When I last testified before you in February, I outlined how essential Metro has been to the success of our region and stressed that we need the leadership and commitment of all area officials to the system’s success, and a similar commitment from staff to improving system communications, safety, incident response and customer service.
O’Toole may not buy the estimate that the Purple Line will carry 69,000 riders per day by 2030, but that just shows he doesn’t understand our success in linking transit with transit-oriented development. Less than two months after opening, the Silver Line carried 15,000 riders per day, representing more than 60 percent of the 25,000 riders projected after the first year of operation.
Those in favor of building the 16-mile Purple Line connecting Bethesda and New Carrollton gathered in Annapolis Monday to lobby state lawmakers. The long-talked-about light rail line is in limbo until Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan weighs in.
As badly as the D.C. streetcar — and projects like the Silver Spring Transit Center — have been managed, transit has created enormous value for homeowners and companies. Fortune 500 CEOs are insisting that their employees have access to it. It’s safer than driving. It produces less greenhouse gas. The newest addition, the Silver Line, is already showing strong ridership numbers.
Eight of the new cars, the first batch acquired by Metro, have been undergoing tests since early 2014.
The planned acquisition of the new cars will allow Metro to scrap cars that date to the 1970s while also expanding its rail fleet, which currently numbers just over 1,100 cars, most built in the 1980s, ‘90s and early 2000s.
Maryland transportation officials say Gov. Larry Hogan will get options about the future of the Purple Line in mid-May.
Transit advocate groups also agree that between fare increases, service cuts or increased subsidies from the jurisdictions, only the third is palatable. “Eighty-percent of those you polled support increasing state and local investment to meet Metro’s full operating budget shortfall, rather than include $46 million in fare increases and service cuts. When we see $46 million, we think of the spending on road and interchange projects where a single interchange can cost that much,” says Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
Though not yet set in stone, the budget proposal being considered would provide for up to a 10-cent increase for both Metrorail and Metrobus fares. Additionally, rail headways would increase, leaving more time between trains in some cases, and late-night rail service would be eliminated, with some bus routes being eliminated and airport service ending entirely.
Montgomery’s planned 81-mile Rapid Transit System offers incredible potential to transform the county’s aging commercial corridors into vibrant, sustainable, walkable, transit-oriented communities. With dedicated lanes, service every 5-10 minutes, weather-protected stations, Wi-Fi, and many other amenities, Rapid Transit will provide high quality transit service at a far lower cost than building new highways.