DC Streetcars: Traffic Jams, Slower Buses, Hazard to Cyclists and Fender Benders

23 Oct
DC Streetcars Blocking Traffic and Slowing Buses

DC Streetcars Blocking Traffic and Slowing Buses

The deficiencies of installing streetcars are obvious.   DC has been testing out its new 2 mile line on H Street NE and things have not been going well.    The buses on H Street run slower because the streetcars operate at a slower speed than the buses and thus they  typically buses are getting stuck behind the streetcars.   The streetcars also appear to block intersections as they slow down at crossings.    They also accelerate slower .

Oh, but that is not all.   Driver’s mirrors are getting clipped because they don’t realize they are parked in the way of the streetcars.   In addition, Cyclists are effectively prevented from riding in the street because their tires can get stuck in the tracks.

Things are not looking good for the DC streetcars future.   Now DC folks are talking about not expanding it as they had originally planned beyond the initial deployment.

Arlington still has a chance to learn from this mistake of DC, and go to electric buses (using overhead wires), or some other environmentally friendly alternatives that don’t have the excessive expense and deficiencies of streetcars.

Read more: http://wamu.org/news/14/08/04/streetcars_take_to_h_street_ne_for_operator_training


Better Use for Taxpayer Money Than a Half Billion Dollar Streetcar

18 Oct
Trackless Electric Buses Are Just As Clean, Quiet and Efficient as Streetcars, and Cost a Fraction of the Price

Trackless Electric Buses Are Just As Clean, Quiet and Efficient as Streetcars, and Cost a Fraction of the Price — and Can Get Around Obstacles, Which Streetcars Cannot

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey.

What transportation projects should we fund in Arlington with the money we save from not building a streetcar?

This is an important question. John Vihstadt and I asked our staff exactly this question during a work session on the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) this summer. Our staff said they could provide a list if a majority of our Board colleagues voted to ask for it, but our three Board colleagues voted against it. So neither we, nor the public, has the benefit of staff’s expertise and analysis to answer this question.

We do know that the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcars are projected to cost over $500 million and consume about 19% of our Capital Improvement Program. We also know that these streetcars will require over $8 million and perhaps millions more per year in annual operating costs. We all should be wondering what could and should we do with this money instead.

If we reprogram those local and state dollars, here are some possibilities we might fund partially or fully:

1. Expand and improve the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in Crystal City so it operates more like a streetcar with side opening doors. Run it frequently and all the time. Connect it to the BRT line in Alexandria. Work with Fairfax and run BRT all the way down Route 1 to Fort Belvoir. Take the BRT line down the route planned for the streetcar on Columbia Pike, and take it into Annandale. Run a BRT line from Rosslyn out Lee Highway and work with Fairfax and Loudoun to take it all the way to Leesburg. Work with Montgomery County, Maryland and D.C. and take a BRT line from Arlington and the Pentagon to D.C. and on to Rockville or further. In other words, build a robust regional BRT service that people can depend on to get them where they want to go conveniently and efficiently.

2. Address the dangerous intersection at Lynn Street and Lee Highway at Key Bridge with a permanent and effective solution to protect pedestrians and cyclists. This likely means significant construction to rework the intersection. We could improve pedestrian and cyclist safety around the county at other places like East Falls Church.

3. Add much needed new Metro entrances at Rosslyn and Ballston.

4. Add a whole new Metro station in Rosslyn as called for in the Metro Momentum plan.

5. Pay for some of the huge capital costs Metro anticipates in their Metro Momentum capital improvement plan. While not detailed yet, this is a large expense that looms in the near future. Currently we have not planned how we will pay for it.

6. With the old bridges over the Potomac needing extensive reconstruction soon and the huge casino opening at Harbor Place the need for more ways to cross the river is clear. Transportation funds could be used for a new bridge, or tunnel or even dock facilities for a Potomac ferry service. A recent study showed a ferry to be economically viable. National Airport is a natural location for a dock. Besides millions of tourists arriving there each year, thousands of people commute to and from Ft. Belvoir and other military bases located on the river every day.

In sum, taxes will be lower and transportation better without a streetcar. There are many needed transportation improvements that will have to wait until we can raise taxes or get federal and state dollars to fund them if we waste over $500 million on a streetcar.

The Ethics Code for Judges

14 Oct

Just in case you did not know it by their behavior sometimes, Arlington Judges are obligated to adhere to an ethics code in Virginia.

The source document for this code of ethics is called the Canons of Judicial Conduct.

Here are some highlights:

“When the text uses “shall” or “shall not” or “must” or “must not” it is intended to impose binding obligations the violation of which can result in disciplinary action.”

“A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”


“B. Adjudicative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall hear and decide promptly matters assigned to the judge except those in which disqualification is required.
(2) A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it. A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.
(3) A judge shall require order, decorum, and civility in proceedings before the judge.”

“(4) A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.”

“(5) A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race,  sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and shall not permit staff, court officials and others
subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so. This Section 3B(5) does not preclude proper judicial consideration when race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, or similar factors, are issues in the proceeding.”

“(7) A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties concerning a pending or impending proceeding except that:
(a) Where circumstances require, ex parte communications for scheduling, administrative purposes or emergencies that do not deal with substantive matters or issues on the merits are authorized; provided:
(i) The judge reasonably believes that no party will gain a procedural or tactical advantage as a result of the ex parte  communication, and
(ii) The judge makes provision promptly to notify all other parties of the substance of the ex parte communication and allows an
opportunity to respond.”

“(8) A judge shall dispose promptly of the business of the court. “

“(11) A judge shall not disclose or use, for any purpose unrelated to judicial duties, nonpublic information acquired in a judicial capacity. “

“C. Administrative Responsibilities.
(1) A judge shall diligently discharge the judge’s administrative responsibilities without bias or prejudice and maintain professional competence in judicial administration, and shall cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business.
(2) A judge shall require staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to the judge and to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice in the performance of their official duties.
(3) The chief judge shall take reasonable measures to assure the prompt disposition of matters before the court.”

“E. Disqualification.
(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where: (a) The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding; (b) The judge served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge has been a material witness concerning it;”

“F. Remittal of Disqualification. A judge who may be disqualified by the terms of Section 3E may ask, or have the clerk of court ask, the parties and their lawyers to consider, out of the presence of the judge, whether to waive disqualification. If
following disclosure of any basis for disqualification other than personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, the parties and lawyers, without participation by the judge, all agree that the judge should not be disqualified, and the judge is then willing to participate, the judge may participate in the proceeding. Written evidence of the agreement shall be incorporated in the record of the proceeding.”

Its time that the aberrant judges of Arlington adhere to the ethics code for judges, and those who work with them assure their compliance and/or disqualification.

Read more: Canons of Judicial Conduct.

How Long a Rap Sheet Does Arlington DHS Require Before They Give a Parent Legal and Physical Custody of a Child?

1 Oct

An interesting case we have come across where a mother has raised her children and then ran into some financial hardships and made a mistake of pleading guilty to a misdemeanor of leaving one child unattended for a very short period of time in a double parked car.   She wanted to return to her home country to get help with housing and family support (because Arlington failed to give it, just like they typically do in other cases where they want to take away the kids).   Instead of helping this mother (who was given a clean bill of health psychologically, and who clearly cared about her kids), Arlington DHS sought out the unbeknownst birth father in another state.

What is interesting about this father is that he has a very long criminal rap sheet, including recent open cases.   Nevertheless, Arlington Department of Human Services (DHS) bent over backwards to take the kid away from the mother and give it to this “father” even though he did not even know he was the father of any of these kids!   He also had a record of being behind in child support for another child he had with another woman.

So, what does Arlington DHS’s Wilson, Brothers, and County Attorneys McCandless and Grane do?   They chose to ignore these obvious shortcomings of this unbeknownst father and strongly recommend to the court that the absentee unbehnownst father (whose only connection to the child was his DNA) be given full legal and physical custody of a child he never knew, and, thus, obviously had no emotional attachment to — while depriving any legal or physical custody to the birth mother who brought them up from birth on her own!

Boy, who is getting paid off for this one!   This case is further evidence that Arlington Virginia DHS discriminates against mothers, and doesn’t give a damn about the children and their families.   Furthermore, they pick and choose when to consider factors (such as criminal records) as “negative,” and when to ignore them.    We don’t fault the father here…it is Arlington DHS who is clearly to blame for this royal screwup.  Arlington DHS and County attorney’s office needs to clear out the personnel involved in this case because, in our opinion, they are acting like they are either on the take or seriously mentally off.   [As far as we know, Arlington DHS and County Attorneys who represent them do not have to be evaluated for their psychological health -- but clearly they should.]