Back to the Daily Grind of Gridlock
Just another day on the Capital Beltway. Flickr photo by mindgutter.

Just another day on the Capital Beltway. Flickr photo by mindgutter.

One week after President Obama’s inauguration, the unprecedented crowds are all gone. The trains are back to their regular schedules. And roads and bridges have re-opened for business.

But, surprisingly, gridlock is back.

“We woke up this morning to a new president but the old reality that we have some of the worst gridlock in the country,” said John B. Townsend II, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, according to the Washington Times.

The reason? Everyone’s getting back in their cars.

Last Tuesday, the idea of riding into town with a car (and fighting for parking spaces) was less appealing than arriving by commuter trains, Metro, buses, bikes, or even walking. People planned ahead, and the city worked hard to develop transport solutions to accommodate the mad rush of travelers. For the most part, the plans were executed without major glitches.

Perhaps most notably, Metro experienced the highest ridership in its history. To be expected, there were delays, long lines, and one incident of a woman falling onto the tracks (she survived, with minor injuries). All things considered, it was a success.

“Our Metro system wasn’t designed to transport this many people in such a short time, but we did it,” said Metro General manager John Catoe.

David Alpert of the blog Greater Greater Washington says, “If we could get 1.8 million people in and out of downtown DC without any traffic, we can get 500, 600, or 700,000 people in and out every day smoothly with better transit, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. All that’s holding us back is our elected leadership and our ability to envision a better region.”

What do you think? Was this a once-in-a-historic-election-year accomplishment? Or can it be replicated?

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