DPW Rolling Out New 'Citizen Enforcement-Snitch App' to Generate More Parking Ticket Revenue (DC already Issues One Million, Three Hundred Thousand Parking Tickets per year)

by Sean Riley


WCP

The District writes more than 1,300,000 parking tickets every year. (Yes, that’s one million, three hundred thousand.) 

But in a growing, crowded city, apparently that’s not enough. 

In October, city ticket writers will have a brand new tool to generate more tickets, more rapidly. Separately, a private company is beta testing a new app that could allow thousands of ordinary D.C. residents to easily report parking violators that now escape enforcement. 

First, the Department of Public Works is going to roll out its new enforcement tool next month. DPW ticket writers will use cameras to photograph license plates of improperly parked vehicles. Those photographs will automatically generate tickets and mail them to offending owners just as red light and speed cameras do now.  The change will allow a ticket writer to record dozens of violations in the time it normally would take to physically tap out a ticket, print it, and place it on the windshield.

“It drives me nuts … I see people blocking the bike lane, delivery trucks blocking a whole lane of traffic,” says DPW Director Christopher Geldart, commenting on his own drive to work and around the District. Geldart says he hopes to start a 15-day warning period in October and then begin writing real tickets.  

Meanwhile, the District government could get some help for enforcement and, more importantly, street redesign improvements from an experimental private app. Now being tested, it’s called How’s My Driving. Over the past few months, individual testers have used the app to tweet thousands of parking violations in real time, showing not only the violating vehicle but whether that vehicle has outstanding tickets. 

“After a few months this year,” says Mark Sussman, co-founder of the app, “the first thing I look up is the total citation amount outstanding; it was over a million dollars.” Some offenders have as much as $30,000 in outstanding tickets. Sussman says he turned to his partner Daniel Schep—who created the app—and remarked, “Daniel, I think there is something here beyond just our Twitter bot.”  

Initial results from the app show that the almost-always-crowded intersection of 14th and Irving streets NW has prompted the most Twitter app reports, detailing this nerve-jarring confluence of car and truck traffic, bus stops, and pedestrians and cyclists adjacent to a Metro stop.  

Recently, How’s My Driving did a one-day survey of the District’s highly touted bus-only lanes on H and I streets NW. Mayor Muriel Bowser herself had helped paint the special lanes and said they’d be rigorously enforced. However, How’s My Driving volunteers monitoring the lanes recorded almost 300 vehicles stopping, standing, or parking in the lanes. 

“The lanes [effectively] were always blocked,” Sussman tells City Paper. He says it’s part of the parking syndrome that each individual driver believes, “I’m just parking for a minute, so I’m going to park illegally,” and chance a ticket. Replicated thousands of times, drivers and trucks can keep lanes everywhere almost constantly blocked in some fashion. The app’s initial finding showed bus lanes may have to be blocked off to be effective—the same for rampant parking in unprotected bike lanes. (You can read about this project in Sussman’s own words in Greater Greater Washington.)

“These are momentary infractions, very difficult to capture in a systematic way,” Sussman says, noting it would be a staff and management nightmare to patrol thousands of blocks of city streets, writing tickets and towing offenders. Both DPW’s Geldart and Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian are familiar with the app and tell City Paper they are watching its development. “I think the premise behind the app is great,” says Geldart. “And I applaud them. I’d be glad to talk to them. There is a whole range of possibilities.”

Greg Billing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and an unpaid advisor to Sussman, says, “There is so much a lack of information, this is another way for people to get involved. The point is to get users of all modes of transportation to report things.”

As satisfying as the app is now for irritated cyclists, pedestrians, or other drivers who might want to park-shame violators or point out dangerous situations, Sussman says Twitter isn’t the end game.

“People can certainly share on social media, but our goal is to get off of Twitter.” He and his partner, Schep, are talking about monetizing their app, and having conversations with Arlington and other cities like Austin and Pittsburgh about their data collection. A pilot project right now is linking the app with the District’s Department of For Hire Vehicles, which could speed DFHV enforcement and monitoring of taxis and other for-hire drivers. 

Sussman’s app overall would aggregate violations, showing real-time hot spots. But he says the app, which is soon to be renamed #OurStreets, also is not designed to be just an enforcement tool squeezing more money from drivers. He says such real-time data could more quickly guide city transportation officials on how to make immediate traffic calming changes and aid the redesign of city streets. 

“Our mission is not about shaming people. If all of it is just bitching, it’s not going to go anywhere,” Sussman says, adding that he sees the app “as a force for good.”

And it could be, unless in the meantime you are the one getting tickets from tougher enforcement. 


DC Govt Issuing $250 Tickets to Shoppers Parked at Hechinger Mall to Go Shopping - Woman Forced to Appeal 3 Times to Overturn DMV

by Sean Riley


NBC

A D.C. resident said she repeatedly tried to get a fine overturned after her brother parked her van at the mall where he went shopping and got a ticket.

On Oct. 13, Marlon Burch and his daughter took his sister’s van to Hechinger Mall in Northeast. After shopping for about an hour, he returned and saw the ticket and the ticket writer a few cars away, he said.

“So I asked him, 'What's going on?'” Burch said. “He said, ‘You're not supposed to be parked there,’ and I said, ‘Why? I was shopping here.’ And he said, ‘You have a receipt?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Well, no problem. Just mail it in with the ticket and that's that.’”

He sent the receipts in with the ticket, but in February, his sister got a letter denying the dispute.

Melody Burch thought something must have been overlooked, so she filed a request for reconsideration, sending in the receipts again and a screenshot showing the address on the ticket matching Hechinger Mall, but it was denied again.

“I'll admit when I'm wrong, but this was ridiculous,” she said. “I mean, we aren't wrong. We were parking on a parking lot at a mall while shopping. It just didn't make sense.”

She paid the $250 fine plus a $10 fee to appeal the decision to the traffic adjudication board only to be denied again.

“I guess the biggest issue was that they were saying the only way, the only defense is that I have to get consent from the property owner, and I'm like, consent from Hechinger Mall?” Melody Burch said.

The property owner never responded, so she filed her last appeal with D.C. Superior Court, where a judge finally questioned the ticket and asked D.C. for more information.

