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Roads and Rails

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Eric Weiss and Lena Sun
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 22, 2007; 11:00 AM

Do you think Metro has grown unreliable and become downright unpleasant? Or are you happy with your commutes on rail and bus? Does the thought of the intercounty connector (ICC) keep you up at night or does it seem like it's long overdue? And what of the moves by Maryland and Virginia to encourage the private sector to build road projects, such as widening the Capital Beltway?

Washington Post staff writers Eric Weiss and Lena H. Sun were online Monday, Oct. 24 at 11 a.m. ET to answer your questions, feel your pain and share the drama of getting from Point A to Point B.

A transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Eric Weiss: Goooood morning commuters!

Is everyone enjoying their lightning-quick, trouble-free commutes?

No? Why not? Let us help...

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Dupont Circle: Why do the IMF/World Bank activists get to shut down major thoroughfares? We have very pedestrian friendly roads that make the wait to cross never that long. Even in traffic clogged Georgetown I never have much trouble walking down M Street.

It seems dangerous to let these people shut down major roads. If I were the merchants in Penn Quarter I might organize fake protests every Friday and Saturday so as to shut down Georgetown's M Street each weekend night so as to put those places out of business.

Surely it is not authoritarian to make protesters follow the same pedestrian traffic laws as everyone else.

Eric Weiss: Being the nation's capital has its advantages and disadvantages. Earnest young protesters in the streets could fit into either category, depending on your point of view.

Since it is hard to know how big a particular protest is going to be, it's probably wise to err on the side of caution and close streets to allow enough room for everyone to move along. The worst scenario would be protesters wandering into traffic and really snarling everything.

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Washington, D.C.: Why don't D.C. cabs use the lights on the roof to indicate if the cab is available?

Eric Weiss: In DC, the signs on the top of cabs don't signify much of anything, although some have "Call 911'' on them, an effort a few years back to alert police to a robbery in progress. I don't know how many crimes those signs have prevented, but probably fewer than the number of people who have mistakenly called 911 asking for a ride to the airport.

In New York, where there are far, far fewer cabs per capita than in the District, if the medallion number on the roof sign is lit, it means the cab is available for hire. If the light is off, it means the cab is carrying a fare.

The lights are activated by switching on the meter, so when DC cabs have meters installed, they could probably add such a light signal with little effort.

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Washington, D.C.: I was thinking of you Lena last week when I was on the Metro - it was a rough commute - offloaded twice. That being said I have two compliments and one complaint that I'd love you to pass onto Metro.

The second time we were offloaded it was due to a sick passenger (at McPhearson Sq. - I was on that train). The driver on that train was great - he was dealing with an overloaded train due to previous offloadings and he did his best to make the process better for us - we were a team not us versus him.

After being offloaded at McPhearson Sq I ran into a Metro employee that I'm guessing was the Line Manager (he was in a suit - so not a station manager but wearing the orange vest). He was doing his best to help people but he had NO idea what was going on - he had to call to get info - he was as confused about the single tracking as we were.

My one complaint was for the employees at Metro Center - the Orange/Blue platform was chaos - too many people - single tracking is always confusing etc. I didn't see or hear any Metro employees but it was so crowded there may have been some. I get to the Red Line (Glenmont side) and there are three Metro employees holding up the trash can. People were walking around confused and they continued their conversation as if it was a normal day. At least two of these men needed to be downstairs helping out.

Of course who knows if they even knew there was a problem - no radios and all.

I don't know if the employees care or not how bad they look when stuff like this happens (chatting during a "crisis") but I sure hope that Catoe does.

Lena Sun: Hi there. You didn't say in your post what day that was, but I checked with Metro and they said there was a sick passenger on an Orange Line train last Tuesday around 9:25 a.m. and that 3 trains had to be single-tracked because of this and one Blue Line train had to be turned back.

