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Friday, September 03, 2004

We Can Be Happy Underground

More delays on the Red Line this weekend, as Metro prepares to open the New York Avenue Metro station. Of course, there's not much of anything there right now, but the city hopes that change.

Seeing the area where New York and Florida Avenues intersect with North Capitol Street remind me of the view to which I was treated to the first time I ever visited Washington back in junior high school, and again about a month before I started law school. A lot has changed in the city since then, though the New York Avenue corridor had remained obstinately blighted.

But nothing lasts forever here. Houses nearby that could be had for five figures not long ago now command the sort of money once reserved for the likes of Dupont Circle.

It's most unfortunate that they were in such a rush to build a new convention center for the city that they shoehorned an ugly white elephant (essentially obsolete the day since it's size and shape weren't suited to the type of large conventions they were hoping to attract) into Mount Vernon Square. Some proposed the site where the New York Avenue Metro will be located, where there is much more available space than there was in that narrow strip of land between Seventh and Ninth where they built the new Washington Convention Center.

The massive vacant lot fronting Florida Avenue near the Red Line tracks is also talked about as a site for a baseball stadium, and it would seem a good fit, with easy access to the opposite end of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (But I've already expounded on the topic of DC baseball.)

The next question is "How many names get tacked onto this station?" I am constantly amazed at the ability of other cities to keep the names of their transit systems short, and have to adjust to the mouthful (and frequently misleading) names that Metro assigns to its stations, like the 67% inaccurate Woodley Park/ Zoo/ Adams-Morgan Station on the Red Line. (Note to tourists: The best stop from which to access the National Zoo is Cleveland Park; it and Woodley are about the same distance, but from Cleveland Park it's mostly flat and from Woodley Park it's mostly uphill.)

All in all, Metro's a pretty good system - goes to most places that it should, makes it possible for many area residents to not have their own cars, keeps many commuters and (even better) most tourists off the area streets. It's generally pretty reliable, and, compared to the transit systems in some cities, affordable. Sadly, it has, unlike the transit systems of most other cities, no dedicated source of funding apart from its own revenue, which exerts constant upward pressure on fares and limits its ability to expand into new service areas.


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