Instead, the Department of Motor Vehicles requested the case be remanded back to them so they could dismiss the ticket immediately.

“I'm happy that it got remanded to be dismissed, but at the same time, we still never know why they maintained that ticket,” Melody Burch said.

A total of five tickets were issued in the Hechinger Mall parking lot Oct. 13, all in the same row. Only one other driver disputed their ticket. They sent in a receipt and had their ticket dismissed right away.

The DMV did not answer what the difference between the two cases was.

Melody Burch got $260 back, but she is still out a $30 filing fee for Superior Court.

“I lost time, and it was very agonizing and frustrating,” she said. “I mean, I probably got a couple more gray hairs because of this situation, really.”


The number of speed camera tickets issued to drivers on D.C. 295 more than doubled between May and June

by Sean Riley


WTOP

The number of speed camera tickets issued to drivers on D.C. 295 more than doubled between May and June, from just shy of 10,000 to nearly 23,000, making it one of the busiest stretches for violations in the city soon after the speed limit dropped to 40 mph for road work.

Newly released D.C. government data detail the more than 275,000 parking tickets issued by various police and government agencies in May and June, and the nearly 200,000 moving violation tickets.

On D.C. 295, cameras caught 22,889 speeding drivers in June, compared to 9,438 in May.

The increase came even as the overall number of moving violations written fell from May to June.

Tickets include those written by officers, or stop sign, red light and speed camera tickets signed off on by D.C. police.

Speed violations include multiple drivers caught going up to 30 mph over.

For parking tickets, the city tallied 145,938 in May and 131,370 in June, issued by agencies ranging from the Department of Public Works, D.C. police and District Department of Transportation, to Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police, Secret Service, Government Publishing Office Police, St. Elizabeths’ Hospital security, University of District of Columbia Police and Metro Transit Police.

According to the latest full-year data, Maryland drivers had by far the most amount of fines outstanding, with nearly $60 million. Virginia and D.C. drivers had around half as much unpaid to the District. Parking ticket revenue has been declining.

Camera ticket hot spots

Some of the other locations besides D.C. 295 with more than 1,000 speeding, red light or other tickets in both May and June include:

  • 600 Block of Kenilworth Avenue NE (4,236 in June, 7,117 in May)

  • 2200 K St. NW (2,831 westbound and 2,949 eastbound in June; 4,116 westbound and 5,020 eastbound in May)

  • Third Street Tunnel (2,746 in June and 5,603 in May)

  • 100 Block of Michigan Avenue NW (2,065 in June, 3,350 in May)

  • 2200 South Dakota Ave. NE (2,218 in June, 1,879 in May)

  • 3900 South Dakota Ave. NE (1,918 in June, 3,745 in May)

  • 600 New York Ave. NE (2,254 in June, 4,688 in May combined eastbound and westbound)

  • 2800 New York Ave. NE (1,094 in June, 1,568 in May)

  • 2900 Military Road NW (1,688 in June, 2,415 in May)

  • 3700 Southern Ave. SE (1,620 in June, 2,849 in May)

  • 1400 Southern Ave. SE (1,090 in June, 1,938 in May)

  • Stop sign camera at Fort Lincoln Drive and 31st Place NE (1,395 in June, 1,156 in May)

  • 1900 Branch Ave. SE (1,073 in June, 1,863 in May)

  • 4600 Massachusetts Ave. NW (1,035 in June, 1,434 in May)

  • 5100 Loughboro Road NW (1,092 in June, 1,795 in May)

When grouped into corridors rather than just individual locations, there are large numbers of tickets along those and other major roads, including 14th Street NW, 16th Street NW, C Street NE, Connecticut Avenue NW, Constitution Avenue and North Capitol Street.

With drivers regularly failing to stop at stop signs, a camera at 27th and R streets SE racked up 1,272 tickets in May and 604 in June. At Fessenden and 44th streets NW, 662 drivers got tickets in June and 304 got tickets in May.

Not all of the tickets stick, of course. Some are dismissed, but many others have already been paid for things such as driving on the wrong side of the street on Pennsylvania Avenue, failing to pay attention to the road or driving without insurance.


Maryland Court Upholds Seat Belt Ticket Roadblocks

by Sean Riley


The Newspaper

The use of apparent roadblocks to issue seat belt tickets in Baltimore did not violate the constitution, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled on Monday. A three-judge panel considered the case of Clifton Johnson, who was stopped on May 7, 2016, by members of a team of thirteen Baltimore officers who had set themselves up at the intersection of West Pratt Street and South Payson Street so that they could peer into car windows and ticket anyone not wearing a seat belt.

During the operation, Officer Zachary Serio would walk in the middle of the street to conduct a visual search of the cars. If he saw an unbelted driver, he would issue a command.

"I would advise them to pull off onto Payson Street where there would be another officer who would go forth and write the citation," the officer explained.

Johnson, who was unbelted, did what he was ordered to do. Officer Karl Dauphin was ready and waiting to give him a ticket, but when he looked up Johnson's information, he found out the man had an outstanding arrest warrant. Johnson was taken into custody, and a search of his car uncovered a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver that Johnson could not legally possess.

Johnson's lawyers pointed out that the ticketing operation looked like a roadblock with a large police presence, cars being stopped and cones in the road. Under Supreme Court precedent, however, police must give notice when a checkpoint is in operation, and the operation must be conducted according to strict written guidelines. The operation in question did not give notice or follow guidelines, but the appellate panel insisted that this did not matter because the operation was not a roadblock.

"The hallmark of a checkpoint is that motorists are stopped by the police without the police having a reasonable articulable suspicion to do so," Judge Christopher B. Kehoe wrote for the court. "This was not what happened in the present case."

The officers claimed that they never stopped anyone because they were already stopped by the red light at the intersection. When the light wss green, drivers could continue on -- unless they forgot to put on their seatbelt.

"In this case, Johnson, halted at the traffic light, was driving without a seat belt in clear violation of state traffic laws," Judge Kehoe concluded. "Officer Serio witnessed this violation while walking alongside Johnson's vehicle. This gave the officer sufficient justification to instruct Johnson to pull onto Payson Street so that another officer could issue a citation."

