29 August, 2010

Slug Line Pilot Program

August 26, 2010
District Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Police Department and Members of Capitol Hill Launch a Slug Line Pilot Program

As the economy continues to struggle, gas prices rise and commuter travel times increase due to more congestion, “slug lines” have become a preferred choice for some Northern Virginia commuters into and out of the District. “Slug lines” are lines of people that form along major corridors to ride share with vehicles headed in a similar direction allowing for use of HOV lanes for faster commutes. The ride share lines have increasingly become more popular with people queuing at various intersections along the heavily traveled 14th Street corridor in Northwest, DC.

With the increase in numbers of people waiting near curbs and crowding sidewalks, safety, traffic problems, backups and congestion are now real concerns for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

In an effort to provide a safer wait environment while meeting the needs of riders, DDOT traffic and safety experts recently launched a survey asking drivers and passengers to assess the specific needs and concerns of those using the “slug lines” as well as determining a safer location for lines to form.

“We understand there is a real need for people to utilize these ride shares, however, we need to make sure people are also safe and that traffic can flow in an orderly fashion,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. “We are hopeful this new pilot, in partnership with MPD and the ride share participants, will help meet the needs of the riders and provide a safer drop off and pick up area.”

MPD, while not conducting targeted enforcement of the slug line pick-up sites, have issued citations for vehicles blocking rush hour lanes, as drivers connect with riders. “We have no problem with the slug lines and want to work with the motorists who engage in this impromptu arrangement, but officers cannot ignore vehicles creating a hazard, or blocking lanes of traffic,” said MPD Chief Cathy Lanier. “We are working with DDOT and the motorists to find a solution to serve everyone.”

As part of the new pilot traffic engineers and safety experts are working to identify nearby locations that will meet the needs of the riders while providing a safer waiting environment and fewer traffic tie ups. These new sites will include signage and improved engineering to help facilitate ride share arrangements. DDOT and MPD have also been working in conjunction with Representative Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11th) incorporating important constituent input and location information into the pilot program.

Representative Connolly, who has spearheaded discussion to address high levels of concerns from his constituents said, “I appreciate Chief Lanier and Director Klein’s quick response to concerns I raised on behalf of commuters from Northern Virginia. Slugging is a win-win for the region and the District of Columbia because it reduces the number of cars on local roadways. I look forward to working with District leaders on this new strategy to improve safety for commuters.”

Once the surveys of slug line participants have been completed, it is anticipated that the newly proposed sites will be put into a test phase beginning in October.

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