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ACLU sues after Metro rejects ad as too controversial

WASHINGTON — Metro has rejected an ad for an American Civil Liberties Union conference next month, prompting the ACLU to ask a judge Friday to order the transit agency to post the ad.

ACLU of D.C. Legal Director Arthur Spitzer said he is not sure exactly why Metro rejected the initial ad, which promoted the conference, listed some high-profile speakers, and included a website that provides more details. The words were overlaid on a photo of apparent protesters holding signs like “refugees welcome” and “stop profiling Muslims.”

Metro told the ACLU it rejected the ad on the basis that it violated Metro’s policies banning advertisements intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions and banning advertisements intended to influence public policy.

Metro set the ad restrictions in 2015 after an anti-Muslim activist attempted to place ads depicting the Prophet Muhammad. National legal precedents generally allow Metro to ban certain types of ads as long as the rules are applied evenly and do not discriminate based on particular viewpoints.

The Archdiocese of Washington, ACLU and other groups have ongoing challenges to Metro’s advertising policies that have now reached the appellate court level. Those challenges generally argue that Metro’s policies are too broad or not fairly interpreted by the agency.

Metro has said the rules are necessary to keep riders and workers safe from people who could be offended by ads and keep people comfortable with using trains and buses.

The church’s case over Christmas ads has already been argued, and could be decided at any time. A ruling from the appeals court would shape the remaining cases in the lower court.

The ACLU filed its request for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction as part of one of the other pending cases that had been on hold until the appellate court rules.

“This one is different, because I don’t frankly see what argument Metro can even make that this is an issue ad … it’s just an ad that says, basically, please come to our membership conference,” Spitzer said.

Spitzer said he expects a ruling on this ad from Judge Tanya Chutkan next week.

“If Ringling Bros. can advertise for people to come to their circus, the ACLU should be able to advertise for people to come to its conference,” the ACLU wrote in its motion.

Metro typically does not comment on pending litigation, but the judge Friday afternoon ordered Metro to respond to the ACLU motion by Sunday evening. She set arguments on the issue for Tuesday afternoon.

ACLU submits 2 alternatives; no word from Metro

The ad for the national ACLU conference at the Washington Convention Center June 10-12 was planned to run from May 28 through June 12 at 45 locations in Metro stations and on the sides of 75 buses. The ACLU would have paid $90,000.

The ACLU’s legal team was only consulted after Metro rejected the initial ad last Thursday, because the marketing team believed the ads would be accepted, Spitzer said.

The group submitted alternative ads Monday that erase the words from the background protest signs or eliminate the background photo altogether.

Spitzer said the ACLU could not get specific details from Metro — via the transit agency’s advertising contractor — about why the ad was found objectionable. The alternatives were meant to address any possible concerns, he said.

As of Friday afternoon, Metro had not provided a response to those alternatives through regular advertising sales channels.

If there is not a decision to post the ad by early next week, it would likely be too late to get the ad printed and posted in time for it to be effective at making people aware of the conference, Spitzer said.

“There’ll be a bunch of speakers and panels and some entertainment. Some politicians will be speaking, and some experts on public policy will be speaking,” Spitzer said of the conference.

The post ACLU sues after Metro rejects ad as too controversial appeared first on WTOP.

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Late Metro service funding sought again as Caps reach Stanley Cup Final

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans on getting funding for late hours

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WASHINGTON — The Metro Board chairman is putting out another call for companies to pay for extended service hours now that the Capitals have made it to the Stanley Cup Final in exchange for what he said is good publicity.

D.C. Council member Jack Evans said people started calling him up after he asked for companies to pay for an extra hour of service during the NHL Eastern Conference Final.

He laughed at the idea that Qatar, Uber and Pepco each might have provided the $100,000 for extended hours after games in that series as part of any efforts to sway city leaders on other issues.

Qatar is involved in development in the region while the District is considering changes for ride-hailing services that could require them to disclose more data critical to city planners, and the District’s public service commission regulates Pepco/Exelon.

“That was great that they stepped up to the plate though, and they got great press,” Evans said.

