Friends of White Flint board member Suzanne Hudson delivered this testimony last week at the Montgomery County Council’s public hearing on the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. (Thanks, Suzanne!).
Interested in learning more about bus rapid transit? Join us TONIGHT at 6pm for a Rapid Transit Roundtable discussion about the MD 355 Corridor! The event will be held in the cafeteria of the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville.
Good evening, Councilmembers, my name is Suzanne Hudson and I am presenting this testimony on behalf of the Friends of White Flint. I have been a member of the Friends of White Flint Board of Directors since the beginning and am a Co-chair, representing resident members.
Friends of White Flint promotes a sustainable, walkable and engaging White Flint. Our membership includes hundreds of community members, including residents, businesses, and property owners and we seek consensus to achieve positive solutions. We have been actively involved in the White Flint Sector Plan since 2007, holding hundreds of meetings and speaking with thousands of residents to find consensus and community support for the Plan in place today.
The award-winning White Flint Sector Plan recommends (quote) “a transit-focused, multi-modal mobility system that supports the proposed urban center and local neighborhoods.” The plan suggests Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Rockville Pike, and we believe it is the right solution for this emerging area. The Countywide Transit Corridors Plan notes that “The MD 355 South corridor [where White Flint is] has the highest daily ridership forecast for any corridor evaluated in this Plan.” White Flint is already a nationally recognized example of suburban redevelopment, and is poised to become an economic engine in this county, which is the economic engine for the state of Maryland. But, in order for White Flint to reach its potential, it must have the most forward-thinking infrastructure possible.
Right now, traffic on Rockville Pike through White Flint is no treat. Even without redevelopment, this traffic will only get worse unless we put some smart solutions to work. We use cars because we don’t have a good choice. However, with a reliable alternative, we can entice more drivers out of their cars for more of their short and long trips. A recent study of the Washington region showed that it only took a .6% decrease in total driving to experience an 18% decrease in road delays. What does that mean? If less than 1% of drivers choose other forms of transportation, we could feel significant relief in congestion on our roads.
We believe that this is only (above ground) Rapid Transit when lanes are dedicated for its use. If lanes are not dedicated, the vehicles are just buses sitting in the same traffic as everyone else. The reliability offered by dedicated lanes gives riders the confidence to trust transit to get them where they need to be, when they need to be there. And, each time a rapid transit vehicle buzzes by cars stalled in gridlock, the system will earn a few new customers.
Transportation options are needed for Rockville Pike to manage the increasingly heavy traffic in the area. A new Rockville Pike is the crux of a new White Flint. An area with new mixed uses is being introduced in White Flint and we need to introduce new modes of travel that are quick and easy to use. We think that giving people more choices and reliable ways to get around is good for businesses, shoppers and neighbors. And, maybe more people will choose to leave their cars behind.
Metro cannot handle all of the transit load. Plus, it won’t be expanded to meet the needs of this area. And, for emergencies with Metro (like the possible shut down of a portion of the Red Line due to water leaks), there has to be a feasible above ground alternative for the thousands of people affected. We must have another transit option – the BRT.
We ask that you invest in our future – the economic and social returns are substantial. We also ask that you continue to support the vision of the White Flint Sector Plan, and dedicate lanes for transit. Thank you.