Northern Virginia Transit Ridership Down — Amid Metro’s woes, transit ridership across Northern Virginia has dropped significantly. Metrorail ridership was down 6.7 percent for the one year period ending June 30, while Metrobus ridership is down 4.6 percent. Arlington Transit bus ridership, however, was up 13.8 percent. [InsideNova]
Arlington Family Gets Lost Cat Back — A new Arlington family whose cat jumped out of their moving van and ran away at a Michigan Welcome Center has been reunited with their wayward feline. The welcome center’s employees managed to safely trap the cat five days after it escaped. [NBC Washington]
Free Chips and Queso Today — California Tortilla restaurants are offering free chips and queso today, to commemorate the impending end of summer. Customers must say the password “easy cheesy” and make another purchase to get the free stuff. [Facebook]
CIA’s Local VC Firm Profiled — Courthouse-based In-Q-Tel, which functions as the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital arm, “operates in the shadows.” The firm is run as a taxpayer-funded nonprofit, investing in companies whose technology could benefit the CIA or the military. [Wall Street Journal]
Carlee Takes University Job — Former Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee, who most recently served as Charlotte, N.C.’s city manager, has taken an assistant professor position at Old Dominion University’s Strome College of Business in Norfolk. [Charlotte Observer]
Next month the Arlington County Board will consider the county’s final Transit Development Plan, which includes the post-streetcar plans for transit on Columbia Pike.
The Transit Development Plan includes provisions for “premium bus service” along the Pike, but “premium” refers more to the usability and frequency of the bus service than the vehicle itself.
“The premium network would offer bus service that is fast, frequent, reliable and easy to use, with features including simplified bus routes, increased weekday and weekend service, and a new one-seat ride from Skyline to Pentagon City-Crystal City,” said a county press release.
The plan does include a series of 23 enhanced bus stops along the Pike, with a price tag north of half a million dollars apiece, providing “near-level boarding, longer platforms, real-time bus arrival information and off-vehicle fare collection.”
It will also call for larger, articulated buses on some heavily-used routes, but those will be operated by Metro and won’t be put into service until Metro and the county can establish the infrastructure needed for such buses.
“Higher capacity (articulated) buses will be addressed in the 10-year Transit Development Plan,” said Marti Reinfeld, Arlington’s interim Transit Bureau Chief. “The routes that will need the additional capacity are Metro-operated; therefore, we are coordinating with Metro to include articulated buses in their fleet expansion plan and to address how an articulated fleet will be stored and maintained in Virginia.”
(Here’s more information on the articulated buses currently in use by Metro.)
“As maintenance and storage details for articulated buses are worked out, we will revise the TDP in an annual update, as needed,” said Reinfeld.
“To be clear, no plans for any especially fancy ART buses or anything like that, besides the eventual possibility of articulated buses?” asked ARLnow.com.
“Correct,” said a county spokesman.
Photo (top) of a bus in Las Vegas via Twitter. Photo (bottom) by M. Ortiz via Wikipedia.
The crash happened around 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Nash Street, near the Key Bridge Marriott hotel. Police say the bus driver was at fault.
“A Metrobus was traveling westbound on Lee Highway when the driver of the Metrobus proceeded through a red light and struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The pedestrian was taken to George Washington University Hospital in critical but stable condition. The driver of the Metrobus was issued a summons for failure to obey a traffic light.”
A Metro spokesman has thus far not responded to a request for comment.
To help deal with traffic congestion during the track outages that are planned as part of Metro’s SafeTrack project, Arlington County is considering a plan to implement a bus-only lane on part of Lee Highway.
The bus-only lane would be implemented on the three-lane section of Lee Highway from N. Veitch Street near Courthouse to N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, and only during the morning rush hour. That portion of Lee Highway often experiences heavy traffic congestion in the morning.
The proposal will be discussed on Wednesday, June 1, during a “community check-in” on Lee Highway transit service. That event will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) and will also discuss plans for ART 55 bus service on Lee Highway, which will be getting a new timetable this summer.
Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet says the bus lane proposal is part of a “larger effort to address increased congestion during Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance work.”
“Since Lee Highway parallels Metro’s Orange/Silver Line, we expect it to become a key transit corridor for moving people when sections of the Orange/Silver Line are disrupted,” Balliet said in an email. “Discussions are underway with VDOT about this potential change, since Lee Highway is a state road, and we expect to have more information to share at the community meeting on June 1.”
At the time of this article’s publishing, details about other aspects of the county’s SafeTrack mitigation plan were not available.
