tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-53770142105184339272008-10-04T13:36:39.165-04:00Infosnack Headquarters A blog where I present pieces of information I find, as well as analysis and comments. Topics include energy, government, budget, entitlement spending, transit, cycling. Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgBlogger154125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-44489986655865382952008-10-03T00:18:00.002-04:002008-10-03T00:19:10.294-04:002008-10-03T00:19:10.294-04:00New Look I'm experimenting with a new look to give me some more space.  I need more than 400 pixels wide sometimes so I picked a different layout. Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-56090327767381448622008-10-02T21:26:00.001-04:002008-10-02T21:26:20.110-04:002008-10-02T21:26:20.110-04:00That's My Kind of Bracket <p>Greg Mankiw's Blog has a <a href="http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2008/10/september-madness.html">bracket</a> for those that don't really follow the NCAA Playoffs.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-52748785208199635132008-10-02T21:00:00.001-04:002008-10-02T21:00:48.031-04:002008-10-02T21:00:48.031-04:00Vice Presidential Debate Drink Words <p>Tonight's Vice Presidential Debate Drinking Words are:</p> <p>Sarah Palin: &quot;Experience&quot; and related words</p> <p>Joe Biden:&#160; Any sentence or phrase that compares Wall Street to Main Street</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-27739085429816558932008-10-02T06:00:00.000-04:002008-10-02T06:00:00.824-04:002008-10-02T06:00:00.824-04:00I-66 "Spot Improvements" Public Meeting <p>A friend from work left me an ad for the latest public meeting to discuss the <a href="http://www.virginiadot.org/info/i66_spot_improvements.asp">spot improvements for I-66</a> within Arlington.</p> <p>Here's the information for the public meeting, which is not listed on the website linked above:</p> <blockquote> <p>Date:&#160; Monday, October 27, 2008 from 7-9 p.m, presentation begins at 7:15.&#160; </p> <p>Location:&#160; Washington-Lee High School (Cafeteria) - 1300 N Quincy Street Arlington.&#160; </p> <p>Parking available in the parking deck to the north, and the nearest Metro is Ballston-MU.</p> <p>Phone information line: 1-888-643-3266</p> </blockquote> <iframe marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;s=AARTsJpePRBDRmY5X30J8L2kZpZ-upL8YA&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.00045839fd58218683fff&amp;ll=38.888628,-77.133808&amp;spn=0.040085,0.066948&amp;z=13&amp;output=embed" frameborder="0" width="390" scrolling="no" height="300"></iframe> <br /><small><a style="color: #0000ff; text-align: left" href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.00045839fd58218683fff&amp;ll=38.888628,-77.133808&amp;spn=0.040085,0.066948&amp;z=13&amp;source=embed">View Larger Map</a></small> <p>There will be an opportunity to provide written comment, leave oral comments with court reporters, and ask questions of the design team.&#160; The design features as well as environmental documentation will be available at the public hearing.&#160; </p> <p>It's important to note that the environmental documentation is a proposed Categorical Exclusion, which means that under NEPA, there will not be any Environmental Impact Statement, Environmental Assessment or associated public hearing periods.&#160; This significantly reduces the review process, and is defined by the <a href="https://www.deq.virginia.gov/info/glossary/glossaryc.html">Virginia Department of Environmental Quality</a> as:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Categorical Exclusion:</strong> 1. A class of actions which either individually or cumulatively would not have a significant effect on the human environment and therefore would not require preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. <em>(definition 2 deleted because it is not applicable)</em></p> </blockquote> <p>I have a concern that the parallel bike path along the highway will be affected by this widening, but I have received assurances from the project engineer that where there is a conflict between the highway project and the bike trail, the lanes and shoulders will be narrowed in order to maintain the trail</p> <p>I also have a concern with the spin put on the project as being &quot;spot improvements&quot;.&#160; Go ahead and scroll out on the map above.&#160; The highlighted sections are where VDOT proposes to add another travel lane to I-66.&#160; The length of the added lane is around half the total length of I-66 within Arlington.&#160; This doesn't constitute &quot;spot improvements&quot; in my book.&#160; I don't personally have a problem with building the third lane, but VDOT should not try to hide the truth by calling it a &quot;spot improvement&quot;.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-54487353916890618992008-09-30T22:51:00.001-04:002008-09-30T22:51:00.896-04:002008-09-30T22:51:00.896-04:00Arlington One-Stop Shopping for Election Information <p>I got my <a href="/2008/09/virginia_voting_in_person_or_absentee.html">absentee ballot</a> in the mail, filled it out, got my wife to witness, and mailed it.  For Arlington residents, there are some additional ballot questions beyond President, Senator, Congressman, County Board, and School Board.  There is a ballot question to start an Arlington County Housing Authority, and four bond referenda:  $10M for "Metro" (let's assume they mean WMATA), $10.8M for "Community Infrastructure", $50M for "Utilities", and $99.425M for "Arlington Public Schools".</p> <p>I found the <a href="http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/VoterRegistration/VoterRegistrationElectionInformation.aspx">Arlington County website</a> on the matter.</p><p>The Democratic <a href="http://www.arlingtondemocrats.org/ht/d/sp/i/1013373/pid/1013373">endorsements</a> are Obama/Biden, Mark Warner, Jim Moran, Barbara Favola, Libby Garvey and Emma Violand-Sanchez.  The Democratic Party passed resolutions in support of the <a href="http://www.arlingtondemocrats.org/ht/display/IssueDetails/i/1214840">bond referenda</a> and against the housing authority <a href="http://www.arlingtondemocrats.org/ht/display/IssueDetails/i/1214839">ballot question</a>.<br /></p> <p>I did not find any Republican Party resolutions about the bond issues or the housing authority ballot question after looking at their site, the endorsements for national ballot candidacies (McCain/Palin, Jim Gilmore, Mark Ellmore) are <a href="http://www.arlingtongop.org/campaign/campaign08.php">here</a>.  The GOP is not running or endorsing any candidates for local election.</p> <p>The <a href="http://arlingtongreens.org/">Arlington Green Party</a> is <a href="http://arlingtongreens.org/toptenauth.php">endorsing</a> the housing authority ballot question, and running a <a href="http://reeder4arlington.org/">candidate</a> for County Board.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-17995231804921368682008-09-30T06:45:00.001-04:002008-09-30T06:52:13.535-04:002008-09-30T06:52:13.535-04:00Metrobus 70/71 Ridership Data <p>Note:  This is before the Georgia Ave line had express service started with the 79 route.</p> <p><iframe marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;s=AARTsJpwOa6ZaO8WRPvVvWc2edHna2Gtug&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.0004581273b756deb27c0&amp;ll=38.935111,-77.01725&amp;spn=0.160234,0.120163&amp;z=12&amp;output=embed" frameborder="0" width="350" scrolling="no" height="600"></iframe> <br /><small><a style="color: #0000ff; text-align: left" href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.0004581273b756deb27c0&amp;ll=38.935111,-77.01725&amp;spn=0.160234,0.120163&amp;z=12&amp;source=embed">View Larger Map</a></small></p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-35291714909002772702008-09-30T06:45:00.000-04:002008-09-30T06:51:46.799-04:002008-09-30T06:51:46.799-04:00Metro Extra 79 Ridership Data <p>Here's a Google Map I created from data I obtained from WMATA for the new Route 79 Georgia Ave Metro Extra Line:</p> <p><iframe marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;s=AARTsJr-4TfG8p-qcMT8RyiUEbOFbI5Npg&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.000457e8fa14f2f0e82eb&amp;ll=38.943389,-77.027206&amp;spn=0.133513,0.102997&amp;z=12&amp;output=embed" frameborder="0" width="300" scrolling="no" height="500"></iframe> <br /><small><a style="color: #0000ff; text-align: left" href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.000457e8fa14f2f0e82eb&amp;ll=38.943389,-77.027206&amp;spn=0.133513,0.102997&amp;z=12&amp;source=embed">View Larger Map</a></small> </p> <p>This line runs weekday rush hours only.