Washington DC: A little behind schedule
Well, I am currently on the Coast Starlight heading to LA. Yeah, I’m a little late to get posting. It so happens that traveling the country is busy work. I hope to get daily post of all my stops from here on out but I can’t promise anything. Anyways, here is my report from our glorious capital.
America the beautiful, and this her beautiful capitol. Washington is a very monumental, yet human scaled town. There are no skyscrapers, making for a very pleasant human experience. The train station is located downtown about three or four blocks from the capitol and is a work of art. Union Station has a very beautiful older grand hall with a more modern gate concourse. The platforms are lined up parallel and are perpendicular to the concourse, in said concourse the platforms are marked by “gates” similar to airports. It was very easy to move about the station as a train passenger, however Union station is not strictly a train station, it is an inter-modal hub of transportation, a purpose that it serves well. There is a Metro red line station that is accessible both right outside the main hall and in the food court. The Metro station is not, I should add, signed very well and was only easy to find for me because I knew where it was. Intercity buses and parking are located in the same garage constructed above the platforms. This is a plus for the parking because it provides easy access to the station and does not take up valuable space in the surrounding neighborhood. However considering it is a parking deck; the area for the buses leaves a lot to be desired. It is aesthetically unappealing and it is quite dangerous, in order to get to the bus bays one must cross over the road that the buses use. I witnessed a man wearing headphones almost get backed into by a large coach bus. However in its favor it is easy to get from the buses to the main station area.
The Taxi stand was located right outside the front door making for a very easy connection. There is a bicycle storage and bike share facility located directly to the right of the main hallway. On that note the bike share program in D.C. was phenomenal and worked very well for me.
As far as TOD’s and local transit are concerned, D.C. has a lot to offer. Metro is an extensive system, however it was undergoing some track work while I was there that caused such long delays in service that it made Marta look like the New York City Subway. There are a number of great TOD’s one of which was located just one stop north of Union station and was labeled “NoMa.” Noma looks to be mostly new construction, it is built more as a neighborhood with smaller scale stores that suits the need of the residents, not major destination retailers. Other TODs worthy of a visit where Silver Spring, Maryland, Rosyln-Claradin, Virginia, and Navy Yards in the District.
Overall I give D.C. a B+
Train Gate Area
Amtrak Ridership: 5 Million/year
Metro Ridership: 10 Million/ Year