Tag: NGT

Morning Read: Big Week for Maryland Legislature

It’s a busy week for the Maryland legislature.

On Monday, Gov. Martin O’Malley introduced his own transportation funding plan, which would generate an estimated $833 million over five years in new funding for transportation through a 2-percent sales tax on gasoline.

The sales tax would increase to 4 percent in 2014 and the current excise tax on a gallon of gas would decrease by 5 cents and then be indexed to inflation.

The Senate has also been debating O’Malley-backed legislation to repeal the death penalty in the state. On Monday night, senators in support of the bill rejected eight amendments that would create exceptions under which convicted killers could still be executed.

Debate will resume Tuesday morning and a final Senate vote could come this afternoon.

The fate of another flagship legislation this session — gun control — will be shaped this week. The Senate already passed its version of the bill to tighten gun laws and ban assault weapons and the House committees are expected to put their versions on the House floor this week.

IN OTHER NEWS:

* Another day, another story about Virginia Lt. Gov Bill Bolling flirting with an independent gubernatorial bid. (Politico)

* A Washington City Paper writer has been named the new Washington Post ombudsman… kind of. (Washington City Paper)

* Former D.C. Councilman Kwame Brown leads a bus of D.C. students every year to attend a college fair in North Carolina. He wanted to keep the tradition alive this year, but a judge denied him permission to loosen his home-detention conditions for 24 hours. (Washington Post)

* Mayor Vincent Gray wants to use some of the District’s surplus money to delay welfare cuts by six months to families who have been receiving public assistance for more than five years. This could impact up to 7,500 families. (Washington Examiner)

* A dozen people from the D.C. area made Forbes magazine’s annual list of the world’s billionaires. (Washington Business Journal)

* Facing a $1 million funding cut and a growing elderly population, Maryland’s Department of Aging is focusing on providing more at-home services to keep people out of costly nursing homes. (Maryland Reporter)

* Something maybe, potentially fishy was revealed when Washington City Paper investigated why a fired staffer for Councilmember Anita Bonds had filed a complaint with the Board of Ethics over issues involving requests for her to work on Bonds’ campaign. (Washington City Paper)

* A federal judge ruled that the EPA had overstepped its bounds in trying to regulate storm water in Northern Virginia — a victory for AG Ken Cuccinelli, who said that it would have cost the state and Fairfax County more than $300 million. (Washington Times)

* A new audit of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp — the government-funded nonprofit from which former Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. admitted to stealing $350,000 — unsurprisingly reveals that there were major flaws in how the trust monitored its finances. (Washington Examiner)

* The Virginia transportation plan earned high marks from Moody’s bond rating firm, which called the plan a “credit-positive” for the state. (Washington Post)

* With a new report, the Coalition for Smarter Growth wants to engage residents in a campaign to win a new District transit vision and the funding to implement it. (Greater Greater Washington)

* Gov. McDonnell issued an executive order Monday to reconstitute a commission that will examine the impacts of the sequester defense cuts on Virginia and recommend the best course of action in light of these cuts. (Alexandria News)

Photo courtesy of Alex Wong/Getty Images

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What’s our vision for a next generation of transit?

Fifty years ago, visionary leaders conceived, planned, and built Metro, radically reshaping the Washington DC region. Today Metrorail is a national example of how a well-planned transit system can help fuel economic growth by revitalizing communities and helping hundreds of thousands of people get where they’re going each day. But where’s the plan for the next generation?


Regional transit map by John Peck and Aimee Custis for CSG. Click for full version (PDF).

Today, with a new report, Thinking Big, Planning Smart: A Primer for Greater Washing­ton’s Next Generation of Transit, the Coalition for Smarter Growth wants to engage residents in a campaign to win a new transit vision and the funding to implement it.

Regional leaders have expressed strong support for transit-oriented development in their Region Forward vision and in recent state of the county addresses, but our regional transportation plans are dominated by a never-ending list of new highways and road expansion projects, with a few disconnected transit projects.

Just two weeks ago, the Virginia Department of Transporation (VDOT) added a number of new road projects to the regional plan, but not a single transit project. While the road projects march forward, transit projects are forced to beg for funding.

