Prince George’s and the Post back light rail Purple Line
On Saturday, the first Purple Line DEIS hearing took place in New Carrolton. Every elected official in attendance spoke in favor of the light rail Purple Line. Of the first 30 speakers from the general public, 27 spoke specifically for a light rail Purple Line. Only one person spoke in favor of the Jones Bridge bus option.
The Washington Post Editorial Board endorsed the light rail Purple Line on Sunday, too. The editorial summarizes the fundamental advantages of Light Rail over "Bus Rapid Transit":
The report does conclude that bus rapid transit is more cost-effective than light rail. But those numbers are based on estimates through 2030. Light rail requires a bigger capital investment initially but is sturdier and, in many cases, more cost-effective in the long run. If Metro, which has operated for more than 30 years, is any indication, the Purple Line is likely to operate far beyond 2030. Light rail also provides more flexibility in the probable event that ridership exceeds estimatesThe editorial then opines on the important political outlook for the light rail option:
— just add more rail cars. Even critics of light rail acknowledge that the trains will be significantly faster than buses.
The current fiscal crisis shouldn't limit the project's ambitions nor sway the state to support an option that is less effective in the long term. If the state decides to support light rail, we're confident that local leaders who have been cautious in their support of light rail, including Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), will use their considerable influence to champion the project.Throughout their study, the MTA Maryland had to follow stingy FTA metrics to keep Purple Line eligible for federal funding. They project 68,000 riders per day for the High Investment Light Rail option. Note that there are no BRT lines operating in the United States that carry 68,000 riders per day. I also think it's safe to say that the ridership will be greater than the projections before 2030.
The next meeting is in Chevy Chase (source of much of the Purple Line opposition) on Tuesday. Here's the complete list of hearings.
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- ICC losing bus service in classic bait and switch