Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My goodness! All of those people who dash across the eight lanes of East West Highway between the Prince George's Plaza Metro station and the Mall at Prince George's and have never used the nearby pedestrian overpass!

The reason the piers of the bridge look as if they were designed to hold tanks rather than foot traffic is to accommodate the elevators inside them. So people with strollers or packages have no excuse for not using the bridge.

What is needed under the bridge is a long, high fence or berm rather than the anemic plantings of pyracantha, also known as firethorn.

Such an impediment would stop the people who endanger their lives and those of the drivers speeding along East West Highway.

Paul D. Motzenbecker Jr.

University Park

A fence barrier the state installed along Route 202 near Largo High School was vandalized.

With pedestrians able to safely cross East West Highway at signalized intersections on either side of the overpass and on the overpass itself, I sense the state is not going to put up a fence to dissuade jaywalkers from making this dangerous crossing.

There are warning signs. At some point, the pedestrians have to take responsibility for themselves.

Metro Parking Is Reserved

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The parking garage at the Green Line's Suitland station was unusually crowded this 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.

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 using 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 dispersed 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-car trains. By the end of the new deployment, about a third of the fleet will consist of eight-car trains.

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 in such alleged 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 it.

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.