Author: acustis

RELEASE: Business and nonprofit organizations reject stopgap approach to funding Metro

November 9, 2017

Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth
(703) 599-6437

TJ Ducklo, Greater Washington Partnership

WASHINGTON, DC — In response to reporting today about a stopgap spending measure for the Metrorail system, a diverse group of regional stakeholders representing Metro riders, businesses, nonprofits and advocates are calling for more urgent action to transform Metro—immediately.

A one-year funding patch for Metro repairs is short-sighted and does not prioritize the system or a long-term solution. Taking action in the legislative sessions starting in January 2018 is critical. We cannot delay until 2019 when the needs today are so urgent. Failure to address Metro’s funding and governance crisis immediately is not an option.

A temporary stopgap measure is simply not sufficient to support the types of changes necessary to bring Metro—and the regional economy as a whole—into the future effectively. Voters are expecting our elected leaders to stand up and lead. In a recent survey, 70 percent of registered voters from across the region said they would support an increase in public funding to improve the Metrorail system.

Funding alone is not enough to transform Metro into the transit system we need. Comprehensive reform across funding, governance and operations will bring about the greatest benefit to the region and the people who depend on Metro every day. A safe and reliable public transit system will strengthen the region’s economic growth, help make the area more environmentally friendly, and improve the quality of life for our growing population.

We are continuing to work with our elected leaders to make sure Metro continues to power our region’s success for the long term.


Federal City Council

Greater Washington Board of Trade

2030 Group

Greater Washington Partnership

Coalition for Smarter Growth

Greater Greater Washington

Maryland Center on Economic Policy

Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance

Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce

Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers

Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance

DC Sustainable Transportation

The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce


STATEMENT: Is Virginia Proposing the Best Site for Amazon? CSG statement on Washington region’s Amazon HQ2 bids

October 9, 2017

Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth
(703) 599-6437

WASHINGTON, DC — The Washington Post reported today that Fairfax and Loudoun counties, with the support of Virginia Governor McAuliffe, intend to propose to Amazon the CIT site next to the Innovation Station on Metro’s Silver Line, while excluding Tysons and other options. Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, issued the following statement:

“While we appreciate that a Metro station site is being offered and that the CIT site provides proximity to Dulles Airport, the Coalition for Smarter Growth is deeply concerned both about the closed-door process and the failure to offer other Metro station locations worthy of consideration and by some measures better suited to absorbing this major employer. The public should have an opportunity to help shape the bids based upon the locations that offer the best combination of transit, and mixed-use walkable urbanism.

“It is a testament to the value of high-capacity transit like our Metro system, that Amazon is joining dozens of other large corporations in selecting transit station locations.  In our region alone, the companies include Marriott, Choice Hotels, Hilton, Nestle, and Capital One. But not all Metro stations are created equal, and not all have the attributes necessary to host this very large employer, particularly one showing a clear preference for good urbanism.

“We agree that in Virginia, Tysons should be a prime site on the table — with four Metro stations and Metro access to two airports, a planned grid of streets, and a plan for funding all of the features and amenities for a mixed-use walkable community. In contrast, the Innovation Station and CIT site are far behind in planning, the station area is divided by the massively wide Dulles Toll Road, and the site is so far out that it’s out of reach of a large proportion of the region’s workforce.”

“In addition, the state and localities should offer Potomac Yard/Crystal City, a transit community with at least three Metro stations (three with National Airport and four if you count Pentagon City), bus rapid transit, VRE, a grid of streets and strong walkable mixed-use network already in place, along with direct access to Reagan National Airport. Crystal City BID and landowners have been proposing direct pedestrian connection from a relocated VRE station to the airport terminal.

“Sites in DC might be too expensive or lack sufficient land area, except perhaps the RFK site or Poplar Point, but should be considered. As for Maryland, the growing urban neighborhood at New Carrollton has Metro, MARC, Amtrak, and good access to both BWI and Reagan National Airports; although like Tysons, it needs to implement a better street grid.  A Prince George’s location would help address regional jobs/housing imbalances, and imbalances in Metro and Beltway traffic flows.