The Stanley Cup Final start in Las Vegas Monday night.

The series moves to D.C. for Game 3 on Saturday, June 2 and Game 4 on Monday, June 4.

If necessary, Game 6 would also be in D.C. on Sunday, June 10.

Assuming Game 3 does not go to multiple overtimes, fans probably would not need extended hours because Metro closes at 1 a.m. Saturdays.

On Mondays however, Metro closes at 11:30 p.m. and on Sundays, Metro closes at 11 p.m.

Each game in the series is set to begin at 8 p.m.

“Please, the region’s got to step up,” Evans pleaded. “We’ve got two games.”

Metro set a policy last year requiring a $100,000 deposit for each additional hour of service, up from the previous $29,500. The Capitals, Wizards and Nationals have refused to pay the money instead putting the onus on the District or Metro to arrange extended hours for fans.

Any organization that does pay gets a refund in the amount of any fares paid during the extended service.

Evans said he is only involved in the process to find groups to pay for extended service “’cause nobody else is.”

“And even if they muzzled me, I’d still go out there and yell about it,” Evans said.

Metro said about 6,500 people took the train home from the area around Capital One Arena after each of the three home games in the conference finals, although the games generally ended early enough for fans to catch the last regularly scheduled train.

“Anyone who knows any late-night sponsors, please get in touch with us so we can start signing you up again,” Evans said at Thursday’s Metro Board meeting.

“There is no truth to the rumor that North Korea is going to sponsor one — that is not true,” Evans said to a single laugh in the room. “Just a small joke,” he added.

Rail system hours remain

The Metro Board voted Thursday to maintain reduced hours for another year, as planned when the board cut back hours last June in the name of more maintenance time on the tracks.

“By next June we’ll have more information from the general manager about how this has worked, where we are, what we need to do, and where D.C. is a year from now,” Evans said. “Good lord, if Amazon chooses to come here and everything else, we’re going to be a busy place.”

As a D.C. Council member, Evans wished there were more hours but as the Metro Board chairman, Evans said the closures have been extremely valuable to maintenance.

He sees the current permission to extend hours for selected events as the best option for now, even if some events like Caps’ games get significant focus and support while others like concerts may not.

“With my Metro hat on, yeah, we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances we have to provide the late-night service on a one-off basis up to 10 times a year,” Evans said.

“This is not an easy issue.”

The post Late Metro service funding sought again as Caps reach Stanley Cup Final appeared first on WTOP.

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Metro finishes seals on ‘orange boots’ tied to deadly L’Enfant smoke

WASHINGTON — Metro has now finished adding protective seals to cable connector assemblies across the rail system that were blamed for the deadly 2015 smoke incident near L’Enfant Plaza.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld called completing the sealing sleeves on the 9,454 “orange boots” across the rail system a safety milestone three years in the making.

“These sleeves prevent moisture and particles from encountering the electrical current, thus preventing fire and smoke incidents,” Wiedefeld said.

Metro had first focused on the power connections in underground tunnels where smoke and fire pose the biggest risk before moving to the orange boots elsewhere in the system. The connections in rail yards were only recently completed. Federal inspection reports found numerous issues in rail yards remained this winter.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended the seals on orange boots after Carol Glover died when a Yellow Line train filled with smoke near L’Enfant Plaza in January 2015 and riders waited to be evacuated.

Water issues in the tunnel and a lack of cable protection were among the issues blamed for Glover’s death.

“We have been working since then to make the critical improvements, and will continue our inspection and maintenance program to ensure the connectors remain in a state of good repair,” Wiedefeld said.

The post Metro finishes seals on ‘orange boots’ tied to deadly L’Enfant smoke appeared first on WTOP.

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Major Metro track work, Rolling Thunder, parades to affect Memorial Day weekend

WASHINGTON — Major Metro track work, the Rolling Thunder run and Memorial Day parades across the region will impact travel this holiday weekend.

Around the National Mall, the annual Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run draws thousands of motorcycles and onlookers Sunday, with additional traffic and closures around the Pentagon.

