In Virginia alone, nearly 72,000 DoD employees are affected by furloughs, which require one unpaid day off per week for 11 weeks. The state is expected to be particularly hard hit by the cuts due to the Pentagon being housed in Arlington.
It’s too early to definitively claim furloughs will ease traffic congestion, but AAA believes fewer people on the road could lead to less gridlock and fewer accidents. In fact, the organization suggests commutes could resemble those of July and August, when the region experiences its lowest traffic volume and rate of accidents.
“For all other workers, the morning and evening commutes to the daily grind could look like it does on any of the ten federal holidays in the Washington metro area or on Fridays, when federal workers use their flex-time schedules or compressed work weeks (AWS) to take time off,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.
AAA predicts Metrorail and Metrobus ridership may be affected as well. According to WMATA, nearly half of peak period commuters are federal employees and 35 Metrorail stations serve federal facilities, including the Pentagon in Arlington.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) took to Twitter earlier today to express his displeasure with the furloughs. He also sent the following statement to ARLnow.com:
“Due to sequestration, today marked the first of 11 furlough days for 650,000 DOD civilian employees. This 20 percent pay cut is the unfortunate and shameful result of Congress’ failure to work together to find an appropriate way to reduce the federal debt and deficit. I voted against the Budget Control Act that set up sequestration not only because it focused solely on cutting discretionary spending at the expense of increased revenues, but I feared that the Supercommittee could not find compromise. Congress must make tough choices, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our federal workers.”
Starting next week, some riders of the two major bus service providers in Arlington will notice schedule changes.
Metrobus will begin its service changes this Sunday, June 30. Different schedules will go into effect on various lines throughout the metro area, but the following are the major changes in Arlington:
16A, 16B, 16D, 16E, 16J, 16P Columbia Pike
- A new time-point will be created at Columbia Pike and Orme Street due to the demolition of Navy Annex. The westbound time-point for Columbia Pike and John Marr Drive will be moved one stop east to Columbia Pike & Evergreen Lane to allow for a common time-point for all lines. Scheduled times will be adjusted one minute earlier from the times shown for the John Marr Drive time-points.
16G, 16H, 16K Columbia Heights West-Pentagon City
- A new time-point will be created at Columbia Pike and Orme Street due to the demolition of Navy Annex.
16X MetroExtra Columbia Pike-Federal Triangle
- The westbound trip leaving 11th and E Street NW to Pentagon at 6:40 p.m. will be extended to Culmore arriving at 7:23 p.m. in response to customer requests for a later limited stop trip to Culmore.
- MetroExtra designated stops will be added at Columbia Pike and Oakland Street in response to customer requests. This location is halfway between existing MetroExtra stops at Glebe Road and George Mason Drive. Scheduled trips will be adjusted by one minute to accommodate the additional stop at Oakland Street.
- Weekday peak a.m. westbound and p.m. eastbound short trips between Pentagon and Federal Triangle will be adjusted to operate every 20-35 minutes. Trips leaving Federal Triangle at 9:24 a.m. and 9:44 a.m. and Pentagon Station at 6:40 p.m. will be discontinued.
16Y MetroExtra Columbia Pike-Farragut Square
- MetroExtra designated stops will be added at Columbia Pike and Oakland Street in response to requests from customers. This is approximately halfway between existing MetroExtra stops at Glebe Road and George Mason Drive. Scheduled times will be adjusted by one minute to accommodate the additional stop at Oakland Street.
Information about all the schedule changes throughout the system can be found on WMATA’s website.
Changes to ART 45, 53 and 75 schedules will go into effect on Monday, July 1. They are as follows:
- Will no longer serve S. Greenbrier Street. Instead, from Carlin Springs Road, the route will remain on 8th Road past Greenbrier, turn right onto S. Dinwiddie St. and then turn left onto Columbia Pike. The schedule will remain the same. ART 41 will continue to serve S. Greenbrier Street.
- The following bus stops will no longer be served by ART 45: Columbia Pike EB at S. Frederick St (#75106), S. Greenbrier St SB at #835 (#45015)
- The following bus stops will be added to the ART 45 route: 8th Road S. EB at #5100 (#15041), S. Dinwiddie Street SB at 8th Road S. (#41233), S. Dinwiddie Street SB at Columbia Pike, NS (#41001)
- A new extension to Westover will be added to the route during morning and evening rush hours. The extension will go from East Falls Church Metro, down Washington Blvd. to Westover and then loop back to Washington Blvd. via Patrick Henry Drive and 16th St. N./N. Longfellow St. The extension will serve the shops at Westover, Swanson Middle School and the Westover Library.
- New eastbound bus stops will be located at: Washington Blvd and N. Quantico Street, Washington Blvd and N. Ohio Street, Washington Blvd. and N. McKinley Street
- New westbound bus stops will be located at: Patrick Henry Drive and Washington Blvd., N. Longfellow Street and Washington Blvd., Washington Blvd. and N. McKinley Road, Washington Blvd. and N. Ohio Street, Washington Blvd. and N. Quantico Street.
- Schedule frequency will be changed to every 30 minutes during morning and evening rush hours and every 45 minutes between 9:00 a.m.-2:15 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m.
More information about the ART changes, including route maps and full schedules, can be found on the Arlington Transit website.
Clarendon Center Wins Architectural Award — The Clarendon Center development has won a 2013 Charter Award, which is a global architectural award for excellence in urban design. The building straddles the 3000 block of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd. Clarendon Center was highlighted for being an example of walkable urban density in a suburban context and for its use of Art Deco styling. [Congress for the New Urbanism]
Arlington Transit Bus Survey — Arlington Transit is asking residents to fill out an online survey regarding the county’s bus service. Survey respondents are asked to suggest improvements for ART and Metrobus service. The information will help shape updates to the county’s six-year Transit Development Plan. The survey closes on Friday, June 28. [Arlington Transit]
Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony on Friday — Twenty-nine students from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax will be honored at Friday’s Dream Scholarship award ceremony. Undocumented students in good academic standing qualify for the scholarship if they or one of their parents were born outside of the United States, and the student will attend an accredited college or university. The ceremony takes place on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the Arlington Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street). [Facebook]
The wreck happened just before 7:00 p.m. at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Queen Street. According to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel, a driver in a white Kia pulled out from Queen Street in front of a 16G Metrobus heading eastbound on the Pike. The bus and the car collided head-on, police said. The Kia then spun around and made contact with another vehicle heading westbound on the Pike, causing minor damage.
Firefighters had to extricate the adult female driver and adult male passenger from the Kia. They were transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The driver of the Metrobus was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, complaining of back pain, Stessel said.
As of 7:50 p.m., westbound Columbia Pike was still shut down and traffic was being diverted onto Washington Boulevard. The lanes were expected to reopen shortly after 8:00 p.m.
The first of 24 planned “Super Stop” bus stops on Columbia Pike opened this morning.
The stop, on Columbia Pike at the intersection with Walter Reed Drive, offers riders a brighter, more open and attractive take on the traditional sheltered bus stop. The stop features lighting, an electronic display that shows when the next buses are coming, and a number of unbranded newspaper boxes (not yet filled).
At any given time some 15 passengers can use the stop, which serves Metro 16 and ART 45 buses.
Completion of the stop was long delayed, hampered by “a number of unexpected issues regarding construction and new materials,” according to a project rep. The project was first approved in 2011.
Crews are expected to begin work this spring on a “Barton West” Super Stop near Penrose Square, followed by work on new stops at Columbus and Dinwiddie Streets later this summer.
Wakefield, O’Connell Advance in Tournaments — In high school basketball news, last night the Wakefield Warriors defeated Mountain View 83-76 to advance to the state semifinals, to be played Monday night. Earlier this week the Bishop O’Connell Knights defeated St. John’s 58-53 to capture the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament championship. After a quarterfinal victory, DJO will now play in the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division I tournament semifinals tonight. [Washington Post, Sun Gazette]
Parents Upset With School Boundary Changes — At a meeting Wednesday night, numerous parents expressed displeasure with Arlington Public Schools’ proposed elementary boundary changes. The changes are necessary due to overcrowding and the upcoming addition of a new elementary school. [Patch]
County Event to Highlight Intellectual Disabilities — On Tuesday morning, Arlington County will hold an “awards program and proclamation ceremony establishing Including People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month as March 2013” The county says it “is committed to empowering and supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve healthy self-determined lifestyles through community-based education, living arrangements, employment, and other individualized support services.” [Arlington County]
Metro Seeks Input on Pershing-Rt 50 Bus Service — Metro will be holding two public meetings in Arlington next week to discuss potential improvements to the Metrobus 4A, B, E and H lines, also known as the Pershing Drive-Arlington Blvd line. [WMATA]
Arlington to Hold Online Snow Chat — Dave Hundelt, Arlington County’s Streets Manager, will be answering questions about snow removal online today (Thursday). The discussion is scheduled from noon to 1:00 p.m. [Facebook]
Metrobus Driver Arrested at Pentagon — A Metrobus driver was arrested by U.S. Marshals at the Pentagon Wednesday morning. The driver, of the 9E Pentagon-Huntington line bus, was wanted in connection with a 2010 murder. [Washington Examiner]
Joe Allbritton Dies — Joe L. Allbritton, owner of Arlington-based WJLA (ABC 7), NewsChannel 8 and Politico, has died. Allbrittion, whose initials are the call letters of WJLA, was 87. [Politico]
Arlington Ranks Sixth in Household Income — Arlington County had a median household income of $98,060 in 2011, which was 5.1 percent higher than a year prior, according to new census figures. Arlington’s 2011 median income is the sixth-highest of all counties in the United States. [Sun Gazette]
Off-peak rail fares are increasing from $1.60-$2.75, depending on the length of your trip, to $1.70-$3.50. Peak fares are increasing from $1.95-$5.20 to $2.10-$5.75.
