Archive for the ‘WMATA’ Category

The Morning News: Through the Fog

It’s pretty garbagey out there today. Fog this morning, thunderstorms later. Our last day above 60°F for a while. Enjoy it while you can.

Housing Market in Recovery?

The Examiner thinks that housing market is stabilizing, maybe even recovering, at least in NoVA and DC. The median sale for a house in December was $425,000, up 4% over November, but we’re still down 2% year-over-year. So, relax just a bit, home-owners, it may be okay, after all. No need to freak.

Bank Robbery Turns Into Major Mystery

This is really pretty bizarre. Usually, when a bank’s robbed, they know right away. However, yesterday’s heist at the Wachovia near the FBI HQ took place at 9:30am, but wasn’t noticed until after 3:00pm. A man dressed as a Brinks security guard walked right into the vault, packed up $370,000, and walked right up. Proof that when you look like you belong, you can get away with, well, $370,000. They figured it out when the real guard showed up that afternoon.


New Metro Cars? Maybe…

Metro’s looking at a brand new design for their rail cars, a drastic change from their current design. So much of a break, even, that the new cars wouldn’t link up with the older cars. It’s likely that these cars won’t go into service until 2013 at the earliest, and would likely run along the Orange Line extension out toward Dulles Airport. Metro is waiting to hear about how the Federal funding for the extension will work, but will then be ordering 128 new cars across the two phases, if things work out monetarily.

Two Healthcare Bits

The Whitman-Walker Clinic will be expanding services in the DC area, as well as doing a major overhaul on its social service programs. It will also be launching a public awareness campaign to the socio-economic groups hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The former chief pharmacist for St. Elizabeth’s somehow managed to steal $95,000 in drugs from the hospital. The husband/wife thief team sold about $236,000 worth of stolen medication in combination form St. Elizabeth’s and Kaiser Permanente. Interestingly enough, his wife was sentences to six months in prison, while he faces generally between 24 and 30 months. No idea why the sentences are so different.

Take Off Your Pants For Metro!

357273652_3b0b4acd7c_m.jpg Tired of seeing fares go up and up? Want to strip down to your skivvies to protest? Well, this Saturday might be just your chance. You could join the 204 confirmed Facebook attendees for a Pantsless Metro Ride. So, DCist blew the “cover” (it’s not a cover if it’s public on Facebook, dudes. It’s like Twittering about it. It’s not even remotely private.), and the Express talked to the Metro people about it, who threatened to get people arrested for disorderly conduct or indecent exposure.

Courtesy of DCist commenter keb points out the regulations for DC:

DC Statute § 22-1312. Lewd, indecent, or obscene acts.
(a) It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to make any obscene or indecent exposure of his or her person, or to make any lewd, obscene, or indecent sexual proposal in the District of Columbia under penalty of not more than $300 fine, or imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or both, for each and every such offense.

§ 22-1321. Disorderly conduct.
Whoever, with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, or under circumstances such that a breach of the peace may be occasioned thereby: (1) acts in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others; (2) congregates with others on a public street and refuses to move on when ordered by the police; (3) shouts or makes a noise either outside or inside a building during the nighttime to the annoyance or disturbance of any considerable number of persons; (4) interferes with any person in any place by jostling against such person or unnecessarily crowding such person or by placing a hand in the proximity of such person’s pocketbook, or handbag; or (5) causes a disturbance in any streetcar, railroad car, omnibus, or other public conveyance, by running through it, climbing through windows or upon the seats, or otherwise annoying passengers or employees, shall be fined not more than $250 or imprisoned not more than 90 days, or both.

Even still, if you end up getting booked for it, don’t worry, you probably won’t end up on the sex offender registry in the District. MD and VA are probably also safe, provided, again, you’re not being a jackass.

Sounds like you’re pretty well safe in DC, SO LONG AS YOU WEAR UNDERWEAR. Don’t let your hoo-ha or schlong hang out and you should be just fine, so long as you aren’t being provocative or a jackass. So ride in silence, you brave souls, and you should be fine. Please be reminded I am not now, nor ever have I been, a lawyer. If you want to read the regs for MD or VA, they’re contained in the extended entry.

Metro Fares Rise Today

That’s right, the grim day has finally come when Metro has raised its fares for all commuters. So, remember to fuel up your metro farecards in the morning with a bit extra to cover the new fares. You’re pretty much boned if you have to park, as parking’s going up too, meaning you could be paying Metro an extra $500 or so in 2008 if that’s how you come into town.

What’s interesting is that the fare increase will cost Metro another $363,000 just in new signage and reprogramming of the machines just to handle the fare increase, itself. The Democrats are using this an opportunity to bash Sen. Coburn (R-OK) for blocking a bill to provide $1.5B in matching fundings for the transit system. Sen. Coburn suggests that any increase in funding should be met with a decrease in funding. Anyone have a good source of $1.5B in the federal budget they might want to see cut?

