Category: Transportation

TESTIMONY re: TPB Climate and Transportation Study Findings 

TESTIMONY re: TPB Climate and Transportation Study Findings 

The findings from your climate and transportation study are clear: The region can achieve necessary levels of greenhouse gas reductions under its adopted 2030 climate plan, We cannot depend solely on electric vehicle adoption and a cleaner grid, the region must reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled by 15 to 20% by 2030.

Event: Alternatives to Maglev

Event: Alternatives to Maglev

September 21 – The proposed high speed Maglev train between Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. would harm a national park, a national wildlife refuge, the Chesapeake Bay and numerous nearby communities.

NPCA, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the West Baltimore Project, Delegate Jared Solomon, and Delegate Robbyn Lewis hosted a conversation about why the proposed Baltimore-Washington Maglev project is wrong for the region and the numerous transit solutions currently being considered.

View the event recording on YouTube.

RELEASE: New Analysis Measures Racial and Economic Disparities in Transit Access Across National Capital Region

For Immediate Release 
June 17, 2021 

Contact 
Ben Fried, TransitCenter, 347-675-5592
Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth, 703-599-6437
Ron Thompson, DC Transportation Equity Network, 202-780-7940

New Analysis Measures Racial and Economic Disparities in Transit Access Across National Capital Region

The Transit Equity Dashboard illustrates inequities in access to jobs, health care, and other services for Black and brown residents.

An analysis released today measures racial and economic inequities embedded in the National Capital Region’s transportation network. The Transit Equity Dashboard, produced and launched today by the national foundation TransitCenter, maps and quantifies the disparities in transit access caused by segregation and discrimination in land use and transportation policy. TransitCenter is releasing findings for an initial six U.S. metropolitan regions over the coming week.

The COVID crisis made racial inequities in public health and economic status very plain, and demonstrated just how critical transit is for our essential workers. “As recovery from the pandemic accelerates in greater DC, our organizations call on political leaders to prioritize public investments that will shrink gaps in transit access and address other inequities as a result, putting the region on the path to a just recovery,” said Ron Thompson of the DC Transportation Equity Network.

People of color are more likely to rely on transit in the Capital region — in 2019, 18% of Black residents took transit to work, compared to 12% of white residents. But disparities in transit access linked to race and economic status are undermining transit’s capacity to function as a “ladder of opportunity” connecting people to jobs, education, medical care, and other necessities. Using data from transit agencies and the U.S. Census, the dashboard reveals these disparities.

In addition to job access, the dashboard measures transit access to grocery stores, hospitals, parks, and colleges, reflecting the fact that most trips are not commute trips, and that equitable transit enables people to access more than the workplace. Key findings include:

  • The average Latinx resident can access 157,040 potential jobs in 45 minutes using transit, the average Black resident can access 160,893 jobs, and the average Asian resident 184,018 jobs — compared to 256,140 for the average white resident.
  • On a weekday evening, it takes 40 minutes for the average resident of the Washington D.C. region to take transit to the nearest hospital, and even longer for the average Asian or Latinx resident. Poor access to healthcare is associated with worse health outcomes; it also means long transit commutes for essential healthcare workers working second- and third-shift roles. 
  • On a weekend morning, it takes more than three times longer to reach the closest hospital using transit than using a car, and nearly three times longer to reach the third-nearest grocery store. The dashboard measures time to the third-closest grocery store to show how effectively transit connects people to a variety of options.

Achieving more equitable transit in greater DC will require changes to both the broad sweep of transportation and land use and the specifics of transit operations and fare policy. Advocates have proposed reforms to remediate the racial and economic divides in the region’s transit access, including:

  • Redesigning bus networks in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland to expand access to jobs.
  • Operating transit more frequently throughout the day and week, in order to better meet the needs of essential workers.
  • Dedicated transitways to make bus and streetcar service faster and more reliable, both within DC and throughout the region.
  • Addressing the east-west economic and racial divide that cuts across the region as well as the racial and economic residential segregation apparent within each jurisdiction.

Transit agencies and local governments in the Capital region should also adopt new performance targets that measure inequities like those identified by this dashboard, and assess progress toward equitable transit access.

“TransitCenter’s maps highlight once again the need to address the region’s east-west racial and economic divide, as well as the need to prioritize dedicated bus lanes, more affordable fares, and networks redesigned for more frequent service and improved access to jobs,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

While noting the recent actions by the WMATA board on service changes and fare affordability, the Alexandria DASH bus network redesign, and planning for regional network redesigns, the groups collectively urged much more rapid progress.

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Testimony: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass

Testimony: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass

June 15, 2021 

Hon. Charles Allen 
Chair, National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board 

Re: TPB Draft CLRP and Resolution by TPB Board Member Evan Glass 

Chair Allen and members of the TPB: 

We hope you all agree that climate change is an existential threat. You also know that transportation is our number one source of emissions and that electrical vehicles will not be enough to get us to the COG and national goals of a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. The last CLRP (2018) is only estimated to reduce CO2 by 23%  by 2045, 

In the COG scientific and statistically significant Voices of the Region Survey, 84% of the region’s residents  indicated they want elected officials to prioritize climate change in transportation plans. Public comment on  Visualize 2045 has overwhelmingly supported a plan that addresses climate change. 

Therefore, we urge you to address the issues raised in Councilmember Glass’ resolution and by many other  members of the TPB seeking a CLRP that more effectively addresses climate change. At a minimum, we urge you in  adopting the draft CLRP for air conformity modeling, to concurrently commit to the TPB to adopting a new CLRP by  2024 that meets COG’s climate goals. This includes conducting a rigorous initial climate strategy analysis this year  (not just an academic exercise) and beginning immediately in 2022, developing the next CLRP by 2024. 

We are running out of time. We need your leadership. 

Thank you. 

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director

Bill Pugh 
Senior Policy Fellow

CSG Testimony in Support of the FY22 Budget for DDOT

CSG Testimony in Support of the FY22 Budget for DDOT

Re: Testimony in Support of the FY22 Budget for DDOT

Dear Chair Cheh and members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony. Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading non-profit organization in the D.C. region advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.

Major Investment Bus Priority:

We wish to express our enthusiastic support for the FY22 budget for DDOT, especially the $63 million for bus priority programs. This is a tremendous step in making the commitment we need to the bus service we should have. This budget makes a major commitment to building out the city’s bus priority network. Over the last decade, we have advocated for better bus service and urged the city to give buses priority on District streets. We are gratified to see such a bold proposal to advance bus service. This major commitment to better buses helps address racial and economic disparities, and build a more sustainable city for everyone.

We commend the proposed budget to both support operating costs for the Bus Priority Program and the $63 million of capital investments for “Bus-Only Lanes and other initiatives to improve bus speeds and reliability on 50+ priority bus corridors throughout the city.” While this investment is most of what we need, we ask that the funding for this program be sustained to ensure its completion in the out years.

We also support $116 million for the K Street Transitway, which is a necessary reconstruction of a central downtown thoroughfare. This project will improve speed and reliability for bus passengers benefiting travel both in downtown and throughout the District. It will benefit residents from all parts of the city as they travel through the corridor to jobs, services, or via bus on their way to another destination. We are excited that the transitway will also accommodate people bicycling, and improve the walking environment.

Pedestrian/Bicycle investments:

We support the $375 million for streetscapes, trails, bicycle lanes, Open Streets, and Vision Zero safety improvements. We also are thrilled by the $19 million expansion of Capital Bikeshare. These investments are critical to the city’s ability to make education, jobs, and services more accessible to residents and visitors. To accelerate these investments and get us back on track to achieving Vision Zero, we need to ensure that DDOT has the staffing to plan and guide these projects through to delivery. In the past year, our city has experienced far too many tragic deaths of people walking and bicycling. We need to do more to accelerate implementation of safety improvements and redesigns of unsafe streets and intersections. We ask that the budget add staff positions to the pedestrian/bicycle team to ensure that DDOT can deliver on these critical facilities.

We also want to express our support the FY22 budget’s transfer of the Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) program to DDOT. DDOT’s management of ATE will better ensure that safety and compliance are tightly linked to the design and management of our streets to support walk and bicycle access and safety, and effective bus lanes.

This is a set of major investments that will make our city more sustainable, equitable, accessible and vibrant. These investments give people healthier, more sustainable, and more affordable transportation choices. We urge the DC Council to support these investments.

Lastly, we wanted to inquire about the regulations for the Transportation Benefits Equity Act (B23-148). This new law will enable an employee who is offered a parking benefit by their employer to use the equivalent value of the parking subsidy for a transit, walk, or bike commute. We understand that the administration has been working on regulations, but it has gone on for months. As the District begins to reopen, we should have the regulations for the law in place to provide better guidance to employers as they consider any changes to their commuter benefits policies. We ask the Committee to follow up with the administration on the status of the regulations.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Cheryl Cort
Policy Director

MetroNow Coalition re: WMATA Service and Fare Opportunities

MetroNow Coalition re: WMATA Service and Fare Opportunities

The MetroNow Coalition is made up of regional leaders who believe that transit is essential to the economic health and vitality of our region. WMATA, especially our Metrobus and Metrorail operators, have kept this region moving and our economy alive throughout the pandemic.

On Thursday, June 10, the WMATA Board will have an opportunity to define the role WMATA, and transit writ-large, will play in the regional economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. We area asking WMATA Board members to consider a more targeted list of two principles and specific actions around service and fare opportunities, outline below.

Testimony to TPB re Climate & Visualize 2045

May 19, 2021 

Dear Chair Allen and TPB Board members: 

You have the opportunity to create a better Visualize 2045, not next time, but now. The region’s  residents and future generations are counting on you, and climate science says that we can’t delay  anymore. At last week’s COG Board meeting, TPB Director Kanti Srikanth said in regard to climate  change and Visualize 2045 that “Every option needs to be pursued as expeditiously as possible to  attain our 2030 goal.” We agree.  

193 of the 199 public comments submitted to TPB ask for sustainable and equitable transportation  investments that prioritize non-auto modes, including land use and demand management strategies.  This is consistent with the COG Voices of the Region survey. 

Please note these two key findings in today’s presentation on TPB’s Climate Change Study Phase 1  Report: 

“At the regional and local levels, the studies show that land use policies that bring housing  and jobs closer together and closer to transit reduce both GHG emissions and vehicle travel.  Travel demand policies such as teleworking are also effective at reducing GHG emissions and  vehicle travel and are also cost-effective.” and that “In contrast to most of the vehicle-related  strategies, many of these policy actions can be implemented in a shorter timeframe  contributing to critical near-term GHG reductions.”  

– The memo notes the promise of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), and we agree.  However, the TCI Program will only reduce on-road emissions by 7% by 2032. TCI clearly states  that substantial reductions depend on jurisdictions, including MPO’s like TPB, adopting  “complementary policies.”  

Given Director Srikanth’s statement that every option needs to be expeditiously pursued, we are  stunned by the staff response to the public comments — that the proposed project list with $40 billion in  highway and road expansion projects is generally consistent with and advances TPB’s climate and equity  goals, and that it is not as relevant to regional climate efforts. 

That is simply not possible. Road expansion fuels more driving and spread out development and diverts  billions of dollars from investing in transit and TOD to reduce emissions and address the region’s racial  and economic inequity. 

TPB’s own studies show we can avoid much proposed highway expansion if the region adopts effective  travel and greenhouse gas reduction strategies, which are travel demand and land use policies that  focus jobs and housing in walkable areas near transit, and expanding transit investments. 

Thank you. 

Stewart Schwartz Bill Pugh 

Executive Director Senior Policy Fellow

CSG Testimony Re: Virginia 6 Year Plan

May 4, 2021 

Testimony re Virginia 6-Year Plan 2022 – 2027 

For this evening I will focus on the big picture. We will submit more detailed comments by the deadline. 

First, thank you for your leadership in supporting transit in Virginia including funding reduced  fare and free fare initiatives for bus service. Transit is now receiving more funding than it has in  the past, however we believe it should receive far more – as much as 50% of future state  transportation funding in order to support economic opportunity and equity, more efficient  land use and state competitiveness, and fight climate change. 

Second, thank you for your great leadership on Virginia intercity rail. Your analysis showed that  adding another lane the length of I-95 would be both costly and a failure due to induced  demand. Since our Reconnecting Virginia project in 2005, we’ve shown that intercity rail,  transit, and transit-oriented development in the state’s urban crescent should be a top priority. Third, thank you for adoption and implementation of SmartScale which in general is resulting in more effective projects and spending.  

However, we urge you to do more, in light of the existential threat of climate change. Virginia will be heavily impacted by sea level rise and we must limit that rise if we are going to save our  coastal communities including Hampton Roads and the Naval facilities. In addition, we will be  faced with more flooding events, washed out roads and transit facilities, as well as longer  droughts and significant heat events.  

This means you must scale back the extensive road expansion in state plans. New and wider  roads in metro areas fill up in as few as five years and they fuel more auto-dependent  development, more vehicle miles traveled, and more greenhouse gas emissions. “Congestion  relief” is not possible. The science shows electrical vehicles will not be enough. We need to  reduce VMT by at least 20% statewide, and because rural residents have fewer options and  must drive more miles, our metro areas need to reduce VMT even more. We know how to do  this – by focusing development in our cities and towns, and creating transit-oriented  communities (TOCs) in our suburbs. This must be combined with focusing our transportation $  on transit, on local street networks for TOCs and on bike/walk investments. It also means  pricing solutions like parking pricing, and employer transit benefits, and zero transit fares. 

As usual, we strongly disagree with the Northern VA Transportation Alliance whose focus on  the failed metric congestion reduction has done great damage to planning in NOVA. 

Our suburban elected officials must recognize that the auto-dependent land use approvals that  they are granting and the efforts to widen so many roads (even if they have bike/ped paths)  creates more traffic and less than ideal experiences for pedestrians and cyclists. 

For today, I will just mention two items of concern:

495Next – we and our partners urge you to delay action because VA and Md have not studied a  TOC/transit/demand management alternative. The P3 process continues to override fair and  objective alternatives analysis. As it is, the proposal to date has far too little funding for transit,  and extends the provision limiting transit and HOV to 24% of HOT traffic after which the  taxpayers must pay fees to Transurban. 

State of good repair – We appreciate the increased attention to maintenance. But it appears  that you are including capacity expansion, at least for bridges, in your state of good repair  program. If that means additional vehicle lanes, we ask that the relevant portion of the cost due  to capacity expansion not be charged in the SGR category but to the capital funding spent on  road expansion. 

Route 1: We are concerned that the widening of most of Route 1 will create a barrier and make  the road far more dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. So could the proposed  123 and Route 1 interchange.  

Thank you, 

Stewart Schwartz 

Executive Director