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Purple Line Politics

Mayors, congressmen, state senators, delegates, county council members and just plain candidates attended a rally this morning in Langley Park to advance the cause of the Purple Line, a proposed transitway that would link Bethesda and New Carrollton.

I've been at this University Boulevard-New Hampshire Avenue intersection for three separate events this summer that involved the transitway. The first was a tour of the transit route with Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert Flanagan, the second with county executive candidate Steve Silverman and the third today the rally sponsored by a coaltion of transit and trail advocates and business leaders who want to see a light rail built to ease east-west traffic and the Capital Crescent hiker biker trail preserved and extended.

Purple Rally.jpg Backdrop to a rally. (Robert Thomson)

It's very encouraging to see such interest focused on the transitway right now, before a big election, when it really counts. For people in the Maryland suburbs who care about easing -- I don't say solving -- the traffic congestion that hurts people and business, this is the time to be active. The politicians are paying attention. Some, like Montgomery County executive candidate Steve Silverman and county council candidate Roger Berliner have made support of the Purple Line a central theme of their campaigns.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the Democratic candidate for governor, spoke in support of the idea at today's rally. He called it a "high priority." But he characterized it as one of several very important transportation proposals he supports statewide. That's the rub. Can Maryland actually have everything it wants on transportation?
The intercounty connectory highway linking I-270 and I-95 is going to soak up a lot of the available federal money for many years. Meanwhile, the rest of the state has transit and road projects waiting to be built.

Supporting the Purple Line is a winning stance for many -- though not all -- politicians. The really tough parts will be figuring out exactly how to route it and how to win the financing.

I'd like to hear your views on both the need and the prospects. Send comments here, on the blog, or send an e-mail to me, drgridlock@washpost.com. Please include your name, home community and a phone number with the e-mails, so that I could use some in an upcoming Dr. Gridlock column.

By Robert Thomson  |  August 15, 2006; 12:42 PM ET
Categories:  transit  
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Comments

To qualify myself - I'm a long-time Takoma Park, Silver Spring resident who is opposed to the Purple line.

Why ???? It will serve a relatively small area, it's very capital intensive, and doesn't address sprawl.

I say put public transit hooks into the exploding outer urban areas where the cost of retrofitting into tight spaces doesn't make projects so darn expensive.

Posted by: AnnR | August 15, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

AnnR: While the Purple Line itself will directly serve a fairly short distance, it will also serve a large chunk of the Red Line by allowing passengers to transfer to Purple and bypass downtown.

Posted by: Dan | August 15, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who commutes across the Beltway knows that even though traffic is terribly congested, driving is still faster than riding the Red Line all the way into downtown, then transferring to come back out again to Maryland. The Purple Line would make this trip much more bearable and would certainly encourage more use of mass transit.

Also, as a student at UMCP, I can say we desperately need better transit connections to the other Maryland suburbs.

Posted by: Eric | August 15, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that the people that will be served the most are lower income folks who commute from (lower cost) PG County to (higher cost) Montgomery County. You can bet if more of the wealthier folks in Montgomery County needed to commute to PG and poorer residents of PG County objected because it encroached on their land and neighborhoods that the bulldozers would already be plowing the route.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 15, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I lived for some time in Hyattsville without a car, although I have left the area now. I find it disheartening that the ICC-- which does almost nothing to relieve PG county congestion and absolutely nothing to connect areas within the county-- is sucking up state funds while the purple line is still so far off.

The current public transportaion within PG County and between PG and Montgomery is a mess. PG County might as well be 4 separate counties as far a access to county services-- North Green line, South Green line, Orange line and Blue line with no connection. Services/businesses in any one area are inconvenient to reidents of all other areas, and the county seat of Upper Marlboro in inconvenient for 90% of the county's population. PG county Community College as well as the County Courthouse are all but inaccessible to non-drivers in the the northern part of the county. Getting to Univerity of Maryland from Mont. Co or from Southern/Western PG takes hours except by car.

Much as they may like to preserve their rural past, both PG and Montgomery have an urban future and expecting that all residents will drive everywhere (except to work in downtown DC) is unsustainable.


Posted by: mknru | August 15, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I think lots of us are in favor of reducing gridlock and improving transit, but I wonder how many people have actually looked at the maps for this proposed Purple Line? It would disrupt lots of communities. For me, it would turn my already overly-busy two-lane street (Jones Bridge Road) into a death trap. What will happen to the kids who walk to and from North Chevy Chase elementary school? What about all the joggers and bikers who cut across Jones Bridge to get to and from the Capital Crescent Trail?

If there is sufficient demand for this kind of service, then it should be done properly - underground, like the rest of the metro. And if there is not sufficient demand to justify the costs of a real metro, why don't county leaders work to improve bus service along these routes? The J1, 2, 3 buses run infrequently and only during weekday rush hours. Those of us who live in these communities and already ride/drive these routes would rather have current services improved than a major construction project undertaken that likely wouldn't cut back at all on the number of cars on the road.

Posted by: SM | August 15, 2006 7:43 PM | Report abuse

The current Purple Line / Bi-County Transitway is ill conceived and a "hobbled together" mess. Other than using the old CSX railway easement, there is no dedicated unused land to build the transitway unless it is built along existing roadways, which will cause more traffic congestion than it will relieve. Thousands of dollars have been spent for engineers to draw up plans for bridges, tunnels, and cut-and-cover alignments for a light rail system (and bus rapid transit) that is suppose to link the service work force (those living in Langley Park and PG county) with the business centers (Silver Spring and Bethesda) where the jobs are found. Of course it is telling that this work force can't live in Bethesda or Silver Spring because there is no affordable housing. If light rail is built, the Long Branch community and Langley Park stands to gain because where there are light rail stops there will be heightened development. But of course property values will increase and affordable housing with be moved further out into the suburbs. Unfortunately, light rail is about economic development and not about transporting the service work force.

In the course of creating more areas to develop, not only will the neighborhoods in Bethesda be adversely affected, various proposed alignments will destroy the East Silver Spring Community: increased cut-through traffic in the neighborhoods and destruction of homes (if the above ground Sligo Ave or Wayne Ave alignments are chosen) and over 200 mature trees will be destroyed along with wildlife, the water-shed into Sligo Creek will be compromised and destruction of homes (if the cut-and cover alignment in the back-yards of residents living along Silver Spring Ave. and Thayer Ave. is chosen). Global warming is a reality; destruction of green spaces for the sake of more development is not the answer. "Live where you work" is the answer, "affordable housing" in the business centers is the answer, and if Montgomery County is serious about transporting people "building an underground Metro" is the answer.

Posted by: Deb McCormick - 800 Silver Spring Ave. | August 16, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I smell just a bit of contradiction.

>> destruction of green spaces for the sake of more development is not the answer. "Live where you work" is the answer, "affordable housing" in the business centers is the answer

Isn't building affordable housing a kind of development?

Haven't the opponents of the Purple Line in Chevy Chase been arguing that it shouldn't be built because it would lead to construction of more apartments in Bethesda?

Posted by: FuturePurpleRider | August 16, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

want to help the environment?

build mass transit.

duh.

Posted by: oneeyedonehonredflyingpurple..... | August 16, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"want to help the environment?

build mass transit.

duh."

I think you've been sucking in too much of that diesel from those buses.

Want to really help the environment?
Walk, ride a bike, or drive an electric car powered off a solar panel

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Bi-County Transitway (AKA "Purple Line") Myths

Myth: The BCT will get people off the road.
Fact: No evidence of this, and in fact, where bus lines are curtailed and/or people have to ride a bus to a BCT stop to catch the BCT (increasing the time and cost of commuting), people may give up on public transportation and begin using their automobiles. This has happened in other cities such as St. Louis, where buses no longer take people to where they want to go but to a light right station. It should be noted that several years ago when a true Metro-operated "Purple Line" subway system was envisioned a Maryland Capital Beltway Corridor Transportation Study stated that only about 1% of drivers would be diverted from the Beltway to the Purple Line. That would have been, at peak areas, on the Maryland portion of the Beltway, between 2,000 and 4,000 drivers. Of course that was when the Purple Line was going to be a Metro operated fast subway system.

Myth: Over 50,000 people will use the BCT daily.
Fact. At Maryland Transit Administration Focus Group meetings in early May and early June 2006 MTA reported that 11,000 people currently travel by bus in the Langley Park-Bethesda corridor and that fewer use the bus between Langley Park and New Carrollton. They also noted that many of those people who travel short distances would still continue to use the bus once a BCT is built. Assuming that 8,000 current bus riders will use (or be forced to use) the BCT and 3,000 people will give up their cars to use a BCT, that is only 11,000. A 2002 study found that there would 28,000 riders (56,000 trips by 2020). Assuming this might be true, that represents 0.01% of the current populations of the two counties involved.

Myth: "Traveling at up to 55 miles per hour, the Inner Purple Line will enable commuters to bypass the most congested section of the Beltway." (Inner Purple Line website)
Fact: While it might be true a light rail train might be able to achieve a 55 mph speed in a few areas it will go the speed limit in former traffic lanes and it does have to stop to pick up passengers. With every stop comes deceleration and acceleration, which limits average speeds no matter what the top speed. In 1999 the average speed for light rail systems was 16 miles an hour. During fiscal year 2002 the 27 light rail systems, according to the American Public Transportation Association, had an average speed 15.3 miles per hour.

Myth: Light Rail is quiet and safe.
Fact: Depending on the light rail system adopted, it may indeed be quiet, but regardless of the system adopted, it will not be safe. Just look at Houston's light rail system that has been involved in 124 accidents between the first week in January 2004 and the first week in January 2006.

Myth: Property values will go up.
Fact: Normally property values go up around a light rail station. But property values always go down along a light rail route. Who wants to own a home or business with two lanes of track and trains running down them just outside your window?

Myth: The BCT will spur economic development.
Fact: Many cities have been misled by this myth, and have ended up having to pay businesses subsidies to spur development. It would have been cheaper just to pay the subsidies and not spend a billion dollars to build and tens of millions annually to operate the BCT. And lets say, it does spur economic development at Long Branch and Langley Park, what will happen to the low-income families that will be dislocated?

Myth: More stations and stops will increase ridership.
Fact: Just the opposite. The more the stops the slower the speed and the slower the speed the lower number of riders. Just look at the new River Line in New Jersey where, to gain support for the system, everyone was promised a stop. In 2003 New Jersey officials anticipated upwards of 10,000 riders for the 34-mile line. This system, which began in March 2004, found that ridership was only 5,039 average weekday trips in the last three months of 2004, down from 5,562 in the summer months.

Myth: The BCT will be cost effective.
Fact: No. Nationwide, light rail systems are not that cost effective, especially when compared to automobiles and buses. The Coalition to Build the Inner Purple Line stated "Factoring in operating costs and system lifespans (sic) - light rail transit is more cost-effective. Each car has twice the capacity of a bus, and one train operator can therefore handle six times the capacity of a single bus. Rail cars also have a longer lifespan than diesel buses. For both these reasons, operating costs are lower for light rail." A light rail car, depending on the particular model, can certainly carry more people than a bus, and therefore, it is possible for a three-train light rail system to have one operator handling six times the capacity of a single bus. But the salary and benefits of one train operator compared to six bus drivers is meaningless when you figure in the construction and operating costs. Additionally, the roads are already built for the buses. The rail car-diesel bus comparisons are almost as meaningless, when you figure in construction costs and actual operating expenses. Additionally, it is important to note that between 2015 and 2030, should the BCT be built and operating, the construction, capital, and operating costs, will be over $2 billion dollars (and perhaps more if tunnels are used) while the Metro and Ride-On buses in the same areas of service will half a billion dollars. It could be argued that the BCT will be faster than a bus, but it will not be as convenient (with just a limited number of stops), as inexpensive to ride, and as dependable, and it should be noted that the few minutes gained in commuting will not be that great in certain stretches of the BCT.

Myth: The BCT will have no impact on bus service.
Fact: It will have a dramatic negative impact on bus service. People will be forced to take a feeder bus to the system because the bus they formally used would no longer be taking them directly to where they wanted to go, because it would no longer be in operation. Addressing this issue in 2001 the U.S. General Accounting Office noted that bus systems will be forced to "reroute their bus systems to feed the rail line." "This," the GAO reported, "can have the effect of making overall bus operations less efficient when the highest-ridership bus route has been replaced by Light Rail; the short feeder bus routes can be relatively costly."