A copy of the ruling is available in a 600k PDF file HERE


After Allowing Unlimited (over 175,000) Uber & Lyft Vehicles on City Streets, DC Council Renews Push For Downtown Congestion Tax

by Sean Riley


TheNewspaper

The District of Columbia is moving to finally implement the tax on commuters it has sought for decades. The city's recently adopted 2020 budget provided $500,000 for a study of congestion pricing due on July 1, 2020. City officials, bolstered by efforts to impose a toll on city streets in New York City, are hoping to raise millions with the new charge.

As adopted by the city council, the study is to provide "an analysis of the potential to raise revenue" by putting up toll booths on the bridges across the Potomac River that lead to the city, as well as a count of how much money could be made by tolling streets within the city. The tax would hit most of the people in the city, as three out of four workers in the District commute by automobile, and only 14 percent use Metro or buses.

Virginia motorists who work in DC -- including thousands of congressional staffers -- have no choice but to use one of the six bridges into the capital. As the seat of the federal government, DC is governed by the Home Rule Act through which Congress banned the imposition of a commuter tax. Specifically, it prohibits "any tax on the whole or any portion of the personal income... of any individual not a resident of the District." While the city may interpret that as inapplicable to its tolling plan, Congress has thirty days to veto any act of the DC council. As the city notes, however, Virginia has already begun tolling two of the main roCutes into the city on Interstates 66 and 395. Washington hopes to share in the revenue.

DC has already been testing the concept of raising prices dynamically to take advantage of congestion in parking spots. In January, the city issued a report on its pilot project to use congestion pricing on parking meters in Chinatown. Sold to the public as a way to make parking more available and more convenient -- using an app to feed the meter -- the program proved highly effective at generating revenue. By raising the cost to park at peak periods using electronic parking meters, the city found average rates charged to motorists rose by a third from $2.30 to $3.03.

"For parkDC, however, there was an increase in direct meter revenue of approximately $10,000 per week over the course of the pilot," the city report concluded. "This well surpassed the monthly operational costs and could have subsidized the initial capital costs."


Government Watchdog Warns Of Maryland School Bus Camera Impropriety

by Sean Riley


The Newspaper

Montgomery County, Maryland's inspector general is raising questions about the propriety of the deal county officials struck with convicted felons to turn school buses into automated ticketing platforms. In 2016, the Montgomery County Public School System (MCPS) signed a contract with Force Multiplier Solutions (FMS) for the installation and operation of stop-arm camera systems. The arrangement raised eyebrows only after Robert Carl Leonard Jr, the CEO of Force Multiplier, was caught bribing Dallas, Texas, officials to adopt a bus camera system that ultimately bilked taxpayers out of $70 million.

In a report released last week, Montgomery County inspector general Edward L. Blansitt III explained that the deal the Maryland jurisdiction inked with felons is largely similar to the one that bankrupted Dallas County Schools. That is no coincidence. In 2015, several Montgomery County officials traveled to Dallas to meet with Leonard and another convicted felon, Dallas County Schools superintendent Ricky Dale Sorrells, to create the new arrangement -- which still lives on today.

"In October 2017, MCPS signed an amended contract and MOU with MCPD, acknowledging the assignment of the FMS contract to what was described as a separate company named BusPatrol America LLC," Blansitt wrote.

The report identified links between Force Multiplier and BusPatrol.

"While BusPatrol and FMS may technically be different corporate entities, they remain at the same address, with the same telephone number, and using the same equipment on the same contracts," the report found. "The president of FMS is now the president of BusPatrol and is the same person who introduced a criminal conspirator to county and MCPS employees. Furthermore, it was also discovered that the current CEO of BusPatrol is listed in Canadian legal documents as being a co-director of Force Multiplier Solutions Canada (which filed a corporate name change to become BusPatrol Canada)... Given the continuity of key people, history of corporate name changes and the pattern of misinformation provided, a prudent response of healthy skepticism appears appropriate before transferring millions of dollars from the drivers of Montgomery County to this company."

The report explained that the county has generated none of the revenue it had anticipated from the school bus camera program, while the vendor has pocketed $10 million. The report concluded that the contract failed to follow the normal public bidding process and instead created an arrangement that favored the camera vendor.

"The business case for this program was built around the desired use of a predetermined vendor rather than an objective analysis to design an effective and economical method to achieve an identified outcome," the report found.

To bypass the public bidding process, Montgomery County latched onto the contract between Force Multiplier and the school board in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. While the Louisiana deal had East Baton Rouge splitting profits with Force Multiplier, the Montgomery County "bridge" contract stated Force Multiplier would keep the first $18 million in revenue generated. After that, the company would keep the first $1 million generated annually before splitting any profits.

"Although we have not undertaken a forensic accounting review of the MCPS program, it appears to be structured much like the Dallas County School District program which ultimately led to the bankruptcy of the school district," Blansitt wrote. "Much like the situation in Dallas County, Montgomery County appears to potentially bear the financial burden of vendor failure."

As for safety, the report found that the school bus cameras have not reduced violations, nor have they reduced accidents involving school children. As national statistics show, such accidents are exceedingly rare and none were recorded in the four years before the cameras were activated.

"We contacted both MCPD and the Maryland State Police and requested data on school bus stop light violations resulting in pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County; neither agency could locate any record of such a collision in Montgomery County for at least the past eight years," the report explained.


Montgomery County Continues to do Business with School Bus Camera Company fined $125 million, CEO Sentenced 7 yrs for Bribery

by Sean Riley


TheNewspaper

Robert Carl Leonard Jr will spend the next seven years of his life behind bars for his role in the school bus camera scandal that rocked Dallas, Texas. The former CEO of Force Multiplier Solutions was sentenced to federal prison last week by US District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn. She also ordered Leonard to pay back the $125 million that taxpayers lost as a result of his camera scheme.

It is not clear that Leonard will ever be able to come up with the money he owes. Federal agents have already seized his 2008 Bentley Continental GT, a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and $738,167 in cash stored in various bank accounts. Agents had already seized seven neo-Expressionist paintings by artist David Harouni earlier this year along with an assortment of diamonds and jewelry.

