No Metro Rider Record on New Year's Eve

About 415,500 trips were made on Metro on New Year's Eve, far fewer than the record levels the transit agency had expected. Metro had braced for revelers to make as many as 750,000 trips, but instead trains carried slightly more than last New Year's Eve, when 353,000 trips were made.

"Our initial projections were based on attendance counts for events that were later canceled--events at the Ronald Reagan Building and MCI Center, for example," Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said. "In addition to those canceled events, there were a lot of concerns about traffic and Y2K glitches and safety, and it appears that a lot of people . . . stayed home."

The cost of running trains from 5:30 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday--the longest single operating stretch in Metro's history--remained the same, about $1.8 million, Feldmann said.


Franchise Relaxes Beard Prohibition

Domino's Pizza franchises in Maryland agreed yesterday to hire people who grow beards for religious reasons, altering their long-standing policy of not employing anyone with a beard.

The policy change is the result of a settlement with Prabhjot S. Kohli, of Catonsville, a Sikh man who sued Domino's in 1988 after he was refused a job because of his beard. Kohli said religious tenets prohibit Sikhs, members of a Hindu sect originating in northern India, from shaving.

In 1990, Maryland's Human Relations Commission charged Domino's with religious discrimination in the case. The charges were dropped yesterday as part of the settlement. Any new hires with a beard must wear a beard net, Domino's said in statement. Kohli, who received $5,000 in legal fees in the settlement, works for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Woman Dies in Crash on Rockville Pike

An 82-year-old Rockville woman died yesterday after the car she was riding in was hit by another vehicle while making a left turn on Rockville Pike, Montgomery County police said.

Zoe Engler, of the 11400 block of Strand Drive, was riding in a 1993 Mercedes 300E driven by Mary Jansons, 84, of the same block, about 9:25 a.m. when the collision occurred, police said.

Jansons was driving north on Rockville Pike and was making a left turn into Mid-Pike Plaza when the Mercedes was hit by a southbound 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee, police said. The Jeep was driven by Jodi Gurowitz, 29, of Potomac.

Investigators are trying to determine the sequence of the traffic light at the time of the collision, police said.


City Reports No Major Y2K Glitches

The District, which got the latest start on Y2K repairs of any big U.S. city, made it through the first business day yesterday without a major glitch, officials said.

A traffic signal did malfunction, but officials couldn't tell whether it was related to the year 2000 computer bug. Otherwise, government business operated as usual, including 30- to 40-minute lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

"When I took office, most pundits and even some Y2K experts told me that the District would never make our Y2K deadline," Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday. "We made national headlines because we were so far behind. But today our government is running full speed, we're hitting every cylinder and moving forward." Williams and the city's chief technology officer, Suzanne Peck, cautioned that it may be weeks before the city can declare a total victory, as glitches could still turn up.

Board of Education Elects Leaders

The D.C. Board of Education succeeded yesterday in electing a president and vice president, 2 1/2 weeks after it was unable to summon a majority for any candidate.

Robert G. Childs (At Large) will lead the 11-member panel as it tries to regain control of the school system, which was taken from it by the D.C. financial control board three years ago. Childs, who was elected to the board in 1996, is the pastor of Berean Baptist Church. He has three children in public school and has fostered a close relationship with School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

The board elected Ward 8 representative William Lockridge as vice president.

Year's First Traffic Fatality Was Va. Man

Sebastian Masaferro, 24, promised his mother that even though he would be at a New Year's Eve job at midnight, he would make it home to Burke soon after to toast the New Year with his family.

"We fell asleep, then police came at 8 a.m. to tell us what happened," said his mother, Ana Masaferro.

About 2 a.m., Sebastian Masaferro lost control of his car on Foxhall Road near Garfield Street NW in the District and slammed into a pole, becoming the city's first fatality of the year, police said.

He was driving at "a very, very high rate of speed," said Lt. Bridget Sickon. Toxicology test results are pending, Sickon said.


Woman Killed Trying to Cross Parkway

An elderly Falls Church woman was hit by a car and killed Saturday night while she was trying to cross the Prince William Parkway near Potomac Mills Mall.

Gia Thi Pham, 81, of Annandale Road, was struck by a 1993 Honda four-door sedan just after 6:30 p.m. as she was trying to cross the parkway's eastbound lanes, near the intersection with Worth Avenue. Prince William County police said Pham was not in or near a crosswalk.

Rep. Bateman Won't Seek 10th Term

Rep. Herbert H. Bateman (R), of Newport News, announced yesterday that he will not seek a 10th term in Congress this year for health reasons. Bateman, 71, has represented eastern Virginia's 1st District since 1983.

Bateman had a cancerous growth removed from his right lung in April 1998 and is undergoing radiation treatment.

On Thursday, Rep. Owen B. Pickett (D), of Virginia Beach, said that at age 69, he will not seek an eighth term.


"The last time I sat out to eat was probably in October. I hardly expected to be sitting here in January."

-- Gretchen Hurley, enjoying the balmy weather at a sidewalk restaurant in Northwest Washington