Photo via Google Maps
The incident happened just before 10:30 p.m. at the intersection of 15th Street S. and Eads Street.
Firefighters used heavy rescue equipment to raise the bus enough to free the woman. She transported via ambulance to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital. Her injuries are described as non-life-threatening, authorities said.
Police are still on scene investigating the incident.
#ACFD on scene of a pedestrian struck and pinned under a bus. S. Eads at S. 15th St. Technical Rescue Team dispatched.
— ACFD Firefighters (@IAFF2800) March 25, 2016
— Public Servant-33yrs (@CAPT258) March 25, 2016
WOMAN STRUCK BY BUS, concious 30YOF taken to trauma center with lower body injs., 500-blk S. 15th St.-Arilington Co.
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) March 25, 2016
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) March 25, 2016
Snowzilla Cost Arlington $5 Million — The total cost of January’s blizzard to Arlington County is close to $5 million, the county said yesterday. Of that, Arlington believes that it can recoup $2 million from federal disaster assistance funds, though reimbursement process is a lengthy one. [Arlington County]
Young Republicans to Meet With Gun Store Owner — The Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans will hear from the owner of NOVA Armory, the new gun store in Lyon Park, at their meeting on Monday. The meeting will be open to AFCYR members only — much like a Lyon Park community meeting on the store was open only to residents. The Arlington County Republican Committee, meanwhile, passed a resolution last night in support of the store, stating that the local GOP “stands with gun stores such as NOVA Armory that are engaged in lawful commerce.” [Facebook]
Metro Shutdown and Bus Stigma — Did yesterday’s shutdown of the Metrorail system help some commuters overcome perceived “bus stigma?” Given the longer lines around bus stops, bus ridership was definitely up. [Mobility Lab]
Starting Sunday at 7 a.m., Metro will stop accepting paper farecards at turnstiles and will only accept SmarTrip cards.
It’s one of the final steps in Metro’s phasing out of paper farecards, which the agency stopped selling Dec. 31. The very last step will happen this summer, when Metro stops accepting paper cards as trade-ins.
“If you still have a paper farecard or a Metrochek after June 30, 2016, congratulations, you have a Metro souvenir,” Metro said on its website.
In addition to online reminders, signs have been placed in local Metro stations informing riders of the changes.
Traffic volume on I-395, I-66 and Route 50 was relatively light this morning. Some delays were reported on I-395 at King Street earlier, possibly the result of snow clearing operations.
Every Metrorail line is running every 12 minutes except the Silver Line, which remains closed. WMATA was unable to open aboveground service on the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Vienna this morning, so Ballston is the Virginia end of the line.
Metrobuses are operating on a “severe snow plan” with half hour delays, while Arlington Transit service is operating on a Sunday schedule between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. with “severe service” detours. Only the ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 lines are running.
Arlington County snow removal crews, meanwhile, are making slow but steady progress on clearing neighborhood streets. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said this morning that 30 percent of residential streets had been plowed.
Metro today announced it will reopen its stations for limited — but free — Metrorail and Metrobus service tomorrow.
Red, Orange and Green line trains only will run between 7 a.m. tomorrow and midnight.
Service on these lines will be limited to underground stops and trains will run every 20-25 minutes, Metro said.
Orange Line trains will run between Ballston and Eastern Market, Red Line trains will run between Medical Center and Union Station and Green Line trains will run between Fort Totten and Anacostia.
Buses will operate every 30 minutes on just 22 routes between 12 and 5 p.m. tomorrow. According to Metro, “many of these routes will operate on snow emergency routes only to keep vehicles off hilly terrain, narrow side streets and other problem areas.”
The following bus routes will have service tomorrow:
- D.C.: 32, 33, 36, 53, 70, 90, A6, A8, P12, S4, U8, X2
- Maryland: C4, D12, K6, Q2, V4, Y2, Z8
- Virginia: 16A, 16E, 28A
ART 55 will operate from the same bus stops as Metrobus 3A, at the same rush hour frequency and a higher midday and weekend frequency.
The county issued the following press release about the change today.
Starting Sunday, Dec. 13 a new Arlington Transit (ART) route, ART 55, will replace part of the Metrobus 3A route and connect two Metrorail hubs–East Falls Church and Rosslyn.
The new service will be more frequent midday and weekends, more reliable, and cost the County less to operate, because ART bus service is less expensive to operate than Metrobus.