Myth: The BCT will not impede traffic nor cause congestion.
Fact: Given the alignments being considered for the BCT and the problems inherent with light rail and bus-rapid systems dealing with intersections, traffic, etc., it is likely that a BCT could significantly worsen congestion on roads such as Piney Branch and University Blvd, where two lanes of traffic will be lost to BCT use. Nationwide light rail increases congestion whenever the rail lines occupy former street space. In June 2004 it was reported that when a new light rail line opened in Minneapolis that "motorists who once were able to drive to work in 12 minutes require 50 minutes. This is because empty light-rail trains are so important that traffic signals give them priority over automobiles, meaning people who could once drive on streets with synchronized signals must now frequently stop."

Posted by: greg of silver spring | August 16, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock - I'd like to quote you from a previous article on the "Purple Line" (which people really should call the Bi-County Transitway (BCT) because it WILL NOT be part of Metro)

"One really interesting thing that we learned is that this project is not expected to make traffic better on any area roads. (Yes, you read that right.)"

I think people need to be reminded that this project is NOT about transportation or workers, it's about developers, their money and their clout within the system.

Posted by: Sandy | August 16, 2006 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Sandy, please stop saying that the Purple Line will not be part of Metro.

In Boston, the Green Line (light rail) is every bit as much part of their "T" as the three heavy rail lines.

Posted by: Ben Ross | August 16, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The State MTA has gone on record saying that the Bi-County Transitway could be operated by the State, by a new transit entity, or by Metro. I guess the problem is by saying, incorrectly at present, that the Bi-County Transitway is the "Purple Line" and that it is part of Metro, makes the uninformed public envision a relatively harmless subway line.

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 16, 2006 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I have heard anecdotally that the J2 & Q2 buses, both of which connect the two spurs of the red line, are among the busiest Metrobus routes in Maryland. The J2 and Q2 buses actually run more frequently than Metrorail trains on the Red Line, and every time I've ridden on either of those lines, I've been surprised at how crowded the bus is, relative to the time of day.

For the new Dr. Gridlock, I would love to see some stats (or point us to a list somewhere) of ridership per Metrobus line!

So it's not like increasing bus service is going to solve anything here. Having seen light rail in Baltimore, I am not a big believer in that either.

The only real solution would be some semblance of a heavy rail, and we all know that the money for that won't come in this decade, or probably the next. So I'll just get back on my bike, and ride the partially finished Capital Crescent Trail (you know, the unfinished sand pit that leads into Silver Spring), and throw my bike on the bus rack if the weather is bad.

Posted by: Joe | August 17, 2006 2:03 AM | Report abuse

yeah, that's a good idea!

let's have everyone walk from Green Belt to Silver Springs! that's a reasonable solution!

or better yet, let's have everyone buy solar-powered cars! we can all afford that, and they're sold everywhere that accepts mastercard! that's a reasonable solution!

but if you'd rather bike, just bring that bad boy on the beltway and get where you need to go. that's a reasonable solution!

build mass transit? allow thousands of people to travel everyday without needing an individual car? naw. that's silly.

what we need to do is ignore the impact thousands of cars have on the beltway. we need to deny that like-it-or-not, people can't just live where they work. we need to sit around and do nothing, and hope that maybe people will just... just stop moving around.

that's a reasonable solution...

Posted by: electric WOO | August 17, 2006 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Greg of Silver Spring:

Nice use of selective statistics and information. However, you failed to document where you got the statistics and other information. Could lead one to believe that you grabbed the stats and information from thin air. Did you?

Also, with no documentation, no one can check to see if you cherry picked the best and/or worst comparisons. Did you?

Who is the "it" in your "it has been reported", a phrase you used several times? Do you know that the meanings of "could", "should" "may", "normally" are NOT definitive, but permissive, meaning that the scenario might happen, then again it might not. You use the 'might happen' as the presumed outcome when it benefits your "Facts" and the 'might not happen' only when it benefits your "Facts". No reasoning is given as to why something might or might not happen.

No consideration is given to what actions might mitigate any of the negative impacts of the Purple Line on the communities. Nor is there any consideration of any positive impacts on the communities.

You quote a source discussing operating costs, but then bring in operating AND capital costs to try to counter their points. Do you understand that capital costs and operating costs are two separate costs? I don't think you do, or if you do, you don't think the rest of us do.

In other words, if you don't have the integrity to cite the sources for your "Fact" quotations, consider any mitigating factors, consider benefits of contructing the Purple Line, and respond with valid comparisons, there is no reason for anyone to believe that anything you wrote is factual.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 17, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse

In March 2005 I wrote a 58-page position paper in opposition to the Bi-County Transitway. It is fully footnoted to sources, with nearly 180 footnotes; and references to capital and operating costs are separate entities. It can be found at:
http://www.saveoursligoavenue.com/SaveOurSligoAvenue/bpdocumentdfinalweb.htm

Of course that was March 2005, and since then a lot more information has been forthcoming and I represent a group with a MTA Focus Group where the MTA officils and their contractors have handed out tons of material, which will be incorporated into a new and expanded version of the earlier paper. There is also over one thousand items (including studies and reports) on the Federal Transit Administration's website regarding the New Starts program (which funds up to 50%)for light-rail and bus-rapid transit initiatives.

By the way, nothing I have written since March 2005 has been refuted, with facts, by anyone. And I would welcome being corrected. The more factual information comes out the better for all of us.

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 17, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Tokyo has a subway system not too different from ours, topologically speaking. There is, however, one thing that makes it infinitely more useful: a rail line that circles around the city, allowing commuters to avoid going all the way downtown to transfer. This "purple line" seems to step in the right direction, but doesn't completely solve the problem.

The other thing that's useful is that their metro system goes out to the equivalent of Tysons and Dulles and BWI, but it seems like there are folks already fighting that fight...

Posted by: LessonsFromJapan | August 17, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who has to be prodded to provide source references doesn't deserve to be given much consideration. Comments out of context are also suspicious.

As an example - You stated "In 2003 New Jersey officials anticipated upwards of 10,000 riders for the 34-mile [River] line." Can you back up that statement? When did officials expect that there would be 10,000 riders per weekday? In 2010, maybe? In 2015? Certainly NOT in 2003, when the line opened.

In September, 2004, Jon Bell wrote at the Presbyterian College web site that the initial ridership was expected to be 5,900 per weekday (http://web.presby.edu/~jtbell/transit/Camden-Trenton/), not the 10,000 you cited. According to NJ Transit, ridership reached 7,600 per weekday in August, 2005 (http://www.njtransit.com/nn_press_release.jsp?PRESS_RELEASE_ID=1986). (I can't find any later ridership figures or I would cite them.)

Simple things like the '10,000 daily ridership figure' above brings into question the veracity of any of your statements.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 17, 2006 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Mike in Baltimore,

Rather than trying to discredit another participant, why don't you tell us how this billion dollar project will help the state of Maryland. I can see how it will help the Chevy Chase Land Company's profits and how it will increase tax revenue. But I would like to see the ROI numbers on the project cost versus the tax revenue. People who are struggling economicaly will continue to take the cheapest method of transport - bus. This is a boondoggle being pushed by ACT, the armed wing of the Chevy Chase Land Company.

Posted by: Jim | August 17, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Mike of Baltimore, According to one reporter, on March 14, 2004, "The project originally was expected to cost $450 million, but delays and construction problems pushed the final price tag to more than $1 billion. Ridership projections have been chopped from 9,300 one-way trips per day to 5,700." http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:PHqnKDAkFo8J:www.dvarp.org/news/acpress_2004-03-14.pdf+New+Jersey+River+Line+ridership+projections&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1

Another article, from this summer, states: "some 18,400 daily riders were predicted." This article did note, however, that ridership was over 9,000. http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_lrt_2006-05a.htm

The key to Maryland getting monies from the FTA's New Starts program will to have high ridership estimates (as well as low construction costs). It will be interesting to see next spring what numbers MTA comes up and how they were derived.

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 17, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Why not a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit line running up Colesville Rd. and University Blvd? It seems like every option we see tears up residential neighborhoods like East Silver Spring.

Posted by: Will of Silver Spring | August 17, 2006 8:03 PM | Report abuse

The politicians defined the discussion as being for or against the Purple Line. If you are for it, you are for alleviating traffic. If you oppose any part of the Purple Line,you want people to pollute the world with traffic jams. It all sounds like Karl Rove over simplification to me.

It is more nuanced and we should not allow developer-funded politicians to force us into a take it or leave it position on the proposed routes.

At the very first MTA focus group meeting in Silver Spring, we were told that the purpose of this part of the study was to rapidly move people from PG to Montgomery County and to make a stop at Piney Branch and Flower for the developers. There was no mention of relieving traffic. We were also told that MTA was not allowed to study Colesville Road for political reasons. Six months later, they changed their reason for not studying Colesville to it causing too much congestion.

Do you know that the proposed routes will involve the train or bus sharing one lane of traffic with the cars on Fenton St and Piney Branch roads? If it will cause too much congestion on Colesville, what will it do to our one lane streets? If you have driven these congested roads, you know that nothing rapid is going to get through.

So please, let's not be polarized by their insistence on routes contrived for developers. Let's insist that the Purple Line take traffic off the roads and not destory whole communities. How about light rail down one lane of Colesville all the way to White Oak with a turn off down University to Langley Park?

Deep tunneling is still the best option for moving people rapidly. Anyone have details on the Tysons Corner study that concluded it was not more expensive than light rail?

Posted by: Karen of Silver Spring | August 17, 2006 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Karen of Silver Spring,

The Tysons Corner study was tunneling vs. elevated tracks in Tysons. Light rail was not a consideration at all.

As to single tracking, that was tried on Baltimore's light rail, and found to be a disaster. Trains had to be scheduled so far apart to allow traffic to flow in each direction, one at a time over the single track, that passengers had lengthy waits for the next train in the direction they were going. Also, if there was a breakdown on the single track section, there went the ability to run trains through that section, effectively turning the light rail system into two disjointed sections. Think how crazy it gets when Metro single tracks around a section, then think how disjointed Metro would be if it couldn't get around that section of track at all.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 18, 2006 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I would not mind seeing BRT if 100% of the line is dedicated tunnel, but you probably cannot sell people on a 14 mile tunnel that Harry Homeowner can't drive in. Buses can go as fast as trains when they have a grade-separated right of way, but tunnels for buses are a political challenge. I guess you could theoretically stick BRT above-grade as an EL like some segments of the Metro, cheaper than tunnelling and might respect road/trail safety better but might hit the mother of all NIMBY resistance. I respect the argument that it would be better to have full integration with Metro rather than an independent system for administrative and operational cost savings.

As for "reverse" commuters leaving Mo Co, there will be plenty if it is built: from university students who live in Mo Co with Mom to Bethesda business people who want a more efficient route to New York, BWI or Baltimore by MARC or Amtrak to workers going from Bethesda to Silver Spring for lunch. A transit upgrade at Langley Park would also attract high-rent tenants and would make that area - already great for a variety of ethnic restaurants - even more attractive as a destination, sort of like Bethesda is now, but more down to earth.

Posted by: Bruce | August 18, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Bruce brought up some interesting uses for the line that I had not considered. Montgomery County commuters who want to take the Amtrak Metroliner up to Phila/NYC/Boston could use this new system. That is, if the system is FAST, otherwise they would just take the Amtrak from Union Station.

Students need FAST transport.

Lunch hour workers need FAST transport.

FAST = Heavy Rail/Buried

If slow is fine, take the bus.

Why not do this project right, or just use the money for the Corridor Cities Transitway. That project should put a significant dent in 270 traffic from the north.

Once again we should insist that our money is spent on a solution that is practical, and that will remove traffic from our roads.

The project, as it currently stands, is being moved forward by self-serving developers and sell-out politicians. It is not a smart use of our resources.

Posted by: Jim | August 18, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Developers, Politicians, Contractors, and the Bi-County Transitway

Suppose I was a developer and I wanted to develop Long Branch and Langley Park and move the low-income families and businesses out and replace them with medium and high income families and upscale businesses. What would I do?