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-52580493288678008242008-09-29T09:15:00.003-04:002008-09-29T09:15:00.333-04:002008-09-29T09:15:00.333-04:00WMATA's 10 Year, $11B Capital Plan <p>Last week, WMATA announced over $11B in capital improvement spending needs. Where would the money be spent? I found a <a href="http://wmata.com/board_gm/board_docs/092508_CapitalNeedsSeptBoard092508final.pdf">staff report</a> (PDF) before the Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee of the Board that laid out what WMATA is proposing for capital needs.</p> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2897266387/sizes/o/in/photostream/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3244/2897266387_ecbdc22a02.jpg?v=0" height="384" width="386" /></a> </p> <p>WMATA breaks it out into three categories:</p> <ol> <li>Performance Focus - What do we need to keep the system running the way it is now? </li> <li>Demand Focus - What do we need to meet the demands of increased ridership? </li> <li>Customer Focus - What should we do to improve the customer experience? </li> </ol> <h4>Performance Focus</h4> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2898110014/sizes/o/in/photostream/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3087/2898110014_7e15a082f9.jpg?v=0" height="383" width="391" /></a> </p> <p>The highest priority funding is in the "Performance Focus" category, since that funding is what will keep the system from degrading. The major categories and examples of spending are:</p> <ul> <li>Vehicles - replacing and rehabilitating old railcars that have reached end of design life, and replacing buses that have reached end of design life </li> <li>Systems and technology - rehabilitating power systems and automatic train control systems that have reached end of design life<br /></li> <li>Maintenance and other facilities - replacing old bus garages and rail maintenance facilities </li> <li>Track and structures - replacing and refurbishing rails and platforms </li> <li>Passenger facilities - Rebuilding or refurbishing escalators, elevators, parking lots </li> </ul> <h4></h4> <h4>Demand Focus</h4> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2897266517/sizes/o/in/photostream/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3027/2897266517_f6d1d1722b.jpg?v=0" height="378" width="382" /></a> </p> <p>The next highest priority is ensuring that increased passenger demand does not cause congestion or overburden the system. Major categories and examples are:</p> <ul> <li>Vehicles - Purchase enough railcars to run 8-car service during rush hours, increase bus fleet by over 300 vehicles </li> <li>Maintenance and facilities - Build maintenance and storage facilities for the new vehicles </li> <li>Passenger facilities - Core station capacity enhancements, <strong>Build pedestrian tunnels for transfers between the Farragut Square stations and Metro Center/Gallery Place stations</strong> </li> <li>Systems and Technology - Electric rail power upgrades necessary to run a significant number of 8-car trains, new farecard machines </li> </ul> <h4>Customer Focus</h4> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2898110100/sizes/o/in/photostream/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3281/2898110100_eefee85fa6_o.jpg" height="401" width="410" /></a> </p> <p> Unfortunately, the last priority items are the upgrades to the customer experience that get most people excited. Here are some highlights:</p> <ul> <li>Passenger Facilities - Above ground stations would get canopies for the entire platform length, more stations would have entrance canopies</li> <li>Safety and Security - "MTPD Priorities" (bus cameras, etc.), better station lighting, better direction finding signage at stations</li> <li>Systems and Technology - Disposable Smartrip cards, EZ Pass at parking lots, more Smartrip dispenser machines, new web page</li> <li>Maintenance and Other Facilities - Test track and commissioning facility (for all the new railcars and buses we'll be buying, hopefully)</li> </ul> <h4>Summary/Comment</h4> <p>If WMATA doesn't get at least $6-7 billion over the next 10 years for capital needs, we're going to be in some serious hurt. There is not much from the Performance Focus category that can be easily cut, and the items that appear borderline (to me) could probably be justified if I had access to more detail.</p> <p>Even if we fund everything from Performance Focus, increased system load will be nearly unbearable for passengers. Everything from Demand Focus is necessary to meet the increased ridership. We're going to need more railcars, buses, maintenance facilities, electric power systems, and ways to get passengers around the bottlenecks to relieve congestion.</p> <p>It's a shame that after we fund the first two categories, the sources of funding will likely be completely tapped out, because there are some exciting things in the Customer Focus category. Out of this category, my favorites would be disposable Smartrip cards, Enterprise GIS (better geographic data recording and reporting), and the webpage upgrade (though I question what WMATA is proposing for $32 million for a new "Web Portal").</p> <p>Last time we went through this, we ended up funding $1.5 billion over 6 years, or about a third of the bare minimum under this plan. This time, if we don't get to at least $6-7 billion, the system will suffer.<br /></p> <h6>All graphics based on data found in the WMATA report, and are released under Creative Commons License, attribution required, no commercial use.</h6> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-3012384655255299602008-09-29T07:15:00.000-04:002008-09-29T07:15:01.909-04:002008-09-29T07:15:01.909-04:00Metrorail Breaks Down Twice as Often as NYC's Worst Line <p>WMATA posts its <a href="http://wmata.com/riding/viewReportList_update.cfm">service interruptions</a> daily. They also <a href="http://wmata.com/board_gm/board_docs/091108_3Opsperf.pdf">report monthly</a> (PDF) to the Customer Service, Operations, and Safety Committee of the WMATA Board.</p> <div></div> <div>I compiled the Metrorail service interruption data for May 2008. My method and categories are described below. The coded data is available <a href="http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcgcstm3_23hck5n8gt">here</a>, and the spreadsheet is available <a href="http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=ptFUJ8ZM0v7YAfM8SO_4fJg">here</a>. For a full discussion, see <a href="http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcgcstm3_25cgfnh7d4">this document</a>.&#160; WMATA has stated that the information in this post is being reviewed for comment.</div> <div>&#160;</div> <div></div> <div></div> <div>Without further adieu, the data: </div> <div><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2896955405/sizes/o/in/photostream/"><img height="321" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3127/2896955405_e1f3367ce4_o.jpg" width="411" /></a> </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>Miles traveled between failures (more is better):</div> <div><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2897798850/sizes/o/"><img height="302" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3053/2897798850_ca483d2b22_o.jpg" width="405" /></a> </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>How does Metrorail compare to other transit systems?&#160; The data in the figure above is from the <a href="http://www.straphangers.org/statesub08/V.pdf">NYC Straphangers campaign (PDF)</a>.&#160; Based on some rough figures (6 car trains, 12 mile commute each way, 240 days per year, each delay affecting 2-3 trains in addition to the actual failed one), this means <strong>an average WMATA rider could expect to be on a train that is delayed 10 minutes or more three times per year</strong>. Compare that to NYC, where it should only happen once or twice per year on the worst line, and less than once per year on the average line. </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>Looking at it another way, the delayed or out of service trains are only 0.6% of all trains. But this means that you're likely to be delayed in one out of every 180 trips or so, or for the average commuter, about every 4-5 months. When a train is delayed, other trains in the system are also delayed, depending on the severity of the problem. If you assume that three or four other trains are adversely affected, then passengers might expect to experience one delay per month. </div> <div>&#160; </div> <div></div> <div>I think this reflects the kind of service I've experienced. I haven't experienced these kinds of delays in other heavy rail systems, but I will grant you that I ride about 200-300 times more trips on Metrorail than all other rail systems combined. </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div></div> <div>My brother rides BART for his daily commute and does not remember being offloaded ever. My conclusion is that <strong>Metrorail probably suffers from higher than typical service interruptions, based on data publicly available from WMATA's website</strong>. Hopefully, I will obtain data for other systems for comparison purposes. I'm not trying to be overly critical of WMATA operations here, they operate a lot of trains and most (<a href="http://wmata.com/board_gm/board_docs/091108_3Opsperf.pdf">92%</a> [PDF]) of them are on time. My commute is affected only on an occasional basis, but it still seems like it's more often than in other systems with which I have experience. </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>This data is important to the debate about <a href="http://wmata.com/board_gm/board_docs/092508_CapitalNeedsSeptBoard092508final.pdf">WMATA capital funding</a> (PDF). On the one hand, the lack of capital funding could be contributing to decreased system reliability. On the other hand, system problems run the risk of being perceived as the fault of mismanagement or waste and could make it harder to obtain additional funds. </div> <h6>I have also requested similar service information from <a href="http://www.itsmarta.com/">MARTA</a> and <a href="http://www.bart.gov/">BART</a>, of Atlanta and San Francisco, respectively. Those two systems, while smaller (in ridership and track mileage), operate similar equipment of similar age.</h6> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-42805983111058089712008-09-26T20:01:00.003-04:002008-09-26T20:15:27.335-04:002008-09-26T20:15:27.335-04:00Welcome DCist Readers I didn't know I was going to have "company", so unfortunately the front page posts are not my best work right now.  Go ahead and click on one of my "greatest hits" to the right ---> and it'll be better material than how I'm drinking tonight for the debates.  Also, the "<a href="/search/label/WMATA/index.html">WMATA</a>", "<a href="/search/label/smartrip/index.html">SMARTRIP</a>" and "<a href="/search/label/parking/index.html">PARKING</a>" labels.<div><br /></div><div>Cheers!</div><div><br /></div> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-55103600988783902452008-09-26T18:58:00.003-04:002008-09-26T19:18:43.580-04:002008-09-26T19:18:43.580-04:00Debate Tonight - My "Drink Words" As with most political items on TV, I watch while playing a <a href="/2008/09/drinking_speeches.html">drinking game</a>.<div><br /></div><div>For tonight's presidential debates at 9pm EDT, my drink words will be:</div><div><br /></div><div>For Barack Obama, "Responsible" or its related words.</div><div><br /></div><div>For John McCain, "Extremist" or its related words.</div><div><br /></div><div>Hopefully this will strike the right balance between the Republican National Convention's disaster where McCain did not say, "My Friends" at all, and "You've run out of beer!"</div> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-17094461303919766672008-09-26T07:40:00.000-04:002008-09-26T07:40:00.912-04:002008-09-26T07:40:00.912-04:00Peak Oil and Peak Music? <p><a href="http://www.overthinkingit.com/2008/09/23/the-hubbert-peak-theory-of-rock-or-why-were-all-out-of-good-songs/"><img height="159" src="http://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/rs-500-us-oil-production1.jpg" width="218" align="right" /></a>Going back to Infosnack's mission statement of finding interesting data and commenting on it, here's a great graph.&#160; Correlation does not imply causation, or does it?&#160; Did the decline in US lower 48 oil production <em>really</em> cause a decline in the quality of rock music?</p> <p>Hat tip to <a href="http://www.overthinkingit.com/">Overthinking It</a>, the blog that takes pop culture and then analyzes the crap out of it.&#160; They've got a great write-up over there about how the Rolling Stone top 500 list tends to reward <em>early</em> music rather than the best in the genre.&#160; He cites <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Dookie-Green-Day/dp/B000002MP2/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&amp;s=music&amp;qid=1222396304&amp;sr=8-1">Green Day's Dookie</a></em> as an example.&#160; Now, I like me some <em>Dookie</em>, but compared to <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs">most of the stuff on the list</a> I would say the list has it right.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-29997108582090702712008-09-25T06:38:00.003-04:002008-09-25T06:55:30.447-04:002008-09-25T06:55:30.447-04:00DC's University Students Working on Discount I picked up <a href="http://www.georgetownvoice.com/2008-09-25/news/students-ticket-to-ride">this item</a> from a feed.  Looks like Georgetown and other university students in the area have been lobbying for some sort of discounted Metro fare scheme.<div><br /></div><div>The discount would likely be funded by the member university, either through a student activities fee or with a direct payment to WMATA.  From the article:</div><div><blockquote>“Metro has informed us that they must sell their farecards at face-value, so a campus could put part of the cost in their student activities fee, and then the school can give that money to WMATA. Or another option would be for the schools to just pay WMATA,” she said, adding that this is how D.C. Public Schools provide for the K-12 Metro discount.</blockquote>My opinion is that WMATA should look into some sort of Ecopass program, where the university agrees to pay some large but discounted fee per student, and then all students get unlimited use.  It has the potential to be beneficial for the universities, since the price is generally cheaper per student than actually buying everyone passes, and not every student is going to ride transit enough to cause much of a financial problem for WMATA.</div><div><br /></div><div>It's kind of like an insurance program, where the university is insuring its students against the risk of needing a lot of public transit.  Because not everyone ends up using public transit, the price paid per student is less.  The kind of discount I'm talking about is on the order of paying $50 per student per month for transit passes worth $200.  </div><div><br /></div><div>Other cities have this program for businesses and students.  See <a href="http://www.vta.org/ecopass/ecopass_corp/index.html">Santa Clara County's VTA Ecopass</a> program.  The example I priced out was for a business of 1000 employees in downtown San Jose.  The business would pay $90,000 to VTA, or $90 per employee, and in exchange all employees would receive an unlimited VTA ride pass worth over $1300.  VTA doesn't expect more than 7% of employees to ride transit, so they end up recouping their costs.  For Washington, DC, I think the expected transit use would be higher, so the discount would not be as steep.</div><div><br /></div><div>The benefit to the University may be reduced parking pressure, higher student quality of life, etc.  The benefit to WMATA might be a predictable revenue source, higher ridership, and getting an additional population familiar with the transit system.</div> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-7790482058086069052008-09-24T17:12:00.000-04:002008-09-24T17:12:00.434-04:002008-09-24T17:12:00.434-04:00WMATA Answers Smartrip Questions Candace Smith of WMATA's <a href="http://wmata.com/about/met_news/pressroom/press_room.cfm">Office of Media Relations</a> got back to me with the answers to some of the SmarTrip questions asked here and on Greater Greater Washington.<br /><br />WMATA's general statement about SmarTrip development:<br /><blockquote>Right now, the Authority's [WMATA] top SmarTrip priorities are to deliver SmarTrip improvements, which include acceptance of rail and bus passes; the ability to add money on the cards in sales outlets, and the ability to automatically add money to the cards if they dip below a certain limit, like an EZ pass. Metro cardholders will be able to add money to their cards at area commuter stores, bus garages that have sales offices, and a select number of Giant stores beginning this fall. The other features are expected to be available by 2010. Metro is currently renegotiating contracts with its SmarTrip contractors. The office has also recently been reorganized and given additional resources to speed up implementation of SmarTrip benefits. Metro will alert customers to SmarTrip benefits through its website, advertising, news releases, sales offices and other community outreach efforts.