In order to encourage riders to utilize SmartTrip cards, there will also be new a $1 surcharge for riders using paper fare cards.
Metrobus fares are increasing from $1.50 to $1.60 for SmartTrip users, and from $1.70 to $1.80 for riders using cash.
As part of the changes, WMATA is eliminating its 20 cent “peak-of-the-peak” Metrorail surcharge. More information, including the fares for seniors and people with disabilities, is available on the Metro website.
Arlington Transit (ART) bus fares, meanwhile, will remain $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for seniors, people with disabilities, and teens with student ID. Due to the Metro fare increases, however, ART will be imposing a 5 to 10 cent transfer fee for those transferring to Metrobus.
Rush+ will be in effect Monday through Friday, from 6:30-9:00 a.m. and 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Orange Line customers who use stations west of Rosslyn should notice three more trains per hour in each direction. Metro estimates the change will allow for an 18 percent increase in capacity on the Orange Line, which would benefit more than 46,000 customers.
Blue and Yellow line customers who use the stations from Pentagon through Reagan National Airport will see the same amount of trains. However, during rush hour there will be three more Yellow trains per hour, and three fewer Blue. Metro estimates Blue Line riders in Virginia could have to wait up to six minutes longer for a train. More than 33,000 customers are expected to benefit from that change.
To accommodate for fewer Blue Line trains, the 9E and 10E Metrobus routes will be tweaked. During rush periods, the buses will offer express service between Rosslyn and Crystal City.
Riders will have to pay attention to the listed end point on each train, because the Orange and Yellow lines will now split during rush hour. Some Orange Line trains will now terminate at Largo Town Center instead of New Carrollton, and some Yellow Line trains will terminate at Greenbelt instead of Fort Totten. In the other direction, some Yellow Line trains will now terminate at Franconia-Springfield instead of Huntington. Dashed lines on the map indicate the altered routes that will be in place during rush hours.
The rail changes are also supposed to benefit the Silver Line, once it goes into service. That line is already listed on the new Metro map.
Metro has set up videos and an interactive map on its website to explain Rush+. The map lets customers click on the sections they travel to see how their commutes will be affected.
The incident happened around 3:45 p.m. near Courthouse Plaza, on the 38B bus from Ballston to Farragut Square.
“An adult male passenger reported that the bus operator of the 38B bus physically removed him from the bus in the 2300 block of Clarendon Boulevard, following an altercation,” Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato told ARLnow.com. The passenger suffered a broken arm and was taken to a local hospital.
“The bus operator continued on his route and reported the incident to his supervisor. He was asked to hold his bus at the Pentagon, where he was arrested,” Asato said. “The operator has been with Metro since Sept. 2000. He is currently on paid administrative leave.”
No word yet on whether charges have been formally filed against the bus driver.
“This purpose of this outreach is to let people know that it’s not okay to sexually harass people on Metro,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles on WMATA’s website. “We are encouraging anyone who may be harassed to report the incident to Metro Transit Police.”
Phase one included this week’s launch of an online reporting system. Victims have the option of remaining anonymous, but all reports will be sent directly to Metro Transit Police. An email address, [email protected], has also been set up to allow customers to send photos or video to assist in an investigation.
According to the website, reportable behavior includes “extended leering, sexual comments, indecent exposure, stalking and groping.” Even if an incident doesn’t seem like a crime, victims are asked to still report what happened so Metro can spot trends and try to prevent future crimes from occurring. Right now, WMATA does not track such statistics.
“Prior to this initiative, we were not collecting data on reported harassment that did not rise to the level of a crime,” said WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel. “Over the next few months, we will track the data, develop a baseline for future comparisons, and report statistics publicly on a quarterly basis.”
A number of Arlington incidents of harassment on Metro have been made public over the last couple of years. An apparent repeat offender at the Courthouse station was reported to police by at least one woman whom he grabbed after taking a cell phone photo up her skirt. Another apparent repeat offender has been reported at the Pentagon stop in posts on the advocacy website Collective Action for Safe Spaces.
“The changes that Metro is making to address public sexual harassment and assault is a testament to the hundreds of stories we received on our site,” Collective Action for Safe Spaces Co-founder Chai Shenoy said on WMATA’s website. “We see this partnership as a step in the right direction and a model for other transit agencies around the world to follow.”
As part of the anti-harassment initiative, soon customers will see posters for the campaign displayed on buses and in train stations. Materials will be handed out throughout the system. Metro is also working on enhancing training for its employees on the front lines.
Faith-Based Advocates Seek More Affordable Housing — A coalition of local churches and community advocates is asking Arlington County to quadruple the amount of tax support it devotes to affordable housing. At a large gathering on Saturday, Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) also expressed support for Arlington refocusing its affordable housing efforts to benefit those in the lowest income brackets. [Sun Gazette]
New Metrobus Service Coming — To help make up for a forthcoming service change that will mean six additional minutes of waiting time for trains between the Pentagon and Rosslyn, Metro is expanding bus service between Crystal City and Rosslyn. [Dr. Gridlock]
Freeze Watch Tonight — The National Weather Service has issued a freeze watch for tonight. Gardeners should take extra precautions to protect plants should temperatures dip below 32 degrees as forecast. [Capital Weather Gang]
Arlington Educators Honored — Updated at 10:10 a.m. — Patrick Henry Elementary School principal Dr. Lisa Piehota and Wakefield High School teacher Dr. Laurrell Wiersma have been named the Arlington Public Schools principal and teacher of the year. In addition, Drs. Piehota and Wiersma have been honored with the Distinguished Educational Leadership and Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher awards by the Washington Post. A total of 39 teachers and principals from throughout the region were honored by the Post.
Photo courtesy Derek Heiss
Metro has has drawn up a fiscal year 2013 budget and has plans for another fare hike this summer. But before pushing forward with these two measures, the agency wants to hear your input at a series of meetings.
Meetings start tonight and will be held throughout the region, with Arlington’s taking place next Monday, March 5. An open forum will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the cafeteria at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford St), and the public hearing will begin at 7:00 p.m.
The open forum will have several stations to provide information to the public. Tables staffed by senior workers of Metrobus, Metrorail, MetroAccess, SmarTrip and police will be set up to give specific information and answer individual questions. In another area, a video presentation will be shown regarding Metro’s rebuilding program. There will also be a station with computers where participants can take an online survey and submit comments about Metro’s priorities.
Metro’s $1.6 billion FY2013 budget is an increase of $116 million over the last fiscal year. It shows a net decrease in revenue of $3 million over last fiscal year. The proposed fare increases are expected to generate $66 million. An additional $53 million increase in funding would come from jurisdictions.
In looking at the breakdown of the $116 million increase in the budget, Metro reports that $61 million is needed for higher expenses for existing operations. Half of that is due to the higher cost of fringe benefits, such as health care and pension benefits. The other half is due to an increase in contracted labor costs. The remaining $55 million is for improvements in safety, security and reliability.
The budget would cover projects designed to bring Metro in line with some NTSB recommendations, such as upgrading the signal system and replacing the oldest rail cars. Track rehabilitation and replacement of the system’s escalators and elevators is also planned.
Along with the fare increase, Metro plans to simplify the fare structure and do away with the current “peak of the peak” pricing, which was deemed too confusing. The Metro Board is expected to act on the budget in June, and fare changes are expected to go into effect on or around July 1.
Along with detailed information about the budget and fare increases, information about registering to speak at the public hearing or submitting written comments can be found online. There’s also an online survey regarding the budget and fare increases.
A bicyclist was struck by a Metrobus at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and Lang Street this morning.
The bus was traveling eastbound around 9:15 a.m. when it apparently struck the cyclist in or near the intersection. The cyclist suffered a head injury but was conscious when he was loaded into an ambulance and brought to the hospital.
Impact damage was visible on the Metrobus’ windshield.
Arlington County police and Metro personnel were taking photos and measurements of the scene following the accident. Traffic on S. Glebe Road was snarled as police blocked blocked one and periodically both lanes during the investigation.
A video obtained by WTOP shows a Metrobus driver running a red light and nearly getting in a collision at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Joyce Street.
The bus is shown coming down the steep, curvy hill near the Air Force Memorial and driving right through the red light — even honking its horn as an SUV with the right-of-way drives in front of the bus’ path.
The video is one of several dozen obtained by WTOP through a public records request. Many of the videos depict collisions and near-collisions with vehicles and pedestrians, as recorded by a “Drivecam” video camera in the front of the bus.
The head of Metro’s bus operations told WTOP that the Metrobus system is safe when compared with other large bus systems across the country.