First I would get people on the County Council to go along with the development
plan, and sell them on the idea of "transit oriented development." Of course, I would have to financially back them. (accomplished)

Then I would get the original "Purple Line" concept (Bethesda-Silver Spring) expanded by having it go from Bethesda to New Carrollton; thus the Bi-County Transitway. (accomplished)

Then I would ensure the County Council had the County Planning Board and the MNCPPC come up with a study for the Bethesda to New Carrollton route showing it not using Colesville Road and avoiding Tacoma Park, but instead going through Long Branch and Langley Park. (accomplished, October 5, 2004)

Then I would get the State to agree to build a Langley Park Transit Center to facilitate
development. (accomplished)

Then I would have the politicians and others start calling the Bi-County Transitway the Purple Line, with the idea there will be less opposition if people think it is a subway. (accomplished)

Then, to gather support for the system, I would work with the Maryland Transit Administration to hold out the hope to people along the route that there might be numerous stations, without informing them that the more the stops the slower the system will be and the word "station" could simply be a Kiosk. (accomplished)

Then I would get well-meaning environmental and transit groups to believe that the BCT will get traffic off the beltway, when there is little evidence that it would. (accomplished)

Then I would ensure the Montgomery Council does not have developers put aside too many family living units for low income families; set the bar high for medium income
"set asides," thereby allowing for more profits for homes and business
constructed at Long Branch and Langley Park. (accomplished; County Council approved on July 11, 2006)

Then I would get Steven Silverman to run for County Executive and give him lots of money. (accomplished; As of January 2006, the Maryland State Board of Elections reported that Mr. Silverman had garnered nearly $1.4 million dollars, of which more than one million dollars was directly attributable to development-related interests. On August 2, 2006, Neighbors for a Better Montgomery issued a press release stating that "Mr. Silverman is on track to accumulate more than $2.5 million dollars in campaign contributions during the entire 2006 election cycle, with nearly three of every four dollars coming from development-related interests."

Then I would get the well-meaning Tom Perez to run for State Attorney General so he can be in position to help expedite eminent domain proceedings. (accomplished)

Then, I would get the State to renew its contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc. to do Bi-County Transitway studies for the State MTA (accomplished;On August 9, 2006, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $12,000,000.00 contract)

Finally, I would ensure that the contractor comes up with low construction costs and high ridership estimates. (pending; March 2007).

But of course, this is all just what I would do if I were a developer with my eyes on Long Branch and Langley Park.

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 18, 2006 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Although I am for the purple line, I am against the proposed Thayer/Silver Spring Avenue Route. There are three proposed routes for the purple line: Wayne Avenue, Sligo Avenue, or Thayer Avenue. There are many issues with the route, specifically the route will:

*Threaten a large portion of Sligo Creek Park and the Sligo Creek Watershed, home to diverse wildlife and fish.

*Take portions of over 50 properties with no legal basis other than through the lengthy and expensive eminent domain process.

*Destroy over 200 mature trees and one of the few significant tree canopies near downtown Silver Spring.

*Cross in back of East Silver Spring Elementary School where children in Pre-kindergarten through 5th grade attend.

*Decrease bus service on Thayer Avenue.

*Make Sligo Avenue a one-way street causing more traffic congestion.

*Widen Thayer Avenue 14 Feet, allowing for 4 lanes of traffic. This will eliminate on-street parking. Children will have to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get to East Silver Spring Elementary School.

*Threaten the viability of the East Silver Spring community.

More information is at: http://www.sstop.org

Posted by: Elliot | August 19, 2006 9:32 PM | Report abuse

>>But of course, this is all just what I would do if I were a developer with my eyes on Long Branch and Langley Park.

Oooh! The spectre of development! Let's all cower and shudder at the idea of people actually wanting to live in Langley Park, rather than living there because their economic circumstances dictate that they must!

Langley Park is woefully underserved by transit right now. It's high-density development sitting there with nothing but a passel of Ride-Ons to move a huge pool of willing transit users. It's the single best argument for the Purple Line.

Posted by: Lindemann | August 21, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

*Take portions of over 50 properties with no legal basis other than through the lengthy and expensive eminent domain process."

You are mixing two things here, basis vs. process.

The Fifth Amendment says there has to be a basis for the government to take over private property (". . . nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.") The public use is for transit, and is the basis for the government taking the property.

The process of the government taking possession of that property for public use is called eminent domain. It can be a lengthy process, but it also can be a much shorter and less expensive process. If someone is fighting eminent domain for the sole purpose of disrupting the project, not because they feel they aren't being properly compensated, then the process can be extremely long and expensive. Who pays? The taxpayer and the people who would benefit from the public project, in this case the users of public transit.

Some of the comments on this discussion lead me to think there will be a long and expensive process here, with help from non-property holders in the Purple Line project area, because some people don't like public transit. They try to cover up their opposition with reasons such as it will only benefit developers, or it won't decrease Beltway traffic (most of the ridership wouldn't have been on the Beltway in the first place), or stating a "station" on a light rail line will only be a "bus shelter" (anyone who has used light rail knows there is a platform of some sort, but not necessarily even a shelter, let alone a brick and mortor "train station"), or some other reason.

The bottom line is that they don't want public transit, or they would propose viable alternatives to light rail or bus rapid transit. Instead of helping to solve the problem, all they are doing is muddying the waters to try to make sure people don't even see the problem.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 21, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

In any organized debate the pro side has the burden to show there is a problem and then offer a solution to it. The con side can win the debate by showing there is not a problem or by showing the solution offered is not practical, cost effective, etc. I think we can all agree there is a traffic problem. But in almost two years of debate regarding the Bi-County Transitway nobody, not even the state MTA which has been given well over $20 million to study the issue, has shown the BCT will be cost effective, "dramatically" reduce traffic (Sen. Rubin's campaign literature), or not increase traffic congestion on double-tracked roads. Right now we should be exploring all alternatives to the BCT and not simply believing in the emperor's new clothes. In terms of alternatives, how about monorails, subways (probably too costly), giving some or all buses control over stop lights, or building overpasses at key intersections? I am sure that other solutions can be offered. I look forward to hearing about them.

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 21, 2006 9:32 PM | Report abuse

"In any organized debate ..."

I didn't know that Dr. Gridlock's blog was an "organized debate". In fact, it is not. Therefore, the rules for "organized debate" do not apply. Every person should be able to present facts, backed up with documentation, or opinion. However, if opinion is presented, it should be clear it is opinion, not presented as undocumented 'fact,' or using questionable sources to presnet opinon as fact.

Further, false representations of information should reflect on the person presenting them. For example, the vast majority of the backers of the Purple Line recognize that it will not be the cure-all for traffic problems in the proposed corridor. Using the statements of one or two who mistakenly state that it will clear up all the traffic mess (or even most) shows desperation, is a false argument, and is an indication that the person arguing from that point of view has a lack of character.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 22, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Mike in Baltimore:

I am still waiting for a "fact" directly relating to the Bi-County Transitway (aka Purple Line).

Without facts, we cannot even really start to have a rational discussion about this transit issue.

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 22, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Greg of Silver Spring said, "I am still waiting for a "fact" directly relating to the Bi-County Transitway (aka Purple Line)."

So you are admitting that the "Facts" that you listed in response to [supposed] "Myths" (above) are not facts. Thank you for that admission.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 23, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Mike in Baltimore:

Notice I started by using the word "I." That means me, i.e., I am waiting for someone other than myself to produce "facts" relating to the Bi-County Transitway. If you do not like my "facts" then provide your own. I am sure that there are many things we would agree on. But I would urge you go to the websites for the Federal Transit Administration, General Accountability Office (the old General Accounting Office), and other authoritative sources and gather some facts that relate to light rail, and see how the information they provide applies to the BCT. You might be interested to know that the FTA does not grant funds to entities that overestimate ridership and underestimate costs.

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 23, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Re: comments in the blog re: the Purple Line and the Intercounty Connector (ICC) that the ICC "is going to soak up a lot of the available federal money for many years" thereby stalling other projects suck as the Purple Line:

First of all, it is highly questionable that the Purple Line will alleviate congestion in the area it is planned to "serve". The Purple Line will not reduce congestion on the Beltway - most users of that section of the Beltway aren't traveling between College Park and Bethesda. Those who are, use East-West Highway and other Routes.

Studies by the Texas Transportation Institute, Reason Public Policy Institute, and the Center For the American Dream of Mobility and home Ownership show that light rail (the planned Purple Line configuration) doesn't get enough people out of their cars in sufficient numbers significantly reduce congestion - it attracts mostly riders who already take the bus (see http://www.rppi.org/thegreatraildisaster.shtml). Nearly every light rail system built in the US over the last 20 years has been an expensive "feel good" failure. Light rail does little more than "soak up funds" that could be spent on less expensive, more flexible buses. You don't have to go far to see the failure of light rail. Just look at the almost-empty light rail cars that roll through Baltimore.

Many in this area have a fixation on rail as a cure-all solution to our congestion. We need to face the fact that 19th century technology can't be expected to address a 21st century problem.

One project that will definitely "soak up funds for many years" is Dulles rail which will cost a minimum of $4 billion plus perpetual operating subsidies.We've have been strangely quiet about the transportation projects that will be delayed by Dulles rail.

Posted by: CEEAF | August 23, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Those of us in the "bulls-eye" sights of the proposed Purple Line alignments on Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring/Thayer, and perhaps even Wayne, live here PRECISELY because we use, depend on, and support public transit. Mike from Baltimore apprently has no concept of our neighborhood, its layout, or demographics, or he wouldn't hurl such accusations that we blindly "oppose all public transit." We and our neighbors include no-car and one-car families who walk, bike, ride the bus, and, yes, commute on Metro. We live here because it is already well served by multiple transit modes. We are therefore distraught to learn that our safe, compact, walkable neighborhood would be bisected, if not destroyed, by the purple line proposals now on the table.

Posted by: AmyLou | August 23, 2006 9:45 PM | Report abuse

>

Precisely why we don't need the Purple Line. Improvements to roads like East-West Highway would make more sense.

>

We usually hear that lament over proposed roads, particulary limited-access highways. Folks in the DC region have a history of being hypersensitive to the impact and cost of roads while being oblivious to the impact and cost of rail. There is definitly a double standard.

Posted by: CEEAF | August 24, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Mike in Baltimore -

Please refrain from personal insults. To date you have challenged other contributers facts but provided none of your own. Frankly, the Rovian tacticts of insulting critics without addressing the questions is getting a bit old. You present a false choice. If anyone is against the BCT they're against mass transit. As AmyLou points out, many residents of ESS are big proponents of mass transit and live in these neighborhood because of the transit options.

Have you ever been to East Silver Spring? Have you walked the proposed routes?

What's your stake in all of this anyway?

Posted by: KCS | August 24, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Most people who oppose the Bi-County Transitway (BCT) are strong supporters of public transit. I am a supporter of the Metro Inner Purple Line (IPL) as it was initially proposed during the Glendening administration.

BCT is nothing close to IPL. BCT is a lot cheaper - and I'm not talking money. BCT is BAD COMPROMISE TRANSIT. It will be considerably less effective than IPL in almost every category except price.

In order to provide transportation capacity in an area where no new roads are feasible, the State is considering routes that would take families' homes, disrupt dozens of small businesses, and cut a neighborhood in half. Why? Because it's cheaper.

The State is also seriously considering Bus Rapid Transit for BCT. "Bus Trains" as I have heard them called. Really? Why? Because it's cheaper.

They are looking into light rail -- NOT Metrorail, mind you. No, LRT is smaller. BCT advocates like to use words like "cute," or "charming." But these terms come at a price - less capacity, lower speeds, longer commute times, and of course damage to neighborhoods along the route, to mention only a few. Why? Because it's cheaper.

An entire thriving, diverse, mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood is suppose to "just get over it" when BCT advocates and developers tell them "this is in the name of progress." Why? Because it's cheaper.

All of this in the name of "Quality of life." Whose quality of life? Certainly not the residents in 1200 homes and hundreds of apartments in East Silver Spring. Certainly not the dozens of small business owners struggling to make a living in and around East Silver Spring. For them you might as well just make BCT another road - one that runs through their living rooms.

BCT advocates have made concessions to further this transit system. They have allied themselves not only with environmental groups like the Sierra Club, but also with powerful development interests like the Chevy Chase Land Company and Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Parsons. Politics does make strange bedfellows, but I smell a rat.

They will email and pow-wow with the developers. They will take their money to produce high-impact media events during campaign season. They will even endorse candidates who have raised millions from developers. But will they listen to their neighbors' concerns?

No. They choose instead to marginalize us. They call us "limited local opposition," as if we were not a community, but rather more like a nest of insurgents to be smoked out.

I must admit one advantage to this type of treatment from BCT supporters. In their vagueness and hostility they reveal that what Greg and others are saying bothers them. And - if it bothers them, it should bother you as well.

BCT is not IPL. Even with Purple lipstick, it's still a pig. Please take the time to look for yourself. We in East Silver Spring have looked more closely than many because it threatens our homes and our community. What we discovered was disturbing. All that we can ask is that the public take another look at what is proposed - and not automatically back BCT.


Posted by: Bill in Silver Spring | August 24, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I used to live in Silver Spring (granted many years ago) on Dallas Avenue, then further east, about 4 blocks from the old Flower Theater. I walked to work near the intersection of Georgia and Colesville. I'm not a complete stranger to that area.

The proposal for a subway line takes much more construction to build, causing much more surface disruption. The proposal made in the Glendening adminstration was much closer to the Beltway, would have been to the Medical Center Metro station, and would have had only 2 or 3 stops between Silver Spring and Bethesda. I've walked Wisconsin Avenue from the NIH to downtown Bethesda, and it's not a short walk. Would that help increase the passenger numbers, especially at rush hour, to Bethesda? Try walking it in hot weather, or rainy weater, or in snow. It's not pleasant. Would it take traffic off the Beltway? I don't think it would make any discernable difference.

As to ridership on Baltimore's light rail - the system originally was not designed correctly. With single tracking on major portions of the route, it meant the trains had to be scheduled more than 15 minutes apart. When they finally started to double track, they had to shut down major sections of the system for safety reasons and to speed up the constructions schedule. Bus bridges were put in place, but if anyone has experienced a bus bridge, you know the only thing it does is maybe eventually deliver you to the end of the bus bridge, while adding 15 minutes to an hour to your trip. The double track construction took almost 3 years to complete, with total disruption during the entire period. The system is just now starting to get back to what it should have been in the beginning in terms of schedules, and the ridership is starting to increase.

CEEAF - The link to the RPPI site is interesting. But did you notice that it is taking stats from mass transit and safety in Los Angeles during the 1990s (during the period the LA subway was being built), and then broad-brushing those stats across all mass transit in the US? One quote amused me. "... Washington lost 22,000 transit commuters in the 1990s even while it gained more than 100,000 jobs." First, I'm not sure that stat is correct, as there are no comparisons or citations of source given on the page. Even if it is correct, anyone want to defend that information with the 2006 ridership figures on MetroRail and MetroBus? Aren't some of the complaints of Metro riders that the trains are too crowded, that Metro should run more 6 car trains on the Blue Line, that the Orange Line needs more 8 car trains? Haven't some of you complained about the crowded conditions on the J2 line? Were the subway trains more crowded in the 1990s than in 2006?

Earlier this summer, The Examiner's Steve Eldrige reported that daily MARC ridership during the last decade is up 50%, with an 80% increase on the Penn Line. I live in a neighborhood of Baltimore that is being successfully marketed to home buyers as being close to Penn Station with access to DC via the Penn Line, a five minute walk from my home. In the past few years, many of the rowhouses have been returned from multi-unit apartment buildings, many with little maintenance being done (some having been vacant for years), to occupied single family homes as they were when originally built, some more than 120 years ago. The neighborhood has become much more stable, and property values are now increasing after decades of at best staying stable, if not actually declining. New construction is occuring in this neighborhood, something that hadn't been seen in decades. Within 7 blocks of my home, new residences are being built on several entire, formerly vacant, blocks in the neighborhood. Several buildings are being converted from other uses to residential, either apartments or condo units. Almost all because of the proximity to Penn Station.

Many of the new residents are from the DC area, because the cost of housing in Baltimore is much cheaper than the DC area. They still work in DC, and commute by train, rather than by car from the inner or outer suburbs. If they lived in DC, their mortgage or rental payments are far less than their rents were in DC. Many don't have much additional, if any more, travel time than they had previously.

The use of "facts" as provided by sites such as RPPI does not add much validity, in my opinion, to the discussion. For instance, that site makes a big deal about accidents involving LA area mass transit. No information is given as to who was at fault in those accidents, or even the type of accidents. Did they involve pedestrians? Vehicular traffic? When the accident involves light rail or commuter rail, almost none, if any at all, of the accidents are the fault of the transit vehicle or operator, but the other party(ies) to the accident. Such as pedestrians crossing tracks without observing the oncoming train, whether at a rail crossing or between crossings; such as vehicles trying to beat the train at rail crossings. Commuter rail in the LA area had at least two, if not more, serious derailments because someone lost the race across the crossing before the train arrived at that crossing. Was that the fault of the commuter rail, or the stupid driver?

No, I'm not a current resident of the Silver Spring area, but I do have some familiarity with it. I also am a daily user of mass transit (commuter train, subway AND bus) in the DC and Baltimore areas. Why? The main reason is I don't own a passenger vehicle.

Just because I, or others, don't live in the affected area doesn't mean we have no knowledge of at least some of the issues.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | August 24, 2006 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Mike in Baltimore

You make some good comments regarding accidents and light rail. There is a website that tracks the number (and provides a counter that other cities can use) and provides some details about accidents involving Houston's so called "Danger Train" or "Wham-Bam-Tram." It seems to confirm your belief that most all the accidents are caused by drivers and pedestrians, not the train iteslf. But so many? The website can be found at:

http://www.actionamerica.org/houston/index.shtml

Posted by: Greg of Silver Spring | August 25, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

>

Nice try, but you can't dismiss the data as "old" and therefor incorrect.

The FACTS prove my argument - light-rail has been a failure in every US city where it's been implemented by the factors transit advocates always use for justifying the expense - expected ridership, reduction of traffic congestion and reduced air pollution. We're not talking about increasing property values or "encouraging transit-oriented development". We're talking about the reason why transit, especially expensive rail transit, should be even considered, much less built.

Now, you are more than welcome to find some NEW or RECENT data from a CREDIBLE source to pro ve me wrong. Better yet, give us an example of a light-rail system that's been SUCCESSFUL by the standards mentioned above. Suggestion: since you live in Baltimore, why not start with Baltimore's light-rail? Oops! That's probably not a fair question since Baltimore's light-rail is empty most of the time, except when there's a game at one of the stadiums.

Give ONE example of successful light rail in the US. Just one.

>

That observation is quite shallow and simplistic and shows a lack of knowledge and perception. Anyone who lives in the DC region can tell you where MOST of the job and residential growth has occured since 1990. It's occured in the suburbs in areas NOT served by Metro. Therefor transit's share of commuters would have significantly decreased in spite of its becoming more crowded.

>

True, but What's this got to do with light rail? If you have anything to show that this development has been influenced by its proximity to Baltimore's light rail, please enlighten us.


>

Who caused the accident is irrelevant. The FACT (oh, those pesky facts!) is that the accidents would have never occured if the light rail hadn't been been built on the same street as the cars and pedestrians.

And to make a statement such as "When the accident involves light rail or commuter rail, almost none, if any at all, of the accidents are the fault of the transit vehicle or operator, but the other party(ies) to the accident" is the height of insensitivity and arrogance. Unattractive traits that transit advocates seem to possess in spades.

>

That's a matter of personal choice.

The thing that irritates me about transit advocates, especially rail transit advocates, is that they get very smug and pleased with themselves about their "choice" and they are VERY quick to express a desire to impose their way of life on the rest of us.