<br /></blockquote>Other questions answered by WMATA:<br /><br />Will SmarTrip be integrated with the DC driver's license? Who's in charge of that project?<br /><br /><span style="font-style: italic;">DC is leading the effort of integrating SmarTrip technology with driver's licenses.</span><br /><br />Could Smartrip be programmed to allow customers to exit from the same station they entered for free (for example, if significant delays are encountered)?<br /><br /><span style="font-style: italic;">Metro has a policy where if there is a major delay customers will not be charged if they exit the same rail system they entered during the delay.</span><span><br /><br />Will there be a paper SmarTrip or a low-cost disposable card?<br /><br /><span style="font-style: italic;">Metro is currently researching disposable SmarTrip cards.</span><br /><br />WMATA had discussed in the past the "Fair Fare" system, where daily usage would be capped at the day pass rate. Is this an option?<span style="font-style: italic;"><br /><br />We currently have no plans for "Fair Fare".</span><br /><br />Is there a way to submit a request for a replacement card online?<br /><br /><span style="font-style: italic;">We hope to eventually have the option to get a replacement card online.</span><br /><br />Will customers need to replace their SmarTrip cards for feature upgrades?<br /><br /><span style="font-style: italic;">Customers do not need to replace their cards for future upgrades.</span><br /><br />The questions about other agencies accepting SmarTrip, such as Maryland's MTA, DC Smartbike and Zipcar were directed at the other agency. Apparently accepting SmarTrip at those agencies is not really something WMATA gets involved in. According to WMATA, "The regional SmarTrip effort allows each entity to determine its own fare policy".<br /><br />WMATA didn't offer any answer for questions involving other SmarTrip form factors like keychains, and didn't comment on whether users could modify SmarTrip cards by disassembling them and incorporating them into other objects like clothing.<br /><br />WMATA didn't answer questions regarding adding value online, transfers from bus to rail, integrating the SmarTrip and EZ pass accounts, any upcoming changes to the fare structure based on implementing passes, or any ridership loss or gain associated with implementing new SmarTrip features.<br /><br />Thanks to WMATA's Office of Media Relations for getting back to me on my questions.<br /></span> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-27565844358958207762008-09-24T08:12:00.000-04:002008-09-24T08:12:00.874-04:002008-09-24T08:12:00.874-04:00Metro Center Advertising - Front Groups <p>On my way to the <a href="/2008/09/capital_criterium_short_course_racing.html">Capital Criterium</a> last Sunday, I noticed a strange theme to the advertising in Metro Center Station.&#160; All the ads seemed to have some sort of pro-big-business slant to them.&#160; Here are the ads I saw:</p> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2884340540/"><img height="149" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3109/2884340540_9e7865808a.jpg?v=0" width="188" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2883503655/"><img height="148" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3014/2883503655_6341ecb15e.jpg?v=0" width="190" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2884340488/"><img height="139" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3023/2884340488_8a838fce56.jpg?v=0" width="180" /></a> <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2884340282/"><img height="146" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3139/2884340282_dc0dcb537f.jpg?v=0" width="193" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2883503603/"><img height="142" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3057/2883503603_2f60434bf2.jpg?v=0" width="184" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2883503705/in/photostream/"><img height="146" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3221/2883503705_1bfca15425.jpg?v=0" width="189" /></a></p> <p>I saw others, including a public service ad for mercury (<em>it's not as bad as you think!</em>) as well as one that seemed to be implying that drunk driving laws weren't all that important (<em>fatigue causes more accidents!</em>).&#160; I knew something had to be up because all the ads were related, and I knew WMATA has a program to <a href="http://www.cbsoutdoor.com/media_item.php?itemId=42">blanket purchase an entire station at once</a>.&#160; Who's responsible for this?</p> <p><a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Berman_%26_Co.">These guys</a>:</p> <p><img height="288" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3203/2884340582_7fc38a3e33.jpg?v=0" width="379" /> </p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=SourceWatch">Sourcewatch</a>, a non-partisan wiki run by the <a href="http://www.prwatch.org/">Center for Media and Democracy</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p><b>Berman &amp; Co.</b>, a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by lobbyist <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Rick_Berman">Rick Berman</a>, represents the tobacco industry as well as hotels, beer distributors, taverns, and restaurant chains. Berman &amp; Co. lobbies for companies such as Cracker Barrel, Hooters, International House of Pancakes, <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Darden_Restaurants">Olive Garden</a>, <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Outback_Steakhouse">Outback Steakhouse</a>, Red Lobster, Steak &amp; Ale, TGI Friday's, Uno's Restaurants, and <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Wendy%27s">Wendy's</a>. It also operates a network of several <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Front_groups">front groups</a>, web sites, and <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Think_tanks">think tanks</a> that work to keep wages low for restaurants and to block legislation on food safety, <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Secondhand_cigarette_smoke">secondhand cigarette smoke</a>, and drunk driving.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'll try to swing by and get more photos of the ads because they are so varied and creative.</p> <p>The second photo I posted sends you to a website, econ4u.org*, which has some useful information about consumer credit.&#160; The site talks about FICO scores and understanding debt, as well as ways to fund college.&#160; However, <a href="http://econ4u.org/moneymatters_payday.cfm">one part of the site</a> seems a little out of place.&#160; The site is pro-payday lending, citing that a $15 fee to borrow $100 for two weeks sure beats a late fee for a credit card or a bounced check fee (that's almost 400% interest).&#160; </p> <p>It's not what Berman advertises and lobbies for that gets to me.&#160; Someone has to present the other side of the argument that <em>mercury is bad for you</em>.&#160; It's the front groups, the spin, the deception.&#160; If you're not trying to fool people, you wouldn't have to try to hide who you are and what you're doing.&#160; </p> <p>There was really only one ad being run at Metro Center.&#160; It was for Berman and Company, and the message was, &quot;Look what we can do for your business, if we can even make <em>drunk driving</em> seem ok&quot;.</p> <h6>*Econ4u.org is a project of the &quot;Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy&quot;, which is a project of the &quot;Employment Policy Institute&quot;, which is a front group run by Berman and Company.&#160; Econ4u.org invites you to inquire with the State Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services for a copy of the financial statement.&#160; I intend to do just that.</h6> <p><em>All photos by Michael P of Infosnack.&#160; Released under Creative Commons, attribution requested.</em></p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-54001512660726990682008-09-23T17:32:00.001-04:002008-09-23T19:58:24.209-04:002008-09-23T19:58:24.209-04:00WMATA Long Term Funding - Deja Vu? It looks like to present the long-term funding issue to stakeholders, all WMATA would have to do is update the <a href="http://www.wmata.com/about/metro_matters/faq.cfm">2003 "Metro Matters" campaign information</a> and hit "resend". It's the same issue as five years ago, but with larger numbers, including a 32-year-old system instead of a 27-year-old system.<br /><br />Last time, WMATA cut a proposed $12 billion 10-year capital improvement plan down to $1.5 billion over 6 years (2004-2009), then divided up the funding requirements by jurisdiction, creating the "Metro Matters" program. For FY 2008, Metro Matters provided around $500 million in infrastructure renewal and capital investment, including upgrades to the Metrorail system to allow 8-car service, renewing rolling stock and track structures, and rehabilitating bus rolling stock and maintenance facilities.<br /><br />Now that the program is about to end, we need to <strong>at least</strong> find the money to fund at the same level we've been at for the past six years. Last time, we cut a $12 billion dollar capital need down to $1.5 billion of "bare bones" needs. We continue to have a $11.1 billion dollar capital need for the long term health of the system.<br /><br />This time, if we fail to purchase enough rail cars, for example, the old 1000-series cars will be at the end of their design life, and will have to be retired. These 296 revenue service cars represent about 27% of the operating fleet. Imagine all 6 car trains suddenly operating as 4 car trains, or all 8 car trains as 6's. Fortunately for WMATA, the next set of train cars is much fewer (76), about a decade newer (1981), and was rehabilitated just a couple of years ago.<br /><br />This is a big funding priority for WMATA, though I don't know where the money is going to come from. Stay tuned.<div><br /></div><div>Some rough numbers to give you a feel for where the funding could come from.  DC's share of $1 billion per year under the normal WMATA funding formula is likely to be around half, or $500 million.  DC's <a href="http://cfo.dc.gov/cfo/frames.asp?doc=/cfo/lib/cfo/revised_revenue_estimates_may_2008.pdf">expected revenues</a> in 2010 are around $2B for property tax, $800M for undedicated sales tax, $50M for car tax, and $1.4B for income tax.</div><div><br /></div><div>To gain $500M from these sources (assuming static effects only - I'm not that sophisticated), each of these taxes would have to increase by 12%.  The static effect assumption probably means that tax rates would have to increase by more than this in order to gain the revenue needed, since the increase in tax rate may reduce the tax base.</div><div><br /></div><div>I think it's more likely that WMATA will reduce the amount needed, and DC will find a way to pay its share of "Metro Matters <span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-style: italic;">Still</span>" or whatever they will call it.</div> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-19432431478764797142008-09-22T23:40:00.000-04:002008-09-22T23:40:00.259-04:002008-09-22T23:40:00.259-04:00WMATA/Cubic SmarTrip Contract Audit <p><a title="Photo courtesy Mr. T in DC from Flickr" href="http://flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/2514037043/"><img height="183" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3245/2514037043_04c7038d61.jpg?v=0" width="239" align="right" /></a>Monday's <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/21/AR2008092102129.html?nav=emailpage">Washington Post Article about Smartrip</a> led me to the <a href="http://wmata.com/about/oig/reports/CubicReportFinal.pdf">WMATA Inspector General's report</a> on the subject.  I wish I had found this about 7 months ago when it was released, it would have saved me some frustrating phone calls with WMATA staff and the press office. </p> <p>First, what happened?  From the look of the audit report and the Post article, WMATA contracted with Cubic in 2003 to provide system upgrades for Smartrip by early 2005.  The contract "required Cubic to make the necessary modifications to WMATA's existing rail and parking software systems to assure compatibility with the systems of regional partners".  The problem was, the regional partners were using much more modern software than WMATA, and Cubic informed WMATA that upgrading old software would not be supported.  This was only two months after the contract was signed.  Cubic offered a system upgrade to a more flexible system, then waited for WMATA to make a decision.  WMATA delayed making a decision for years, eventually paying Cubic $24M with contract changes.</p> <p>WMATA was supposed to get new Smartrip point of sale hardware, and upgrades to the Smartrip fare collection software.  The upgrades were to include the ability to load <strong>up to 256 different types of transit passes into the system</strong>, including passes compatible with multiple transit providers such as VRE and WMATA's Transit Link Pass.  Additional features which were supposed to be delivered by 2005 were <strong>automatic reloading of cards</strong>, and an automated "hot card" list, which would allow WMATA to electronically cancel Smartrip cards that have been lost or stolen.</p> <p>The contract did not include provisions for damages in the case of contractor delays.  Delays in the Cubic contract cost WMATA an additional $1.4M in delay claims to a second contractor due to WMATA's inability to implement functionality of a regional customer service center.</p> <p>WMATA is continuing to contract with Cubic for Smartrip support.  The <a href="http://wmata.com/board_gm/board_docs/092508_AdminItem03SmartripFarePaymentSystem.pdf">agenda</a> (PDF) for the WMATA Board Meeting (public comment encouraged, Thursday at 11am) includes an item for a $2M per year consulting contract with <a href="http://www.acumen-abe.com/index.htm">Acumen Building Enterprise, Inc.</a>, for technical assistance to the Office of Smartrip.  <a href="http://www.acumen-abe.com/clients.htm">Acumen's Client list</a> includes BART, San Francisco Muni, and other northern California transit agencies, as well as the US Navy and some municipal clients.  What little information there is available on the website suggests that the contractor has at least performed similar work for other clients in the past.</p> <p>It's disappointing that the same day <a href="http://wmata.com/about/MET_NEWS/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=2264">WMATA declares that they will need $11B in new funding for system maintenance over the next 10 years</a>, a news story breaks that shows that WMATA basically wasted $24M on a mismanaged contract.  </p> <p><em>Photo courtesy Mr. T in DC from Flickr</em></p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-49320335584676688462008-09-18T08:20:00.001-04:002008-09-18T08:20:01.914-04:002008-09-18T08:20:01.914-04:00Where to Spend the Parking Money <p>Dr. Shoup <a href="http://www.amazon.com/High-Cost-Free-Parking/dp/1884829988">argues</a> that the best use of parking meter revenue is to spend it locally on sidewalks and the pedestrian environment to improve physical appearance and walking conditions.  With that in mind, I took a short tour to document potential infrastructure repairs near the Navy Yard that should be paid for using the money from parking meters.  The whole tour is available as a <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/sets/72157607354011609/">set on flickr</a>.</p> <h4>Street Trees</h4> <p>Here's an example of new street trees in boxes or grates, courtesy <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/">Mr T in DC</a> on flickr.  This is South Capitol Street at Nationals Stadium, newly completed a couple months before the photo was taken in June 2008:</p> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/2608728507/"><img height="291" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3270/2608728507_38af04a0a1.jpg?v=0" width="413" /></a></p> <p>From my tour, here's some examples of street trees and boxes in need of repair or replacement.  Click for full image:</p> <p align="center"><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867217632/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="230" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3292/2867217632_003050ba13.jpg?v=0" width="195" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867218010/in/set-72157607354011609/"></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2866388039/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="236" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3043/2866388039_5ca9385e9d.jpg?v=0" width="195" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2866391469/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="416" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3111/2866391469_ed28b6cd82.jpg?v=0" width="338" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867218010/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="322" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2283/2867218010_f26b53d9cb.jpg?v=0" width="400" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867218290/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="318" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3264/2867218290_2ff6fda986.jpg?v=0" width="400" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2866391469/in/set-72157607354011609/"></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867218148/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="317" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3150/2867218148_ba075fbc54.jpg?v=0" width="400" /></a></p> <h4>Sidewalk Problems</h4> <p>Next, let's look at some sidewalk issues.  