Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The subway and the inauguration

WMATA farecard
The online Washington Post has an article posted at 7 am, "Early Risers Try to Get a Jumpstart on Celebration," about rush hour crowds starting early... The article states:

Lines built behind farecard machines as people fumbled for money and first time riders tried to figure out the system. ...

But at the Vienna Metro by 5:20 a.m., the line into the station parking lot was an estimated two miles long, and people said it had taken them up to an hour to get in. Metro sent out an alert at 5:30 a.m. that the parking lots at the Branch Ave., New Carrollton and Greenbelt stations were full, and about an hour later said that the Largo, Franconia and Van Dorn lots were also out of space. The line to get through the gates at New Carrollton was reported to be 40 minutes long.

The real issue with the Metro system handling larger crowds has to do with six major chokepoints:

- more cars to be able to run all trains with 8 cars (each car costs $4 million)
- seating/interior configuration of the subway cars
- parking lots/transit to the station for outlying stations (I prefer the transit option as you can move a lot more people by a bus than having to accommodate cars, see these blog entries "Maybe the Virginia Railway Express and Fredericksburg can learn from Ride On?" and "Fairfax Talks Transportation (Privately) -- Dr. Transit" from 2005)
- buying farecards*
- getting into the station and/or to platforms -- we need more stair options where possible, to move more people more quickly
- the size, especially the width of the platforms and how many people can be accommodated.

(* I told someone staying at our hotel, who was off to the Inauguration that they needed to buy farecards a day or two before, that this would be a major source of crowding and delay for use of the subway network.)

According to "Concert Travel Offers Dress Rehearsal" from the Monday Post, the Lincoln Memorial concert didn't stress the transit system, even though Sunday ridership was amongst the highest ever for a Sunday. No stress because all the stations were open. As the article points out, today's travel times will be more compressed, to get people to the center of the city quickly, before the Inauguration.

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