Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The parking garage at the Green Line's Suitland station was unusually crowded on a recent morning.

At 6:30 a.m., the first level was full, something I haven't seen in my three years of using the garage.

Is the construction at the federal center next door forcing government workers to use the Suitland garage? If so, it would be unfortunate, because the garage is supposed to be for people who use the Metro.

David Campbell

St. Leonard

Here's what Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said: "The Suitland Metrorail station parking facility has room for 1,890 vehicles. It usually fills between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m. People who park there are Metro customers.

"We have contacted local contractors who are working on projects in the area to remind them that their employees are not to park in the Metro facility.

"We do monitor the lot, and any instances of non-Metro customers using the parking facility are rare."

Dr. Gridlock here. I'm not sure how they can monitor nearly 2,000 drivers. Keep an eye out and report back to me, and I'll forward any information to Metro.

Point the Way, Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A letter to Dr. Gridlock on June 30 asked about the lack of signs for the new Largo Town Center Metro station. In response, Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein explained that "it's very expensive, but it's something we will do, definitely." I have but two simple questions:

1. We know they are expensive, but why weren't they budgeted when planning the new station?

2. How long would it take if the stop were named Reagan Largo?

That was not an explanation, Ms. Farbstein, but rather a poor excuse. No wonder Metro is said to be in such dire financial straits; it can't even budget properly for signs.

Mike Huddleston


A reader had pointed out that Blue Line signs on the brown pylons inside the stations have the line ending at Addison Road, rather than at the new Largo Town Center, three miles farther out. Metro says it will get around to amending the signs.

Parking at National

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The problem of the dearth of parking at Reagan National Airport has been covered by the local media. However, none of the stories includes a representative discussing possible solutions.

Will parking facilities be built? Or off-site parking with shuttle buses? Or nothing?

Mark Rosen


Officials at National are looking at building parking garages or making the existing spaces smaller to fit in more vehicles but haven't arrived at a conclusion.

The problem is the available land: National sits on 860 acres, compared with 12,000 acres at Dulles. National has 7,700 parking spaces; Dulles has 25,000. National's parking is full Tuesdays through Thursdays; Dulles's does not fill up.

Adding to the problem is the elimination of some off-site parking along Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1). Travelers used to be able to park there and take a shuttle bus to National. Those spaces are gone, replaced by redevelopment.

Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for National, says motorists can call 703-417-PARK 24 hours a day and speak to an employee to determine parking availability.

National has the highest percentage of arrivals by mass transit -- 20 percent -- of any airport in the country, Hamilton said. So consider Metro as an alternative to driving. Blue and Yellow Line trains stop there.

Counting Passengers

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I noted the letter about the crowded four-car trains on Metro's Blue Line, and Metro's response that the line is the "least crowded" [Dr. Gridlock, June 30]. Metro has been saying that for years, and it's just plain wrong.

Metro apparently counts the number of people using the various subway lines only at the last stop on each line.

It is true that by the time a Blue Line train gets to Springfield, there are relatively few passengers on board, compared with, say, the number who ride all the way to Vienna. But what about the intermediate stops?

Most of the Blue Line's Virginia passengers get off at the Pentagon, Pentagon City and Crystal City stations, and in Alexandria. Those passengers don't get counted by Metro's last-station method.

Anyone who rides the Blue Line knows that between downtown Washington (say, McPherson Square) and the Pentagon, it's packed; in fact, it's impossible for anyone except maybe a linebacker even to board a four-car Blue Line train at Farragut West. But, of course, the people who count passengers and allocate cars for Metro never actually ride the trains!

Lynda Meyers


Metro does count customers from the most crowded points on the line, according to Lisa Farbstein, Metro spokeswoman. The Blue Line count is taken at its most crowded station, Rosslyn.

The staff tallies the numbers according to passengers per car. By that count, here are the most heavily traveled lines, from most crowded to least:

* Green Line (103 passengers per car).

* Orange Line (96).

* Yellow Line (96).

* Red Line (91).

* Blue Line (86).

The Blue Line now has four-car trains. This fall Metro is to begin receiving the first of 184 new cars that will be deployed through next year.

The first priority, Farbstein said, is to upgrade four-car trains to six-car trains. Then some trains will be expanded to eight cars. By the end of the new deployment, about a third of the fleet will consist of eight-car trains.

Some Must Sit

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Whoever proposed removing seats in up to 16 Metrorail cars in a pilot program to expand capacity does not ride Metro. Those of us over 65 are already unable to find seats.

I am recovering from cancer, and the chemotherapy causes neuropathy. Standing is no longer simple, especially when there are no grip bars to help with one's balance.

There are no more seats for the disabled and seniors.

Jim Winslow


I've got Metro saying there are set-aside seats for the disabled, with new signs that include the words "Federal Law." I've also got passengers who say there are no signs.

Try this: If you see no signs for disabled seating, please send me the car number, the color of the line, date, time and direction, and I'll sit down with Metro and try to figure this out.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.