Has it been one year already? Only one year ago this blogger celebrated Car Free Day by making a video documenting my daily commute using public transit, which went on to win a contest sponsored by the WMATA.
In celebration of this holiday, which encourages us all to reduce (or replace) our commute using multi-modal transit, I encourage you all to learn more about how to go car free today (and everyday) on this annual event’s website. Here is the video documentary, in case you missed it, to show how one student (me!) went Car Free after moving to the National Capitol region:
Although many daily commuters already know why to use alternative transportation to automobiles, those new (or skeptical) to Car Free transit should consider some of the advantages of using these means.
- Reducing individual emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles (by taking them off the road)
- Reducing stress from traffic jams on the Beltway
- Increasing savings from fuel costs saved using public transit
- Increase exercise by increasing walks, or burning calories through cycling.
- Increase of leisure time – Sit back, read the newspaper, and let the driver do the work!
The best way to discover the benefits of using public and alternative transit is to try it for yourself, so please take the pledge to participate on Car Free Day.
Last week I was able to participate in a ridership survey of Metro’s 30s bus lines. I thought I might share a few of my thoughts and experiences with the public and WMATA alike.
(click either thumbnail to enlarge)
My introduction to Washington’s public transportation system was literally hopping off an intercity coach/bus and onto a WMATA 30s bus (I can’t remember which) from Metro Center to my new apartment in Glover Park (off Wisconsin Ave). For a newcomer to DC this line seemed both necessary as a route through otherwise disconnected parts of the city and erratic in its inconsistency.
Since that confusing first ride I have seen this series of bus routes strive to improve their on-time performance. I can finally say that the 30s buses are dependable for a daily rider like myself. The redundancy of buses running down parallel parts of the route actually help alleviate bus-bunching during rush hour, although it takes a little practice to adjust to the habit of just waiting for the next bus.
I’d like to thank WMATA for welcoming rider feedback, and to congratulate them on some real positive developments on a much maligned series of bus routes. My only complaint being that after 2 questions there is a wasted opportunity to solicit more from riders of other buses; the survey was distributed through forms on-board the 31 bus I was riding, which was excluded from the survey (along with a couple more popular routes).
Please feel free to share your experiences riding the metrobus system, or to discuss surveys of public transit you’ve taken before, in the comments.
After last week’s disaster, I still think it’s safe to ride the Red Line. But after another week or so riding to work and class , I have to say that I’m finding alternative transportation between home, work, and school; this blogger has fully embraced his blog’s namesake.
For starters, the Red Line itself has been predictably difficult. I’m glad Metro has taken appropriate steps to ensure our safety, but the Red Line in particular was subject to heavily dependent riders (like myself). Unlike some of the other lines in WMATA’s system, Red line trains seem particularly prone to the busy rush hour, probably because it has the fewest parallel track miles.
Usually this means that instead of riding the D2 bus to Dupont Circle metro stop, I take a D1 bus further to Metro Center, where I was usually transferring to a Blue or Orange line train. Metro is right to advise riders to build in extra time when taking the bus since they’re more packed than ever. Either way I’m loading on more time to my daily transit.
Of course good city transit is multi-modal; besides public transit and automobiles, DC is a great pedestrian town. Although I don’t have a bike, I have tried walking home from work when I can this summer. It’s only about 2 miles across a bridge between Roslyn and Glover Park, or a little less than an hour walking up Wisconsin Ave. Not to mention the fresh air and exercise.
So instead of complaining about the delays and track maintanance, I would encourage anyone to try a different mode of transit for themselves. Even if your commute wasn’t impacted, you don’t need any excuse to explore your transportation options.
Photo by Jeanne Welsh
As a recent transplant from the Midwest, I’m used to worse road conditions than we’ve seen today; I’ve driven myself through inches of snow as it falls, melts, and refreezes. So I was surprised when I learned after I moved here that “the whole city practically shuts down when it snows”.
Even spurious rumors are founded in some truth; I do remember newsmedia portraying DC as slowed to a halt in previous years snowfall. And although I have yet to confirm what the roads are like for drivers, those of us who rely on public transportation appear to be mostly unaffected by the snowfall, save for a minute or two delays on some bus routes.
This may owe in fact to some of the preparations on the part of WMATA, which include:
- 2,200 tons of bulk rock salt to treat Metro roadways
- 18,000, 50-pound bags of de-icer
- 71 tractors, 70 pick up trucks, 18 larger trucks, five dump trucks with plows, 96 snow brooms, and 122 snow blowers to remove snow
Not to mention the de-icing equipment employed by MetroRail, which appears to have no delays expected for the remainder of the evening rush hour. And given that there appear to be no service alerts for metro riders, its fair to call today a success for WMATA.
As for getting to those Metro stops on foot, pedestrians are advised as always to watch your step. Or at least have fun seeing your footprint in the snow on the sidewalk for once.
Once again DC has survived the human onslaught, here to celebrate democracy’s richest tradition of the peaceful transfer of power. Yes Inauguration Day has passed, providing a thorough test of both public transit and the patience of drivers stranded to pedestrian traffic downtown.
All the more remarkable given the fact that last week’s record setting Metro ridership was only a 25% increase over the average daily ridership, meaning many fellow residents (or at least the ones I have talked to) stayed home for Inauguration. Meanwhile another transfer, in public transportation, has been taking place; since January 4th paper transfers have been eliminated.
Those of you using SmartTrip cards by default may not have noticed the transition at all, since rail and bus to bus transfers were already being discounted. But metro riders who pay cash need yet more exact change without these paper slips for discounted fares. So far the changes in the transfer system seem to have generated little debate online, but for those living on the other side of the digital divide who are more likely to be reliant on public transportation this has surely been a significant change.
Feel free to share your stories of paper transfers and bus fares since the switch in the comments.
For your viewing pleasure, here is the short video I made for the user-generated video contest sponsored by WMATA. In celebration of Car Free Day, I recorded my trip across DC on the MetroRail from Tenleytown/AU to Dupont Circle on the Red line.
And although I’m having trouble finding other riders who recorded their trip, I’ll be sure to post them in a follow-up once the contest winners are announced later this week. In the meantime, you might be interested in some of the findings from a recent survey of metro riders. Here’s a hint – area residents rely on the Metro system, and even if they don’t love it (and there are lots of reasons) more riders are leaving their cars at home everyday!
To celebrate Car Free Day this Monday September 22nd, WMATA is going to sponsor a video contest, where riders are encouraged to document their reduced commutes with a video. Although I am an inadvertent participant since I sold my car before moving to DC, I still haven’t thought of a trip video clever enough to earn one of the $100 prizes – I’ll be sure to post one here (if I make one at all).
According to their website:
Metro is sponsoring the contest in support of the international event in which people are encouraged to travel without a car, using transit, bicycling, walking and any other alternative modes of transportation. By taking more cars off the roads, participants can improve air quality, save money and reduce their carbon footprint.
There are three categories participants can enter: most humorous or entertaining; most unusual or unique commute and most informative or best documentary. One winner in each category will be chosen on October 9 and receive a $100 SmarTrip card.
And while we wait for videos to populate the tubes, let us remind ourselves that there are worse options than user-generated videos; Metro could have paid to produce a video like this one, promoting use of the bus bike racks in Louisville, KY.