WMATA Bumps Fares Come January

The governing body has approved a fare hike that will raise Metro fares by up to $0.60 per trip, parking by $0.75 per day and bus fares by $0.10. The fare hike is designed to prevent a $110M shortfall predicted in next year’s budget. Here’s how the fare problems break out:

The new base rail fare: $1.65 (up from $1.35)
The new max rail fare: $4.50 (up from $3.90)
The new parking rate: up to $4.00 (up from $3.25)
The new metrobus fare: $1.35 (up from $1.25, remains $1.25 if you use SmarTrip)

No word on why Metro chose to leave bus fares static for SmarTrip card users, or why a similar option (or at least a lower fare hike…) wasn’t provided to rail users. The new fares take effect on January 6th, 2008, so enjoy your “cheap” fares for the rest of the year, and get ready to budget up to another couple bucks a day for next year’s fares.

Metrorail Graffiti in the Blue Lune Tunnel

Have you ever seen Metrorail tunnel graffiti? Neither had I until my Blue Line train stopped in the tunnel between the Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn stations.

That’s when I looked out the train car window and noticed all this writing on the blacken walls of the tunnel. And it wasn’t just a few random scribblings.

From the length of the graffiti extending the length of the rail car, I would assume that taggers have marked up that WMATA tunnel from the opening to the station – an amazing feat of pluck and vandalism.

Sadly, the underground artists were not of bOrf quality. In fact, they are rather primitive in their art.

DC Cabs to Stage Ineffectual, Largely Unnoticed Taxi Cab Strike Wednesday

Well, the DC Cabbies are about to have their revenge on the city for the declaration of meters. Wednesday, coincidentally that’s Halloween, there will be a taxi-cab strike.

Except that there are multiple taxi-cab groups, not all of whom will be striking. So, there will just be fewer taxis on the street, not that you could get one to actually stop for you, ever. So, if you’re headed out in the District for a halloween event, take public transit, or plan on having a Designated Driver instead of planning to hail a cab.

Don’t give into these crazies advocating the return of the craptacular zone system which benefit only the cabbies.

They Were Looking For An Echo

“We used to practice in the subways, in lobbies and in halls,
even in the doorway, singing doo-wops to the walls…”

— The Persuasions, “Looking for an Echo

I was running late, but I stopped anyway.

It’d taken longer to get the cats to the vet up in Seven Locks, then back home, and the speeding ticket I got didn’t help, either. I missed the train at Courthouse, so it was almost three by the time I got to Metro Center, and I rushed off the train, only to stop. To hell with the meeting.

Three older African-American gentlemen were singing doo-wop on the middle of the lower platform. I’d seen them before on the corner above the 13th & G exit at Metro Center, but this time they were inside the station. The way they’d positioned themselves, they were able to take advantage of Metro’s ridiculously awful acoustics, pushing their crystal clear motown sound into a small space right under the red line platform, a perfect theatrical space for their vocalizations.

There was an appreciative audience of about 20 on the platform, waiting for the orange line train back to Vienna, standing and nodding their heads. I crossed by the men, and on hearing their tight harmonies, I stopped, and I listened. I remembered the piece from the Washington Post about Joshua Bell and his violin, and I relished their voices, even though I was getting later by the second, it didn’t matter.

Thanks guys for reminding me why I love DC, again.

Metro Unveils New Online Station Maps Powered By Google

metromaps.pngMetro’s unveiled new online maps for their stations, which include local business listings, all powered by Google Maps (It’s the best. True that, Double True.) Now you can see restaurants, banks, grocery stores, hotels, and museums near any metro station in the system, which can be mighty handy for printing out before you head to a part of town you’ve never been to before. Nicely done, WMATA.

Meenster: a Metro Site that Rocks

meenster.png So, you’re so cool and got your iPhone. Now you just wish you could do more with it. I totally get that. I love my iPhone, but it hasn’t yet figured out how I take my coffee in the morning, or what kind of cheese I like with my nectarines (manchego, if you’re curious.)

Now, though, thanks to the brilliant creative minds at, you can use a neato web tool to check when the next train’s coming at any given Metro station. In real time. Yeah, in real time, meaning you can be sitting at O’Sullivan’s or Four Courts, or Bar Pilar, or $awesomeDCBar and you can check to see when you need to start walking down to the Metro to catch a train home. Use it to save yourself from a long-ass wait. Better yet, it works on all devices and browsers, not just the iPhone, so the kids who haven’t yet proven their cool with $500+ of silicon and glass can play too.

Hat Tip, Justin Thorp!

Photography is NOT a crime

Back in mid-May I was wandering Metrorail and found a random odd device. I took this photo of it, what turned out to be a Metrorail air tester, and I was promptly stopped by a Metrorail station manager.

She asked what I was doing and when I politely explained my interest in all things mass transit, that I am a transit foamer, she laughed and let me go about my WMATA photographing ways.

Just the other day, Chip Py was not so lucky. He was harassed when trying to take photos of downtown Silver Spring. Remembering my Metrorail photography moment, I now realize how close I was to an incident and how lucky I was to be stopped by a sane Metro manager.

If you wander DC with a camera like I do, then you’ve had your share of close calls too.

And its time you share your desire to keep photographing this great city by joining Metroblogging DC in a declaration of photographic freedom, a Silver Spring Photo Walk to remind Washingtonians that photography is NOT a crime.

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