This entry is intended to be more observational and less of a commentary on current events.
I recently moved back to the Washington DC area after graduating from Fordham University. After experiencing the Bronx and all of NYC as a whole, I can honestly say that the traffic is nothing compared to what people in DC deal with every single day. After driving to my new job several times, I became fed up and started taking public transportation despite it taking the same amount of time. The only difference is that you avoid sitting in standstill traffic.
The reality is that that unlike NYC’s commuter train, there is no real advantage to using DC Metro public transportation as a commuter. Most people who work in DC live in the suburbs, however the public transportation system for the demographic is terribly inefficient. One example is the MARC train that is equivalent to NYC’s Metro North. The MARC train does not make getting to Union Station (downtown DC) a transportation priority for DC commuters like Metro North makes Grand Central Station a priority for NY commuters. DC commuters would be better off taking an appropriately scheduled Amtrak train despite it not necessarily being cost effective. The MARC train does exist as more of a Maryland, DC transportation initiative that shuttles residents between the two cities.
From an Eco-friendly perspective, this creates a problem. An efficient and effective public transportation system helps reduce vehicle emissions and overall energy consumption by removing the amount of cars on the road. People in the DC metro area still do not have enough reason to turn to public transportation as it is just as timely and cost effective as driving.
Here is an excerpt from Forbes Magazine from 2008 when DC ranked 7th among the worst cities for commuters:
No. 7: Washington, D.C.
Because most of the workers in Washington D.C. are commuting from the Virginia or Maryland suburbs, it can take an exceedingly long time to make it downtown. Here, 15% of commuters take over an hour to get to work, the second highest rate in the country. Drivers spend 60 hours a year stuck in traffic, and only 26% of commuters get to work in under 20 minutes– the worst rate in the country. The only thing saving D.C. from a worse ranking is its efficiency ranking for carpooling, public transportation and walking, the country’s second best. (stats since then have remained relatively the same)
I want to point point out that the public transportation within the city is great! As the observation above mentions, it is one of the best. Commuters who live outside the city limits however, are nit experiencing the same situation. For everyone’s sanity and for the environment, there needs to be a more effective solution for commuters surrounding our Nations’s Capital. City planners need to look at models such as NYC and Chicago and develop a better a better public transportation for everyone outside the city limits.