It's good to hear that the train operator was good in communicating information to passengers. I will definitely pass on to Metro by posting it here, and sending an email to the rail folks as well.

But I think some members of Metro's top management would definitely agree with you, including Mr. Catoe, that not enough employees behave with that sense of urgency or helpfulness when things happen. It's good that Metro is attempting to address this communication issue--yet again. But I don't think it's gonna get changed in a matter of weeks or months.

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Washington, D.C.: I want to get a demonstration of the importance to area jurisdictions and drivers of Metro by having a Take Your Car to Work Day. On that day, Metro riders would commute by car instead of Metro. The extra cars on the roads should demonstrate the value of publicly-funded transportation. How do you suggest I go about doing this and getting the word out? Some Metro riders, like me, don't have cars so could not participate. But I think drivers and area politicians do not realize that even if they do not use Metro they benefit. Further, Metro users already subsidize drivers through their taxes.

Eric Weiss: I think every weekday in the Washington area is a "Take Your Car to Work Day."

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Kingstowne, Va.: I actually had a pretty easy drive into D.C. today. Mondays and Fridays seem to be better than the rest of the week. The fact that I have largely abandoned the 14th Street Bridge, with the general rudeness of the average driver there coupled with the kamikazes who enter I-395 in front of Macy's and immediately insist on forcing their way left to the express lanes, and the idiots who think the onramp merge lanes are passing lanes for people already on the highway, has improved my blood pressure a great deal.

But what I don't get is something that happens every day on Van Dorn Street. Van Dorn from Franconia Road to the Beltway is three lanes. At the Beltway, the left lane becomes two left-turn only lanes, then there's a striped area separating those from the other two lanes that head down the hill to Alexandria. Without fail, people in the left-turn only lane stop and try to force their way to the right into the thru lanes (sometimes with a signal, often without)....and then they become outraged (honking the horn, flipping the finger, etc.) if people don't let them in. I say, wait a minute here -- they're mad because we're not willing to let them be rude to us???? I mean, has the D.C. area sunk so far that now it's rude to fight back against the rude people?

Eric Weiss: It is not your imagination: Commuting across the 14th Street Bridge is insane.

And it is likely to get worse before it gets better. The proposed HOT lanes will bring another lane of traffic into the Eads Street/bridge area. The District and the Feds are studying ways to improve the 14th Street Bridge corridor, which could include bringing the HOT lanes across the river.

The problem is that no matter how many lanes you bring to the area, they all end in a jam in the area. A real solution would cost real $$$s.

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Wheaton, Md.: What was the reason for the "speed restrictions" on this morning's Red line between Medical Center and Friendship Heights?

Lena Sun: Hi Wheaton. I sent over a story at 10:45 a.m. about the reasons for this to be posted on our website. It's not posted in the headlines on the Local Home page--you have to click on Metro news to find it. (sorry I dont make those decisions)

But Metro is reducing the train speed on the Red Line between Medical Center and Friendship Heights in both directions because they found about a dozen flaws in the rail during a routine ultrasonic test last night. the flaws are in the track heading to downtown, and they hope to repair them tonight so that trains can run at normal speed during tomorrow's rush.

These flaws are not visible to the naked eye and were found when they use a special machine that rides all 106 miles of rail. None found in other sections of the system.

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Washington, DC: I don't know if this is really a "Roads and Rails" issue, but since pedestrian concerns are sometimes raised here, I'll submit the question anyway. What is the rule in D.C. about businesses blocking off sidewalks to cater to their patrons at the expense of legitimate pedestrians? I'm a Capitals fan and after games I usually walk up F Street towards Metro Center to go retrieve my car from the garage I use. On the north side of the street, there's a nightclub that puts up fences for their queuing patrons, and the fences block just about the whole sidewalk, forcing people into the street. I saw another Caps fan move the fence once so that he could use the sidewalk, and the club's bouncers became enraged at him and yelled various racial epithets (the clientele of this club is almost entirely black, whereas the hockey crowd is almost entirely white).

