The Washington Post

What change would make big difference in your 2013 commuting?

495 Express Lanes
Not every transportation wish needs to be as big as the 495 Express lanes or as wide as the Capital Beltway in Tysons. (Dayna Smith/For The Washington Post)

I offered my New Year’s list of the top 10 transportation developments that await us in 2013, starting with the anticipated opening of Metro’s Silver Line late this year. Think of it as a list of things you’ve already bought. Now, think of the other things you’d like to add to your wish list.

They need not be glittery and expensive like the Silver Line. Just since New Year’s, I’ve found a couple more developments for 2013 that will affect commuting, even though they aren’t shiny objects. One is the restoration as part of the fiscal cliff package of the full pre-tax benefit for commuter transit riding. Once again, it will match the pre-tax deduction for commuter parking. That cuts commuting costs and makes transit more attractive, financially.

Just this week, Metro and Maryland officials held a ceremony highlighting another improvement: Metrobus has launched a limited stop service, the K9, for rush-hour commuters along New Hampshire Avenue. And Metrobus also has added more hours in the evening to the already popular S9 limited stop service on 16th Street NW. None of these enhanced bus routes are big deals for the region, but collectively, they will amount to a big deal, getting more cars off the road, helping people reach their destinations faster and cutting the cost of commuting.

Things like that are worth wishing for, too. And maybe now is the time to let the Maryland and Virginia legislatures know it, as they consider proposals from the governors to spend more money on transportation, something that’s likely to be a very tough sell in both states.

Here’s my top 10 for the D.C. region, but remember, I may be thinking too much like a transportation planner, and only planners think like planners.

  • Opening of the Silver Line’s first phase.
  • Completion of the 11th Street Bridge
  • Completion of the Wilson Bridge project.
  • Continuing work on the Intercounty Connector extension.
  • Testing Beltway bus service.
  • Reviving D.C. streetcars.
  • Expanding Capital Bikeshare.
  • Building I-95 express lanes.
  • Completing the Route 50 interchange.
  • Widening Interstate 66.


Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.



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