Sep 14 2009

Repost – Washington Tourism Launches ‘Lost Symbol’ Web Site

Washington is anticipating a flurry of visits from fans of Dan Brown’s new thriller, “The Lost Symbol.”

Fans of “The Da Vinci Code” novelist flocked to the Louvre in Paris and other sites in Europe that were featured in that book. One church in Scotland, the Rosslyn Chapel, saw a threefold increase in visitors after the book became a bestseller and movie.

Destination DC has launched a Web page at http://www.Washington.org/lostsymbol to help readers explore some of the places and themes that are expected to receive attention from “The Lost Symbol.”


The Washington tourism agency launched the Web page prior to the book’s release Tuesday, using places that were hinted at in advance publicity for the novel. The Capitol building is featured on the book’s cover, and the nearby U.S. Botanic Garden was referenced in a Today Show clue about the novel.

The novel’s plot was not revealed before publication, but the story is believed to be about Freemasons, the centuries-old fraternal organization. Other sites featured on the Washington “Lost Symbol” Web page include an early 20th century Masonic stone temple at the corner of 16th and S streets, and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Va.

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Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Jul 09 2009

Metro Driver Caught Napping

Published by under Uncategorized

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Jul 09 2009

Latest Metro Fail: Sleeping on the Job

Published by under Breaking News

YouTube video apparently shows operator napping

By JIM IOVINO

Updated 8:48 PM EDT, Thu, Jul 9, 2009
Related Topics:Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority | Adrian Fenty

A Metro train operator recently received a one-week suspension for texting while operating a train, but starting Monday future incidents will result in automatic termination.

Metro Takes Tougher Stance on Texting on the Job
Watch Video

As Metro adopts a no tolerance policy for bus and train operators using cell phones and PDAs on the job, pictures of a sleeping Metro operator surface…

Metro announced the new policy Thursday after at least one incident caught on camera by Metro riders and incidents involving operators on other transit systems across the country.

Meanwhile, in the latest Metro fail, a 14-year-old boy took video of an operator apparently nodding off while a train is speeding down Green Line tracks between College Park and Greenbelt.

The videographer, Gregory Thomas, told Fox5 that the incident happened June 18 and he sent the video to Metro June 23, the day after the deadliest crash in Metro history.

“At first he’s dozing off then, he’s not in a full sleep,” Thomas told Fox. “I see him start to doze off and his head going limp.”

Fox said Metro is reviewing the video and that it wasn’t clear what the operator was doing.

The video follows another YouTube clip of a Metro operator who was videotaped while texting on the job. That operator was suspended from his job for a week without pay.

But starting July 13, Metro’s three-strikes-and-your-out policy will be replaced by a zero-tolerance policy for any Metrobus and Metrorail operators caught using a cell phone, texting or using a PDA while operating a vehicle.

Metro said the current policy was that a first offense resulted in a five-day suspension without pay; the second a 10-day suspension without pay and the third offense resulted in termination. The new policy will be immediate termination. However, it will allow train and bus operators to use personal cell phones during a Metro-defined emergency situation.

Many, including D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, said the suspension of the train operator for texting on the job may not have been enough.

“I think you could make a strong case to fire the person,” Fenty said on his weekly Connecting with the Mayor segment on NBC4. “I can’t imagine there weren’t rules and regulations to govern that internally in WMATA.”

Of course, Fenty has his own Metro problems. The Examiner reported that the District does not have the $50 million it pledged for Metro in joint effort to provide the transit agency with dedicated funding. Where did the money go?

Mayor Adrian Fenty removed the budget item approved in November, according to a council report. Council sources said it was redirected to pay for other items.

A Fenty rep told the Examiner that the mayor is committed to providing its share of the funding, but gave no details on how it would pay it. The District already has an estimated $340 million budget shortfall over the next two years.

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Jul 08 2009

Metro Driver Caught Texting

Published by under Breaking News

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Jul 08 2009

July 8, 2009 – Metrorail Operator Caught Texting on Job

More bad publicity for Metro

By JIM IOVINO

Updated 9:01 AM EDT, Wed, Jul 8, 2009

YouTube.com

A YouTube video apparently shows a Metrorail train operator texting on the job.

There’s more bad publicity for Metro after a YouTube video surfaces of a Metro train operator apparently texting while on the job.

Metro officials said the operator was disciplined after video showing him apparently texting while operating a train was posted online.

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the operator was suspended for a week without pay after officials learned of the June 5 incident. A passenger on the blue line in Alexandria apparently recorded the incident with a cellphone camera, then posted it to YouTube.

The poster gave details about what is seen in the video:

It looks like he’s sleeping, but he is actually holding a Blackberry between his legs. The train is moving under automatic control but no one is watching out for what is in front of it! Track workers are frequently out walking the tracks, and if there had been any present, no one would have seen them in front of this train.

This was on the Blue Line towards Franconia-Springfield between King St. and Van Dorn St. on 6/5/09 around 3:55pm.

Farbstein said Metro the operator has already served the suspension.

The incident was posted on YouTube last month and was brought to light Tuesday by local blog Unsuck DC Metro.

Farbstein said operators are prohibited from texting or using cell phones while operating the highly automated system.

Officials said no evidence has been found that the operator killed in last month’s crash on the Red Line was texting.

In other Metro news, the transit organization blasted a Washington Post report on the differences between Metro’s circuit system and the BART system in San Francisco with a posting on its Web site called “The Real Deal.”

In the posting, Metro calls the Post story “misleading” and said the reporters failed to talk to anyone who actually currently works for BART.

While Metro may have a point about the article, is now really the time to bicker with the media?  At the same time Red Line riders continue to deal with delays after THE DEADLIEST CRASH IN METRO HISTORY?

Sounds like Metro really should be worried more about getting its own house in order instead of attacking the Post.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Washington

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