Author: Ayesha Amsa

MetroNow Statement on Blue Line Derailment and Ongoing Service Disruptions

Washington, DC — The MetroNow Coalition—comprised of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Federal City Council, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Greater Washington Partnership, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce, the 2030 Group, and Tysons Partnership—today released the following statement on the ongoing WMATA Metrorail service disruptions.

RELEASE: CSG Responds to Anti-Housing Protesters at Planning Board

Montgomery County, Md – “Montgomery County’s Thrive 2050 General Plan update is imbued with the progressive and creative spirit that has long been at the core of the community’s values,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG). “This is why we are so saddened to see the strident opposition to the county’s efforts to address a housing crisis through Thrive 2050 and a separate study of Attainable Housing Strategies.”

Let’s keep Ride On free!

Did you know that Ride On has been free since March 2020? We’ve successfully advocated for the emergency free fare program to be extended twice, and now the County Council is going to decide whether or not to make it permanent.

Tell the County Council to keep Ride On free!

We believe Montgomery County can invest in the local economy and further racial equity and social justice by keeping fares in the pockets of those who need it most. The average income of a Ride On rider is $35,000 and we know that regionally nearly 80% of bus riders are people of color. Free fares overwhelmingly benefit vulnerable populations and the working class.

However, we know that free fares cannot come at the cost of service quality. Frequency and reliability need to be top priorities of the system, given that they are proven to provide the best rider experience and are most effective at increasing ridership. Together, free fares and service improvements would result in the most ridership, climate, congestion, equity, and economic development gains.

Ride On is already permanently free to kids, seniors, and people with disabilities. Let’s make it free for all riders! Tell the Montgomery County Council that you agree. 

Event: Book Talk with Christof Spieler

Our co-host, Island Press, recently released the second edition of Christof Spieler’s wildly popular book “Trains, Buses, People.” Christof discussed the evolving conversation around transit and shared updates on fare policies, wayfinding, inclusivity, and North American transit systems. Purchase using code WEBINAR with Island Press for 30% off.

If you missed the talk, watch the recording of the event or download our powerpoint below.

Joint Comments from Fairfax Healthy Communities Network on the Community-wide Energy & Climate Action Plan (CECAP)

Dear Chairman McKay & and Members of the Board of Supervisors, 

We, the representatives of the undersigned organizations, as part of the Fairfax Healthy Communities Network, are excited to support the Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP). As Virginia’s most populous jurisdiction, Fairfax County can stand out as a leader in the region and have an outsized impact on the race to reduce carbon emissions.

Our network partners envision a Fairfax County where people can live, work, and play in connected communities that are healthy, sustainable and inclusive. In fact, there may be no policy endeavor that better embodies our joint work than a climate plan that addresses all aspects of providing clean air, clean energy, reducing reliance on dirty fossil fuels for transportation, and ensuring natural green space for all county residents. This is a large part of our vision for a healthy community.  

The newly-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth Assessment Report on the science of climate change provides a dire picture of accelerated impacts.  Warming of the planet is happening at an alarming rate, far faster than predicted. 

The report predicts that warming of greater than 1.5 C (2.7F) will cause more extreme weather events such as fires, droughts and flooding. These events are already happening. Hurricane Ida, the Caldor Fire, the extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest and even our local intense pattern of rain are all very real “canaries in the coal mine” for all policy makers.  

Today, we do not feel the most severe and dangerous impacts here in Fairfax County. However, the current fires and storms serve as the newest wakeup call – we have the opportunity to try to get ahead of the most severe local impacts. Fairfax County is a significant contributor to the emissions problem in the metro area and shares the responsibility to solve it. Only by large and rapid cuts in emissions can these dire impacts be addressed.  There is no time to waste, and every jurisdiction has to play a role.

Core to this plan are twelve strategies that outline areas of focus. Each is important, but some will have greater mitigation impacts, such as energy efficiency in buildings and changes in transportation, particularly vehicular impacts. Others come with multiple benefits, such as preserving and expanding our natural resources throughout various land use processes to both sequester carbon and provide additional climate resiliency. Given the complexity of climate change and the world’s evolving response, we cannot rely on residents and businesses to voluntarily change behaviors or know which climate-friendly steps are most beneficial to prioritize, so we count on innovative and ambitious government policies and actions to influence change.  

Reaching the goals in CECAP will only be possible if the County moves from ideation to the implementation phase at full speed. An implementation plan must be crafted and put in place with the urgency that is needed. As with all County programs, it is critical that each facet of this program comply with the One Fairfax policy by asking who benefits, who is harmed by any actions, and how we prevent harm.