Leonard distributed $3 million in bribes to Dallas County Schools superintendent Ricky Dale Sorrells to lock in the photo enforcement contract that brought millions in taxpayer dollars to Force Multiplier. Leonard also lavished cash and campaign donations on local politicians to secure their support for using school buses as ticketing platforms. Dallas city councilman Dwaine Caraway in particular took $450,000 in bribes and then became the most vocal advocate claiming the cameras were needed "for safety." Caraway also forced the city attorney into issuing an opinion affirming the controversial program's legality.

Instead of making the Dallas school bus agency rich, the failed automated ticketing program drove Dallas County Schools into bankruptcy. In 2017, voters used a referendum to shut down Dallas County Schools for good. Leonard, at 71 years old, must surrender to authorities by July 23.

Former Dallas County Schools board president Larry Duncan was sentenced to house arrest and community service for his role in the plot. Carawaywas sentenced to four years and eight months behind bars. Sorrells awaits an August sentencing hearing.

Despite the scandal, Force Multiplier Solutions' IP assets have been acquired by BusPatrol, with several cities continuing to do business as if nothing had happened. Montgomery County, Maryland, officials traveled to Dallas to strike a bus ticketing deal with Sorrells and Leonard in 2015.


US Supreme Court agrees to take a case to decide whether the owner of a vehicle can be presumed to be its driver

by Sean Riley


TheNewspaper

Nearly every red light camera and speed camera program in the country relies on the presumption that the owner of the car was the driver at the time of the alleged offense. On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to put that assumption to the test in a case involving a conventional traffic stop that took place in Kansas three years ago.

The facts of the case are straightforward. Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Mehrer ran the plate on a 1995 Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck on April 28, 2016. Although the truck was driving in full compliance with the law, the deputy's computer noted that the truck's owner, Charles Glover Jr, had his license revoked. The officer simply assumed Glover would be behind the wheel as he conducted a traffic stop.

The Kansas Supreme Court last year said the stop, and the presumption that the owner is the drier, violated the Fourth Amendment (view ruling). Should the US Supreme Court agree with Kansas, the precedent would overturn the view of twelve state supreme courts and four federal appellate courts. State prosecutors want the Kansas ruling overturned, arguing that it would impose too great a burden on police to require identification of the driver before conducting a stop. They pointed out the federal court with jurisdiction over Kansas accepted the owner-driver presumption.

"Because the Kansas Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit have decided the question differently, the Fourth Amendment will apply differently to routine investigative stops in Kansas depending on whether the state of Kansas or the United States files the charge," Kansas attorney general Derek Schmidt observed.

Lawyers for the defense countered that a valid traffic stop is supposed to be based on specific and articulable facts. This case, by contrast, contains no specific facts -- just the general fact that Glover was the owner of the truck. Spouses and family members could have been driving the truck, or the it could have been turned over to a carsharing network to make money while the owner was unable to drive. The defense pointed out that 40 percent of license suspensions in Kansas have nothing to do with public safety or driving record.

"Over time, Kansas's preferred rule will sweep in ever more innocent drivers who are increasingly at the mercy of advancing technology," attorney Sarah E. Harrington wrote. "In a world where an officer must run each plate manually, officers would be unlikely to hit upon even a small fraction of the vehicles registered to unlicensed drivers... Greater and greater deployment of automated license-plate readers (ALPRs) changes the calculus dramatically. Given how saturated some cities already are with ALPRs, vehicles owned by unlicensed drivers would be automatically at risk of seizure throughout significant metropolitan areas, including Washington, DC, and Manhattan."

US Supreme Court rulings in the past have had a big impact on the automated ticketing industry. In 2009, the Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts decision created legal chaos for red light camera companies as the high court interpreted the Constitution's Confrontation Clause to mean that third parties could not testify about laboratory tests that they did not perform (view decision). After a number of California courts began tossing photo tickets, the state legislature was forced to pass an industry-backed bill amending the state's evidence code to declare red light camera tickets accurate without any authentication needed.


DC Report Finds Racial Bias In Speed Camera Use - Cams are Disproportionately placed in Black neighborhoods to generate higher ticket volumes

by Sean Riley


The Newspaper

Speed cameras in the nation's capital are overwhelmingly placed in minority neighborhoods according to a study released earlier this month by the DC Policy Center, a non-partisan think tank. Analyst William Farrell used Census Bureau data to determine the racial makeup of the sections of Washington, DC where cameras have been installed. He then compared this information with the geographic distribution of speed camera tickets and the amount of fine revenue collected in 2016.

"My analysis of moving violations, citations and crash data suggests that the racial geography of DC does play into in the enforcement of traffic violations," Farrell wrote. "Census tracts with higher proportions of black residents are associated with a higher incidence of traffic fines, despite not experiencing a greater number of crashes."

The District collected $115 million in profit from traffic tickets in 2016, 97 percent of which were issued by red light cameras and speed cameras. Neighborhoods where 80 percent or more of residents are black on average paid $322 per capita in automated traffic tickets compared to just $20 per capita in 80 percent white neighborhoods. Residents in black neighborhoods were 17 times more likely to receive a photo ticket.

Cameras placed in black neighborhoods produced a large amount of revenue, but these areas are not inherently more dangerous. The per capita rate of crashes in black neighborhoods is essentially the same as the rate in white neighborhoods.

While the District has used its speed camera contractor to produce numbers claiming the system has reduced accidents, an independent investigation by The Washington Post found a 107 percent increase in accidents at the intersections where red light cameras were used. An analysis of accident records conducted last year by Howard University researchers found that the District and its for-profit vendor placed cameras on safe, high-volume roads, not locations with a history of fatal accidents (view study).

"As with many technologies, even 'neutral' automated traffic cameras can be used in ways that unintentionally further racial disparities," Farrell concluded. "Given the District's high degree of residential racial segregation, decisions about where and how to use 'neutral' technology like speed cameras can still have a disparate impact in terms of outcomes."

A copy of the report is found on the DC Policy Center website.


After Allowing an Unlimited Number of Uber & Lyft Vehicles in the City, Mayor Bowser Says She Wants to Unclog City Streets During State of the District Address

by Sean Riley


On Monday evening, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered her annual “State of the District Address,” marking the first time she has done so during her second term. She sailed to re-election last year without confronting a serious challenger in the 2018 Democratic primary.

