Friday, June 1, 2012

Is Rapid Transit Right for Montgomery?

The Montgomery County Transit Task Force released its recommendations for establishing a 160-mile, innovative, best-in-class rapid transit system that creates a comprehensive transit network. The Task Force recommends that the system be built in three phases over the next nine to 20 years to mitigate both construction and affordability issues.

The proposed rapid transit system would use vehicles that would operate like “light rail on rubber tires” and is more typically referred to as bus rapid transit. To the maximum extent possible, the network would have separate, dedicated rapid transit vehicle (RTV) lanes, with an emphasis on creating a network with both north-south and east-west connections.

The report states that an RTV network is essential if the County wants to achieve its smart growth vision and successfully compete for its fair share of the projected job growth in the region. Although still a rough estimate, the Task Force estimates capital costs for the RTV system to be $1.83 billion. Annual operating costs for the system are estimated to be $1.1 million per mile.

While I think it is great to think big about our future, I continue to ask myself what is economically feasible and manageable for us long term, especially in light of our already extensive backlog of unfunded transportation projects. A recent staff report to the Planning Board raises several issues, including a concern that the proposed network could create a huge amount if transportation capacity beyond that needed to support our current planned land uses. Also, The Gazette has a nice article in addition to an interesting editorial about the report. Check these out and let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

Hello Nancy--
The incredible part of this whole proposal is the lack of public input and comment. This disregard is just so sad. Although the Task Force web-posted workplan committed to having public comment on a draft of the plan, that NEVER happened. Chair Winston did not like that idea and Tom Street thought that Council should hold any necessary hearings! The second Executive omission is that the Task Force never released The Traffic Group's route details which were sent to the Task Force in Jan 2012. Hope you and all the Council members will review this before your briefing! If citizens are to have informed opinions, this information should be readily available.

Civil Affairs Vet said...

Nancy there is an sociological issue at work when it comes to Americans using rapid transit. Americans, no matter what they tell you in surveys really want rail, or if no rail transit bus on guide ways, i.e. Buss Rapid Transit. Regular bus on regular roads is considered less classy.