First, here's what modern sidewalk and curbs are supposed to look like:</p> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867221896/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="144" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3037/2867221896_34994c1d3c.jpg?v=0" width="191" /></a> <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2866391581/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="148" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3240/2866391581_99487d347a.jpg?v=0" width="188" /></a></p> <p>Wide curb cut ramps with texture for wheelchair grip, clearly marked crosswalks, no cracks, no weeds, no grass.  Now let's look at some conditions "on the ground".  First, the worst of it:</p> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867219106/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="253" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3219/2867219106_7d7a6e6260.jpg?v=0" width="195" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867219822/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="256" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3219/2867219822_eeb9914b82.jpg?v=0" width="195" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867220762/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="250" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3019/2867220762_3ebf022588.jpg?v=0" width="195" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2866391399/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="247" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3076/2866391399_c2dd09cf36.jpg?v=0" width="195" /><img height="310" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3285/2867217816_2db44c8bfa.jpg?v=0" width="400" /></a></p> <h4>Poor Utility Construction</h4> <p>Next, we'll take a look at some places where a utility connection has been repaired, and rather than restoring the sidewalk to its original brick construction, the contractor just slapped down some asphalt.</p> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2866387385/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="260" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3173/2866387385_2ffd2efaba.jpg?v=0" width="196" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2866387937/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="260" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3077/2866387937_0410695881.jpg?v=0" width="196" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867219164/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="302" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3187/2867219164_6317a293b7.jpg?v=0" width="400" /></a><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867219604/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="302" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3037/2867219604_acac689623.jpg?v=0" width="400" /></a></p> <p>There are more photos on the <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/sets/72157607354011609/">full tour</a>, but this last photo was my favorite.  It looks like whomever was building this sidewalk either ran out of time or bricks and just decided to throw the last few brick pieces in with some asphalt and go get margaritas:</p> <p><a href="http://flickr.com/photos/29053152@N06/2867219464/in/set-72157607354011609/"><img height="302" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3059/2867219464_38fd3cdfd4.jpg?v=0" width="400" /></a></p> <p>I'm going to work with DDOT to find out how much approximate repair costs are for the kinds of items I found.  I suspect that it's going to be on the same order of magnitude as the parking revenue generated, based on the success of <a href="http://www.oldpasadena.com/">other cities</a> in using parking meter revenue to fix broken sidewalks.  Unfortunately for the sidewalks, until the $10,000 multispace meter is paid for, <a href="http://www.ddot.dc.gov/ddot/frames.asp?doc=/ddot/lib/ddot/parking/newrules/dc-bill_17-648.pdf">only 20% of the revenue can go to non-automobile transportation improvements in the pilot zone</a> (PDF).  After the meters are paid for, it's 75%.  20% of the meter revenue always goes to the general fund.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-48306347283593528582008-09-18T07:20:00.001-04:002008-09-18T07:20:58.787-04:002008-09-18T07:20:58.787-04:00Ridership Data for H Street Line (X2) <p>By popular demand and to aid in understanding any Streetcar development, I did the same ridership presentation for the H Street line (X2).&#160; The data is for westbound weekday traffic.&#160; I improved the presentation somewhat:</p> <ul> <li>Color coding makes more sense (see map for key)</li> <li>Stops are listed in ridership order</li> </ul> <p><iframe marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;s=AARTsJqlSvKsDePtGg1NEEISUpjoMYknfw&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.00045724f634949d49c73&amp;ll=38.905194,-76.991158&amp;spn=0.053434,0.137329&amp;z=12&amp;output=embed" frameborder="0" width="400" scrolling="no" height="200"></iframe> <br /><small><a style="color: #0000ff; text-align: left" href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.00045724f634949d49c73&amp;ll=38.905194,-76.991158&amp;spn=0.053434,0.137329&amp;z=12&amp;source=embed">View Larger Map</a></small></p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-72953065057685865772008-09-17T07:25:00.001-04:002008-09-17T08:54:33.416-04:002008-09-17T08:54:33.416-04:00Free Parking near the Navy Yard! Commuters Welcome! <p>Do you agree with this statement?</p> <blockquote> <p><em>The District of Columbia should give out a free parking space worth between $960-1440 per year to out-of-state commuters on a first-come, first-served basis, in an area where a parking space sells for $1,800 per year.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.blogger.com/2008/09/new-meters-at-navy-yard.html"><img style="border: 0px none ;" alt="DC's new multispace meter on M Street" src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/perkinsms/SNCUBZLFUbI/AAAAAAAAFBM/iXZ45vI7iRs/IMG_1598%5B1%5D.jpg?imgmax=800" align="right" border="0" height="244" width="184" /></a>I don't. I went out and did a survey of vehicles parked on the North side of M Street SE, between 7th Street and Isaac Hull Ave, SE. Each morning around 7 am, I reviewed the cars parked there, and I repeated the survey around 1:30 pm*. I surveyed three days in a row, except the last day I was too busy around lunchtime so I did the survey around 4 pm. The parking restriction on this block face is a three-hour time limit, with no meter**. There is a commuter lot with empty spaces immediately adjacent to this block face offering $8 per day parking.</p> <p>Is such a time-based restriction effective at deterring commuter parking? I conclude "no", based on the data. I define an "all-day" parker as a vehicle that was observed parked at the study block face at both the morning and the afternoon surveys. Out of 76 individual vehicle observations, 52 were of all-day parkers (26 vehicles observed in the same location twice). I observed that at least 2/3 of the parked vehicles on the block face were parked "all day"** *. Of these 52 vehicle observations, 20 were of vehicles parked "all day" on two separate days. So the "all-day" parkers were a population of 5 people parking all day for two out of three days, and a population of 16 parked all day for one day (see summary table). There were additional cars that one could infer three full parking days, but the last observation was later in the day and these cars were not present for the sixth observation (these are in the table below under "5 observations").