Drivers Feeling Shunned by D.C.
City Less Welcoming to Suburban Cars
By Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 6, 2008; Page A01
The District is escalating what some suburban commuters are calling its war against workers who drive into the city.
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The city has changed parts of Constitution Avenue NE from a reversible commuter artery back to a quiet side street and is considering removing the reversible lane on 16th Street NW, a key commuting route from Montgomery County.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration also is studying closing the section of the Interstate 395 tunnel that connects with New York Avenue NW, expanding the use of speed cameras and increasing parking fees and enforcement. Fees for encroaching on a crosswalk would increase from $50 to $500 under a pedestrian safety proposal.
The District is moving toward becoming "the most anti-car city in the country," said John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "They see commuters as the enemy."
City officials say that the moves are part of a policy of putting the needs of its residents and businesses before those of suburban commuters and that they are trying to create a walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented metropolis.
Like New York, London, Stockholm and Portland, Ore., District officials said, the city is reclaiming its streets for the people who live there. With billions of dollars invested in the Metro system, there are plenty of ways for commuters to get into the city without bringing exhaust-spewing vehicles with them, officials said.
Move over Delta, United and American. Another savage fare war is under way, driving down the price of a bus ride between Manhattan and Washington to $5.
That is the lowest price on the route since 1952, when Truman was President and Greyhound charged $5.05 -- a sale price then, too. And it is less than the trip cost in 1939, when LaGuardia was Mayor and the bus ride down to Washington cost $5.50.
In a money-losing battle, the country's two-largest bus companies, Greyhound and Peter Pan Trailways, have knocked the price down three times in the last three weeks from its $25 starting point. Doesn't Cover the Costs
[109th Congress House Hearings]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access]
CURBSIDE OPERATORS: BUS SAFETY AND ADA REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
HIGHWAYS, TRANSIT AND PIPELINES
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
MARCH 2, 2006
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
30-298 WASHINGTON : 2006
May 29, 2008
FMCSA Administrator Hill Reports on Curbside Bus Carriers
Many of you likely spent at least part of the holiday weekend traveling – whether driving to the beach or perhaps flying somewhere to visit friends and family. Last week, I traveled from Washington, D.C. to New York City for a conference and decided to personally experience a relative newcomer to the transportation industry: “curbside” bus carriers.
Curbside buses transport passengers from predetermined locations after the rider purchases a ticket from a website, a local vendor or the driver. They post their schedules on-line, generally operate without ticket offices and make their stops street side instead of bus terminals. Besides those distinctions, curbside buses are held to the same federal safety requirements as the rest of the industry.
As I learned when purchasing my tickets, low costs are the big draw. Curbside carriers typically offer incentives to buy tickets early. For example, some curbside bus companies offer seats for $1 to the first purchasers. From there, the price increases as fewer seats become available. Buying a seat at the last minute, however, will still only cost about $35 for a one-way trip to NYC. In fact, I paid more for a taxi to take me 33 blocks in Manhattan than I did for the cost of the five-hour trip from Washington.
I tried two different companies – one for the ride up to New York and another for the return trip to Washington. Both were comfortable and affordable. Most importantly, however, they both operated in a safe manner, were familiar with our safety regime and both drivers appeared quite capable. And, for those of you who are wondering, I did not reveal my identity during either trip.
As the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – the federal agency that regulates the safety of interstate trucks and buses – I’ve always maintained that interstate passenger carriers have long been and continue to be among the safest mode of transportation in the United States, something that was demonstrated to me yet again last week. Our agency is committed to rigorous oversight of the bus industry.
DDOT is planning to force all low-cost bus carriers, like Bolt Bus, DC2NY, and the Chinatown buses to stop loading in Chinatown and at various other spots around the city (a few pick up in Dupont Circle), reports the Examiner (via DCist). Instead, all buses will have to load and unload at a special zone at 10th and D Southwest, right by the L'Enfant Metro.
This seems like a terrible idea. It sounds like it came from the LOS-watchers within DDOT: "Hmm, these buses are causing a lot of pedestrian congestion and taking up some room on our streets which should be used to move commuters in and out of the city as fast as possible. OK, let's put the buses in an empty part of the city, but one that's near Metro."
Intercity trains are much more energy-efficient than buses, but one advantage of buses is their flexibility. It's good that buses can choose to pick up in areas where there are many customers. Also, the service brings more pedestrian activity to those neighborhoods. At L'Enfant, there's nothing, and people will all just hop on the Metro.
If traffic is a problem, take away some curb parking or a traffic lane. Each of those buses carries as many people as a few blocks full of single passenger vehicles. There are some underutilized streets - how about a loading zone on the very wide F Street by Gallery Place?
Our street network is for the use of all, including buses. Buses aren't something we should move out of the way to speed transportation: they are the transportation. Let's move cars out of the way to make room for the buses.
Bus Rules: Let's Call a Time OutThe number of cheap buses from DC to New York (like the Chinatown buses, DC2NY, Bolt Bus, Megabus, and others) has exploded recently. That's great for riders who want to get to New York cheaply, and to bring New Yorkers here to see what a great city we have (and spend money here).