So, our report is both a call to action and a baseline resource. It offers the first compilation of the region’s many transit and transportation plans, briefly summarizes the many benefits of transit to the DC region, and features and compares the metrics for six major transit projects or systems that are under construction or reasonably far along in planning, including the Silver Line, Purple Line, DC Streetcar, Arlington Streetcar, Alexandria Bus Rapid Transit and Montgomery Rapid Transit System.

A CSG volunteer, John Peck, worked to create a base map of all of the current rail transit lines and the six systems featured in the report. We gained a respect for the GIS professionals!


Transit projects comparison. Click to enlarge (PDF).

While we are encouraged by the new transit systems being proposed, we are very concerned that the region has no plan to interconnect the systems nor to ensure operational coordination including common fare card use and real time information, not to mention who should operate each system. We also found that the studies for these systems don’t share a common set of performance measurements. So we owe it to University of California engineering student Haleemah Qureshi for creating the first comprehensive, comparative table of metrics derived from the technical reports for each of the featured transit systems.

How do we get there?

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” Daniel Burnham’s quote is perhaps overused, but nevertheless, we need a regional commitment to a new transit plan, the funding to support it, and a hardnosed commitment to implementing it.

We are recommending extensive public involvement and modern crowdsourcing. We believe that a joint committee of elected officials who serve on the WMATA and Council of Governments boards, should oversee the process and complete a plan within two years. WMATA staff, who have been leading the PlanIt Metro analyses and the development of the Momentum program, should provide the lead technical support, and be assisted by COG staff and local transportation and land use planners. Your thoughts on the process?

Finally, our report includes a recommended set of principles to justify and guide the development of a new transit vision. Do you agree? What might be missing?

Principles to guide a next generation of transit

High-capacity public transportation is the most important investment for supporting a sustainable region of livable, walkable centers, and neighborhoods.

Several factors make public transportation investments critical:

  • High energy prices and the high cost of auto transportation
  • Climate change
  • Air and water pollution
  • Failure of road expansion to effectively manage traffic, due to induced demand and related inefficient patterns of auto-dependent development
  • The significant number of residents who cannot drive, cannot afford a car or do not own a car. This includes lower-income residents, the disabled, the young and elderly, and the growing sector of our population seeking to live in communities where they do not have to be dependent on a car.
  • The benefit public transportation provides in supporting compact, efficient development, lowering per capita infrastructure costs and saving land.

Rehabilitating and improving our Metrorail system must be our first priority.

Major public transportation investments must be tied to good land use: well-designed, compact, mixed-use, mixed-income, walking and biking-friendly neighborhoods with interconnected local street networks – both transit-oriented development and traditional neighborhood development.

Supporting build-out at our existing Metro stations should be a priority, and together with mixed-use development at all stations, will ensure that our Metro trains have high ridership in both directions all day.

New high-capacity public transportation corridors must include the region’s commercial/retail corridors. Given the strong commitment to preserving the character of existing suburban neighborhoods, these commercial corridors offer the best opportunity to absorb regional growth while protecting suburban neighborhoods.

We should be flexible and not locked into one public transportation mode as the answer. We should ensure we match the public transportation mode, design and service plan to the land use densities and levels of service we are trying to achieve.

Public transportation planners should ensure that each public transportation study considers all modes and the necessary mixed-use, walkable, and transit-oriented urban design essential to maximizing ridership and the value of the public transportation investment. Safe and robust access to public transportation by promoting walking and bicycling and supportive local street networks must be a part of any public transportation and funding plan.

Continuing to debate the mode after a final vote by an elected board or council isn’t constructive. It delays and even harms the advancement of much needed public transportation investments.

We can be proud of our region’s success with transit and transit-oriented development. But without the commitment of the public and our elected officials, we’ll fail to make the investments in the next generation of transit that are necessary to support the demand for transit-oriented communities, to offer an alternative to sitting in traffic, and to fight climate change.

With this report and the engagement of CSG members and GGW readers, we aim to spark a new transit plan for the region. In the coming weeks, we’ll be speaking to local elected officials, the WMATA board, the Council of Governments, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, transportation and land use planners, and the public. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 3/5/13: CSG has launched a Next Generation of Transit feedback catalog, where we’ll be cataloging feedback, comments, ideas and suggestions. Keep the conversation going in the comments below, but we also encourage you to check out and contribute to the catalog.