</p> <table border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" width="379"><tbody> <tr> <td valign="top" width="99"> </td> <td valign="top" width="135">Parked "all-day" once</td> <td valign="top" width="143">Parked "all-day" twice</td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" width="100">Vehicles Observed</td> <td align="center" width="135">16</td> <td align="center" width="143">5</td> </tr> </tbody></table> <p>The number of "repeat customers" for this block face seemed to confirm my suspicion that this block is used for commuter parking. For example, 11% of vehicles observed were present for 5 out of 6 observations.<br /></p> <a href="http://lh6.ggpht.com/perkinsms/SNCNGpPfRMI/AAAAAAAAFA8/KSV-lO4yuy0/s1600-h/number%20of%20observations%5B5%5D.jpg"><img alt="number of observations" src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/perkinsms/SNCNHDJumLI/AAAAAAAAFBA/pl1v29ahNmU/number%20of%20observations_thumb%5B3%5D.jpg?imgmax=800" height="328" width="403" /></a> <p>DDOT just installed new multispace parking meters on this block face, but there are many like it in the area (for example, 7th Street between M and I Streets, SE, Virginia Ave between 7th and 9th Streets, SE, and others). </p> <p>Each of these parking spaces is worth, by my estimate, at least $0.50-0.75 per hour ($4-6 per 8 hour workday) and could be rented all day for 240 working days per year. That's potential revenue of $960-1440 per year, per parking space. The block face I observed had 14 cars parked during the first observation period, when it was completely full. That's between $13,000 and $20,000 in foregone revenue, enough to pay for a $10,000 multispace meter within one year.</p> <p>The population of out-of state plates was high. Out of 28 individual vehicles observed, 26 were out of state (93%), 11 each were from Maryland or Virginia (39%) and the rest were from four other states in the Union, two in the west, one in the northeast and one in the southwest (withheld for privacy).</p> <p><a href="http://lh5.ggpht.com/perkinsms/SNCNHTJ_7_I/AAAAAAAAFBE/Di1E7YJcMCY/s1600-h/Cars%20Parked%20on%20M%20Pie%20Chart.png%5B12%5D.jpg"><img alt="/feeds/posts/default/Cars_Parked_on_M_Pie_Chart.png" src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/perkinsms/SNCNHrt7zFI/AAAAAAAAFBI/HH4AVJs6DJA/Cars%20Parked%20on%20M%20Pie%20Chart.png_thumb%5B10%5D.jpg?imgmax=800" height="277" width="403" /></a> </p> <p>DC has at times requested a commuter tax to provide revenue for public services including street maintenance. Charging for street parking offers a way to increase public revenue by taxing non-residents, which is politically as close to a free lunch as it gets.</p> <p>A future post will document what DC could do with the parking revenue. I plan to take pictures of busted sidewalks, empty street tree boxes and various other ugliness in this area. I also plan to find all of the free street blocks in the Navy Yard area and produce a Google Map to help you find your free street parking until the District does something about it.</p> <p>*The parking signs were until recently marked 3 hour parking, so anyone parked at both times was clearly in violation of the parking restriction, intended to keep commuters from keeping their cars there all day.</p> <p>** DC just installed meters along this face but they are not yet activated.</p> <p>***Vehicles could have left and returned before the second survey. I did not record relative position or mark tires or anything crazy like that. I think it's more likely than not that they parked all day.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-32885355266341506622008-09-16T07:20:00.002-04:002008-09-16T07:20:00.544-04:002008-09-16T07:20:00.544-04:0016th Street Metrobus Line (ridership data) <p>WMATA <a href="http://wmata.com/about/MET_NEWS/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=2258">recently announced</a> that they're going to be <a href="http://www.metrobus-16th-dc.com/">looking into improving bus service</a> on 16th Street NW in DC. There's another public meeting on September 23, be sure to visit the <a href="http://www.metrobus-16th-dc.com/">Metrobus 16th Street Line page</a> for details.</p><p>They've already had one <a href="http://www.metrobus-16th-dc.com/16th%20St%20-%20Summary%20of%20July%2008%20Public%20Meeting.pdf">public meeting</a> (PDF) on July 15, and the attendees broke into small groups to discuss the current problems with the route (mostly bus crowding, bunching, schedule adherence and travel speed issues). According to a recent Washington Post <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/05/AR2008090503889.html?nav=emailpage">article</a>, Metrobus operates about 75% "on-time" for all routes, defined as between two minutes early and seven minutes late. I'm working with WMATA to get line-specific information for all lines. There's probably a high amount of variability between lines.</p><p>I have some observations about Metrobus operation in general and this line in particular, based on looking at the ridership data I received from WMATA.</p><p>There are places along the line where there is low ridership as well as close stop placement. For example, why are there bus stops at Webster, Allison <em>and</em> Buchanan? Could the stop at Allison (ridership of 46 per weekday) be eliminated? Dit speed up a bus line more to eliminate a stop that has extremely low ridership, like at 16th &amp; Leegate (12 riders per day, in the northern portion), or to combine two moderate-ridership stops like 16th at Newton and Oak Streets (ridership about 380 per day, each).</p><p>Something that would likely increase average speed and reduce bus bunching would be to shift some of the Metrobus lines to "<a href="http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/pop.htm">proof of payment</a>" systems. With this, people riding the bus are required to purchase a ticket off of the vehicle, or to posses a valid pass or transfer. According to the public meeting report, 27% of riders board with a <a href="http://wmata.com/riding/passes.cfm#Metrobus">flash pass</a>, and 22% of riders are boarding with a free bus transfer. Occasional random inspections and hefty fines would be required to keep people honest, but on the whole this would speed buses tremendously, because people who had valid fares could board by any door. If half of the riders have already paid, why make them enter through the front door?</p><p>Another thing I've seen (one example was in Amsterdam's streetcar system) was to put a one-way gate at the front of the vehicle. This was just a spring-loaded gate with a "do not enter sign" on the back, that encouraged people to use the rear door to exit. It didn't impede boarding the car, because you just pushed it aside. Exiting through the front door was possible (just pull the gate toward you), but it reminded people that the front door was for entering, and to use the rear door instead.</p><p>Last, they could replace the line or one of its "sisters" (there are parallel lines on Georgia Avenue as well as 14th Streets, I believe) with a streetcar. Streetcars accelerate faster and can hold more people, are usually set up for multiple-door boarding, and can be connected together in multiple-car consists, further boosting capacity.</p><p>The data from WMATA concerning northbound daily total ridership is presented in the Google Map below. Each place marker is labeled with the total boardings and alightings for that stop.</p><p>Color coding is shown on the map:</p><ul><li>Red 500+ per day </li><li>Yellow 250-500 per day </li><li>Green 100-250 per day </li><li>Blue &lt;100 per day </li></ul><p>Enjoy the data. This one took me awhile to enter into Google Maps.</p><iframe marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;s=AARTsJrWVV58MZVFD_mJqdxj2-FQTe5PjQ&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.000456fb13a80a16dce48&amp;ll=38.947928,-77.034416&amp;spn=0.160205,0.137329&amp;z=12&amp;output=embed" frameborder="0" width="400" scrolling="no" height="600"></iframe><br /><small><a style="COLOR: #0000ff; TEXT-ALIGN: left" href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.000456fb13a80a16dce48&amp;ll=38.947928,-77.034416&amp;spn=0.160205,0.137329&amp;z=12&amp;source=embed">View Larger Map</a></small> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-90517332773465680282008-09-16T06:34:00.006-04:002008-09-23T17:58:13.720-04:002008-09-23T17:58:13.720-04:00New Meters at Navy Yard <a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_6gaaL3w84n4/SM-OOO4iBrI/AAAAAAAAFAU/GYIt_n6AArU/s1600-h/IMG_1604.JPG"><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_6gaaL3w84n4/SM-OOO4iBrI/AAAAAAAAFAU/GYIt_n6AArU/s320/IMG_1604.JPG" border="0" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5246568466074437298" /></a><div>Now it looks like DC is going to (finally) start charging for the use of its public streets there. Based on by observations, it's definitely a large fraction of all-day commuters. I don't specifically have a problem with the streets being used for all-day parking, I just think DC is giving up a potential source of revenue for fixing the streets and sidewalks.