In a speech that ran less than an hour, Bowser touched on matters ranging from her recent visit to the White House and the 2020 presidential race to schools and D.C.’s financial well-being. (You can read her remarks, as prepared, here.)

At a few points during the mayor’s speech, activists shouted “stop the war on the poor” and “this is our home,” causing Bowser to pause temporarily. Authorities removed some of the activists from the venue, the Theater of the Arts at the University of the District of Columbia.[MORE]

With regard to transportation issues the Mayor insisted that getting DC residents to ride the Metro is essential and strengthening Metro remains a priority for the mayor. “As much as we love the Circulator, Streetcar, and Capital Bikeshare, we also know that they are no replacement for Metro,” Bowser said.

She called, as she has done recently, for a commitment from the transit agency to return to late-night service, and also warned against Metro “becom[ing] a system that only caters to white-collar workers commuting from the suburbs.” “We’re not going to replace Metro with Uber and Lyft,” Bowser said, “because we can’t move our region forward by further clogging our roads.” Metro is currently planning to offer subsidies to ride-hailing and taxi companies that could give late-night rides to workers.

Such comments are hypocritical upon consideration that her administration has allowed an unlimited number of Uber vehicles in the City. While DFHV has over-regulated the locally owned, small business taxicab companies, the City has placed no limits on the quantity of private vehicle for hire vehicles allowed to operate on DC streets. While there are only an estimated 5,500 taxicabs in DC, according to the latest DFHV newsletter, there are at least 178,000 Uber and Lyft vehicles clogging the streets.

Other major cities such NYC and San Francisco have sought to stop unconstrained growth in traffic caused by Uber and Lyft by limiting the number of vehicles allowed to operate. Studies have shown that such limitless growth worsens gridlock and causes a rise in emissions unhealthy to the environment. [MORE]

Bowser also announced that from now on, the red D.C. Circulator buses will remain free, as they have been since February. The mayor said in recent weeks, workers had waylaid her to praise the free bus service. “We may not think about it, because it’s just $1 each way, $2 a day, but for a working person it adds up,” Bowser noted.

She also said the city would invest $122 million in a new transit way on K Street NW, one of its primary east-west routes, to “ensure that buses, bikes, and cars can safely share the road and move through downtown D.C.” She did not mention a possible K Street extension of the D.C. Streetcar, which would link H Street NE and Union Station to Georgetown. [MORE]

She mentioned nothing about her administration’s failure to address the City’s widespread pothole problems. Pothole complaints to the city are about three times higher now than they were last year.


Gov. Hogan Slams the Federal Government for the Large Potholes Along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway

by Sean Riley


Patch & WTOP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has seen the reports about the alarming condition of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and he slammed the federal government this week for the situation, according to a report.

Hogan told FOX 5 that though the park service does well with parks, it does a “terrible job” of maintaining the B.W. Parkway, which has seen no substantive efforts to repair the cratered road surface because, as the Park Service said last week, “financial needs far outweigh available funding.”

“We want to improve the capacity all the way from Washington to Baltimore so that our taxpayers can get to and from work,” Hogan told FOX 5. “It’s outrageous and unacceptable. I mean we have potholes practically swallowing cars. They had to lower the speed limit because it’s so dangerous, and yet they are not fixing it.”

NPS says they have a five-year annual funding gap of around $50 million, according to the report.

NPS told Fox 5 in a statement it would attempt to repave a section of the BW Parkway near the Prince George's County border this fall.


The recent controversy surrounding the poor condition of the southbound lanes of the B.W. Parkway south of Maryland Route 32 could serve as fuel for Hogan’s push to transfer control of the 32.5-mile parkway from the park service to the state.

In 2017, Hogan proposed new express toll lanes on the parkway, a move that would require the U.S. Interior Department to transfer the land to the state.

Veteran WTOP Traffic reporter Bob Marbourg said that solution may not necessarily be the cure-all.

“The state of Maryland already has a long list of projects, so taking on the B.W. Parkway is unlikely to benefit the state or the commuters,” Marbourg said.

Marbourg also recalled that in recent years, the park service paved the B.W. Parkway between Greenbelt, Maryland and the Patuxent River north of Route 197. However, the repaving stopped when the available funding did.

Earlier in the week, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said the $11.9 billion nationwide backlog of National Park Service maintenance for roads and other needs shows the need for a nationwide solution.

“The longer we wait, the worse this backlog becomes,” Warner said in a statement.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., called the conditions on the B.W. Parkway “unacceptable” when he wrote National Park Service acting Director Dan Smith on Friday, and asked for faster fixes than the full construction slated to begin in late summer.

“It is an unsafe situation that needs to be remedied immediately through expedited action by the National Park Service and its federal partners,” Van Hollen wrote.

Hogan has already suggested tolls along the B.W. Parkway. With tolls, the park service could generate enough money to fix the backlog of repairs on the George Washington Parkway, Suitland Parkway and B.W. Parkway within 15 years, according to a recent Pew report.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., called the conditions on the B.W. Parkway “unacceptable” when he wrote National Park Service acting Director Dan Smith on Friday, and asked for faster fixes than the full construction slated to begin in late summer.

“It is an unsafe situation that needs to be remedied immediately through expedited action by the National Park Service and its federal partners,” Van Hollen wrote.

Hogan has already suggested tolls along the B.W. Parkway. With tolls, the park service could generate enough money to fix the backlog of repairs on the George Washington Parkway, Suitland Parkway and B.W. Parkway within 15 years, according to a recent Pew report.


Baltimore & DC Rank in the Top Three Among Major Cities Collecting the Most Revenue Per Capita from Parking Tickets

by Sean Riley


According to TopView, the top 10 major U.S. cities with the highest parking ticket revenues per capita are:

  1. Baltimore, Maryland — $100.87 per capita ($61,695,948 in total)

  2. San Francisco, California — $98.80 per capita ($68,200,000 in total)

  3. Washington, D.C. — $98.27 per capita ($68,200,000 in total)

  4. Chicago, Illinois — $97.20 per capita ($264,000,000 in total)

  5. Boston, Massachusetts — $83.37 per capita ($57,800,000 in total)

  6. New York, New York — $63.20 per capita ($545,000,000 in total)

  7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — $45.70 per capita ($72,279,047 in total)

  8. Denver, Colorado — $38.98 per capita ($27,466,003 in total)

  9. Los Angeles, California — $37 per capita ($148,000,000 in total)

  10. Seattle, Washington — $28.66 per capita ($20,773,136 in total)


9 Stop Sign Cameras in DC Have Issued More than 53,000 Tickets this Fiscal Year, $2.6 million in Fines

by Sean Riley


Fox5

Stop-sign cameras in the nation’s capital have issued more than 53,000 citations to drivers for a total of $2.6 million in fines this fiscal year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The cameras in D.C. are used to capture drivers who roll through or fail to come to a complete stop signs at nine intersections. The fine for this violation is $50.

