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.”
“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.