Yesterday, I sent you my cri de coeur (literally, "a shout from the heart") in response to the awful Virginia Beach shooting.
The goal of today's newsletter is to share resources and information to help you navigate the Metro platform renovation/summer shutdown that will last until September.
Before I go into details on the Metro, please note that my Monthly Meetup is later today at Los Tios in Del Ray (2615 Mt. Vernon Avenue). I will be there from 2-4 pm. Feel free to come late or leave early. Let's talk about the issues you care about.
Everyone gets a chance to speak at Mark's Monthly Meetups!
The 2019 Summer Alexandria
Metro Shutdown/Replacement Service
Unacceptable but Worst Should Be Behind Us
As I discussed in detail in my Memorial Day newsletter, from Saturday, May 25 through and including Sunday, September 8, 2019, rail service south of Washington National Airport has been shut down and replaced by free shuttle-bus routes.
On Friday, I had a long conversation with Greg Potts, Metro's Virginia Government Relations Officer. I had asked people on Facebook to send me their experiences in the first couple of days of the Metro closures with me, as well as their ideas for improvements. I shared these many individual complaints and concerns I had received with Greg, reading right off my Facebook page. If you have complaints, concerns, or ideas for improvement, you can post them publicly right on my Facebook page, which I'm continuing to monitor, or on Twitter. Or you can send me a private email by clicking here.
The main thing I expressed to him as "unacceptable" was the inadequate training given the largely out-of-state drivers on the express routes who oftentimes were lost and had to ask passengers for directions (and in one case, drove to the wrong metro stop in Maryland!) He conceded that while Metroway and DASH bush drivers were mostly used for the yellow-line and blue-line replacement shuttle routes, they hired a private contractor for the express routes that had inadequately trained drivers, many of them from out of state. (This confirmed my suspicions, as I know Metroway and DASH buses are unionized and therefore the quality of their work is usually better than non-union drivers.) The bright side, of course, is that having learned the hard way on the job, all the drivers by now should know their way around. Let me know if they don't.
The main point I heard loud and clear from constituents was that lots of folks boarding at the Braddock Road Metro going north couldn't enter the shuttles because they were virtually always full or had room for only a handful of passengers. So I requested Metro provide an occasional direct northbound shuttle from Braddock Road to Crystal City Metro that did not first stop at points further south, so that people could get on buses at Braddock that were not already full of passengers. Greg said he would look into that, as well as my concerns about inadequate capacity on Metroway and 11Y. (He's also looking into providing buses earlier in the morning on 11Y.)
He also told me Metro accepted my suggestion as to how improve their “alternative trip planner" to be more robust and were implementing the change on the WMATA.com website.
Two general points to make us feel a little better:
1) Nothing is as good as Metro. So obviously these next three and a half months are going to have to cause some pain for all of us. Roads simply can't do what rails can do. Whether we use the roads or the rails, all of our commuting times will be longer through September. After all, if roads could do all that Metro can do, we wouldn't need Metro. And obviously we need Metro. This is a necessary evil. The platforms must be repaired after 35 years of inadequate maintenance.
Crumbling platforms at Braddock Road (left) and King Street (right)
necessitate the platform renovations and summer shutdown.
2) The worst should be over. Last week, the first week of the shutdown, was expected to be the worst week because both passengers and shuttle-bus drivers were learning their way around the new system. So this should have been the week of maximum confusion and disarray. We also had a huge downpour on Tuesday and a massive accident closing the I-395 HOV lanes for more than an hour on Wednesday, as well as a temporary train switching problem at National Airport that same day. That certainly did not help things! But we hope and expect it will run a bit more smoothly next week and even better in weeks to come, particularly as school children finish up their school years. So, as bad as this beginning was, it should only improve over time, though still not back to normal (of course) until September.
Please keep bringing me your issues and concerns, particularly if the problems you told me are not getting better or if new ones arise, by letting me know publicly on Facebook or Twitter or privately in email.
In addition to bringing issues and suggestions to me, you should contact Metro directly. I'm just the middleman (although a loud voice, if problems remain unfixed). But your first stop should always to be to contact Metro, and hopefully they will be able to resolve problems without my intervention.
HOW TO CONTACT METRO
Call 202-637-1328 (Weekdays: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm);
Contact Metro link: https://www.wmata.com/about/contact/
And/or use the online customer comment form:
Rail service between Washington National Airport, Crystal City, and other points NORTH of the Airport will operate as usual, with trains supposed to be operating every four minutes during peak periods.
Unfortunately, if you want to go to the Airport from Braddock Road, there is no longer a direct route this summer. You would have to take the free Yellow Shuttle South to King Street Metro and then the free Blue Shuttle North to the Airport. And vice versa to go to Braddock from the Airport. (See maps below.) Or you could take the Yellow Shuttle North to Crystal City Metro and then the train back south to the Airport (and vice versa). This latter route may be quicker but because you're using the train, there would be a charge.
Parking will be free at Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield and Huntington stations throughout the shutdown.
Cleaning Up the Potomac River
With Delegates Karrie Delaney and Alfonso Lopez
at the Clean the Bay event with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
MAKE A PLAN TO VOTE!
Tuesday, June 11 is Primary Day
Early voting has already begun!
As you know, unlike most other states, Virginia has elections in June and November every single year. Primary day -- Tuesday, June 11 -- is right around the corner.
Early voting has already begun. In-person absentee voting for the June 11, 2019 Democratic Primary Election continues through Saturday, June 8.
Click links below to learn more about how to vote early in your jurisdiction:
These primary elections may very well decide who becomes the next general election winner in each of these jurisdictions. So please get out and vote!
For my constituents still undecided, I have made endorsements in each of the three jurisdictions I'm proud to represent.
In Arlington, I support Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth's Attorney.
In Fairfax County, I support Steve Descano for Commonwealth Attorney.
Read my next newsletter (coming out Tuesday, one week before the election) to find out why.
Please Join Me!
(I personally participate in the events in red)
STARTING IN ONE HOUR!
2615 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria
(Come late. Leave early. Have a margarita.
Thoughts on gun safety, Metro, or something else?
Let me know what's on your mind.)
(Isn't it time you joined the ADC to make a difference in November?
No cost just to show up.)
(My table is full. But please come by and say hello.)
every one of the 23 polling locations
in every one of the 23 precincts
It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District