The District first deployed stop-sign cameras in Aug. 2013 and became the first major city in the country to do so.

The amount of tickets and fines issued in 2018 is a dramatic increase compared to five years ago. AAA Mid-Atlantic says the stop-sign cameras only caught 6,863 drivers while collecting only $288,461 in revenue from the fines during the first phase of deployment.

The city’s Chief Financial Officer cited delayed implementation and glitches for the low number of citations and revenue during the first few years after the stop-sign cameras were deployed.

"Although such violations are far too common, stop sign-running incidents can prove fatal in intersections with stop signs in place, especially when one driver, or more, fail to obey a traffic control device," said John Townsend II of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Stop means stop! Yet, 'two-thirds of stop sign crashes occurred when drivers actually stopped for the sign, but failed to yield to oncoming traffic.' Drivers can miss seeing stop signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles for a host of reasons, including distractions, pitch darkness, diminished traffic sign conspicuity, glare, or trees. To save lives and avoid tickets, simply observe the 'three-second rule' or 'two-second rule' at all stop signs."

Townsend says drivers should follow a two to three-second rule when they encounter these cameras and make sure to completely stop at the intersection for that length of time before moving on.

Here are the current stop-sign camera locations in D.C.:

  • Fessenden St. (eastbound) at 44th Street, NW

  • Kansas Avenue (northeast-bound) at Buchanan Street, NW

  • Longfellow Street (westbound) at Missouri Avenue, NW

  • Blagden Avenue (northeast-bound) at Allison Street, NW

  • Fort Lincoln Drive (southbound) at 31st Place, NE

  • 10th Street (northbound) at Girard Street, NE

  • North Capitol Street (southwest-bound) at Chillum Place, NE

  • 27th Street (northbound) at R Street, SE

  • Bruce Place (eastbound) at 15th Place, SE


Out-of-state Drivers Owe Maryland $102 Million in Tolls & State Wants to Hire an Outside Debt Collection Agency to Collect the Unpaid Fines

by Sean Riley


MarylandReporter

Out-of-state drivers have racked up $102 million in unpaid video tolls and fines in Maryland, and lawmakers pushing a bill through the General Assembly want them to pay up.

HB105, debated in the House of Delegates Wednesday, would enable the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) to hire an outside debt collection agency to collect the unpaid bills and associated penalties. The agency requested the bill, which would take effect June 1.

The change could mean a $20 million increase in revenue in fiscal 2020.

“These are people coming into Maryland and using our roads and not paying for them,” said the bill’s floor leader Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, who chairs the Motor Vehicles and Transportation Subcommittee.

Fraser-Hidalgo said he was “shocked” when he learned the amount of toll debt owed to Maryland by out-of-state drivers.

According to the bill’s analysis,  MDTA estimates that about 576,000 out-of-state drivers owe MDTA outstanding tolls and civil penalties totaling $102 million.

“Some violators have $20,000” in unpaid tolls and fines, said Fraser-Hidalgo. He said the largest group of offenders are from Virginia.

Currently, the state’s Central Collection Unit (CCU) under the Department of Budget and Management is responsible for going after that money, but on average, the CCU is only able to collect about $1.3 million in tolls and penalties annually from out-of-state drivers.

“Their ability to collect this debt is very, very limited,” said Fraser-Hidalgo in the floor debate. For in-state drivers, MDTA has tools such as not renewing or suspending vehicle registration, but Maryland can’t do that with a driver from Pennsylvania, for example.

Concerns about Beltway tolls

Del. Alfred Carr Jr., also a Democrat from Montgomery County, tried Wednesday to “special order” or hold over the bill for another day, but his motion, as well as his amendment to “sunset” the bill after seven months, failed.

Carr said he was concerned that outsourcing the debt collection from the CCU to a private company would be “taking work away from Marylanders.”

In an interview afterward, Carr said  that money collected from the unpaid tolls and fines would be a “piggybank” for the controversial managed toll lanes project, a public-private partnership under study that would add toll lanes on the Maryland side of the Capital Beltway, which runs through his district. High occupancy toll lanes have already been added to the Virginia side of the beltway.

“My constituents hate the (managed lanes) project,” he said. “I don’t want them (MDTA) to take a shortcut and get this windfall.”

He said adding private toll lanes on the beltway in Montgomery County would take land away from people’s backyards, schools, parks and hospitals.

“There’s not enough room to add lanes to the beltway,” Carr said.

Instead of passing the bill, he said Maryland should establish reciprocity agreements with neighboring states to collect unpaid tolls and fines.

“What they’re seeking with this bill conflicts with that,” he said.

Reciprocity

Fraser-Hidalgo said with reciprocity, Marylanders who fail to pay their tolls in neighboring states would be subject to the laws of Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware, which are sometimes harsher than Maryland’s.

“Some of those states imprison people” for toll violations, he said.

Currently in Maryland, a motor vehicle incurs a video toll when the vehicle passes through an MDTA toll facility, such as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or the all-electronic Intercounty Connector, but does not pay the toll using cash or an E-ZPass. The registered owner has 30 days to pay the toll or face a $50 fine. The owner may pay the citation and penalty or contest the citation in District Court.

Under the bill’s fiscal summary, state revenue is estimated to increase by at least $18.5 million in fiscal year 2020 if the bill passes and, while no firm figures are listed, revenues are expected to “increase significantly in future fiscal years,” depending on the collection rate of the chosen debt collection company.

The bill analysis notes that MDTA is seeking a contract with a private collection company that

would essentially buy the state’s outstanding tolls up front, which would amount to about $20 million. The state would also get a percentage of the fines collected.

