Transit keeps our neighbors moving
Earlier this week, we said we need to start prioritizing transit more, or continue to be stuck in traffic. We wrote that people across the country are driving less, and that study after study reveals building more roads isn’t the answer to congestion. And now, we have data that shows our neighbors in Arlington are getting the big picture about transit, and reaping the benefits.
According to Arlington’s Mobility Lab, despite a growing population and number of jobs in the area, Arlington County Commuter Services shifted 45,000 car trips each work day from a single occupancy vehicle to some other form of transportation (mostly transit). WAMU reports that three initiatives have encouraged this shift: “ offering multiple alternatives to the automobile in the form of rail, bus, bicycling, and walking;  following smart land-use policies that encourage densely built, mixed-use development; and  relentlessly marketing the transportation alternatives through programs that include five ‘commuter stores’ throughout the county where transit tickets, bus maps, and other information are available.” We need to make sure we have a comprehensive transit system, that people know about, to complement the mixed-use development in our community.
“Reducing traffic on key routes does make it easier for those who really need to drive. Not everybody can take an alternative,” explains Howard Jennings, Mobility Lab’s director of research and development. Everyone, including those in cars, benefits when transit use increases.
I have to ask what I hope isn’t a silly question. But how will a BRT route that is running along the same exact route as the Red Line along Rockville Pike – and simultaneously removing two lanes of road – going to improve the overall capacity of the transportation system on that particular route? Why would I choose to ride a BRT bus instead of taking the Metro if I wanted ot use public transit? IT seems redundant to me. Is there something I’m missing in terms of the service offering? Why not just increase the number of metro trains on the Red Line? Specifically half of the Red Line trains terminate at Grosvenor instead of going all the way to Shady Grove.
Adding a BRT in a new lane makes sense because it increases overall capacity. Adding a BRT in an under-served area with pent up demand makes sense, because there is no convenient metro in that area (like Columbia Pike in Arlington). Taking away lanes from cars to give to buses just seems like it will increase congestion or force people into a mode of transportation that is not convenient.