“But the bottom line is that we need an opportunity for an open process with public input where the possible sites in the region are fully vetted to provide the best combination of transit options, urban mix of uses, walkability, and airport access, and that we don’t rush into a site which will impose more costs than benefits to our region. We know from the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission shift of tens of thousands of jobs, that these location decisions can have costly and negative effects on our transportation network and other infrastructure, if they are not fully vetted.”

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more


RELEASE: Groups laud flexible commute benefits bill to give employees more sustainable commute options


March 8, 2017

Cheryl Cort, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Groups laud flexible commute benefits bill to give employees more sustainable commute options 

Washington, DC – Today, DC Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Charles Allen introduced a bill to allow residents to opt for cash or transit benefits in lieu of an employer-provided parking space. DC environmental, transportation, and smart growth groups applauded the legislation.

“Enabling workers to choose a more sustainable commute is a winner for everyone. Instead of the current practice, which provides more incentive to drive, this bill allows for equal benefits to be offered to those who choose other commute modes. This bill lets workers convert an employer-paid parking space into cash and choose to walk, take transit, or bicycle rather than drive. It reduces traffic and pollution, incentivizes a healthier commute, gives workers flexibility in their commutes, and is paid for with a parking space that’s not needed,” said Cheryl Cort, the Policy Director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

More than 18 percent of DC residents walk or bike to work, but the only commute benefit offered by many employers is a parking space. This bill introduced today, named the Transportation Benefits Equity Act of 2017 [PDF of bill text], requires that if an employer provides a parking benefit to an employee, the worker can opt to take the equivalent value of the parking space, and instead walk, bike, or ride transit to work.

“Rather than a parking-only commute benefit, this gives people flexibility to choose to bicycle to work if they prefer. Why shouldn’t people who walk or bike to work be offered the same commute benefit as someone who prefers to drive?” asked Greg Billing, the Executive Director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Workers who are offered a subsidized parking space at work are far more likely to drive than if they do not receive a commute subsidy. While half of commuters to DC jobs drive when they do not receive any kind of commute benefit, the number jumps to 85% driving and parking when given free or subsidized parking.

“This is a painless way to cut traffic congestion and pollution, while making DC’s workplaces more competitive, and rewarding workers for making healthier choices. This bill would cement DC’s status as a transportation innovator and as the number one big city in America for people who walk and bike to work,” said Payton Chung of the Sierra Club DC Chapter.

“DC is tied for the highest walk and bike to work rate in the country. With this bill, even more residents will be attracted to walking and bicycling to work, rather than driving, incentivizing the most sustainable and healthiest kind of commuting there is. We see great value to employers in improved employee health and productivity and lower health insurance costs,” said Moira McCauley of All Walks DC, a pedestrian advocacy group.

The bill builds on DC’s Commuter Benefit law, which requires all employers with 20 or more employees to provide workers with the option to use their own pre-tax money to commute by transit. The small modifications employers were required to make to their payroll systems to administer pre-tax benefits also make for very easy administration of a flexible parking benefit that employees, can choose to swap for a tax-free transit benefit, taxable cash, or a combination of the two.

The bill would require an employer who provides a parking benefit to allow workers to opt for spending the equivalent value of that benefit on transit, and/or combine with taxable cash and walk or bicycle to work.

Employers would continue to offer whatever commuter benefits they choose, including parking benefits, but would also be required to flex a parking benefit to transit or taxable cash if the eligible employee requests it.

“Many workers are attracted to DC because it’s so walkable and bikable,“ said Cort. “More than one third of households don’t own a car. With this landmark flexible commuter benefits law, DC would top the list of cities offering the most sustainable commutes for their workforce. This is good for business, good for commuters, and good for the city.”

For more information, see our fact sheet:

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at


STATEMENT: Reaction to WMATA General Manager Wiedefeld’s Metro Repair Plan

May 6, 2016

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
(703) 599-6437

Tackling this Challenge — Together

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s Metro repair plan statement this morning at Metro Headquarters, Coalition for Smarter Growth Executive Director Stewart Schwartz issued the following statement.

“We have been impressed by the strong, deliberative leadership of WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld. Therefore, as a community and as Metro riders, we need to work together with the GM and the agency to get the job done. We need the roll up the sleeves attitude of Americans who’ve worked together after major natural disasters or mobilized for war.

