As more and more people choose to live in Montgomery County, we need to make sure that we have transportation options that meet our needs. In too many parts of the County – or when traveling across the County – a car is the only option for getting from here to there. While we need to have a well-maintained road network, we must also have better public transit options that take us to work, to school, to run errands, and to have fun around the County.
To ensure transportation for all in Montgomery County, we need:
East County residents living along the Route 29 corridor are grossly underserved by transit. Commuter buses run into and out of downtown Silver Spring during rush hour, but there are no buses available to residents on evenings and weekends. Successful completion of the Route 29 Bus Rapid Transit will not only provide essential transportation to residents in this area – it will also show how BRT can work congested roads in the County, where efficient and reliable buses will offer an attractive and reliable alternative to car travel.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has faced ongoing safety issues, reduced bus and train schedules, and decreasing use as riders get tired of poor service and high fares. Montgomery County has the largest population of any county in Maryland, and WMATA is an essential part of our transportation network. Our County officials and our County’s delegation to the State Assembly needs to press the Maryland legislators and the Governor to work with DC and Virginia to provide dedicated funding for the Metro. With a reliable revenue source that they can depend on every year, Metro will actually be able to get “back on track” – providing better service and more affordable fares that make public transit a reliable option for residents around the region.
The Purple Line is an important piece of transportation infrastructure for the County. It will greatly reduce travel times and traffic for people traveling between the major employment centers of Bethesda, Silver Spring and the University of Maryland. It will provide a much more efficient transit route between Maryland branches of the Metrorail system on the Green, Orange and Red Lines. It will strengthen our regional trail network by extending the Capital Crescent Trail and making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists. With the July 2017 court ruling that allows construction to proceed, we need to move forward with the Purple Line.
Housing and transit go hand in hand: more residents boost the number of riders on public transit, while public transit makes a community more desirable to live in. However, without an intentional focus on preserving and expanding affordable housing in areas where new transit is planned, public transportation becomes a force for displacing or excluding residents when housing becomes too expensive. Transit investments in all areas of the County must be combined with a commitment to housing for all residents.
Not every area of the County can be served by public transit, whether light rail or buses. We will still need good planning for our roadways – we have to understand the traffic impacts of our current road network and look for opportunities to improve safety and congestion. Additionally, we must ensure that we have an adequate budget for maintaining our roads in all seasons.