</div><div><br /></div><div>No rate or time limit is currently posted on the meter.  I'm working with DDOT to find out.</div><div><br />I've always wondered why DC was giving away street parking for free here:<br /><br /><iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;s=AARTsJqbYF3YS1GxLx67cybxV6ebGr2crA&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.00045700e8954d72ad5d5&amp;ll=38.876835,-76.997659&amp;spn=0.005847,0.00912&amp;z=16&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.00045700e8954d72ad5d5&amp;ll=38.876835,-76.997659&amp;spn=0.005847,0.00912&amp;z=16&amp;source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small><br /></div><div><br /></div><div>Photo courtesy Infosnack.  Photo released under a Creative Commons License, attribution required.<br /><br /></div> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-82543932331427127532008-09-14T00:25:00.001-04:002008-09-14T00:26:20.457-04:002008-09-14T00:26:20.457-04:00How much "Pork" is there really? <p>I had to chuckle at <a href="http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2008/09/john-mccains-bi.html">this post</a> on Economist's View.&#160; Keep in mind that our deficit is running more than 10% of the federal budget, so eliminating the small sliver of &quot;Pork&quot; isn't going to do it.&#160; Economist's View also has a graph that shows what the effect of new offshore drilling will be on world oil supply.</p> <p>Hat tip to Mark Thoma at Economist's View.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-73512663372011199922008-09-13T23:57:00.001-04:002008-09-15T06:32:03.215-04:002008-09-15T06:32:03.215-04:00Capital Criterium - Short Course Racing on the Streets of Washington DC <p><a title="Photo Courtesy Steve Wampler on Flickr" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgw/2602787564/sizes/m/"><img height="175" alt="Photo Courtesy Steve Wampler on Flickr" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3089/2602787564_de22fb6ffc.jpg" width="255" align="right" /></a>A <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criterium">criterium</a> is a cycling race held on a closed short course, usually on urban streets.  These are exciting races, for a number of reasons.  Unlike the Tour de France, where you can stand alongside the road and see all the riders pass by once, you can stand by the road and watch the riders pass by a number of times.  You can also easily move to different locations so you can see the riders in turns, on straightaways, and on a little hill.  The turns are tight, and you can typically stand very close to the action.  I've been to the past three <a href="http://www.cscinvitational.com/">CSC Invitational</a> bike races held in Clarendon, and had a good time each time.</p> <p>Washington, DC is hosting the the first <a href="http://www.capitalcriterium.com/">Capital Criterium</a> next Sunday, September 21.  The course is as depicted here:</p> <p><iframe marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;s=AARTsJq7k0jUH4gBcDWmVpk8sx5hD6xpaw&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.000456d2845ce97d5c280&amp;ll=38.895893,-77.02697&amp;spn=0.005845,0.00912&amp;z=16&amp;output=embed" frameborder="0" width="425" scrolling="no" height="350"></iframe> <br /><small><a style="color: #0000ff; text-align: left" href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&amp;hl=en&amp;t=h&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=111188381960074250249.000456d2845ce97d5c280&amp;ll=38.895893,-77.02697&amp;spn=0.005845,0.00912&amp;z=16&amp;source=embed">View Larger Map</a></small> </p> <p>The race will include Olympic and Professional riders, including TdF 5th place finisher <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Vandevelde">Christian Vande Velde</a> of team Garmin Chipotle.  </p> <p>If anyone is interested in meeting up, I'll be arriving around 10:30am to see the children's race (200 meters for under 7, 1 lap for the older kids up to 11).  I'll have my cell phone with me, email <a href="mailto:michael@infosnack.org">michael@infosnack.org</a> for the number.  If anyone is interested in going to lunch during the Men's race (it's about 1:45 long, from 11:30 until 85 laps are complete), I can put together a table at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, also on the map above.  Please post a comment either here or on <a href="http://greatergreaterwashington.org/">GGW</a> so I know what size table to arrange.</p> <i>Criterium photo Courtesy Steve Wampler on Flickr</i> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.orgtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5377014210518433927.post-69122481936128633882008-09-13T23:10:00.002-04:002008-09-15T08:55:18.536-04:002008-09-15T08:55:18.536-04:00Virginia Voting (In-person or Absentee) <p>The deadline to register to vote in Virginia is Monday, October 6. Contact either presidential campaign for information on how to register to vote, I've found that the campaign staff will be more than willing to help:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.voteforchange.com/index_obama.php">Obama Campaign Register to Vote Site</a> Obama's registration tool was able to find my registration at my home address in 15 seconds or less. </li> <li><a href="https://secure.johnmccain.com/ActionCenter/registertovote/information.aspx">McCain Campaign Register to Vote Site</a> McCain's registration tool did not attempt to find my registration in a database, but provided a pre-filled-out registration form, ready for printing. All I needed to do was sign and provide a stamp. </li> </ul> <p>Absentee voting is also available. As a California resident, I grew up with Absentee voting, since you didn't need an official reason to vote absentee. You added your name to a list, and they sent you all ballots automatically. </p> <p>In Virginia, however, you must have a statutory reason for voting absentee. There are some little-known "excuses" for <a href="http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/voterregistration/VoterRegistrationAbsenteeVoting.aspx">absentee voting</a>, so you can save yourself the hassle of going to the polls if you meet any of the following. I've put the surprising ones in <strong><em>bold italics</em></strong>:</p> <ul> <li>Students at institutions of higher learning, and their spouses </li> <li>Absent for business purposes <strong><em>(includes persons who are employed outside of Arlington)</em></strong> </li> <li><span style="font-weight: bold;">Absent for personal business</span> or vacation (<span style="font-style: italic;">the statute is written identically to the one directly above)</span><br /></li> <li><strong><em>Scheduled to work at one's workplace at least 11 of the 13 hours the polls are open (includes commuting)</em></strong> </li> <li>Unable to get to the polls because of disability, illness, or <strong><em>pregnancy</em></strong> </li> <li>Caretakers of confined family members </li> <li>Awaiting trial and under confinement </li> <li>Serving time for misdemeanor convictions </li> <li>Religious conflicts </li> <li><strong><em>Active duty uniformed services or merchant marine personnel and dependents residing with them</em> </strong></li> <li>Regularly employed outside the U.S. and dependents residing with them </li> <li>Living abroad indefinitely (may be eligible to vote only for federal offices) </li> <li>Registrars, electoral board members, or officers of election scheduled to work the election </li> </ul> <p>The big one is the first one in bold above. For example, if you work in the District but live in Arlington, Arlington's absentee ballot website encourages you to vote absentee. Also, if you're going to be out of the county on "personal business" for any duration, it appears that would qualify as well. Additionally, if you only want to vote for President and Vice President, you can request an absentee ballot for any reason. However, you won't be able to vote for US Senator or Congressional Representative. That's up to you.</p> <p>The deadline for applying to vote absentee is October 28th. I believe your application must be <em>received</em> by this date in order for you to vote absentee. You can apply to vote absentee as early as a year ahead of the election.</p> Michaelhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15057113283154126104michael@infosnack.org