“Replacing the 3A with lower-cost ART service allows us to reinvest the savings in expanded midday and weekend service along Lee Highway, which residents have been asking for,” said Director of Transportation Dennis Leach. “Converting the route to ART service also gives us the flexibility to adjust and improve service in the future to meet the needs of our community.”
ART 55 in Arlington will stop at all the same places as the 3A.. During weekday peak periods, ART 55 service will run every 12 minutes, the same level of service the 3A provides today. During middays and weekends, ART 55 will run more frequently than the 3A does now:
- Every 15 minutes midday (compared to every 30 minutes for the 3A)
- Every 20 minutes during the day on Saturday (compared to every 30 minutes for the 3A)
- Every 30 minutes nights and Sundays (compared to every hour on Sunday for the 3A)
Weekday service will run until 1:44 a.m. (compared to 12:57 a.m. for the 3A), and the hours of service on weekends will be the same as the 3A.
If there’s one lesson to take away from Arlington’s Metro Safety Seminar Wednesday night, it’s don’t evacuate a train until told to do so. Even though a woman died after not being able to evacuate a disabled, smoke-filled train outside of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station earlier this year.
In the case of smoke in a tunnel, Arlington County Fire Department and Metro will work together to figure out the source of the smoke and decide if evacuation is necessary, officials said Wednesday at the seminar in Ballston.
Self-evacuating early often leads to injuries and more trouble, said Robert Joy of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority during a panel on Metro safety hosted by the county’s Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission (EPAC).
There’s also the problem of the third rail, which is a major electrocution hazard, running at more than 700 volts, Joy said.
Joy was joined by ACFD Captain David Santini and ART Director Stephen Yaffee to speak about how to be a safe rider on public transit, including Metrobus, Metro or ART bus. The panel spoke to a small audience, mostly consisting of older Arlington residents, many of whom identified themselves as members of EPAC.
For the most part, audience members were concerned about smoke filling Metro cars, noting the L’Enfant Plaza incident in January.
Smoke in Metro tunnels is not an unusual occurrence, Sanitini said.
“We report to smoke on the Metro several times a month,” he said, adding that most are “minor in nature” usually resulting from trash burning on the rails or small insulator fires.
In the case of smoke filling the cars, passengers should listen to the intercoms, Joy said, as the conductors will tell people when to evacuate.
“Just because the trains stop doesn’t mean it’s an emergency,” he said. “And we’ve had some people self-evacuate a perfectly good train.”
If a train needs to be evacuated, firefighters will come to the train to help passengers evacuate, Santini said. Metro also posts instructions for opening the doors in emergencies and how to evacuate.
Evacuation should be the last resort as walking in the tunnels and jumping from the train can result in injuries, such as broken ankles or legs, he said.
Joy acknowledged that there were problems with understanding the intercoms, which can make emergency situations more stressful. Dust often gets in the speakers, which make them hard to hear.
“We understand that the intercom system isn’t always up to snuff,” Joy said. “I sometimes wonder what they are saying.”
Fixing the intercoms by making sure they are cleaned is an easy step that Metro can do to make riding safer, said John Brown, director of Arlington County Office of Emergency Management.
“I don’t think we can wait for a federal report. There’s low hanging fruit that we know we can fix,” Brown said.
Throughout the discussion, audience members offered suggestions that Metro can implement to improve passenger safety, including more information on car walls. These suggestions will be compiled in a letter and brought before the Arlington County Board, said Board member Libby Garvey.
Garvey and Brown also took a couple of minutes to talk about emergency preparedness in general, telling the audience they should know what to do for everyday emergencies, like weather-related events, or in the case of a decidedly not-everyday emergency: a nuclear attack.
“We really all need to be prepared, not just for these events that happen pretty regularly but also when the unimaginable happens,” Brown said.
In the case of a nuclear attack, people should “shelter in place” and put as much concrete between them and outside, Garvey said.
The last thing people should do is go outside and see what happened, she said. Instead, people should “camp inside” until its safe to go outside.
“We all need to be prepared for camping for three days,” Garvey said.
Among the proposed changes:
- Eliminating the 5A line that connects L’Enfant Plaza, Rosslyn and Dulles Airport
- Eliminating the 9A line that runs from the Huntington Metro station to Old Town Alexandria, Potomac Yard and the Pentagon
- Eliminating late night weekend service on the 7A line connecting Shirlington, Fairlington and the Pentagon Metro station
- Stopping service to Crystal City on the 16H line that runs down Columbia Pike (it will instead stop at the Pentagon City Metro station)
- Eliminate service from East Falls Church to Rosslyn on the 3A line that runs to Annandale (it will instead be replaced by ART bus service)
Metro says the proposals are part of an annual service review that’s intended to make the system more efficient.
