Update 9/26/13: New partners Fallstone Homeowners Association, Progressive Neighbors, and Ward 3 Vision have signed on to the coalition.
September 24, 2013
David Moon, Communities for Transit, (202) 427-7966, dmoon@
Kelly Blynn, Coalition for Smarter Growth, (610) 220 5378, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rapid Transit System for Montgomery County Earns Support from Diverse Coalition of Over 30 Environmental, Civic & Business Leaders
In Bid to Tackle Worsening Traffic and Environmental Concerns, Montgomery County Residents and Advocates Turn Out for County Council Transit Hearings
ROCKVILLE, MD – Advocates representing over 30 environmental groups, civic associations, businesses, and grassroots organizations alike gathered outside the Montgomery County Council building Tuesday evening to announce their support for a proposed new high quality Rapid Transit System (RTS) based on successful bus rapid transit networks around the nation and across the globe.
Minutes before the County Council’s public hearings on RTS, the leaders of the new coalition called on Councilmembers to adopt a robust plan to ensure a convenient and high-quality experience for riders, noting that the system offers the best solution to the County’s traffic challenges. Advocates also touted the plan as an effective way to reduce local air pollution from car emissions and provide more affordable transit options and access to jobs for working families and young people.
“In the longer run, the ability of a successful transit network to support walkable neighborhoods, shorten trips, and reduce sprawl will have a huge effect in helping the environment, and will also save tax payers significant money, ” said David Hauck of the Montgomery County Sierra Club.
Katie Mullen, a member of the Montgomery County Young Democrats from Burtonsville, explained that her bus frequently gets stuck in traffic, extending her commute by 45 minutes or longer. “We hosted a forum this summer about what young people need in order to settle down in Montgomery County,” Mullen said. “Of the almost 100 people in attendance, the #1 priority wasn’t more night life, affordable housing, or new industry. The #1 priority was to greatly expand public transit across the county, in particular a comprehensive Bus Rapid Transit network with dedicated lanes.”
Dan Wilhelm, President of the Greater Colesville Civic Association and active member of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, spoke about how his civic group had long advocated for a solution to the County’s notoriously gridlocked roads. “Once implemented, the 10 proposed corridors will start to address road congestion. They will also start to address other problems, like pollution and global warming,” he said.
Montgomery County’s Rapid Transit System Development Manager Chuck Lattuca projects that by the year 2040, the new transit network will handle over 45 million trips and lead to a reduction in over 48 million vehicle miles traveled every year in Montgomery County. RTS would therefore result in over 7.5 million fewer hours spent annually in automobiles by county residents, visitors, and workers and 3.2 million fewer gallons of gas burned.
Rapid Transit Systems are becoming increasingly popular choices for communities facing traffic challenges, and a new report released today by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) documents how other communities who invested in RTS plans have very successfully attracted economic development to urban and suburban corridors alike. Notably, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia have already begun construction on a new rapid transit line due to open next year.
Shortly after the announcement, residents and organizations filed into the County Council building for a public hearing about the proposed plan, officially entitled the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. Representatives from various civic and environmental organizations, as well as community residents, signed up to speak up in favor of a long term solution to traffic, carbon emissions, and road safety.
The County Council will host an additional public hearing on Thursday, September 26th at 7:30pm, before the Transportation and Environment Committee holds several work sessions in October on the proposed plan. The Rapid Transit Plan is then expected to proceed to the full Council for a vote.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington D.C. region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies needed to make those communities flourish. To learn more, visit the Coalition’s website at www.smartergrowth.net.
Photos licensed under Creative Commons (CC-BY) available on our Flickr page.