Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Small mindedness in transportation "planning" in DC

1. My criticism of Councilmember Graham's proposal for a citizen oversight committee for the Circulator bus system is that it is at best half a loaf, more like a piece of moldy bread. (See "New bill would create DC transit board‎" from Greater Greater Washington.)

What the city really needs is a Transportation Commission, comparable in heft to the Zoning Commission, charged with:

Advocating and promoting development of balanced transportation systems for the District of Columbia, concerned with serving multiple user segments (residents, workers, visitors), concerning both local and regional transportation goals and objectives, through oversight of the implementation of the Transportation Element of the City's Comprehensive Land Use Plan, monitoring of the Element on Transportation in the Federal Elements of the Comprehensive Plan, as well as the Master Transportation Plan for the city, as created by the Department of Transportation, in addition to various land use and facilities plans adopted by DC Government agencies and City Council.

In the Washington region, Alexandria, Arlington County, and the City of Rockville have transportation commissions.

But no, DC can't think very big...

2. This becomes an issue with the cancerous growth of the DC Circulator bus system.
30 foot Circulator bus on 14th Street at P Street NW
Oooh. Pretty. Ga-ga. Goo-goo.

To justify 10 minute headways (that means 6 buses an hour), you need to be sure you are going to have 10,000 or more riders per day.

Many of the DC Circulator bus routes--and all the ones created by City Councilmembers Graham and Wells, independent of the normal planning process--don't achieve this level of ridership and don't justify such a level of service.

But people are enamored of the relatively quiet and comfortable buses and the pretty livery scheme, and thoughts of "LOS" and "LOQ" (level of service, level of quality) go out the window in favor of getting all googley-eyed.

Councilmember Kwame Brown, who likely doesn't know much about LOS and LOQ and robust transit networks either, wants to have a Circulator on Pennsylvania Avenue SE connecting to Union Station. See "Brown pushes for east of river Circulator‎" from the Washington Post.

Maybe, just maybe, to shut people up, I could justify (not really but I would be resigned to it) a Circulator bus from Union Station to Pennsylvania Avenue for people who can't walk the distance.

But even then I would have to grit my teeth.



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