One of the great things about my job is the ability to use public transportation to commute back and forth. Sure, it has its own issues, but, as anyone who’s ever driven in the DC Metro area can testify, the traffic here is among the worst in the world. The primary blame doesn’t, shockingly, fall on the area road planners–while they’re far from perfect, they do a passable job under the circumstances, balancing two state governments, the hive of scum and villainy that the District calls a “government,” plus various local municipal bodies that insert themselves into the process (counties of Virginia, I’m looking at you). No, the majority of fault lies with DC area drivers themselves, who exhibit three behaviors that cause (and seriously exacerbate) the traffic problem:
- They never perform the “zipper-move” while merging, foregoing a “you-go-I-go” approach for the far more chaotic “Me-get-one-more-car-length-ahead” philosophy. So exit ramps become a huge slowdown, on every highway.
- They pass on the right. Constantly. Even when there’s an open lane on the left, chances are, they’ll still pass on the right. So there’s no rhyme or reason to the lane structure and you never know where the next car is going to speed up on you from behind.
- They drive, not as if they’re the most important person on the road (hey, I’m used to that style, from the northeast); they drive as if they’re the only person on the road. They swerve across lanes unexpectedly, never using their blinkers, never checking to see if there are other cars around. I have personally witnessed a woman moving erratically back and forth in her lane, applying makeup AND talking on her cellphone, all while driving (steering with her knees, maybe) in morning rush hour traffic.
Anyway, my point is, if I can avoid driving in this city, I do. So I depend on the trains & subway, as well as the shuttle bus provided by the government to get me from the station to the front door of my building. Simple, easy, effective…the only drawback is that I’m tied to the train schedule as far as work hours are concerned. The flexibility of the whole system is such that it has yet to be a serious problem.
The problem at hand now, though, is due to the group I’ve dubbed “parkers“–those people who, for whatever reason, eschew public transportation and drive their cars to the building. These cars need somewhere to sit, unused, all day so, voila! parking lots. Of course, there never seem to be enough spaces to go around, not to mention the furious and bloody arguments over what level of bureaucratic seniority merits assigned parking (I’ve seen playground scuffles with bloody noses and gravel burns that possess more grace and dignity). So, more lots get created…which then fill to capacity in short order…so more lots get set aside, moving further and further out from the building in question.
Currently, one of the lots near the building is being resurfaced. The powers-that-be have set aside auxiliary lots to handle the strain.. but these lots are a considerable distance from the building, requiring shuttle buses to get parkers back and forth. Rather than lease new buses (prohibitively expensive, I’m sure), the PTB decided to adjust the existing commuter shuttles to swing around the many and varied auxiliary lots.
This “adjustment” boils down to this fact for me: instead of coming around every 20 minutes, a shuttle now takes 45 min between stops. I can spend a half-hour or more, waiting on a shuttle bus either to get me to work (and start my required work hours) or to get me away from it (and hopefully make my train). All so that the parkers can get to their cars…which they leave in the lot all day while they work anyways. Just like me…only I leave it in a lot 40 miles away. And I don’t have to immerse myself twice a day in the Beltway of Hell.
So here’s the rub: adding extra parking is a serious inconvenience for the group–commuters–who are already doing their part to reduce the parking problem. Hardly seems fair. PARKERS!
Oh, and just watch: even when the lot is finished, I give even odds that the shuttles will stay on the same schedule, to help parkers alleviate the parking problem (and since when has a government bureaucracy ever been good at implementing positive change?). *sigh* (fist-shake at the sky)