: "The first order of business is to get adequate capacity for the ridership we have today." Many who were at the school said they want Maryland to build a light rail line across Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

In Virginia, the Metrorail extension through Tysons Corner is on the verge of winning federal approval. But within two months, the Metro board must sign off on taking control of the line when it is completed. The line could cost Metro an additional $43.5 million a year in operating expenses starting in 2012 and generate $25.1 million in revenue.

Look for Yellow on Green

Metro riders should look for a little bonus, created recently by the off-peak extension of the Yellow Line to Fort Totten. About 2 p.m. on weekdays, there are two Yellow Line trains traveling from Alexandria to Greenbelt, where in the past only Green Line trains had operated.

That quirk exists because Metro needs those two trains at Greenbelt for the start of rush hour service on the Green Line at 3:30 p.m. Rather than sending empty Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt for that turnaround, Metro decided to add some service by allowing passengers to board.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in the Extras and Sunday in the Metro section. You can send e-mails Include your name, community and phone number.

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