On Monday, the National Memorial Day parade marches down Constitution Avenue Northwest, and other local parades are held across the region. Some city and town parades are also held on Saturday or Sunday.

Metro runs Sunday service on Memorial Day, which means trains only run from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and weekend track work continues. Parking is free on the holiday at all Metro lots, and Metrobuses will also run on a Sunday schedule. MetroAccess subscription trips are canceled Monday, but riders can make separate reservations.

Other transit systems across the region also run reduced or no service Memorial Day.

There are no MARC or VRE trains on the holiday. MARC’s Penn Line runs regular weekend service Saturday and Sunday.

Metro shutdown, single-tracking

Only Metro’s Green Line has no scheduled track work Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

On the Red Line, there are no trains between Van Ness and Dupont Circle. Cleveland Park and Woodley Park stations are closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Shuttle buses between Van Ness and Dupont Circle will stop at each of the closed stations and at the entrance to the National Zoo. Due to the shutdown, the last inbound Red Line trains leave stations between Shady Grove and Tenleytown 25 minutes earlier than usual Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The last outbound trains from Van Ness to Shady Grove will depart 35 minutes later than usual.

Red Line trains outside of the shutdown area are scheduled every 10 minutes during the day between Dupont Circle and Glenmont, making the east side of the line or Green Line stations the best option to get downtown for riders who typically go to Shady Grove.

The Orange, Blue, Yellow and Silver lines are scheduled every 24 minutes each this weekend.

Blue Line trains are scheduled to run only between Franconia-Springfield and Eastern Market, which means only Silver Line trains will be available to and from Largo Town Center.

Single-tracking on the Blue, Orange and Silver Line tracks is between Eastern Market and Stadium Armory.

Single-tracking on the Blue and Yellow lines in Virginia is between Reagan National Airport and Braddock Road.

The post Major Metro track work, Rolling Thunder, parades to affect Memorial Day weekend appeared first on WTOP.

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Virginia Senate put off budget, Medicaid debate

WASHINGTON — Virginia senators have put off the debate on the state budget and whether to expand Medicaid, drawing sharp criticism from the governor and House speaker.

The Senate did not take up budget discussions Tuesday, but instead scheduled a meeting next week for the Senate Finance Committee to take up a newly proposed budget plan.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Tommy Norment said he expects the upper chamber to pass a budget May 30, and it is “probable” that it will include Medicaid expansion.

Democrat Janet Howell accused a minority of the Senate of delaying and obstructing action.

House Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican who backs Medicaid expansion, canceled a planned House meeting for Wednesday, since the delegates would have had no new bill to vote on. The House passed its budget in this special session more than a month ago and had expected to act Wednesday on a Senate version.

Republicans are currently split on whether to expand Medicaid after years of near unified opposition. The disagreement has led to a stalemate on the state budget.

“The time has come to finish the budget. Our teachers, local school boards, and local governments are waiting to craft their budgets and the national bond rating agencies are carefully monitoring Virginia’s AAA bond rating,” Cox said in a statement.

Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who made Medicaid expansion to about 300,000 more low-income Virignians part of his campaign last year, was even stronger.

“The continued delays and procedural stall tactics that we are seeing from the Senate create uncertainty for families and local governments, threaten Virginia’s bond rating, and run afoul of this Commonwealth’s reputation for efficient and effective government,” Northam said in a statement.

“This unnecessary delay is made more insulting to Virginians by the reality that the house of delegates passed a budget that expands health care weeks ago, and a majority of Senators have indicated they would vote for a similar measure if the Senate would simply put one on the floor. Virginians have waited long enough,” he said.

Pro-expansion lawmakers have a majority in both chambers, but some Republican Senate leaders oppose Medicaid expansion and said they need more time to study a new budget deal released Monday by pro-expansion Republicans.

Sen. Emmett Hanger, Republican co-chair of the Finance Committee, had apparently been prepared to join Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw Tuesday to bypass the Finance Committee and get the budget bill to the floor. Instead, Norment assured pro-expansion lawmakers that the Senate would finally hold a vote on its budget next week.