“While those of us outside the agency will not be turning wrenches, we can support the funding WMATA will need and work with our employers to plan alternative ways to commute. And it won’t work if everyone jumps into their cars. Expanded bus service, telecommuting, flex-time, and carpooling will be critical for longer distance commuters. For those living closer to work, bicycling, bikeshare, and walking will be important additional options. Among our top recommendations is providing the dedicated bus lanes we’ve long needed.

“At the same time, based upon reports, the management and staff at WMATA owe the public a real turnaround in their performance in communications, maintenance, repair, operations, and above all safety. As a former Navy aviator, the revelations about the lack of a safety culture have been a particular concern for me.

“The extended repair times will hopefully give the staff the breathing room they need to make more effective and long-lasting repairs to the system, but this should also be a time for a complete culture change – breaking down the communications barriers between departments and between management and line workers, and infusing safety, customer service, and pride in every member of the team.”

Our specific recommendations include:

  • Much better and more effective customer communications by WMATA including, sufficient advance notice of shutdowns and planned alternatives, reliable travel time and schedule information for both rail and bus service at all times, and transparency about the repair work being done and the results.
  • Funding for the purchase of sufficient buses and hiring of more bus drivers to provide an essential transit alternative during extended shutdowns. But this will not be enough. We should take this opportunity to provide the dedicated bus lanes we have long needed.
  • Enhance and improve other alternative transportation services like expanding bikeshare, accelerating the installation of protected bikeways, and working with local jurisdictions to increase funding to transportation demand management programs including encouraging carpooling and telecommuting.
  • If stations are to be shut down for extended periods for rail repairs, then use the time restore the stations as well – cleaning, repairing damaged tiles, repairing fare gates, installing new lighting, etc. Take the time to restore and enhance the customer experience from the moment they enter the stations.

“Finally, we urge unity among elected officials in backing up the General Manager, and a shared commitment to providing the funding the system will need to complete a full mid-life restoration. Giving up on our Metrorail investment and all of the transportation and economic development benefits it has brought to our region is simply not an option.”

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at


RELEASE: Newly-released booster group poll is subjective, simplistic, and of little value to transportation planning in the Washington DC region



April 18, 2016

Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth, (703) 599-6437
Caroline Taylor, Montgomery Countryside Alliance, (301) 461-9831
Ronit Dancis, Action Committee for Transit, (240) 432-9917
Jim Durham, Alexandria Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, (703) 508-0762
Chris Miller, Piedmont Environmental Council, (703) 507-5790

WASHINGTON, DC — A poll released today by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (NVTAlliance) and Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance (SMTAlliance) is subjective, simplistic and of little value for transportation planning in the DC region, according to several transportation groups around the DC region.

“This new poll completely ignores the number one factor affecting traffic and congestion:  land use.  Furthermore, it presumes that by expanding capacity, we can reduce congestion even though a wide array of transportation studies have shown that induced traffic fills up new capacity in as little as five years in metropolitan areas,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

“By not providing information to the respondents about the role of land use, the problem of induced traffic, and the potential financial and community costs versus benefits of various projects it’s not surprising that the NVTAlliance/SMTAlliance world is like ‘Lake Wobegon’ where all transportation projects end up rating ‘above average’,” concurred Caroline Taylor, Executive Director of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance.

Transportation and land use planners have learned that how we lay out our communities has a profound effect on transportation. The farther out we live and the more separated homes are from jobs, schools, retail and services, the more we drive. Expanding I-270 and I-66 in the absence of better land use would likely inspire more growth in rural areas and more long-distance commuting.

In contrast, compact mixed-use communities in DC, Arlington, Alexandria, and at Metro stations in Montgomery, Fairfax, and Prince George’s have much lower rates of driving and very high transit, walk and bike use. Every person who lives or works in a transit-oriented center is a person who drives much less, and has a longer lasting positive impact than road expansion.

“This poll is permeated with the presumption that ‘congestion reduction’ can be achieved and that we just need to spend more on everything to do so. This is the worldview that the NVTAlliance and SMTAlliance have long pushed. Both remain primarily highway booster groups, but have had to adjust their campaigns and brands in acknowledgement of the strong support for transit and transit-oriented development in the DC region – so they now package both roads and transit together,” said Schwartz.

“The problem is, we can’t afford to do everything on the NVTAlliance/SMTAlliance wish lists. We need to make choices, and linking land use with transit is the most effective thing we can do. It’s also in very high demand in the real estate market, including for Marriott Corporation, whose CEO has stated that they will be moving to a Metro station from their suburban office park,” said Ronit Dancis, President of Action Committee for Transit.

Jim Durham, Chair of Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, added, “For jurisdictions like the City of Alexandria, adding more lane miles of roadway is not an option, and when surrounding jurisdictions take that approach, it just increases congestion via induced demand. Land use and transportation alternatives are the only real long-term alternatives.”

“So, in the end,” concluded Schwartz, “we have a poll that says transportation is a top issue, which isn’t surprising in our successful metropolitan region, and that people would like to see less congestion.  But it’s not honest about how unlikely it is we will be able to reduce congestion over the long term through capacity expansion. By not discussing land use, induced traffic, or tradeoffs, costs and alternatives, the poll is more about boosting spending and getting mega-projects built, than about providing an effective, long-term approach to our transportation and land use challenges.”

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at

The Montgomery Countryside Alliance promotes sound economic, land-use and transportation policies and programs that preserve the natural environment, open spaces, and rural lands in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve for the benefit of all Washington Metropolitan area residents. Learn more at

Action Committee for Transit has a vision of a Montgomery County where it is easier to travel and more pleasant to live — a county built for people and not for automobiles. We believe fundamental changes are needed in transportation and land use policies to give the people of Montgomery County and Maryland the quality of life we deserve. Learn more at

Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is a volunteer led organization that promotes walking and biking in Alexandria. Learn more at

Since 1972, The Piedmont Environmental Council has proudly promoted and protected the natural resources, rural economy, history and beauty of the Virginia Piedmont. Learn more about the Piedmont Environmental Council at


STATEMENT on WMATA’s closure of Metrorail for equipment investigation

WASHINGTON, DC — In response to the WMATA decision to close Metrorail on Wednesday, March 16 for an emergency equipment investigation, Coalition for Smarter Growth Executive Director released the following statement: “It took years for Metrorail to end up in this situation, where maintenance underfunding left us with the problems we see today. Clearly, we have a ways to go to repair Metro’s aging systems. The new General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has shown he is willing to take the tough and bold steps necessary to focus the staff on making the critical fixes the system needs, and to keep the system safe — in this case on an emergency basis.

STATEMENT: Coalition for Smarter Growth applauds WMATA General Manager’s initiatives and urges a regional ‘team effort’

For Immediate Release
March 7, 2016

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
Cell: 703-599-6437

WASHINGTON, DC — Today at the National Press Club, and in an Op Ed in the Washington Post on Sunday, the new General Manager for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Paul Wiedefeld, laid out his comprehensive plan for fixing the transit agency. Coalition for Smarter Growth Executive Director Stewart Schwartz issued the following statement in reaction to Wiedefeld’s plan.

“We applaud the General Manager’s comprehensive and detailed plan for fixing WMATA. The plan offers confidence that GM Wiedefeld is a leader focused on implementing the reforms we need to restore the system and the public’s confidence.

“But restoring Metro must be a team effort. All sectors must share a commitment to fixing the system. This means not just management and line staff, but the unions, the WMATA Board, business and civic sectors, riders, advocates, and above all, our elected officials. Our region cannot function without Metro, so our elected officials must make Metro their top priority transportation investment, backing up the GM with the funding the system needs.

“The region’s economy depends on Metro. For decades, it has been essential for the functioning of our largest employer, the federal government. Today, the marketplace is demonstrating huge demand to live and work near Metro and private developers are committing billions of dollars to building the walkable, urban, transit-oriented communities people want.  Elected officials have said that transit-oriented development (TOD) is the region’s future, but you can’t have TOD without the ‘T’. Fixing Metro must be our top priority if we are to remain economically competitive.”

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at