Maryland on priority corridors: Great! Montgomery: Nah!
The Maryland State Highway Administration responded with positive and encouraging language to the WMATA Riders' Advisory Council's recent letter encouraging jurisdictions to work with WMATA on bus priority corridors. Montgomery County, meanwhile, sent a dismissive response to a similar letter from the Action Committee for Transit.
Along with Governor Martin O'Malley and [MDOT] Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, [SHA] is committed to a multi-modal approach to reduce congestion. We share your belief that transit is a vital component for our region's economy and mobility.Pedersen goes on to talk about the TIGER grant, which we won subsequent to Pedersen sending his letter, and studies on Georgia Avenue and Viers Mill Road in Montgomery County where SHA would like to add bus priority treatment.
The SHA is coordinating with WMATA to identify potential transit treatment locations under our system preservation and maintenance program. This ongoing effort will support WMATA's Priority Corridor Network by identifying opportunities for quick and low cost solutions, such as signal-phasing enhancements, bus stop/shelter placement, curb repairs, and queue jumps.
It'd be great if Montgomery County's DOT were so enthusiastic about bus priority corridors. MCDOT Director Arthur Holmes sent ACT a letter that's far less enthusiastic about priority corridors:
Allow me to begin by emphatically stating that the County Executive and the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) are committed to transit services in the County that achieve the intent of our growth policies and master plans. This includes continually improving upon the transit services and programs we currently provide based on budgetary allocations ...There's nothing false about what Mr. Holmes is saying on its face. But the subtext is clear. Holmes believes that designing any roadway in any way other than to move vehicles equally isn't "balanced." However, buses carry far more people than cars. As Pedersen said, sometimes you move more people by designing the roadway to give buses a bit of priority. That's no less balanced.
As stewards of the County's transportation system, we have a responsibility to serve all users, not only transit patrons, but also for motorists who depend on personalized transportation and convenience, pedestrians and cyclists, as well as the freight industry who rely on the transportation system to deliver their goods and services. Our charge is to provide a balanced, safe, effective and efficient transportation system that satisfies the needs of all users. The goals and objectives of each mode often compete or are in conflict with one another, and it is for that very reason that we attempt to provide a balanced set of policies and operational strategies to equitably serve all of our customers. I, and this Department, would not be faithfully serving our residents by discounting the transportation needs of one mode at the expense of another.
Later in the letter, Holmes dismisses the idea of synchronizing signals in ways that might move more people but fewer vehicles, such as timing signals around major transit centers so that buses can more quickly exit the station and move along the road. For the rest of ACT's ideas, Holmes either gives specific technical reasons why they are infeasible, agrees to look into them, or passes the buck to SHA for state roads.
Sure, some bus priority measures wouldn't work in certain areas. But the two letters are night and day in their tone. Pedersen isn't saying that he's going to ban cars from state roadways, and Holmes isn't saying he doesn't care about buses. But Pedersen says that transit is important, and SHA is going to work with WMATA to try to figure out how to make priority corridors work. Holmes says that he's fine with running transit if the County's master plans and budget contain transit, but he's not going to do anything to inconvenience cars.
When it turned Bethesda and Silver Spring into what they are today, Montgomery County was one of the region's most progressive in its views on development and transportation. Ike Leggett is letting his motorhead, autochauvinistic DOT head Arthur Holmes drag Montgomery County down an opposite and harmful path.
- Latest Metro map drafts add Anacostia parks and other tweaks
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- DC Council makes major policy changes overnight
- Short-term Washingtonians deserve a voice, too
- Public land deals have both benefits and pitfalls
- Parklets give every block a little park
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools