The shortened gasoline lines this week may have given area motorists short memories as well. Traffic officials said yesterday that residents are returning to the road-ways and are resuming the driving habits prevalent before the summer gasoline shortage began.
"It's getting back to normal now, there's lots more people on the roads and the speeds are back up," Maryland state trooper Marty Miller said. He said only a few tickets were issued last week to drivers going as fast as 60 mph. This week a greater number of tickets were written for motorists traveling more than 80 mph.
Traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was up 4 percent over the first four weekdays of last week, police Lt. Louis Kelly said. And Metrorail ridership was down an average of 15,000 passengers each day from two weeks ago, or more than 5 percent, spokesman Cody Pfanstiehl said.
Officials attributed the longer lines of cars on the highways to the shorter lines of cars at the gasoline pumps - and gasoline station lines in the Washington area yesterday continued that trend.
Most stations reported the shortest waits in weeks yesterday, despite Friday fill-ups for weekend travel. An employe at the Willston Arco in Falls Church said lines were short but he was continually busy yesterday. A Washington Post telephone survey of 28 stations turned up only four isolated cases of lines of 10 or more cars, such as the MacCallum Gulf at Fourth and E streets NW.
About 60 percent of the gasoline stations in the Washington area will be open Saturday, according to a survey be the American Automobile Association. A total of 17 of the 68 stations surveyed will be pumping gasoline at 6 p.m.
On Sunday, AAA spokesman Jonathan White said, 9 percent of the area service stations are expected to be open. That sum excludes the 100 Maryland stations - half of them in the Washington area - that received 4,000 gallons in reserve fuel to stay open on Sunday, he said.
In Fairfax County, 23 stations will be pumping gasoline on Saturday and three will be open Sunday, using additional fuel allocated by the state and county.
Spokesmen said yesterday that this weekend could be the strongest indication of whether Washingtonians' adjustment to the gasoline shortage was only temporary.
"This past weekend, we did have plenty of traffic and it seemed like old times again," said Kelley at the Bay Bridge. 'We're expecting the same thing for this weekend." He said 119,511 cars traveled the bridge from Monday to Thursday this week, compared to 114,927 for the same period last week.
More traffic this week meant a small increase in parking tickets as well, D.C. traffic analyst Alice Snow said.
"I think there definitely were more cars on the road. (The shorter lines) have something to do with it," said Snow.
A Virginia state trooper said, "As far as we know, (traffic) is about back to normal, especially on Weekdays. . . It's not like it was before the crunch, but still it's climbing back up." CAPTION: Chart, Weekend Gasoline Guide, The Washington Post; Graph, Gas Prices at Area Stations, The Washington Post