Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I commute regularly by Metrobus and have become increasingly disturbed by a pattern of non-enforcement aboard the buses regarding the consumption of beverages and food.

Despite posted signs indicating that it is unlawful to eat or drink on buses, I see violations of that rule all the time.

What concerns me most are the safety issues surrounding the consumption of beverages on moving vehicles.

This morning, on an inbound rush-hour N4 bus, I witnessed an incident that finally moved me to write to you.

I was seated in the back row of a crowded bus (many people were standing in the aisle) when I noticed a young man standing nearby, taking careful sips from an open paper cup; his beverage was clearly hot.

Because of his position in the bus, he exposed at least four seated passengers around him to a potential spill that the lurching of the bus through traffic could have caused at any moment.

How could the driver have allowed him to board the bus with an open cup in the first place?

I'd like to ask Metro to remind its drivers to enforce the eating and drinking ban on the buses.

Drivers could remind passengers as they board the bus with cups and food that they are not permitted to consume the contents till they disembark.

Chhaya Rao


Drivers should tell passengers they can't board with open consumables. Those should go into a wastebasket by the driver, or at the bus stop.

Rush-Hour Towing

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Over the years, it has been my observation that there are many little things that the D.C. police and D.C. government could do to help ease gridlock in the District.

Unfortunately, what I usually see are D.C. police officers sitting in their cars or driving around, ignoring people who violate traffic laws.

One of the most frustrating things is cars parking illegally on major thoroughfares during rush hour. All it takes is one car to seriously compound traffic woes.

On Sept. 22 at 5 p.m., there was an illegally parked truck on Constitution Avenue between the 2nd Division Memorial and the police barricade at the Ellipse entrance.

I'm sure one of those officers must have noticed. As I continued on my way, I passed a D.C. police tow truck (license No. DC 1052) parked at 18th Street and Virginia Avenue, where the tour buses park. He was just hanging out. It was the third time in the last year that I have seen something like that.

What are these people doing?

Where is the accountability?

Jeff Ludwig


Constitution Avenue at that location is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. It contracts with a private towing company to relocate illegally parked cars onto the Mall, next to the Constitution Avenue curb. Those vehicles also get tickets. The result is a clear curb lane (in theory), but you may have seen an illegal parker after the tow truck sweep.

D.C. police and the parking control aides of the D.C. Department of Public Works could receive so much love if they would do two things: (1) Ticket and tow illegally parked vehicles during rush hours, and (2) position traffic police at busy intersections.

Directions, Please

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If one is traveling south on Interstate 295 from Maryland into the District, how do you get on Interstate 395 south (the Southeast-Southwest Freeway) to cut across town and into Virginia?

Tom Orrell


Head south on D.C. 295 to the Howard Road/Downtown exit. Turn right at the base of the exit ramp. Go one block and turn right at the traffic light, a move that will carry you onto the ramps to the South Capitol Street (Frederick Douglass Memorial) Bridge.

The signs for I-395/Richmond are overhead and come into view after you've crossed the bridge.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.