The Coalition for Smarter Growth has released the following regarding Rapid Transit in Montgomery County:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21st, 2013
Contacts: Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth, (703) 599-6437
Montgomery Planners Propose 78-Mile Rapid Transit system
Today, Montgomery County planning staff present to the Planning Board a 78-mile version of the proposed Rapid Transit System, based on several months of data-driven modeling and analysis. The Rapid Transit System would be a premium, reliable transit service using dedicated lanes as much as possible to bypass traffic, running frequently throughout the day, and stopping at enhanced stations featuring real time arrival information and efficient boarding like that found on Metro.
“The Rapid Transit System will complement the Purple Line and our Metro system, offering high quality transit to more of Montgomery County and helping to address traffic and future economic development. It is an essential investment, providing residents more affordable transportation and a better option than sitting in traffic,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
Facing an additional 200,000 residents, 200,000 new jobs, and a 22% increase in the amount of time residents will spend on roadways by 2040, planners know that the county’s roadways, already overburdened with traffic, will be unable to handle additional vehicles. Their analysis, forecasting ridership to 2040, demonstrated that dedicating lanes to transit on several corridors could move more people per lane than individual vehicles, while improving traffic countywide. They are recommending a phased approach based on that data, with a first phase that would include two lanes dedicated to the Rapid Transit System in the center of Rockville Pike and northern US29, and one reversible lane in the direction of rush hour traffic on parts of Georgia Ave, Viers Mill/University Blvd, and New Hampshire Avenue. Their models show that their recommended network would attract a ridership of approximately 184,000 daily riders by 2040.
Said Lindsay Hoffman of Friends of White Flint, “We’ve come together in our neighborhoods and supported a vision for a walkable community in White Flint where it will be possible to leave the car at home and live a healthier, more affordable lifestyle. Improved and expanded transit service on Rockville Pike is critical to making that vision possible, and we as residents will need to work together to ensure this proposal meets our communities’ needs and becomes a reality.”
“The planning staff’s network is smaller than the full Transit Task Force proposal but also much larger than the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) proposal. The staff’s analysis is both rigorous and practical, and results in a network that can be effectively implemented,” concluded Schwartz.
In the planning staff’s brief, they reported, “ITDP did not do any ridership forecasting, whereas our transportation modeling work has shown that the forecast 2040 ridership on MD355 is far higher and we are confident that we should begin planning for a two-lane median busway for most of this corridor.”
The Montgomery County Planning Board will now have a month to review the staff’s recommendations before they release a draft for public hearings to be held in the beginning of May. After public hearings, the Planning Board will submit their draft proposal to the County Council.