Photos courtesy of CSG via Greater Greater Washington

Read the original article on Greater Greater Washington>>

Coalition For Smarter Growth Report Calls For A Next Generation Of Transit

We don’t need a ranking to know our traffic is bad.  What the headlines miss is the crucial role our Metro and our other transit investments have played in preventing gridlock, in offering us an effective alternative to sitting in traffic, and in fueling an economic boom that has revitalized our city and transit-oriented suburbs.

Download the reportPrinciples for a Next Generation of Transit (Fact Sheet)Benefits of Transit to the Region (Fact Sheet)

“Fifty years ago, visionary leaders conceived, planned and built Metro, and reshaped the Washington, D.C. region. The first order of business is to complete the reinvestment and full rehabilitation of this system that is so critical for our regional economy. We are also calling today for a new vision for a new generation — for a Next Generation of Transit investments and the leadership to make it happen,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “We believe our region’s leadership is ready for the challenge.”

“In the Region Forward regional compact, regional leaders have made transit-oriented development the framework for our region’s growth, but we now need to put the “T into our TOD,” said Schwartz.

Last week, centerpieces of the State of the County addresses by Fairfax Chairman Sharon Bulova and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett were their calls for transit-oriented revitalization and new transit investments  Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has called transit-oriented development and the Purple Line top priorities, and D.C., Arlington and Alexandria are national leaders in implementing TOD.

Today’s Coalition report, Thinking Big, Planning Smart:  A Primer for Greater Washington’s Next Generation of Transit, is both a call to action and the first compilation of the region’s many transit and transportation plans. The report summarizes the many benefits of transit to the Washington D.C. region. It features and compares the metrics for six major transit projects and/or systems that are under construction or reasonably far along in planning, including the Silver Line, Purple Line, D.C. Streetcar, Arlington Streetcar, Alexandria Bus Rapid Transit and Montgomery Rapid Transit System.

“While we are encouraged by the many new transit systems being proposed, we are very concerned that we don’t have a plan to interconnect the systems and to ensure operational coordination including common fare card use and real time information, not to mention who should operate each system,” said Cheryl Cort, Policy Director for the Coalition. “We found that the studies for these systems don’t even share a common set of performance measurements and had to crunch the numbers to do our own comparative analysis.”

“This report is a baseline and we hope a launching point for regional dialogue and collaboration to create a plan for a next generation of transit network for our region, said Schwartz. “We’d like to see an official process that brings together elected officials, transit planners, and top national consultants, and fully engages the community.”

Cheryl Cort concluded:  “The Coalition recommends that WMATA (Metro) planning staff provide the lead technical support for the study in accordance with the WMATA compact, and that a joint WMATA/COG committee of elected officials be convened to oversee the effort. Our goal is for the region to complete that plan within the next two years, while launching a concurrent effort to identify and dedicate significantly more funding to our public transportation needs.” The Coalition included a recommended set of principles that justify and should guide the development of the Next Generation of Transit vision.

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading nonprofit organization addressing where and how the Washington region grows, partnering with communities in planning for the future, and offering solutions to the interconnected challenges of housing, transportation, energy and the environment. We ensure that transportation and development decisions accommodate growth while revitalizing communities, providing more housing and travel choices, and conserving our natural and historic areas.

Read the original article here >>

CSG Releases New Report, “THINKING BIG PLANNING SMART,” Calling for Next Generation of Transit

CSG Releases New Report, “THINKING BIG PLANNING SMART,” Calling for Next Generation of Transit

We don’t need a ranking to know our traffic is bad. What the headlines miss is the crucial role our Metro and our other transit investments have played in preventing gridlock, in offering us an effective alternative to sitting in traffic, and in fueling an economic boom that has revitalized our city and transit-oriented suburbs. “Fifty years ago, visionary leaders conceived, planned and built Metro, and reshaped the Washington, D.C. region. The first order of business is to complete the reinvestment and full rehabilitation of this system that is so critical for our regional economy. We are also calling today for a new vision for a new generation — for a Next Generation of Transit investments and the leadership to make it happen,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “We believe our region’s leadership is ready for the challenge.”