On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments will present a Climate & Energy Leadership Award in the Educational Institution Sector to Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) for its Electric School Bus program. According to the COG agenda materials, ACPS will have 15 electric school buses, representing 12% of its fleet, and will be the second largest electric school bus fleet in Virginia and the third largest on the East Coast after Fairfax County, VA and Montgomery County, MD public schools.
“VDOT’s study is inherently biased because they determine their own conclusion even before doing detailed study. By defining the Purpose to be “extend the express toll lanes,” they are intentionally foreclosing other options,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
Today the Moore Administration announced it will seek a federal grant to advance former Gov. Hogan’s defective plan for toll lanes on I-495 across the American Legion Bridge to the I-270 spur, and the I-270 west spur.
Our partners and policy makers have proposed a range of toll-lane alternatives that can provide congestion relief alone or in combination. These include bus rapid transit networks on parallel roads; incentives for telework and flexible work hours; converting a lane on I-495 for bus, vanpools and HOV; reversible lanes during rush hour; metered ramps and other features included in the successful Innovation Congestion Management Program on I-270; addressing the East-West economic, racial and commuting divide through transit-oriented development; quickly completing the Purple Line and planning for Metrorail or light rail over the American Legion and Woodrow Wilson Bridges.
In short, the public understands that “induced demand” is real, even if they are not aware of the term itself. Today, when officials in the DC region are planning for at least 900 more lane miles of highway and arterial road expansion and amid the ongoing debate over high-occupancy toll lanes for 495/270 in Maryland and 495 through Alexandria, the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) urged officials to reconsider these plans.
The Walkable Urban Streets Act will require county officials to apply its own urban street design standards and update the standards to keep abreast with national best practices. Better street designs will make urban centers safer and foster transit-oriented economic development.
Metro’s projected $750 million fiscal cliff for FY25 would dramatically reduce service: no service after 9:30pm, only 37 (out of 135) bus lines, and 20- to 30-minute wait times. We are calling on elected officials to take immediate action and come up with a long-term and dedicated funding solution for operating needs.
“The CODE RED and now CODE PURPLE air quality alerts for our region must be a wake up call for our region’s elected officials,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of CSG. “Increased forest fires fueled by climate change are putting human health at risk on top of increases in severe floods, sea level rise affecting our region, more frequent drought affecting food production, and increases in insect-borne diseases.”
Response to Proposed DC Transportation FY 24 Budget
We recognize the budget challenges facing DC but are concerned about the proposed changes to DC’s transit priorities including the proposal to cut some routes and for indefinitely delaying the K Street Transitway.
The K Street Transitway is a leading bus priority project in DC that promises to serve an estimated 40,000 daily riders on more than 11 bus lines. It will likely accommodate additional downtown routes once operational. This downtown transitway will provide greater reliability to a large share of DC’s bus riders.
At a moment when budgets are tight, we need to ensure we are sustaining existing service, and making it work better. Maintaining service, giving priority to buses on city streets, and ensuring the city has the funds to address WMATA’s fiscal cliff for operating funds in FY25 are core tasks for the District.
A reasonable pause, but not indefinite delay of the K Street Transitway is merited because the design of the transitway has strayed from its original “Great Streets” approach. We are dismayed that bike lanes were recently cut from the plans, and that the tree canopy and streetscape are being treated like an afterthought. The competitiveness of downtown depends on having green, pedestrian, bicycle and transit-friendly streets, great pocket parks and other people-oriented amenities. The pause should be used to return the K Street Transitway to its early urban design approach, which will be important for downtown revitalization.
With Fairfax County facing significant transportation, affordable housing, and environmental challenges, a diverse network of sixteen (16) local and regional conservation, smart growth, bike/ped, housing, and social equity groups released a platform for candidates for the Board of Supervisors.
Titled A Vision for an Environmentally Sustainable Fairfax County: Inclusive, Walkable, Transit-Friendly Communities, the groups have sent the platform to all Board candidates in Fairfax County for whom contact information could be found.