Is it permissible for the nightclubs to do this sort of thing, or is there somewhere in the District government that we can complain about it? I don't care if they block off a PART of the sidewalk, because crowd control is important, but I have a real problem with the idea that they think they can force the rest of us into the street right where they have a valet parking operation going.

Eric Weiss: Hmmm. You might want to talk to the police or file a complaint with the Mayor's Citywide Call Center at 202/727-1000.

I know the city tries to accommodate restaurants who want to provide sidewalk tables, but businesses shouldn't take up the entire sidewalk, especially during an event at the Verizon Center.

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Washington, D.C.: Metro Board will most likely authorize public hearings for the mid-year fare increase soon, despite a plea from it's own Rider's Advisory Council and other citizen groups. Riders should flood the hearings with response- - "No midyear fare increase"! The rationale for collecting funds now that are not needed until next year is shaky, and Metro should get its own financial house in order before bleeding its customers even further! Metro should wait until new revenues are needed (FY'09), since the FY'08 budget is already balanced. Next year Metro could roll out some significant new cost-saving initiatives, i.e. new programs that trumpet "front line" employees' participation, such as saving gas through new driving tactics, bus operators making sure that windows stay closed when air or heat is running, etc. Also Metro must get overtime under control, and then perhaps riders should be asked to pay more!

Lena Sun: There is a board meeting scheduled for Thursday. If enough members can reach some kind of consensus on a set of fare proposals to take to the public, I think they will vote to do so. But the big IF is whether they can reach consensus.

In the meantime, the riders' groups are encouraging all you riders out there to speak out. And by the way, this posting sounds a lot like someone I know. Jack Corbett, is this you? :)

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Arlington, Va.: I think you were trying to be funny with your, every day is take your car to work day, in response to the earlier post. But seriously--how many people commute by public transportation each day and how much impact would there be if these people drove intead?

Eric Weiss: The Metro was sold in the 1960s as an alternative to building new highways to bring in federal workers, and it fulfilled its job. If there was no Metro, traffic would be even more unbearable.

But, as anyone who commutes by car knows, suburban residential growth has grown even faster than Metro, and in places far from Metro lines, like Loudoun, Prince William and much of Fairfax.

Suburban job centers like Tysons, Reston and Herndon also make it difficult for workers to be served by Metro.

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re: Take Your Car to Work Day: Actually I think the opposite would work better. If D.C. had a "Take Public Transit to Work Day" and closed down all roads then if all the law firm partners, lobbyists, members of Congress, White House staff, etc. saw how ridiculously crappy the Metro was then there would be huge clamor to make the system better (maybe even enough money to fix the Rosslyn tunnel problem)

Eric Weiss:...Or they might find how enjoyable it is to get out of traffic and have time to read the paper.

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DC: Recently I seem to have been coming across a lot of biking pairs on Beach Drive who insist on riding double wide, effectively preventing cars from passing them. Some move to the right when they hear cars approach, but others make no effort. What is the rule here?

Eric Weiss: Bicycles are considered vehicles under road rules, and have the same right as cars. Moving to the right when there is not enough room for a car to safely pass them in the same lane just encourages cars to pass unsafely.

Wait until there is a break in oncoming traffic and pass them if you must, but they have a right to be there.

And hey, it's a National Park! Take your time and focus on the changing leaves and the water flowing over the rocks in the creek.

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Arlington, Va.: Each morning, I exit 66 westbound onto the Key Bridge exit. Where it intersects with Route 29 at the stop light, bikers ALWAYS go down the hill (Lee Highway) at high speeds, barreling through the intersection without slowing down. I have to turn right, directly into their path, and I'm always terrified that I'm going to hit a biker. I realize that the pedestrian crosswalks have right of way, but is there any way that we can enforce bikers to slow down? Or even have their own separate crosswalk?

Eric Weiss: Unfortunately, too many bikers like to have it both ways: to be considered a vehicle when it suits them and a pedestrian when it suits them as well.

They need to observe all the traffic rules, not just when they are convenient.

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new Metro cars: I hate them! Yes, there's more room to stand, but no handholds since the seats are gone. Empty, they look good. But no one did the real-life testing.

Lena Sun: Are you, by any chance, someone who is um, short, like me? I'm interested to hear from riders about how they like the new rail cars, so if you have time, could you email me directly at SUNL@washpost.com. thanks so much!

By the way, as someone who is 5'2, I've been asking Metro about once a week, since June, about the handholds on the rail cars.

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Washington, D.C.: I have a couple of pedestrian questions for you. What is the difference between a crosswalk with lines and one that is blank? I was yelled at by a driver for crossing at a marked crosswalk -- but it was one of those plainer ones. Also, can you go left on a red light -- onto a one way street? Saw someone do that this weekend -- as I was crossing the street and they looked at me like I was nuts. Don't even get me started on the cops who think 17th St at U St runs north -- just for them.

Eric Weiss: My understanding is that the zebra-striped crosswalks are generally placed in areas where there are no traffic lights, where, presumably, drivers need the extra warning to slow down.

At zebra crosswalks, vehicles must always stop to allow pedestrians to cross. At signalized crosswalks, pedestrians must cross only when allowed by the pedestrian signal.

As for 17th and U, I wonder if the fact that the 3rd District Police Headquarters is right there encourages cops to break their own rules.

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Read the Paper: Where exactly is this Metro car that has room during rush hour to read the paper? I'd love to ride in one that has that much room....

Eric Weiss: ha!

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Biking Rights: So you mean bikes have the right to ride 2 across? Cars don't have that right.

Eric Weiss: Maybe two Mini Coopers can fit...

Motorcyles can also ride two across in a lane.

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Alexandria, Va.: As much as every day does seem like "Take your Car to Work Day" -- likewise, it seems like every day is "Take Metro to Work Day." There are plenty of comments and complaints about full parking lots and overloaded trains, especially on the Red and Orange lines.

I don't think the issue is that people don't know about Metro. I truly believe that if Metro could add capacity to parking, platforms, longer trains, etc., that even more people would take Metro.

Eric Weiss: I'm sure you are right, Alexandria.

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D.C.: Last Thursday night at about 8:45, I tried to get on Metrorail at Union Station. They let us in, but then we found the station full of firefighters, the train not coming (firefighters on the tracks), and no information about anything. (Oh, I also found a bunch of truly uptight paranoid folks convinced that the station had a bomb in it. Now I know why my city is so locked down -- paranoid Hill staffers from the burbs insist on it and the congresscritters listen to them.)

Nobody could tell me anything. Not Metro staff, not the firefighters, nobody.

So we go out, and rode a bus.

It cost us $1.35 to do this, as they had let us in and then we had to pay to get out. But we decided it was worth it for the chance to get home at a reasonable hour.

Why? Why let us in when you know trains aren't running? And then why refuse to tell us what's going on?

Lena Sun: Hi there. I called Metro and this is what I found out: There was a smoking light fixture on one side of the tracks and trains had to share a single track from about 8:39 p.m. to 9:39 p.m. I'm going to post your complaint because that is EXACTLY the kind of communication problem (i.e. not enough or nonexistent) that happens too often. This way, Metro folks monitoring this chat can go back and see who was working, what kind of station announcements there were, and what was done to inform passengers.

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Beach Drive : Ha! What a funny response to a question about annoying bikers on Beach DRIVE...I think cars have more of a right to be on Beach DRIVE than bikes. Roads were built for cars, period.

Eric Weiss: Actually, the first roads were built for horses.

Motor vehicle laws treat cars, bicycles, tractors, Amish horsecarts etc. as "vehicles'' and all can use the roads.

And folks, let's remember that Beach Drive goes through a national park, so let's give a break to those who are using it for recreation, not as a commuter shortcut.

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Anonymous: Dear young women who talk nonstop on cellphones on the bus:

Why do you do that? Why? What did we ever do to you? The rest of us are reading or talking quietly to friends or looking out the window. Do you really think we all want to hear ...

"I'm, like, on the bus. So, omigod! I've got to tell you what Ashley said!"

"It was sooo awesome! I was like.... and he was like...and I was like.... and he was like...."

"Dude, he didn't call you? That's SO not fair! You deserve so much better than that!"

"So we're getting bridesmaids dresses in this sucky color. I wanted these other ones, but she's such a Bridezilla."

"Omigod, we were soooo wasted!"

Did you ever wonder how the rest of us get through the day without yammering on the phone during bus rides?

I used to assume you were teenagers. But I would turn around and see twentysomethings in business clothes. Wow. Don't tell me -- you fuss about being taken seriously at work.

So as much as it's sooo, like, hard to wait to share the news of your pedicure with your friends, please wait until you're off the bus. I'm a peaceful person, but you're making me want to throw your phone out the window. So put it away or get off the bus, and no one gets hurt.

Thank you.

Lena Sun: Talking on cell phones is annoying whether it's coming from people on the bus, on the train, from young women, from older women, from young guys, or from older men.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Why do the Metro train operators lie to us? Every day I'm on the same Red line train from Union Station to Glenmont and every day we have a 3-5 minute wait outside of Glenmont (trains already filling the platform). And every day we're told that we'll be "moving momentarily." Since when did momentarily mean 3-5 minutes? Since this seems pretty scheduled, why can't they just say that we'll be "moving in 3 minutes?"

Eric Weiss: I also love when they use jargon. The other day I was stuck on a Red Line train because of an "Amber-amber" or some such unitelligible reason.

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New Metro Cars: I'm 5'2" as well. I can only reach the overhead bar if I'm standing directly under it with my arm completely extended. There are vast spaces on those new cars that don't have the bars. What in the world was Metro thinking?

Lena Sun: Please send me a direct email if you have a second so I can add you to my short riders database! (sunL@washpost.com)

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New metro cars: I'll email you too, but I just wanted to give my two cents and say that the new model is definitely horrible. I'm 6 foot and if you're in the aisle there is nothing to hold onto. Very poorly designed. yes they moved people away from the doors, but there are large swaths of space where nobody will ever be able to stand because there is nothing at all to hold onto. The result is that numberous people crowd around the very few poles that are left.

Lena Sun: Posting here so folks can say I'm not disporportionately favoring the shrimps.

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New Metro Cars: I am 4'10 and HATE metro cars old and new. I cannot reach the top bar even in heels. The new straps are cool in theory with the pop up feature. But the pop-up makes it so they are even higher than the bar and thus, even more unreachable. I have acquired quite a talent at "metro surfing", but metro really needs to make things more accessible for us shorties!

Lena Sun: What exactly is involved when you "Metro surf," or don't I want to know?

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Rail Car Design: As a native of Brooklyn I know that the NYC subway has many many many problems. However, the design of the subway cars there are 100 percent better than the DC model, new or old. Just copy the NYC version, less seats but with something to hold onto.

Eric Weiss: The NYC and Metro systems were built for different customers. The NY subway has always been for city dwellers to quickly get around the city. And boy, does it.

The Washington system was designed to lure suburban federal workers out of their cars, and was designed more like a commuter railroad, hence the comfy seats and lines linking suburbs with the federal job centers.

Increasing crowds are now forcing Metro into more of an urban system.

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I-66 at the Beltway: Eric and Lena, please let the HOVers who travel I-66 know that there is a dedicated exit lane for BOTH the inner loop and outer loop from I-66 to the Belway. Every day, I see at least a dozen people in the HOV lane find it necessary to cross all four lanes of traffic to slow everyone else behind them down. The left exit has an exit at the bottom of the hill that'll take you around to the left lane of the outer loop.

Eric Weiss: Thanks. It sounds like a location for more/better signage.

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Washington, D.C.: HI Lena,

Yes the good driver was the orange line driver with the sick passenger on it - he picked up a slew of people at Rosslyn because trains were running slow anyway and then we got offloaded at Rosslyn for who knows what reason (that driver wasn't chatty) and he did his best to make a bad situation tolerable (assuring us if we had to get off to let other people off he'd give us time to get back on - he promised and "he never lies on a Tuesday")

I don't expect changes over night - I don't expect them in a month - I would just love to see that they're trying - the dry erase boards are a great easy start - I love them in London but if they don't have the information I don't know how they'll ever be updated.

Lena Sun: Hi. Thanks for that info. I'll make sure the Orange Line manager and others in the rail department know because positive feedback, as you know, is a good incentive. I know there are Metro folks who ride the train and take the time to give immediate feedback to articulate and helpful train operators by hitting the intercom and thanking them right away.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Lena, I think people would be more inclined to support a stable tax base for Metro if they thought Metro was mainly about getting people where they need to go. Instead, it seems to be about enabling developers to go after land near stations. The Friday story about Bethesda is one example. How many neighborhoods have been wiped our for transit-oriented development? When the destruction starts, it seems to keep rolling. In a few years, I fear any home, small apt building or small business within a mile or even more of a Metro stop might become bulldozer bait. I say, support Metrobus and the related entities like Ride-On.

Lena Sun: Hi. Thanks for your post. Not sure that many people would agree with you. Seems like the system gets a lot of people to where they want to go, on most days.

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Last Thursday night at about 8:45: Yep, I was there as well at Union Station at around 9pm. No information at all, in-fact the person in the booth was outright angry that people dared to ask her what was going on. I simply wanted to know how long the delay would be before I went through the gates (Metro charging you entering and exiting the same station seconds later is one of the biggest scams going btw) and the metro employee huffed and puffed. Turned out the delay wasn't all that awful, but communication and the hostility of metro employees is really getting bad lately, not better by any means.

Lena Sun: I'm posting this for the Metro folks who are supposed to be working on improving communication between Metro personnel and the customers.

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South Riding, Va.: I have a problem on the Virginia roads when I see the signs that say, "LANE ENDS MERGE RIGHT". It would be a problem except for the fact they put the sign on both the left and right side of the road. When I see a sign on the right side of the road that says, "LANE ENDS" I assume that it means that the lane I am in will end soon.

In my opinion, the proper signage would be a sign on the left side of the road that reads, "LANE ENDS MERGE RIGHT" and a sign on the right side of the road that reads, "LEFT LANE ENDS". Why can't VDOT figure this out and properly sign the roads?

Eric Weiss: I assume they put the signs on both sides to let everyone know that there will be a merge point coming up.

If I am in the right lane and see that sign, I assume that all the jokers on the left are going to soon try to cram into my lane. And I always seem to end up behind a flatbed truck or a van carrying pipes that stick out the back.

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Washington, D.C.: Regarding the Union Station almost-passenger who had to pay $1.35 to exit the station...

I simply refuse to believe that Metro cannot program the turnstiles to not charge you if you walk in and walk back out right away.

IF TIMEOUT is less than TIMEIN + 5minutes

AND PLACEOUT = PLACEIN

THEN FARE = 0

ELSE (calculate fare the regular way)

I can figure this out, and you might notice that I haven't studied programming since BASIC class in the mid-1980s. Why can't Metro's team of, you know, actual computer programmers, do it?

Lena Sun: Who knows? Seems like many things that have anything to do with technology or computer programming at Metro either does not work well, has not been updated for many years, or is only made by a single manufacturer. Or all of the above.

