Tuesday, January 9, 2007

this blog-alogue is part of a balanced breakfast

don't you think cities are fun?It looks like Just Up The Pike has some friends in Takoma Park: the Silver Spring/Takoma Voice staff has named us (me? it?) a "blog we like," expressing surprise that I'd be so interested in the "somewhat dry topics" of development or politics.

Dry topics? No wonder my second-grade class was so bored when my teacher let me read them a book for my birthday and I read, cover to cover, an issue of Long and Foster's Extraordinary Properties. But, seriously, I think this stuff is pretty interesting. I'm sure others do, too. Everyone else just needs an inspiration.

My counterparts at the U of M, Rethink College Park, have revealed this stunning "Visionary Metro Proposal" which puts fantasy maps of the Green Line, Purple Line and Silver Line together to give people an idea of what Metro could look like in just a few years.

Between bickering over new lines and derailings and threats of fare hikes on existing lines, public faith in Metro has been shaken. The system desperately needs funding, and local governments have been reluctant to offer their support. While fantasy maps have usually been the fodder of rail buffs, maybe this one might "break into the mainstream," if you will. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks hearing "Next Stop: Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Friendship Airport" would be intoxicating.


Sligo said...

I'm sad... the Voice doesn't "like" my blog. :`-(

David said...

We've gotten quite a few comments on this map. It's encouraging to see that everyone is taking an interest in it and they want this stop there and that stop here and "why didnt you put that street car there". We choose to stick with the most likely lines. The purple line is getting a lot of support. The silver line is all but certain and MD politicians won't want to see their precious BWI lose out to lowly Dulles.

Anonymous said...

The Metro map is a fascinating, tantalizing possibility that can only help the traffic problems faced by the regions commuters. By offering alternatives to highways, we can remove a lot of cars from the road.

Wonder why they made no mention of extending the Red Line past Shady Grove, given all the development in the northern part of Montgomery County. Were they unaware of the traffic issues faced on 270 each morning and afternoon?

Unknown said...

Here's my grand bargain for all the MD liberals...my Republican friends and I will discontinue using the "Presidential" name for National Airport if we can stop hearing about one of the worst Supremes ever every time BWI is discussed.

Anonymous said...

Sligo, I advertise (1/2 page every month) in the Voice every month and I submitted all the Silver Spring blogs (including yours, mine, just up the pike, Silver Spring Scene and Penguin)to them 2 months ago. They sent me an email saying they would review all of them and thanked me. Don't feel bad, they didn't put mine up either! Of course what do you expect from Granola Heads from Granola Park. There is no rhyme or reason to what they like or don't like.

Dan Reed said...

Personally, I wish they went back to just calling it Friendship Airport. So what if it doesn't sound professional?

Sligo said...


The airport already had a presidential name - "Washington"...

Anonymous said...

Hello, 2007 folks. Just a little note from your future.

Metro sure has changed.

All of the old big slug Metro trains got replaced with 2-seater personal rapid transportation vehicles, using offline stations, too.

Offline stations allow traveling directly to one's destination, without stops or having to switch trains, drastically decreasing commute times. That has been very enjoyable.

And, while it was kind of a change to no longer wait for and ride a big train with a bunch of strangers, we adapted pretty quickly.

These offline stations also allow immediately boarding a waiting vehicle instead of the old way of having to wait for the next big train to arrive. Again, quite a joy.

Oh, and the vehicles drive themselves, too. We just get in with our RFID fare card, enter which station we want to go to, and away we go (at 100 mph I might add). I still laugh thinking how long it used to take to commute from the suburbs.

I should add that there are special purpose vehicles, too, for special needs riders, and larger 6-seater vehicles, for larger families, both immediately summonable via the Web.

Because of the vehicles' smaller size and ability to self-navigate, we're now fiscally capable of maintaining Metro service around the clock. All those second and third shift workers finally got a system that they could reliably use.

Also because of the vehicles' smaller size, Metro now travels elevated above the ground on a maglev rail, which makes it quite quiet and fast. Whoosh. I don't miss those screeching wheels on the old Metro trains.

The stations are now just little elevated platforms put about a half mile apart along existing streets. Stations are now walking distance from pretty much every neighborhood in a 20-mile radius from the city.

It was amazing how much less, I think like 90% less, it cost to expand Metro as a personal rapid transit system instead of the old big train system. I guess that's part of what made it possible and a lot quicker to expand than that old system.

A lot of people even use the inter-city connectors instead of flights for cities as far as 600 miles away, finding it just as fast if not faster. That cut congestion at the airports, making it all the more convenient for people flying longer routes.

Because there are more stations and less distance between them and because the rails are elevated, we turned all the old above-ground Metro stations, their interconnecting tracks, and their huge parking lots into a series of interconnected parks.

A lot of the parking lots around malls were converted back into greenspace, too, since every mall now has a personal rapid transit station that is built right into it. It's nice to no longer fight for a space to park and walk great distances to the mall in bad weather. It also makes night-time mall shopping all the safer.

Speaking of safer, traffic-related fatalities have gone down considerably, too, saving tens of thousands of lives a year. Drinking and driving is almost unheard of now as well. And senior citizens confronting lessened driving skills are able to safely travel much better now because of personal rapid transit.

Even though some people living along the old tracks complained about their home values going up considerably now that their homes are quieter and back to greenspace, the community as a whole has enjoyed it.

As all functions at local stations became automated, staffing at the old Metro stations all got shifted to the four consolidated regional facilities, avoiding any job losses, but allowing staff reductions solely through attrition.

And a lot more people now ride the Metro since it is faster, less expensive, and more convenient than cars. As a result, we have cleaner air and have been able to remove two lanes from the Beltway, converting them back into a beautiful and well-vegetated median. More lane removals are planned.

We really did need to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of cars and, thankfully, Metro's improvements were what allowed that to happen fast enough. I can't imagine the mess we'd be in now if that hadn't happened.

The series of Metro fare reductions were nice, too.

Your wise decisions back then are well appreciated now.