Sweetgreen, Taylor Gourmet Coming to Crystal City — Venture capital-funded salad purveyor Sweetgreen plans to open a 1,700 square foot store in the former Corner Bakery space in Crystal City later this year. And that’s not the only trendy eatery coming to the neighborhood. Sandwich shop Taylor Gourmet is expected to open in a storefront next door. [Bisnow]
Sunglasses Store Closes on Pentagon Row — There’s still more than a month until Labor Day but sunglasses store Specs New York, which opened up three months ago on Pentagon Row, appears to be closing. [Twitter]
New Law Allows Cocktail Pitchers — A new Virginia law that took effect July 1 finally allows restaurants to serve pitchers of cocktails. Previously, it was against the law to serve any mixed drink other than sangria via pitcher. Pepita, which opened last week in Ballston, is taking advantage of the new law by selling margaritas in a skull-shaped pitcher for $40. [Washington Business Journal]
TV Station Profiles Arlington Fugitive — Rosslyn-based WJLA featured an Arlington fugitive as part of an “ABC 7 On Your Side” segment. Police say Jessie Kim, 25, assaulted the new owner of what had formerly been his family’s dry cleaning business. Kim is also accused of destroying the owner’s phone and other property before driving off in a silver BMW. [WJLA]
Bus Accident in Ballston — A minor collision between an ART bus and a Metrobus happened around 5:00 p.m. yesterday in front of the Ballston Metro station. No injuries were reported.
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Arlington County might have a tech-driven answer for commuters looking to save money and help the environment.
Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) and D.C.-based tech firm Conveyal have developed CarFreeAtoZ, a new website that help commuters plan their trip to areas around Northern Virginia and the D.C. area by looking at the different transit options available including Metro, buses, driving, Capital Bikeshare and personal cycling.
CarFreeAtoZ plans trips in a manner similar to Google Maps or Mapquest, but it combines different transit options, such as walking, using the Metro and biking. The website is mobile friendly, so users can pull it up on their phones while on the go.
“It’s got more modes than any brand of app,” Mackie said.
Users plug in their current location’s address, the address of where they want to go and the time they’re planning to leave, and then the website calculates the different travel methods. At the moment, the users need to have the exact address as the website cannot find places such as the U.S. Capitol or a specific Metro station.
Commuters can sort the different travel methods by total time, total cost, calories and walking distance. They can also see the cumulative estimated benefits of making the trip via a non-car method on a yearly basis.
For instance, CarFreeAtoZ recommends biking from Fairlington to Rosslyn, estimating that it would save $3,242 plus result in 21 lbs of potential weight loss and a gain of 138 hours of “productive time.” The bike trip takes 36 minutes during the morning rush hour, compared to 18 minutes via car or 43 minutes via transit.
“It actually ranks what would be best for you,” Mackie said.
Memorial Service for Library Employee — A memorial service will be held next week for Lynn Kristianson, an Arlington Public Library employee who died of advanced stage four rectal cancer on June 4, less than a year after her leg was amputated following a bike crash. Kristianson’s was seriously injured in 2014 by a hit-and-run SUV driver who struck her as she was riding her bike in Anne Arundel County, Md. [WJLA]
Famous Dog Moving to S. Arlington — Romo, a 150-pound bull mastiff/pit bull mix who’s known as the “unofficial mascot of Adams Morgan,” will be moving to Arlington with his owners on Friday. Romo will trade his first floor window on Calvert Street NW for the view from a home near Army Navy Country Club. [NBC Washington]
GW Parkway Blocked — The northbound lanes of the GW Parkway were closed and diverted onto Spout Run Parkway during this morning’s rush hour due to the continued cleanup from a bus engine explosion that caused an oil spill and some crashes last night. [WUSA 9]
GOP Endorses McMenamin — The Arlington County Republican Committee has voted to endorse independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin. A telecom consultant and president of the Arlington County Civic Federation, McMenamin previously ran for County Board as a Republican in 2006. [Twitter]
Metrobus Changes in Arlington — Starting Sunday, changes are coming to a number of Metrobus routes in Arlington, including the 25B, 22A, 22B, 22C, 22F, 15K, 15L, 7A, 7F and 7Y. [Washington Post]
Tour of Politico’s New Rosslyn Newsroom — Politico has posted a video tour of its brand new newsroom in Rosslyn, which includes a fancy hardwood floor cafe area. [Politico]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok