Dr. Gridlock's traffic, transit tips

Saturday, February 5, 2011; 5:30 PM

Delayed gratification

For those of us who favor instant rewards, Wednesday's presentation by Metro General Manager Richard Sarles to the Riders' Advisory Council was downright gloomy. Sarles is focused on fixing things over many years.

For example, he said there's still a lot of work to do on implementing the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations, so don't look for a return to automatic train controls this year. The operators will continue to drive the trains, just as they have since the Red Line crash in June 2009, creating extra wear on the equipment and the passengers. Meanwhile, Metrorail's essential maintenance programs have become more aggressive - and therefore more disruptive - to riders. Metro is ordering new rail cars to replace old ones, but don't look for train capacity to increase significantly.

And don't look for an "Aha!" moment, when riders will discover that everything is better, Sarles said. It's a process. A long process.

Metro in 2011

But not all good things are for they who wait. This year, riders will enjoy new escalators and a stairway at Foggy Bottom Station. The Metrobus fleet is as young as it has ever been, and 100 new buses will enter service this year. Transit police have moved more officers into the system, emphasizing a presence at some stations downtown where more enforcement is needed.

Riders on the sections of the Red Line that are undergoing long-term rehabilitation should begin to experience a smoother, more reliable commute because of track improvements. Sarles describes an overall maintenance program that he thinks will reduce the number of cracked rails. The replacement program for insulators should reduce instances when these third-rail protectors arc and smoke, another source of delays.

Chinatown street closings

The Year of the Hare Chinese New Year Parade and celebration is scheduled for 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the District's Chinatown. Gallery Place is the nearest Metrorail station.

These streets will be closed from 1:30 to about 3:30 p.m:

l I Street NW from Fifth Seventh streets NW

l Seventh Street NW from I to G streets NW

l G Street NW from Seventh to Ninth streets NW

l Eighth Street NW from G to H streets NW

l H Street NW from Sixth to Eighth streets NW

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