As advocates representing environmental, smart growth, transportation, affordable housing, and social justice, organizations, we urge the Board of Supervisors to: 

  1. Develop an aggressive timeline for the CECAP Implementation Plan
  2. Hire a team of climate experts to guide and support staff in implementing the plan
  3. Fund programs and provide incentives in FY 2023 to begin immediately mitigating carbon emissions

We are counting on the Board to offer its considerable leadership to this formidable task. If it is to be successful, it will also require dedicated, creative, and visionary staff to permeate throughout the government and into the private sector. Success is the only option.  

Thank you for taking this important next step in the climate fight.

Sincerely,

Audubon Naturalist Society, Renee Grebe, Northern Virginia Conservation Advocate
Coalition for Smarter Growth, Sonya Breehey, Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager
Friends of Holmes Run, Whitney Redding, Primary Conservator

Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, Michelle Krocker, Executive Director

Sierra Club, Great Falls Group, Ann Bennett, Energy, Climate and Land Use
South County Task Force, Mary Paden, Chair

Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Bridget McGregor, Senior Northern Virginia Organizer

Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Stephanie Piperno, Trails Coalition Manager

Take Action: Tell City Council you support transit, walking, and biking

City Council is set to vote on Alexandria’s updated mobility plan following a public hearing on Oct. 16. This plan is critical for more sustainable and equitable transportation in Alexandria — focusing on increasing walking, biking, and transit options, while making our streets safer for all users and modes. Let’s make sure it’s approved! If you haven’t yet, tell the City Council that you support the updated mobility plan.

Send an Email Today

In addition to sending an email, you are encouraged to speak at the upcoming public hearing in support of the plan’s goals for mobility in the city. 

City Council Public Hearing – Oct. 16 at 9:30am – Sign Up to Speak

The Alexandria Mobility Plan (AMP) is the result of a community-driven planning process that identified key priorities and recommendations to improve reliability, safety, and travel options in the city. The AMP strives to:

  • Give all Alexandrians convenient options in how they travel
  • Make transit easy to use and more reliable 
  • Continue towards Vision Zero designing safer streets and reducing speeding
  • Complete missing pedestrian and bicycle connections
  • Utilize technology to improve safety and efficient use of the street network
  • Proactively and equitably manage curb space for different needs (dining, bikeshare, loading/pick-up, parking, etc.)

The updated mobility plan will set a course for Alexandria to continue moving towards a more equitable, sustainable, and livable city. You can review the final draft of the AMP and learn more at the project website here

CSG comments in support of the Alexandria Mobility Plan

October 15, 2021

Alexandria City Council
301 King Street, Room 2300
Alexandria, VA 22314

RE: Comments in support of the Alexandria Mobility Plan

Dear Mayor Wilson and Members of City Council:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) in support of the draft Alexandria Mobility Plan (AMP) with a few recommendations. CSG is the leading organization in the DC region advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.

The overall draft AMP is very good and builds on and expands Alexandria’s existing transportation policies, setting a course for the city to continue moving towards a more equitable, sustainable, and livable city.

I appreciate the updated plans focus on peoples’ mobility to truly give everyone who lives, works, and visits Alexandria convenient options in how to travel. To realize this improved mobility and accessibility, the plan appropriately calls for continued work towards Vision Zero designing safer streets, reducing speeding, and completing missing pedestrian and bicycle connections; making transit easier to use and more reliable; utilizing technology to improve safe and efficient use of the street network; and proactively and equitably managing use of curb space for different needs, such as dining, bikeshare, loading/pick-up, parking, etc.

While the AMP touches on the notion of reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT), it should establish a specific target for per capita VMT reduction and call for specific actions to attain it. The targets should be based on the findings of the MWCOG’s Transportation Planning Board’s Climate Change Mitigation Study, which Alexandria’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan should similarly support.

To help reduce VMT and expand transportation choices, I recommend that the AMP explicitly call for moving away from using a level of service modeling that focuses only on vehicle delay and identify better methodology that assesses level service for people walking, biking, and using transit too.

Ultimately the AMP goals will help improve safety and connectivity for people walking, biking, and using transit making it better for those already reliant on those modes but also making these sustainable transportation options a more convenient choice for others. This would serve to shift more people from single occupancy driving helping to alleviate congestion and still accommodating those that need to drive. Overall this plan would have a positive impact on climate and environmental impacts as well as mobility.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my feedback.

Sonya Breehey
Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager