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CocoFaerie

The 2018 Washington Area Travelers Advisory Thread

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Welcome to 2018 hons.  This thread will help alert you hons to important diversions & changes to the rails & trails so you won't get bogged down on the road to the 25th Otakon.

First, some important changes involving metro:  Riders can no longer use the trains & buses if their SmarTrip or CharmCard would lead to a negative balance (i.e. not enough balance to make your trip).  Next, there's a new intiative for 2018 called the "Rush Hour Promise" expected to be approved today.  That would offer refunds for Metrorail riders if the trains are excessively late, or there's an unexpected disruption, etc.  More about that to come.  Last for now, work continues on making celluar service available in more underground tunnels within the network.  You'll notice that over the course of the Otakon's stay in DC.

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Something important to note for 2018.  If you are taking metro, note that parking rates have changed, and are now in effect on Saturdays.  These rates vary from station to station, so read carefully.

RINKU to New Rates

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https://wtop.com/tracking-metro-24-7/2018/02/part-metro-red-line-shutdown-august-new-shutdowns-announced/

No trains through Rhode Island Avenue or Brookland-CUA on the Red Line all August, single tracking through downtown on blue, orange and silver starting 8/11 (Saturday).

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57 minutes ago, Aresef said:

https://wtop.com/tracking-metro-24-7/2018/02/part-metro-red-line-shutdown-august-new-shutdowns-announced/

No trains through Rhode Island Avenue or Brookland-CUA on the Red Line all August, single tracking through downtown on blue, orange and silver starting 8/11 (Saturday).

Oh my, those are some significant changes.  Fortunately, my travels don't take me through those affected lines.  Same can't be said other expected Otakon goers.

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2 hours ago, CocoFaerie said:

Oh my, those are some significant changes.  Fortunately, my travels don't take me through those affected lines.  Same can't be said other expected Otakon goers.

If anything, it's a reminder that it's really nice to have a hotel. I'm getting on the red after the con, but the other way to Union station, from where I'm catching a train to BWI...where I'll stay a night ahead of a crack-of-dawn flight to *another con.*

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Red line was a pain last year with the single-tracking through Metro Center. Now we're going to be hit on the Orange/Blue/Silver line to GET to Metro Center. <_< Can I vote for the JR Yamanote Line to be transferred to DC? :wub:

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For those who plan on using Uber, Lyft, etc.:

I drive for Uber in and around DC. The city's street layout is insane. (I thank the deity of your choice for the Waze app!) I suppose back in the 1700's when the streets were originally laid out, things were more sedate considering you only had horses and carriages to deal with. With today's modern cars and (ugh!) massive SUVs, DC's streets are woefully small in most places.

Here's a couple suggestions from the driver's point of view to make the pickup smoother (these would apply to any of the ridesharing apps, not just Uber):

  1. Find a place where the driver can at least partially get their car out of the flow of traffic and make your app request from there. DC drivers are notoriously snippy when someone is blocking their lane to do a pickup.
  2. Once you've used the app to request a ride, stay in that location (Unless you're using Uber Express Pool, see below). If the rider has location services turned off on their mobile device, the driver will have no idea where the rider has moved to.

In the case of Uber, there's three levels of basic service with the third level recently added. I encounter a lot of confusion from riders regarding these levels of service so here they are in a nutshell:

  1. UberX - The most expensive of the three. You get the driver and the car from pickup to drop off with no side trips to pick up/drop off strangers .
  2. Uber POOL - The mid-priced option. You will likely be sharing the vehicle with one or more strangers and may not be taken to your drop off first.
  3. Uber Express POOL - The newest and cheapest option. I just found out about them this week when I started encountering them. Identical to Uber POOL EXCEPT: You may be directed by the app to walk to a specific pickup point and/or may be dropped off away from the desired destination and have to walk the rest of the way. That the rider has to walk partway appears to be why the service is cheaper than Uber Pool. These displaced pickup and drop off points seem to be decided on so that the driver doesn't have to do a lot of backtracking after the pickup/drop off.
Edited by Fadamor

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Here is an important notice for you commuters.  MdTA will soon begin the transition to all-electronic TOLL collection (ETC) at its facilities.  These should be operational come summer of next year.

ARTICLE

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Back again with another report, which could affect driving prospects for 2019.  Plans are to raise the TOLLS on the 267 (The Dulles TOLL Road), which would help pay for the metro SILVER line!

Report from WTOP Radio

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Ey!  Let's really get back on topic!

Those commuting from the Baltimore area now have another way to track their buses & trains with the Transit app.  In addition to the improved "text [bus stop ID] to MTAMD", The MTA partnered with the app to help commuters not miss their connections.  >DETAILS<  There's also another round of bus changes, some of which do affect some key lines.  >LIST OF CHANGES<

Speaking of connections, some important changes to the buses in Western Anne Arundel County.  The route of the Metrobus B30 (BWI Marshall Airport/Greenbelt Sta.) has been amended, and now serves Arundel Mills!  Note this this bus still operates on weekdays ONLY, and costs $7.50 a trip.  Metro have also made changes to several of its bus routes. >THEIR BUS CHANGES<

The RTA meanwhile is reducing service, ceding operations of the 202/K (Odenton MARC/Arundel Mills) to the county, who will operate it as the AA-202.  Times and route may be different if you use that one.  Also, the 501/Silver (Columbia/BWI Marshall Airport) will be shortened to Columbia/Arundel Mills, because the county has a brand new bus called the County Connector.  This FREE shuttle bus connects the airport & MARC/Amtrak station with Arundel Mills.  >ROUTE & SCHEDULE<

And as always, be aware of weekend track work on the Metro trains in & around the DMV.  More updates on this thread as the convention nears.

Oooooop, I apperantly missed one more thing.  Those riding the MARC train will notice some NEW ticket machines at most locations.  These machines are capable of accepting alternative pay options.  Here are >MORE INFORMATION< about what these are all about.

 

Edited by CocoFaerie
Added MARC TVM improvements
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Look out Otakon goers (well, anyone in general), It's going to cost you more $ to use the likes of Uber, Lyft, etc., as the DC Coouncil passes a 6% tax on ridesharing services.

Report from NEWS4

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I will be taking the green line I think that the one in greenbelt. Appreciate the heads up on metro. thanks!!

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Here's an important advice concerning Metro.  The Rhode Island Ave & Brookland stations on the RED line will be closed thru Labor Day for major track work!  There will be FREE shuttle buses between Fort Totten and Galludet, but do expect delays on the RED line if you're coming to/from Silver Spring or Gaithersburg.  The GREEN & YELLOW section of the Fort Totten station is not affected.

MORE INFORMATION

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One more thing, The BLUE ORANGE SILVER line will be CLOSED between Farragut West & Metro Center on Aug 11 & 12, and Aug 25 & 26 for important track work there to address that sharp turn.  There will be single tracking between the McPherson Square & Smithsonian stations weekdays from Aug 13-24.

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Question.  My brother and I will be taking the Silver line to Reston once the convention ends.  Considering that the Orange, Blue and Silver lanes will be closed between Farragut West and Metro Center; would it be wiser to take the Yellow lane at Gallery Place (Chinatown) to Pentagon then switch to Blue line at Pentagon to Rosslyn and lastly Silver line from Rosslyn to Reston?

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1 hour ago, Hentai said:

Question.  My brother and I will be taking the Silver line to Reston once the convention ends.  Considering that the Orange, Blue and Silver lanes will be closed between Farragut West and Metro Center; would it be wiser to take the Yellow lane at Gallery Place (Chinatown) to Pentagon then switch to Blue line at Pentagon to Rosslyn and lastly Silver line from Rosslyn to Reston?

I assume you're talking about Sunday.  That said, that could be a viable alternative.  It's a mulberry bush route, but still doable yes.

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On 7/23/2018 at 3:56 PM, Hentai said:

Question.  My brother and I will be taking the Silver line to Reston once the convention ends.  Considering that the Orange, Blue and Silver lanes will be closed between Farragut West and Metro Center; would it be wiser to take the Yellow lane at Gallery Place (Chinatown) to Pentagon then switch to Blue line at Pentagon to Rosslyn and lastly Silver line from Rosslyn to Reston?

You may want to compare which is faster (Pentagon > Blue vs L'Enfant > Silver). I know taking Silver the entire way has more stops, but that loop around the water is LOOOOOOOOONG on the Blue line.

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On 3/2/2018 at 2:03 AM, Fadamor said:

For those who plan on using Uber, Lyft, etc.:

I drive for Uber in and around DC. The city's street layout is insane. (I thank the deity of your choice for the Waze app!) I suppose back in the 1700's when the streets were originally laid out, things were more sedate considering you only had horses and carriages to deal with. With today's modern cars and (ugh!) massive SUVs, DC's streets are woefully small in most places.

 

Huh. I didn't know you drove for Uber in DC. I live in Alexandria and may have seen you lol.

Small world.

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12 hours ago, RevInstant said:

Huh. I didn't know you drove for Uber in DC. I live in Alexandria and may have seen you lol.

Small world.

Probably. The last time I was rear-ended was on the 8th in Alexandria on Richmond Highway. Then they sped off. I pursued long enough to get their license plate and call 911. Me and Alexandria are not on speaking terms right now. ;-)

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There's going to be trouble on the metro on Otakon weekend, affecting the red, blue, silver and orange lines. Found this helpful image:

 

metro.jpg

Edited by windseeker

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On 7/26/2018 at 11:53 PM, Fadamor said:

Probably. The last time I was rear-ended was on the 8th in Alexandria on Richmond Highway. Then they sped off. I pursued long enough to get their license plate and call 911. Me and Alexandria are not on speaking terms right now. ;-)

 

That sucks :/ I’ve only lived here for a little over a year and based on the driving I’ve seen...that doesn’t surprise :(

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It's all good. Fairfax County Police were very helpful and gave me the other vehicle's insurance info even though they couldn't locate the car. Once I gave the dashcam video of the incident to their insurance company, they approved paying for the repairs right away. The car is back to pristine condition.

But now I shy away from hanging out in Alexandria more than absolutely necessary.

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23 hours ago, RevInstant said:

 

That sucks :/ I’ve only lived here for a little over a year and based on the driving I’ve seen...that doesn’t surprise :(

 

18 hours ago, Fadamor said:

It's all good. Fairfax County Police were very helpful and gave me the other vehicle's insurance info even though they couldn't locate the car. Once I gave the dashcam video of the incident to their insurance company, they approved paying for the repairs right away. The car is back to pristine condition.

But now I shy away from hanging out in Alexandria more than absolutely necessary.

No joke:

Retired Colonel’s Obituary Calls Out Northern Virginia Drivers

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3 hours ago, windseeker said:

It's been my experience that when someone calls out "you all" in criticism, the criticizer is actually the problem rather than "us all". Think about it... Someone says everyone else is doing something wrong. What's more likely - he's right, or his way of doing things is not the way the rest of the nation does it.

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On 7/29/2018 at 5:36 PM, Fadamor said:

It's been my experience that when someone calls out "you all" in criticism, the criticizer is actually the problem rather than "us all". Think about it... Someone says everyone else is doing something wrong. What's more likely - he's right, or his way of doing things is not the way the rest of the nation does it.

He's hardly the only person who has that to say about Virginia drivers.

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14 hours ago, windseeker said:

He's hardly the only person who has that to say about Virginia drivers.

Yeah, and I could go on and on about Maryland drivers as well. As an Uber driver in the DC metro area, I get to experience the "joy" of trying to get my passengers to their destination in one piece despite getting routinely cut off by vehicles with Maryland plates. That said,  IMHO Maryland isn't the worst. If I were to rank states in a "rogue's gallery", I'd put them in this order (worst to... not as bad as worst): Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, California, and then all the others kind of mill-about smartly at an equal level of "WTF Is That Driver Thinking?!"

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5 hours ago, Fadamor said:

Yeah, and I could go on and on about Maryland drivers as well.

That's hardly unique to you either, lol. Its normal for MD and VA drivers to have a go at each other. But everyone knows VA drivers are the worst :D

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I also encounter a lot of Ontario drivers that manage to do something to make me notice their plate. If I were to plug them into that list, they'd drop in with Georgia/Florida in a three-way battle for mediocrity.

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I've got another travel advice some of ya might want to know.  If you are coming via BWI Marshall Airport, or around Baltimore, the LIght Rail remains shuttered from the Patapsco station SOUTH, due to erosion along the tracks from July's monsoon.  There are bus bridges from BWI & Cromwell stations to Patapsco, but this also means delays up here.  This bus bridge will remain active thru much of next week at the least, but with additional storms in the forecast, the reopening may come later.

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Traffic was smooth sailing all the way into DC. Coming off the Beltway the traffic was a nightmare. Took me 45 minutes to travel 3 miles in the city. Thankfully I made it and got everything situated!

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