Norment insisted Tuesday that the months of delay — with no deal in the regular session this winter or any Senate action yet since the special session convened in April — has helped resolve the dispute since additional tax revenue above previous forecasts can be used to bolster the state’s rainy day fund.

“Raise your eyebrows and twitch your ears, but that is a financial fact,” he said.

He maintains his opposition to Medicaid expansion, and said he has no plans to leave the Senate.

“I tell you what, I’m going [to] be here in 2019 and 2020 to kick your ass,” he said on the Senate floor.

He also called for better decorum in the chamber.

Impact of budget delays

Senate Democrats said the wait for local budgets, teachers, and those who would benefit from Medicaid expansion could not go on any longer. The federal government would pay 90 percent of the Medicaid expansion costs.

“These are real people, with real stories and real challenges. They didn’t ask for this,” Prince William Democrat Jeremy McPike said.

“While we’re diddling and dawdling on the Senate floor, people are suffering. Some people are dying,” Howell, a Fairfax County Democrat, said.

Republican Sen. Bill Carrico said he would not listen to a lecture, since Democrats support abortion-rights.

That was just one piece of how Republicans opposed to expansion pushed back on the Senate floor Tuesday evening, during what effectively became a debate over Medicaid expansion despite no bill sitting before the body.

“Government dependency breeds more government dependency and takes away freedom,” Republican Bill Stanley said.

He argued that free trade agreements and warnings that tobacco has negative health effects have been the key drivers of economic problems in southwest Virginia, and more people with Medicaid coverage could simply put more of a strain on hospitals.

A number of Republicans who remain opposed to expansion have focused on potential costs of the system.

“Spending the taxpayers money on other people … is the most inefficient way to spend money,” Sen. Mark Obenshain said.

Democrat George Barker of Fairfax County responded that Virginia’s Medicaid program is run efficiently.

“It’s been effective in helping people receive the care they need. It’s been effective in holding down costs, and in many instances, it’s been effective in actually reducing costs,” Barker said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The post Virginia Senate put off budget, Medicaid debate appeared first on WTOP.

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Final Metro ‘SafeTrack’ report finds success — and some planning mistakes

WASHINGTON — Metro’s initial 13 months of 24/7 track work had some major accomplishments, but a final federal oversight report finds some pieces of the program that Metro called “SafeTrack” left a lot to be desired.

The Federal Transit Administration’s final project management oversight report notes that SafeTrack successfully replaced 95 percent of the system’s defective rail ties, leaving about 2 percent (4,000) remaining across the system, but that planning failed to account for how bad the tracks were to start with.

That led to problems getting enough materials to do the work, and to the rapid expansion of the program including more shutdown areas than initially planned.

“Although WMATA knew that segments of track needed repair and rehabilitation, WMATA was not fully aware of the extent of the state of disrepair of the track. This lack of awareness resulted from incomplete records, lack of thorough analysis of existing … condition data,” said the oversight report, completed by an FTA contractor.

Metro has since been updating its inspection manuals and updated reporting policies.

The schedule was further hampered because Metro failed to include engineers in the planning process until after an initial schedule had been set, Metro’s internal compliance office found.

Underestimating the scale of the project also meant Metro underestimated the size of the team necessary. The FTA report suggests more staff could have helped with external coordination and overall planning.

Had the amount of materials needed for each surge zone been communicated to the procurement department sooner, Metro might have been able to avoid potential material shortages, the report said.

“[I]n spite of this, the small six-person team assembled to manage the $163 million SafeTrack program did a remarkable job,” the report said.

That final budget grew from the initial $119 million estimate due to $38 million in added surges and expanded shutdowns and $6 million in additional materials and labor costs.

“There were indicators that WMATA needs to improve its field management of maintenance activities. Supervisors tended to get too involved in specific tasks as opposed to supervising performance of the entire surge. There was no apparent hierarchy of command and control [management] for field activities,” the report found.

While the oversight team and Metro have worked to address issues identified during the surges that ran from June 2016 through June 2017, two issues remain.

Metro still must develop better standards and testing for concrete grout pads that support the tracks in parts of the system, and specify a testing plan to verify that bolts holding fasteners down in those areas are installed correctly.