A final vote on the bill is expected later this week.


City Authorities at DPW and DFHV Accepted Bribes from Convicted Towing Contractor in Exchange for Towing and Impoundment Assignments

by Sean Riley


WashingtonPost

A city contractor in Washington has pleaded guilty to bribing public officials at two D.C. agencies, and prosecutors say the businessman interfered with a “wider corruption investigation,” according to recently unsealed court documents.

Emad Hajhassan, the owner of a D.C. tow truck business, was sentenced earlier this year to 16 months in prison for paying nearly $50,000 to city officials at the Department of Public Works and the D.C. Taxicab Commission (now the Department of For-Hire Vehicles) in exchange for towing and impoundment assignments for his company.

“The defendant corrupted two city agencies, interfered with rule-following business owners’ ability to compete fairly for city contracts, and undermined confidence in the integrity of city contracting,” federal prosecutors said in sentencing documents unsealed late last month.

After Hajhassan of Alexandria initially pleaded guilty in 2014, prosecutors said he paid off a third official with about $13,000 in cash to maintain an exclusive towing contract in violation of his plea agreement and to the detriment of a law enforcement investigation.

“He then lied to the FBI about that scheme, falsely claimed that his corruption was motivated by fear not greed, and inhibited the government from holding corrupt officials accountable for their crimes,” prosecutors said in the filing.

Hajhassan is listed in court records as the owner of Able Towing, on Adams Mill Road in Northwest, one of nearly two dozen private companies the city relied on at the time for towing jobs.

[D.C. taxi industry insiders sentenced in bribery scheme]

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who heads the council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, said Monday that bribery and corruption in the government and among government employees is “corrosive. It drains confidence, and I think that whenever it’s found, it should be prosecuted fully.”

Cheh, whose committee oversees the Department of Public Works, said she would wait for more details of the investigation — including whether indictments are filed against other District employees referenced in the Hajhassan case — before deciding whether her committee needs to hold a hearing into the potential for wider problems at the agency.

“The more airing out of this stuff, the better,” she said.

Officials at the Department of For-Hire Vehicles and the administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Public Works Director Chris Geldart said in a statement that “nothing is more important than the public’s trust. With this in mind, when a customer service representative in DPW’s parking enforcement division was observed behaving suspiciously back in 2014, DPW contacted the District of Columbia’s Office of the Inspector General to investigate. As a result of the investigation, criminal charges were filed, and DPW dismissed the employee.”

Hajhassan’s attorneys did not immediately respond Monday to messages seeking comment.

[She was the tops at ordering tows in D.C. And she was on the take.]

In court filings, his lawyers asked for a sentence of probation and noted that his cooperation led to the conviction in 2016 of Vernita M. Greenfield, a D.C. government dispatcher who handled tow truck orders. Greenfield, who pleaded guilty to one count of federal bribery, was paid $200 to $500 in weekly installments for steering towing orders to Hajhassan’s company from 2011 through 2013, court documents stated.

Hajhassan’s lawyers said he separately got involved with a government supervisor who controlled several tow truck contracts within Public Works because he feared the consequences of not cooperating with the supervisor.

“Hajhassan believed that if he refused this supervisor’s requests that the supervisor would retaliate through either physical violence or financial damage to his business,” according to the court filings first reported Monday by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.

The documents do not name the supervisor or another official identified as a public vehicle inspector with the cab commission.

Hajhassan admitted in his plea deal to paying $400 in cash each month to the inspector to steer about 80 percent of assignments to tow and impound taxicabs that were in violation of city regulations.

Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 33 to 41 months for Hajhassan. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in January sentenced him to 16 months for each of two counts of bribing a public official, to be served concurrently.


D.C. Taxi Industry Insiders Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

by Sean Riley


WashingtonPost

A once-powerful figure in the D.C. taxi community was sentenced to more than three years in prison for dishing out more than $250,000 in bribes to obtain taxi licenses and influence city legislation that he hoped would benefit his business.

Before being sentenced to 41 months in prison, Yitbarek Syume, 53, of Silver Spring apologized to U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, saying he was “fully responsible and guilty” for his actions. Syume, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery and was the only defendant in the massive sting operation who was jailed after his arrest, will be credited for the 26 months he has served in the D.C. jail.

Syume’s lawyer, Thomas Abbenante, urged Friedman to sentence his client to time served, but the judge said prison time was appropriate because bribing officials is a serious offense that undermines the public’s confidence in government.

Friedman on Friday also sentenced two of Syume’s co-defendants to prison terms. Berhane Leghese, 49, of Arlington County was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, and Amanuel Ghirmazion, 56, of the District was ordered to serve eight months behind bars. Abdulaziz Kamus, 55, another member of the conspiracy who became a critical undercover FBI informant, was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in federal prison.

All four could have faced far stiffer terms but received credit for cooperating extensively with authorities.


Prosecutors said the men participated in a scam to bribe the chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission to obtain lucrative licenses to operate cab companies. Leon Swain, who was chairman of the commission at the time, reported the bribe attempts to authorities and soon became an undercover informant for the FBI, wearing a wire while collecting more than $250,000 in illegal payments.

Prosecutors have said that Syume, who owned a taxi repair business, was the ringleader of the scheme; Leghese and Ghirmazion primarily raised funds to finance the bribes.

The men also attempted to limit the number of such licenses issued to increase the value of their investments. To achieve that goal, they gave cash, gifts and trips to Ted Loza, chief of staff of D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) in the hopes of influencing legislation that would impose a moratorium on taxi licenses. Such a bill was enacted in 2008. Graham has denied any involvement in the scheme and has not been charged with a crime. Loza pleaded guilty last year to accepting $1,500 in gratuities and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

The four men sentenced this week were the last major figures to face punishment in an investigation dubbed “Cash Cab” by federal authorities.

Twenty-two of 36 men, all accused of participating in a scheme with Syume to funnel $90,000 to Swain for licenses to operate taxis, have pleaded guilty to minor charges; all have been sentenced to probation.

On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Crabb said he was pleased by the sentences, calling the prison terms “just and appropriate.”


Uber To Pay Drivers $20 Million Settlement

by Sean Riley


LCT

Uber will pay $20 million to its drivers in California and Massachusetts to settle a class-action lawsuit that raised the question of what responsibility the company has to its workers.

Lawyers for Uber said in a court filing March 12 that they had agreed to a settlement with thousands of drivers. U.S. District Judge Edward Chen is set to hear the two sides’ motion on the preliminary settlement on March 21 in his San Francisco courtroom. Ultimately he will decide whether the settlement can go forward.

While the deal won’t end the longstanding and thorny question of whether Uber’s drivers are employees or contractors, the settlement likely will resolve the lawsuit that has forcefully pushed this question into court.

NBC News article here


Oklahoma Senate Near Unanimous In Banning Red Light Cameras

by Sean Riley


TheNewspaper

The Okalahoma Senate voted 46 to 1 last week to ensure red light cameras will never make an appearance on Oklahoma roads. The legislation authored by state Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Bow) and Representative Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia) would block any government entity from using intersection cameras in the future.

"No state, county, municipal or political subdivision may contract with any private corporation to provide for the use of any photo monitoring device to detect any red light violation," Senate Bill 260 states.

The measure does not address speed cameras, which are also not used in Oklahoma, despite a claim to the contrary from the state Department of Transportation (view report in a 600k PDF file). Last year, an employee of the city of Enid, population 50,000, became confused and told the state's researchers that a speed camera was in fact being used.

"Only in one case did the jurisdiction deploy any type of automated device and it was a speed enforcement camera system rather than a red-light system," the Oklahoma Department of Transportation claimed. "The Enid Police Department (Enid PD) currently uses this system and it is owned by the jurisdiction and Enid PD does not follow the operational guidelines put forth by DOT."

It turns out, the report was based entirely on a misunderstanding.

"The Enid Police Department does not have a speed camera program or any such devices in service," Enid police captain Tim Jacobi told TheNewspaper in an email. "We have two speed indicator signs that radar oncoming traffic and display the approach speed on a large lighted display. These are similar to what you may encounter as a warning to slow down when entering a construction area. We use our signs to act a deterrent in neighborhoods and other areas in which we receive speeding complaints from citizens."

The warning signs do not issue tickets. If the Oklahoma House and Governor Kevin Stitt (R) join the Senate in endorsing SB260, the red light camera ban would take effect November 1 and Oklahoma would join the growing number of states that have banned red light or speed cameras. Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin have effective statutory bans on automated ticketing machines (view laws). In Alaska, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska various judicial rulings have kept cameras out.

A copy of the bill is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.

Source:  Senate Bill 260 (Oklahoma Legislature, 3/6/2019)


Maryland Auditor Again Slams Statewide Speed Camera Program

by Sean Riley


TheNewspaper

Maryland's statewide speed camera program has fallen once again into the crosshairs of government auditors. The General Assembly's Office of Legislative Audits last week released the result of its examination of the books for the highly profitable state's highway "work zone" speed camera program. Auditors for a second time found significant problems in the $28,550,756 deal it struck with the for-profit company that operates every aspect of the photo ticketing program.

In 2012, the auditor found the state essentially rigged the contract bidding process to ensure the highly connected photo ticketing firm ACS, which was acquired by Xerox and is now operating as Conduent, would land the contract (read 2012 audit report). The review of the new contract signed in 2015 revealed that the State Highway Administration has been letting Conduent do whatever it pleased without any oversight.

"SHA did not adequately monitor the Maryland SafeZones program vendor to ensure that the program was properly administered in compliance with all contract requirements," the audit report explained. "The contract contains certain vendor requirements, most of which are intended to ensure program compliance in accordance with state law and are necessary for the valid issuance of a citation when a speeding violation is detected."

For example, the law requires the use of warning signs with the speed cameras. Conduent was supposed to document its compliance daily at each ticketing location. The State Highway Administration never bothered reviewing these documents, and on-site inspections were not systematic. The state also failed to verify whether the speed camera van drivers had points on their license. Conduent failed to perform the regular checks it had promised to do, verifying compliance for only one out of three drivers.

The deal with Conduent expires at the end of 2020, but it can be extended for another two years bringing the company a grand total of $40,313,728 in revenue. The state selected Conduent over two other vendors, Brekford and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia, even though they would have charged $6 million less. In justifying the contract award decisions, officials pointed to the superior understanding of the contract requirements and the law demonstrated by Conduent.

The review covered State Highway Administration functions between August 7, 2014, and June 30, 2017, and was conducted to assist lawmakers in their oversight of the agency. In its response to the auditors, the State Highway Administration accepted all of the recommendations, and promised to conduct more inspections of the speed camera vendors. The agency also agreed to conduct full background checks on speed camera van drivers. From January 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017 Conduent issued 354,000 tickets worth $14.2 million.

A copy of the audit is available in a 400k PDF file at the source link below.

Source:  Audit Report - State Highway Administration (Maryland Office of Legislative Audits, 1/30/2019)


A Study of U.S. Census Data by Bloomberg Shows the DMV Area Has the Most Expensive Work Commutes in the Nation

by Sean Riley


OurCommunityNow

When you think about long and pricey commutes, you probably think of New York City or Los Angeles. You’re not wrong. These cities do have long commutes, but workers in the Washington, D.C., area have actually taken the top spot. A study of U.S. census data by Bloomberg showed that workers from cities in Maryland and Virginia have the most expensive commutes in the nation.

The cost was calculated by figuring time spent in the car divided by the average income. It also factored in an “opportunity cost,” the time and experiences lost out on because of that commute. Workers that commute early in the morning or late into the evening spend less time with family and friends and miss out on activities like going to the gym or attending special events.

The worst of the worst, coming in at No. 1, is the commute from Charles County, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. These workers spent an average of two and a half weeks of 2017 just driving to and from work.

Commuters driving into D.C. from Fauquier and Stafford counties in Virginia came in as having the No. 2 and No. 3 worst commutes, respectively. In fact, out of the top 20  most expensive commutes, DMV counties took up 10 spots: Calvert County, MD (No. 5), Prince William County, VA (No. 6), Spotsylvania County, Virginia (No. 7), Frederick County, MD (No. 8), Carroll County, MD (No. 9), Loudoun County, VA (No. 14), and Prince George’s County, MD (No. 15).