Free stuff – transportation

If your commute currently takes you through the Wilson Bridge Project Corridor, you can get upto $50 a month to use metro or other mass transit options. Check out the eligibility and fine print.

If you commute on 66 or 95/395 during rush hour and have problems with the HOV restrictions, you can either slug or drive and pick up slugs (other commuters) to meet the occupancy requirement to use the faster lanes. The Commuter Page has info on the local slug lines as well as all the local transit systems in the DC Metro area.

One nice feature is the Guaranteed Ride Home for folks who rely on mass transit other than metro (VRE, MARC, commuter buses) and may need to work late or get home quickly in an emergency. You do have to be registered for the program, but it seems to make sense to have them pay for your ride.

Park and Ride lots are free and may be more convenient that trying to drive to the metro all the time. The folks I know that use them seem to like them.

If you live or work in Arlington, you can join FlexCar or ZipCar and have the initiation fee waived and get $35 of free usage by using the right codes and links to join.

I myself only take Metro in a pinch anymore, and I only take the bus if I’m going to Georgetown (because there is no parking and no metro). Other than that, I drive. My company pays for my parking, and part of the reason I pay the outrageous cost to live in Arlington is to have a 4 mile commute to work. My hours aren’t regular enough to share a ride with anyone else. And since the Orange line on the metro is so crowded that trains leave Vienna with people standing, I often have to let a couple of trains go by before I’m able to get on, and by that time I could have driven. Metro chased me away with poor service, overcrowded trains, and a trip that takes the same amount of time to drive.

So, I know it’s not enough to ease the sting of the raised tolls, but there are a couple of things. I’d investigate some other back road options, but the toll road might be worth it if the increased tolls drive other folks off the road, so at least you’d be able to get somewhere. But it will be interesting to see if that creates a backlash in some of the neighborhoods that become cut-throughs if peole start to get off the toll road early to avoid the next higher toll.

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