Here in Rockville, MD, we have slightly less stress in our morning commute than the average bogotano. We already have an excellent metro for those who commute to D.C. and northern Virginia, and public buses that are reliable and orderly. We don’t have anarchic traffic and truck-sized potholes to contend with on our drive. Still, with traffic increasing yearly in Rockville and the surrounding region, and with pollution and other environmental concerns needing to be addressed in any long-term plan, there are many who support the addition of BRT to Rockville’s transit profile, envisioning a system integrated with Metro and minimally impactful on those who do not use it.
The Gazette reported in February that Andrew Gunning, assistant director of Rockville’s planning department, is leading a study to assess the BRT possibilities. A potential Rockville BRT would have, according to their article, “three corridors converging at or near the Rockville Metro station on Md. 355. From there, bus lines are planned to run north to Clarksburg, south to the District line and southeast to Wheaton.” The county is also undertaking a study of the 355 corridor to assess its potential.
BRT systems have demonstrably reduced CO2 emissions associated with transportation where they have been implemented. They are also potentially exponentially less expensive than rail systems to implement. Bogotá has been struggling for years with funding issues and construction nightmares (sound familiar?) in its attempt to install a subterranean metro system; but it was able to quickly and cost-effectively implement its BRT, which is presently ranked #1 in the world by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), according to the New York Times.
A well-integrated BRT system can promote smart, pedestrian-friendly development. It can provide economic opportunities to people who are otherwise underserved in the area of affordable and efficient transportation, and provide greater flexibility of housing location to all residents. It provides individuals with an alternative (or supplementary) option to metro and car, which could alleviate area traffic.
If you are interested in learning and discussing how Rockville can take inspiration from the successful models of other cities and countries, develop a well-integrated and sustainable BRT system to positively impact the environment and our quality of life, and lead the way for a broad U.S. shift toward rapid transit, we encourage you toattend the upcoming event at Rockville Memorial Library, and bring your questions and an open mind.
Update, June 20: The Coalition for Smarter Growth has arranged to have a sign language interpretation for the event at the request of some members of the deaf community in Rockville.
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Photo courtesy of Rockville Living.