>

No it doesn't. But I question your motives. I have a real problem with someone from the other side of Maryland telling us what our priorities in Montgomery and Prince Georges should be. It reminds me of the people who came from as far away as Vermont (on the Sierra Club's dime), pretended to be Maryland residents, and tried to tell us why we shouldn't build the ICC.

Posted by: CEEAF | August 29, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

To Mike in Baltimore:

"CEEAF - The link to the RPPI site is interesting. But did you notice that it is taking stats from mass transit and safety in Los Angeles during the 1990s (during the period the LA subway was being built), and then broad-brushing those stats across all mass transit in the US?"

Nice try, but you can't dismiss the data as "old" and therefor incorrect.

The FACTS prove my argument - light-rail has been a failure in every US city where it's been implemented by the factors transit advocates always use for justifying the expense - expected ridership, reduction of traffic congestion and reduced air pollution. We're not talking about increasing property values or "encouraging transit-oriented development". We're talking about the reason why transit, especially expensive rail transit, should be even considered, much less built.

Now, you are more than welcome to find some NEW or RECENT data from a CREDIBLE source to pro ve me wrong. Better yet, give us an example of a light-rail system that's been SUCCESSFUL by the standards mentioned above. Suggestion: since you live in Baltimore, why not start with Baltimore's light-rail? Oops! That's probably not a fair question since Baltimore's light-rail is empty most of the time, except when there's a game at one of the stadiums.

Give ONE example of successful light rail in the US. Just one.

"One quote amused me. "... Washington lost 22,000 transit commuters in the 1990s even while it gained more than 100,000 jobs." First, I'm not sure that stat is correct, as there are no comparisons or citations of source given on the page. Even if it is correct, anyone want to defend that information with the 2006 ridership figures on MetroRail and MetroBus? Aren't some of the complaints of Metro riders that the trains are too crowded, that Metro should run more 6 car trains on the Blue Line, that the Orange Line needs more 8 car trains? Haven't some of you complained about the crowded conditions on the J2 line? Were the subway trains more crowded in the 1990s than in 2006?"

That observation is quite shallow and simplistic and shows a lack of knowledge and perception. Anyone who lives in the DC region can tell you where MOST of the job and residential growth has occured since 1990. It's occured in the suburbs in areas NOT served by Metro. Therefor transit's share of commuters would have significantly decreased in spite of its becoming more crowded.

"Earlier this summer, The Examiner's Steve Eldrige reported that daily MARC ridership during the last decade is up 50%, with an 80% increase on the Penn Line. I live in a neighborhood of Baltimore that is being successfully marketed to home buyers as being close to Penn Station with access to DC via the Penn Line, a five minute walk from my home."

True, but What's this got to do with light rail? If you have anything to show that this development has been influenced by its proximity to Baltimore's light rail, please enlighten us.


"The use of "facts" as provided by sites such as RPPI does not add much validity, in my opinion, to the discussion. For instance, that site makes a big deal about accidents involving LA area mass transit. No information is given as to who was at fault in those accidents, or even the type of accidents. Did they involve pedestrians? Vehicular traffic? When the accident involves light rail or commuter rail, almost none, if any at all, of the accidents are the fault of the transit vehicle or operator, but the other party(ies) to the accident. Such as pedestrians crossing tracks without observing the oncoming train, whether at a rail crossing or between crossings; such as vehicles trying to beat the train at rail crossings. Commuter rail in the LA area had at least two, if not more, serious derailments because someone lost the race across the crossing before the train arrived at that crossing. Was that the fault of the commuter rail, or the stupid driver?"

Who caused the accident is irrelevant. The FACT (oh, those pesky facts!) is that the accidents would have never occured if the light rail hadn't been been built on the same street as the cars and pedestrians.

And to make a statement such as "When the accident involves light rail or commuter rail, almost none, if any at all, of the accidents are the fault of the transit vehicle or operator, but the other party(ies) to the accident" is the height of insensitivity and arrogance. Unattractive traits that transit advocates seem to possess in spades.

"I also am a daily user of mass transit (commuter train, subway AND bus) in the DC and Baltimore areas. Why? The main reason is I don't own a passenger vehicle."

That's a matter of personal choice.

The thing that irritates me about transit advocates, especially rail transit advocates, is that they get very smug and pleased with themselves about their "choice" and they are VERY quick to express a desire to impose their way of life on the rest of us.

"Just because I, or others, don't live in the affected area doesn't mean we have no knowledge of at least some of the issues."

No it doesn't. But I question your motives. I have a real problem with someone from the other side of Maryland telling us what our priorities in Montgomery and Prince Georges should be. It reminds me of the people who came from as far away as Vermont (on the Sierra Club's dime), pretended to be Maryland residents, and tried to tell us why we shouldn't build the ICC.

Posted by: CEEAF | August 29, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

My main concern that is keeping me up all night is that the "favored" Thayer Ave. Route of the purple line goes above ground IN FRONT OF EAST SILVER SPRING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! Here is the map (from the county) which proves it: http://www.bi-countytransitway.com/PDFs/English/FG-4_Sheet07_SilverSpring.pdf

There have been NUMEROUS FATALITIES from light rail--mostly pedestrians (and these numbers are actually larger as don't count cars hitting others to avoid the trains):
http://www.usatoday.com/news/2003-01-07-rail-fatalities.htm

This is some serious stuff!! I hope there is a voice of reason that routes this away from my child's elementary school.

Posted by: Elliot | August 29, 2006 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Elliot,

RE: "There have been NUMEROUS FATALITIES from light rail--mostly pedestrians (and these numbers are actually larger as don't count cars hitting others to avoid the trains):
http://www.usatoday.com/news/2003-01-07-rail-fatalities.htm,This is some serious stuff!! I hope there is a voice of reason that routes this away from my child's elementary school."

According to Mike from Baltimore " When the accident involves light rail or commuter rail, almost none, if any at all, of the accidents are the fault of the transit vehicle or operator, but the other party(ies) to the accident."

Obviously, you're not getting it. Because the rail advocates want their way - after all, they ARE used to getting it, at least in Metro DC, the Purple Line MUST be built whether we need or not, and REGARDLESS of the consequences.

Because the Purple Line is NECESSARY and BADLY NEEDED, you are required to do the responsible thing: teach you child how to properly cross the street and hope, no pray, for the best. Good luck.

Posted by: CEEAF | August 30, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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