Metro Goes Off the Rails, and DC Streets Grind to a Halt

Traffic map following Thursday’s DC Metro derailment. Image: Google Maps via Greater Greater Washington
Gridlock after Thursday’s DC Metro derailment. Image: Google Maps via Greater Greater Washington

No one was hurt when a Metro train derailed in downtown DC yesterday, but the incident wreaked havoc on the morning commute — for transit users and motorists.

David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington said the derailment and ensuing Metro service interruption “surely contributed” to gridlock throughout the downtown area, as people who would normally take the train tried to drive to work.

Alpert says what happened Thursday shows why car commuters have a vested interest in a well-maintained transit system.

Transit often faces a political problem where many voters who won’t personally use transit just don’t care about it and don’t support funding maintenance or expansion. Most people drive sometimes, so broadly they support fixing roads and often adding new ones even if they personally won’t use that road every day. But it’s not the same for transit.

It should be. Metro makes it possible for everyone to get to and from their jobs. So do bridges, and buses, and bicycle facilities, and sidewalks. Completely shut down any one mode of transportation and everyone will suffer.

Elsewhere on the Network: The League of American Bicyclists rethinks three-foot passing laws, and Strong Towns makes the case for keeping parks open after dark.

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