Thursday 29 October 2015

How did Pope alleviate traffic congestion in DC Metro?

4% less vehicles yielded 36% reduction in congestion in DC Metro
If you didn’t hear, the Pope Francis visited the United States recently, and of course a stop at the seat of American power, Washington DC was on his itinerary. His tour included a host of cities across the country, and in each and every one city officials were tasked with safely addressing the predicted massive increase in traffic volume. In the DC area particularly, there was increased scrutiny regarding congestion, traffic patterns, and travel times for commuters during peak hours. The entire summary can be found at, if you like reading graphs and charts. The study was done with commercially available data gleaned from the GPS capabilities of smart phones and driver navigation units and spanned the week of the papal visit along with the week preceding.

The Results

What the study found is that ‘modest reductions in driving during peak periods can yield dramatic improvements in travel conditions’. That’s not an exaggeration. In some cases, traffic volume reductions of only 4% yielded congestion reductions of as much as 36%. That’s a congestion reduction factor of 9x!
That’s all well and good, but to put that in terms of driving time, inbound traffic on the I-395 between the Beltway and the Potomac took a mere 12 minutes for commuters as opposed to the normal rush hour travel time of 44 minutes. Not very many of us are in a rush to get to work, but shaving a half hour off the time spent sitting in traffic sounds pretty enticing. It wasn’t just peak hour traffic on I-395 that saw an improvement in congestion; Maryland’s I-270 saw a drop from 38 minutes to a whopping 11 minutes for commuters from the ICC to the Beltway.
Remember, all of these improvements in congestion came from only a 4% drop in volume. What if that volume decrease could be achieved every day? What if the time savings of over thirty minutes could become the norm?

The Causes

The answer lies in minor changes to driving and work habits. In response to the anticipated traffic that the papal visit was predicted to produce, many employers instituted temporary telework policies and flexible hours for commuters. Together these practices created the effective decrease in traffic volume, and the related reductions in congestion. Carpooling, or slugging, can also regularly decrease volume during peak hours. Collaborating with coworkers can not only reduce fuel costs, but can also reduce commuter volume during peak hours. The next time you’re sitting in traffic with your empty car, remember that it only takes some small changes to make a big difference.

Friday 23 October 2015

Tire Thieves Upset Commuter Parking Lot

bold string of tire thefts have stranded and unsettled frequent commuters utilizing the Horner Rd. park-and-ride in Woodbridge, VA.

As if your daily commute wasn’t enough, imagine what would happen if you got back to your commuter lot only to find your car on cinder blocks, stripped of all four wheels. This has been the case for at least ten victims in the Horner Rd. park-and ride located in Woodbridge, VA, with a concentration of such incidents over the last five months.
Stretching as far back as March of 2012, there is evidence of the coordinated theft of car rims and tires—thefts that leave commuter’s cars damaged and stranded on cinderblocks. With a recent flare up of criminal activity in May of this year, it has taken several victims with stripped cars to push law enforcement into taking action.
Hopes that the March 2015 tire thefts were an isolated incident were dashed when in September four more vehicles were stripped of their tires. Not only were the rims and tires completely missing, but the vehicles also suffered undercarriage and frame damage as well. Shortly after thieves struck again, stripping another two cars in early October.
The Horner Rd. commuter lot is maintained by VDOT and that organization is resistant to installing cameras to improve security. With no police force of its own, the commuter lot must rely on the local police presence for the security of commuters and their vehicles. Of course, without cameras the local police can only do so much, but in light of the rising number of victims the Prince William County police have taken action.

Officers from both the Prince William County police department and Virginia State Police officers will be stepping up patrols through the affected commuter lot. More eyes mean more chances of catching the thieves in the act, but the real deterrent is the temporary installation of a mobile security camera maintained by law enforcement should prove the single greatest barrier to what is at face value a string of coordinated thefts carried out by a team of more than one criminal.
One hopes that the publicity surrounding this series of thefts, due in part to the news reporting efforts of local NBC affiliate’s Julie Carey, coupled with the conspicuous security measures will make the tire thieves think twice before stranding another commuter.

Surveillance camera at Horner Rd., parking lot
Understandably commuters are concerned, but the PWC Police Dept. has encouraged people that frequent the Horner Rd. lot—and surrounding commuter lots in the area—to immediately report any suspicious activity to the police.