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Not on the new cars?: Where are these new cars anyway? I ride Orange and Red Lines every day and have yet to see even a single one of these new cars. I see plenty of overcrowded trains, but that's it.

Lena Sun: Last time I asked, there were supposed to be more than 100 new cars in service. These cars are delivered to the Greenbelt rail yard and checked for bugs, etc. there, so there are more of them running on the Green and Yellow lines. (It's easier to get them back into Greenbelt from the those lines, then say, out on the Orange Line.)

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Re: Alexandra:"I don't think the issue is that people don't know about Metro. I truly believe that if Metro could add capacity to parking, platforms, longer trains, etc., that even more people would take Metro."

I don't think the objective of take-your-car-to work day was to encourage folks to take Metro - I think the point was to demonstrate that we all benefit from supporting Metro - not just those who drive. In other words, what this place would be like without it.

Eric Weiss: True. But while this is a chicken-or-the-egg point, I think it is probably true that without Metro, the region would not have grown as much as it has since the system opened. Metro is also an regional economic engine.

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Bethesda, Md.: The Post ran a story Friday that quoted state and local officials stating that the planned expansion of the Navy Hospital will create a traffic nightmare in the area and that there is not enough money (without raising taxes or approving slots)to improve the roads enough to alleviate the increased congestion. That being the case, how is it possible that the proposed route of the Purple Line from Silver Spring to Bethesda will not include a stop at the Naval Hospital? Wouldn't it make sense to route the Purple Line (whether it be light rail or rapid bus) to the Medical Center Metro Station instead of the downtown Bethesda Metro Station? Or at least run it to the Medical Center Metro Station in additon to the Bethesda Metro Station?

NIH and the Medical Center are the two biggest employers in the area and employ far more workers than the shops and restaurants of downtown Bethesda. It seems completely idiotic to me to plan and build a new rapid transit line that does not include a stop at that location.

Eric Weiss: Good point. Also, the current Metro stop requires pedestrians to cross busy Wisconsin Avenue.

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Beach Drive: I was the original poster here, and I never said that bikes were annoying on Beach Drive. I have no problem with them. But if they have to follow the same rules as cars, then they cannot ride double wide. It is unsafe to cars because to pass double wide bikes requires me to go completely in the opposite lane, which leaves little room for an emergency bail. Passing a single bike does not require me to move all the way over.

Eric Weiss: Bikes are allowed to ride double-wide, same as motorcycles.

You can pass only in areas that allow passing.

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Reston, Va.: Why has the Orange Line of Metro become less reliable over the last few months? Why are there fewer trains per hour on this line during rush hour? Is this because Metro is deferring maintenance?

Lena Sun: Hi Reston. Sorry I didn't get to this sooner. Yours was one of the first questions in our queue. I checked with Metro and they have not reduced the number of Orange Line trains during rush. Not sure if your commute has sometimes spilled over into the off-peak. They have been doing track maintenance so they are single-tracking between Vienna and West Falls Church during off-peak hours.

Also, there have been a couple of days where they were down as many as two dozen rail cars for the overall system morning rush. That's been because of lack of spare parts in some cases and on another day two weeks ago, a lift that is used to hoist rail cars into the air was not working properly. So a bunch of cars could not be put into service.

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Metro Help: Lena, you've only been asking since June for an answer in regards to the hand-holds on the new Metro cars. You have to wait until next June before anything happens. Myself and several others had contacted Metro in regards to their spelling of cities on their busses. It took them a year to make the changes. But at least Metro finally got the spelling on Centreville correct. How embarassing is it that Metro can't even spell a simple city it serves correctly.

Don't worry, help is on the way...in 8 months.

Eric Weiss: You mean you don't know where "Fiendship Hights" or "Retson" is?

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Lena Sun: Folks, thanks so much for your questions and always-interesting comments. See ya in two weeks. Maybe by then there will be some movement on the Metrorail fare proposals.

_______________________

Eric Weiss: Thanks folks! See ya next time.

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