[posted by Greg Trimmer]
[posted by Greg Trimmer]
Transit’s Up, Driving’s Down: Have We Reached the Tipping Point? by Robert Dunphy(This is an excerpt from commentary on ULI’s blog, The Ground Floor.)
Transit use is up, and driving is down—have we reached a tipping point where Americans finally renounce their love affair with the car and adopt more sustainable transportation? The latest national travel data show that transit ridership—spiked in part by the run-up in gas prices earlier this year—continued to grow despite the precipitous decrease in prices at the pump. Transit ridership reached 2.8 billion trips in the third quarter, a 6.5 percent jump from the same period last year. During the same period, driving continued to decline, not quite as much as during the summer, but a still-significant 4.5 percent.So, with both driving and transit heading in the right direction from a sustainability perspective, how do they compare in absolutes? Not very close, unfortunately. The number of transit trips increased by 174 million in the quarter, so the total miles traveled by those riders, using a standard five miles for the average trip distance, comes to an increase of 876 million—just under a billion passenger miles. The vehicle miles of travel (VMTs) for the same period, for all types of vehicles, including trucks, declined by 35.5 billion. That would put transit’s share of the decline in driving at a mere 2.5 percent.A July survey conducted by NuStats found that, indeed, two out of three respondents reported driving less, but largely by combining trips, eliminating trips altogether, and working from home. The use of public transit as a replacement for driving ranked behind combining and eliminating trips, using a more fuel-efficient car, working from home, using toll roads to save gas, and carpooling.The survey suggests that the greatest potential for reduced driving lies not in expanding public transit to serve new riders, but to focus growth in areas where it supports established transit, and where residents have options for shorter trips, combining trips, and walking, as well as public transit.
[posted by Greg Trimmer]
Today’s revamped Gazette has an article about the White Flint Steering Committee, and its desire for more data:
see the article here
The White Flint Sector Plan Steering Committee agreed to a second meeting next Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at 4:30PM. The meeting will be held at the offices of Federal Realty Investment Trust, 1626 East Jefferson St., Rockville.
The purpose of the meeting is to identify particular issues or concerns with the Public Hearing Draft, including matters identified in public testimony at the Planning Board hearing the day before (for more information on the hearing, see prior posts).
The Steering Committee is taking, as its model, the process used by the former Advisory Group to produce its September 23, 2008, report to the Planning Board (for more information, see here). The Steering Committee hopes to see if there are only a few items of significant contention, which it can then refer to the Planning Board for special consideration. Some Committee members contend that it will be impossible to reach a consensus on these problems; others contend that the number of actual contentious issues is far fewer than had been feared.
For more information, contact Friends of White Flint co-Chair Evan Goldman at Federal Realty. email@example.com.
The Montgomery County Planning Board makes many of its substantive decisions during or after “work sessions.” Usually the Board operates openly before an audience, but rarely permits additional participation by others during the sessions. The upcoming White Flint Sector Plan work sessions, however, will feature participation by the White Flint Sector Plan Steering Committee.
The Planning Board has set an ambitious schedule for the White Flint plan (see post below), including three work sessions scheduled for Thursdays in February; each session will focus on an important issue in the Plan:
February 12, 2009 – Transportation
February 19, 2009 – Economics (how to pay for the Plan’s proposals)
February 26, 2009 – Land use and zoning
Time is running out to sign up to testify at next Monday’s Planning Board public hearings on the White Flint Sector Plan, and so is space.
The Board already has more than 50 people signed up to testify. Since testimony is limited to three minutes (for everybody), this means that there will be at least three hours of testimony already. Registrations may be cut off as soon as today.
The County Executive has already signed up to testify, but even he will only be given three minutes to testify. It is unclear what Mr. Leggett’s office will testify on.
If you miss the deadline for testimony, you can still offer written testimony (of any length). Staff will keep the record open after the hearing to receive more material. All submissions are open for public review.
To sign up to testify, or to submit written testimony, go to the main White Flint Planning page, and scroll down to the paragraph offering on-line or telephone sign-ups.
Last night’s Steering Committee meeting revealed more details about the expected timing of the White Flint Sector Plan development process. Piera Weiss, speaking for the Board, said the goal was to submit a draft plan to the Montgomery County Council in the spring, probably April or May. Since “it takes a month to produce a copy of a full draft plan,” Piera noted, that means that the Planning Board needs to complete its work by the end of March.
That’s an ambitious timetable, especially since the Board members “also have other jobs,” but the Board seems committed to it. Three Board worksessions are scheduled for February alone (see separate post). More will be scheduled for March.
When Piera Weiss, Planner-Coordinator for the White Flint Sector Plan, finished explaining the Planning Board’s expectations for the new Steering Committee it appointed, a very loud “THUD” reverberated throughout the hearing room. It was the sound of seventeen jaws collectively hitting the floor.
As you can see from the previous notes, members of the Steering Committee (myself included) had envisioned the Steering Committee as an active entity, with lively discussions about structure and ethics, and behind-the-scenes maneuvering for support. Think “Survivor” without voting off the island.
But Piera and Nkosi Yearwood, the other main White Flint staffer, had spent Tuesday morning touring White Flint with Chairman Royce Hanson and Planning Board member Jean Cryor. And at the Steering Committee’s first meeting last night, she reported back on the “Board direction” for the Steering Committee. From the reaction, it was different from expectations.
Piera said that the Board expected the Steering Committee’s role to be “interactive,” “not a committee, or a Chairman, or subcommittees.” It was to be a “voice” for the communities the members were appointed to represent, to speak with the Board “on issues it was grappling with.”
The main activity of the Steering Committee was to be participating in Planning Board work sessions (the meetings where the Board hashes out the details of its plans, as opposed to hearing views from the public). A welcome role, certainly, and one which the Steering Committee had requested.
But not necessarily the ONLY role that had been envisioned. Was the Steering Committee to have “no need for structure?” Was it to be “just 13 voices from the groups you were appointed to represent?”
It took about an hour for the Steering Committee members to revive from Piera’s bombshell. Mike Smith, from LCOR, began the process by saying that he had expected a more active Committee with a different role. Other members jumped in, discussing whether to seek consensus on issues, or whether just to present individual voices. I made the point that the Board was seeking “solutions,” not just further lists of problems, and that solutions should be crafted together, rather than just being proposed.
Eventually, the desire for concerted action won out. The Committee resolved to meet outside Piera’s timetable to see if there were some issues which could be resolved, and others which needed to be highlighted for the Board. That meeting will be held on January 13, at 4:30PM at the offices of Federal Realty Investment Trust in Rockville. For more information or directions, please contact Evan Goldman: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would like to invite you to join the Friends of White Flint.
There are no requirements or pre-conditions for membership, and membership is open to all persons interested in the White Flint Sector Plan. It’s free. You don’t even have to agree with our Goal or Vision; our purpose is to encourage debate and discussion, leading to a better White Flint plan.
People who join the Friends of White Flint are known as “Friends.” To join as a Friend of White Flint, all you have to do is send an e-mail to Barnaby Zall at email@example.com, with your name, address, preferred e-mail address, and any other information you would like to include.
Thanks for becoming a Friend!
The Board of Directors of Friends of White Flint are:
Evan Goldman EGoldman@federalrealty.com
Suzanne Hudson firstname.lastname@example.org
Barnaby Zall email@example.com
These are the three representatives of the former Advisory Group who presented the Group’s views to the Planning Board last September. They represent the residents, developers and business communities interested in the Sector Plan.
Please contact any of the Directors if you have further questions.