The post Final Metro ‘SafeTrack’ report finds success — and some planning mistakes appeared first on WTOP.

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Water-logged tunnels, deteriorating seals found in Metro inspection reports

Westlake Legal Group water-logged-tunnels-deteriorating-seals-found-in-metro-inspection-reports Water-logged tunnels, deteriorating seals found in Metro inspection reports Transportation News Tracking Metro 24/7 metro inspections max smith Local News

WASHINGTON — Dozens of deteriorating water seals in rail yards and waterlogged tunnels across the Metro system are among the problems uncovered in three months of newly released Federal Transit Administration inspection reports.

While standing water, clogged drains, debris around cables and tunnel leaks were found on all lines, inspectors found the most significant problems on the Red Line.

Between Woodley Park and Tenleytown in early January, a metal safety catwalk was rusted out and so were switch enclosures near Cleveland Park. A copper pipe was leaking water onto the tracks, there was mud and debris around cables and the third rail, and there were two long stretches where the tunnel was too dark. In February, there was a tunnel leak there onto the electrified third rail.

Between Metro Center and Woodley Park, mud, water, trash and debris surrounded cable connections in January.

Between Tenleytown and Bethesda, there were multiple other tunnel leaks, puddles of water around cables and clogged drains, as well as another long stretch of tunnel with poor lighting in January.

“Standing water, trash, debris, and muck were observed,” an FTA inspector wrote.

In February, a third rail insulator was wet, muddy and arcing, FTA and Metro inspectors noted.

Jan. 17, shortly after a derailment near Farragut North, inspectors found numerous water leaks just down the Red Line in the tunnel between Metro Center and Union Station, with mud-clogged and debris-filled drains.

From Bethesda to Grosvenor-Strathmore, inspectors found standing water around electrical connections, water leaks from tunnel walls, heavy mud and debris, clogged drainage channels, plus issues with the watertight seals on so-called orange boot connector assemblies Jan. 19.

Metro moved to replace those seals after the L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident that killed Carol Glover. 

In December and January, a series of checks in the West Falls Church and Alexandria rail yards found track issues that needed to be repaired and dozens of connector assemblies were found with watertight sealing collars that were not properly in place or had deteriorated.

Metro had focused the sealing efforts on underground tracks where trains carry riders.

Separately, in an effort to keep more water out of tunnels, Metro has been testing a tunnel sealant in short stretches of the Red Line tunnels, and could expand the program.

The transit agency has reduced the focus on regular cleanup of the worst Red Line stretches though, instead focusing on cleanup only when other track work is planned in a specific area, Metro Board briefing documents said earlier this month.

Between Bethesda and Friendship Heights on Jan. 29, inspectors found rusted off plating falling off a step to the emergency catwalk and an electrical junction box that had fallen off the side of the tunnel and lay in the path to an emergency exit.

From Friendship Heights to Cleveland Park in late January, there were numerous areas with standing water and mud. And between Cleveland Park and Woodley Park, drainage channels were blocked.

The water problems are not limited to the west side of the Red Line though, inspectors found multiple water leaks in the tunnel between Forest Glen and Silver Spring Jan. 31, including one onto the electrified third rail. Near Glenmont, another tunnel leak onto the rails and clogged drains were found.

On the Orange Line, water was leaking onto the tracks in January near Deanwood, and mud and debris were blocking drains. There were water leaks from the tunnel ceiling near Clarendon, and blocked drains in a dangerously dark tunnel between Courthouse and Rosslyn.

On the Blue and Yellow Lines, there was standing water or other issues like tunnel leaks in several spots south of Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon. The Blue Line also had clogged drains, heavy mud and standing water between Benning Rd. and Addison Rd.

On the Green Line, pools of water and heavy mud and leaking tunnel walls were spotted downtown. One of the leaks dropped right on the orange boot cable connections and a safety catwalk.

There were other Green Line tunnel leaks or drainage problems between Fort Totten and Prince George’s Plaza, along another long stretch where tunnels were too dark.

The Green and Yellow Line tracks south of Fort Totten had clogged drains and several water leaks too.

Even Metro power substations and train control rooms had water problems — including a power substation near L’Enfant Plaza where some water pooled near the electrical equipment Feb. 8. Other alarms or issues were found to be fixed too.

The post Water-logged tunnels, deteriorating seals found in Metro inspection reports appeared first on WTOP.

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Additional concrete problems at new Silver Line stations to be investigated

WASHINGTON — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said late Thursday there could be eu additional problems with concrete panels installed at new Silver Line stations, beyond the issues the project’s builders have already planned to fix.

Depending on the scale of additional fixes, if there are any, the opening of the rail project could be delayed. The concrete panels form the shell of five of the six new stations from Reston to Loudoun County.

A whistleblower lawsuit filed more than two years ago, but only unsealed over the past week, raised a number of issues, including

  • falsified test results by a subcontractor;
  • incorrect water levels in the concrete, which could make it less durable; and
  • incorrect stone used in the concrete, which could mean the panels rusting away from the inside.

While the airports authority, which is overseeing the work, and the main contractor Capital Rail Constructors had separately identified the water-mix issues last year and initiated replacement of some panels and extra sealant on others, the airports authority said Thursday it “had not been aware” of the possibility that incorrect stone had been used in many or all of the panels.

The airports authority said it will not comment on the information in the lawsuit until it receives a report from Capital Rail Constructors and conducts its own review.

The Metro, which expects to take control of the Silver Line’s new segment next year for testing and training once construction is substantially complete, has hired its own outside consultant to take another look at the concrete panels.

Metro, the airports authority and Capital Rail Constructors had already agreed on a plan to address the water-mix issues that they said would have kept the project on schedule to open to riders in 2020.

That plan included replacement of some panels by the summer and applying sealant to others every 10 years, paid for by the Silver Line project. Any additional repairs or replacements of the panels could delay the project.

“Based upon the recently unsealed federal complaint against Universal Concrete Products, it’s necessary for Metro to look at this with our own independent contractor to ensure whatever remedies are applied to the concrete are ultimately safe for our passengers and our employees,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement.

The post Additional concrete problems at new Silver Line stations to be investigated appeared first on WTOP.


Study: Are dockless bikes here to stay?

WASHINGTON — Friday, May 18, is Bike to Work Day, and in that spirit, the Washington region is celebrating expanded options cyclists despite the rain.

For those braving the puddles, more than 100 pit stops are planned from Sterling to Indian Head.

Capital Bikeshare recently recorded its 20 millionth trip, and expands Friday into the Prince George’s County with a handful of stations near Hyattsville and Remove. A larger expansion had been planned in the county, but is not yet in place.

Dockless bike-share companies came to the region last year. While the dockless companies have faced some complaints, the initial research by Virginia Tech professor Ralph Buehler suggests the dockless bikes are expanding options to get around at least some parts of the area.

“Proportionally, the dockless bikes are more dispersed than Capital Bikeshare,” Buehler said.

Buehler and colleagues reviewed location data about the start and end of each trip for the first several months the dockless bikes were permitted in D. C.

Both dockless and Capital Bikeshare bikes are most frequently used downtown in Wards 1, 2 and 6.

“We see proportionally more dockless bikes in Wards 3, 4 and 5, so they seem to go slightly more into different places than where Capital Bikeshare goes,” Buehler said. Wards 3, 4 and 5 are in the Northeast and Northwest.

Neither system recorded a high proportion of trips east of the Anacostia River in Wards 7 and 8.

Use of Capital Bikeshare, which also has bikes and docks in Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Montgomery County and now Prince George’s County, tends to spike in the morning and afternoon rush hours.

“For dockless, we also found these two peaks in the morning and the afternoon, but the morning peak is much lower and a little bit later than for Capital Bikeshare, and the afternoon peak was much more spread out and higher,” Buehler said.

That could suggest the dockless bikes are being used for more recreational trips or by people with less traditional work hours, he said, which would match the using the experiences in some other U. S. cities.

Buehler’s students surveyed a small number of students … I dockless bikes. The study found those riders to be somewhat more diverse than Capital Bikeshare users, and found say more likely to have lower incomes.

Capital Bikeshare costs $85 for a yearlong membership that covers unlimited rides under 30 minutes. Single trips are $2 and a 24-hour pass costs $8. The dockless bikes require that users download a smartphone app but they will not need a membership.

“Overall this suggests that, if our sample is correct, that we have a somewhat more diverse group of riders or a different group of riders on these bikes than on Capital Bikeshare,” Buehler said. “It suggests that these dockless systems could be a complement to Capital Bikeshare.”

This initial study did not look at other factors that could contribute to decisions to use or not use bike-share, such as hills, trip distance, or how safe a route seems next to speeding cars. “This is a first look and a preliminary study,” Buehler said.

District Department of Transportation Date suggests dockless bikes have added to the overall number of bike trips in the city.

The dockless pilot was set to expire last month, but now has been extended through August. Protection to charge the companies permit fees and set some additional gallery were put off at the last minute.

D. C. now has an online survey looking for feedback on the dockless program, which has been expanded to include electric scooters.


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‘Serious concerns’ over new piece of I-66 toll lane project in Fairfax County

WASHINGTON — Fairfax County and Fairfax City leaders are expressing significant concerns about an I-66 toll lane maintenance facility planned at the interchange with Virginia Route 123 that has not been part of previous public meetings about the project.

“I am concerned that the proposed facilities have not been fully assessed to determine their impacts, and the public has not had an opportunity to comment on the proposed projects,” the County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova said Tuesday morning as the board voted to send a letter expressing concerns.

Express Mobility Partners, the private group designing, building and operating the two toll lanes each way between the Beltway and Gainesville — which is due to open at the end of 2022, delivered a letter last week asking Bulova to hold off on the action.

The letter was also delivered late last week to Fairfax Mayor David Meyer, who had written a letter in March opposing the location of the maintenance facility on the south side of Interstate 66 on either side of Route 123/Chain Bridge Road.

“This hub will enable us to rapidly respond to incidents on the highway nor required … as well as to perform operations and maintenance activities,” the letter from the toll lane operators said.

“Our criteria for this hub are that it the eu in a location that allows rapid access to both the General Purpose and Express Lanes of the highway. The location at1-66 and Route 123 Is the only Interchange In our project which has that required connectivity,” it said.

Around 35 full-time employees would work at the location after the toll lanes open. The land is already controlled by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Bulova said she only learned of the protection for the facility recently.

“These facilities were not included nor part of the previous public meetings or hearings or during the meetings held with the individual homeowner associations. I believe EMP should consider other locations for both facilities to avoid significant impacts to the adjacent residential areas,” Bulova said.

“Our intent is to design a facility that has minimal-to-no visual impact on the surrounding community that would be aesthetically consistent with the City’s vision for a northern gateway that also reflects the City’s long and rich heritage,” the Express Mobility Partners letter sent last week said.

The designs and locations have not been made public though, and Express Mobility Partners expects a more specific proposal for the site by the end of summer.

The company’s letter did offer to consider whether other locations might work.

“In the vicinity of the proposed location, there are ample vacant office spaces that could the eu considered for the proposed usage,” Bulova said.

The county’s letter calls for additional discussions about the maintenance facility to address “serious concerns”.

The Fairfax City letter sent in March expressed strong or its since the city has been working to boost development in the area through its “northfax” plan while still limiting noise and other impacts on the Cobbdale neighborhood.

“Having an industrial use at the City’s northern Gateway would be counter to the economic development goals and aesthetic vision for our City,” the city’s letter said.

Other vacant office buildings or more industrial sites are available in the city as well, according to the city.

There are also concerns about how maintenance vehicle access could impact the planned bike path in the area.

The city also hopes to eventually have a Metro station at the I-66 interchange with Route 123, although County Supervsior Linda Smyth is skeptical of whether that would be a good idea even if the Orange Line is extended in future decades.

The post ‘Serious concerns’ over new piece of I-66 toll lane project in Fairfax County appeared first on WTOP.