It also causes noise in some neighborhoods. That's a problem, and one we should deal with. But after years and years of these buses operating, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has suddenly imposed "emergency" rules to banish all of these buses to the barren sidewalks of L'Enfant Plaza.
With only one month's notice, suddenly all of the bus companies will have to apply for permits, and can't pick up in more convenient areas. Some will go out of business. Visitors to our city will only see bland, depressing L'Enfant Plaza instead of vibrant, exciting Chinatown, Metro Center, Farragut Square, or Dupont Circle. There won't be anything to eat while waiting for a bus. People will feel less safe. Our businesses will lose revenue. And while private cars can still park for free or almost free on most blocks, we're hurting an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.
What's the rush? Can't we take a moment for a public discussion of better alternatives? What about auctioning off a few loading areas around the city? Or creating a bus zone in the huge parking lot that used to be the old convention center, or on one of the wide but mostly empty streets around Gallery Place or Judiciary Square?
Let's find a solution that keeps lively competition among our intercity buses while also fixing the problems. The buses have been operating for years. Let's take a time out on these rules until we can all work out a better solution.
DDOT is accepting comments for a few more days. Please send them a letter below asking them to call a time out on the new bus rules. Feel free to also weigh in with your opinion on what should be done.
Make Your Voice Heard
Issue in Spotlight: Intercity Bus Loading & Unloading in Public Space In response to various complaints with regard to intercity buses using public space for loading and unloading passengers, DDOT has instituted new regulations* that will now require intercity bus operators to obtain a permit as well as use newly identified, designated area(s) for pickups and drop offs. Existing intercity bus service operators, who utilize public space for loading and unloading passengers, should submit their application* for permits by July 3rd. Limited space is available. Applications filed by July 3rd will be processed together. Any of these applications that include requests for use of the space at the same time will be resolved by the District Department of Transportation. All applications received after July 3rd will be given space as available on a first come first served basis. Applications must be submitted in person at 941 North Capitol Street, NE, Suite 2300 along with a check made out to the DC Treasurer for the $100 application fee. The hours for submission are from 8:30 am and 4:15 pm, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The new regulations are part of a one-year pilot program to provide safer pedestrian environments in public space for visitors and residents.
Issue in Spotlight: Intercity Bus Loading & Unloading in Public Space
In response to various complaints with regard to intercity buses using public space for loading and unloading passengers, DDOT has instituted new regulations* that will now require intercity bus operators to obtain a permit as well as use newly identified, designated area(s) for pickups and drop offs. Existing intercity bus service operators, who utilize public space for loading and unloading passengers, should submit their application* for permits by July 3rd.
Limited space is available. Applications filed by July 3rd will be processed together. Any of these applications that include requests for use of the space at the same time will be resolved by the District Department of Transportation. All applications received after July 3rd will be given space as available on a first come first served basis.
Applications must be submitted in person at 941 North Capitol Street, NE, Suite 2300 along with a check made out to the DC Treasurer for the $100 application fee. The hours for submission are from 8:30 am and 4:15 pm, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The new regulations are part of a one-year pilot program to provide safer pedestrian environments in public space for visitors and residents.
Low-cost, regional bus companies forced to load in designated zone
Responding to the exploding popularity of inexpensive bus rides between Washington, New York and other destinations, the District plans to funnel all buses that load and unload passengers on city streets into a single “intercity bus zone” in Southwest. The myriad bus services, a staple of the downtown for years, will face fines up to $1,500 for loading
outside of that zone, which can accommodate only two buses at a time.
The D.C. Department of Transportation claims that the various Chinatown buses, DC2NY and BoltBus, among others, are congesting streets, disrupting transit and causing a safety hazard for pedestrians. With fares as low as $15 each way and modern amenities such as wireless Internet, the buses have proliferated as gas prices have skyrocketed.
“In some instances, this activity poses safety concerns to the general public and to the bus customers themselves,” Karyn LeBlanc, DDOT spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Under a soon-to-debut one-year pilot program, intercity buses will be routed to a curb lane on northbound 10th Street Southwest, just south of D Street beneath the L’Enfant Promenade. The regulations require that all buses obtain a DDOT permit to load there — the application for which must include a proposed schedule, plan for queuing passengers and a $100 fee.
By Lena H. Sun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 2, 2007; A01
Metro's new general manager wants to get rid of the carpet in trains, brighten the lighting in stations and increase advertising in stations, trains and buses.
In many places, such mundane changes would be met with a shrug.
But this is the Washington area Metro, which has long prided itself on a dignified ambiance that is supposed to make it better than the average commuter system.
The changes are intended to help make the nation's second-busiest subway more modern and functional. As the system struggles to keep pace with growing demand, Metro's new top executive, John B. Catoe Jr., wants to focus the agency's limited resources toward moving people to and from work and away from some costly features that gave the subway a distinctive, first-class feel when it opened 31 years ago.
With ridership continuing to swell, the debate over those trade-offs is sharpening.
Call#: University Museum Library Desk VHS TX945.5.S54 F56 1989