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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tonight: ACT monthly meeting on Montgomery RideOn bus service

Bicycle route sign pointing to the Twinbrook Metro and a RideOn bus stop sign and a RideOn bus

1. From email:

Next meeting of Action Committee for Transit on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm.

Our guest speaker will be Carolyn Biggins, Chief of the Montgomery County Division of Transit Services, to speak about “The Future of Ride-On”. Also on the agenda will be an announcement of the nominees for the 2012 ACT Board of Directors.

ACT’s monthly meetings are held at the DHHS Silver Spring Center, 8818 Georgia Ave 20910, in the Woodside Conference Room.

The Silver Spring Center is located on the northwest corner of Georgia Ave and Spring St, just south of Ballard St and east of 1st Ave. Enter the building on the Georgia Ave side. Enter the parking lot from Ballard St next to the big Woodside Methodist Church.

2. Montgomery County is pushing full-force on bus rapid transit (see "Rockefeller Foundation donates money for Montgomery's bus rapid transit" from the Gazette and the County website on BRT).

3. Although I find it incredibly hard to believe that more people will ride bus rapid transit than they will fixed rail transit, at least in North America, which Parsons Brinckerhoff says people will do in Montgomery County. See "Busway — not light rail — would bring more jobs, money to upper Montgomery, analysis finds" from the Post).

From the article:

An analysis for the Maryland Transit Administration provides one answer: With its cheaper construction costs, a busway could be built in the Interstate 270 corridor 10 to 12 years sooner than a light-rail line, providing an additional decade of new jobs and tax revenue from the development that would follow. A $772 million light-rail line would generate a total “economic impact” of $1.3 billion between 2014 and 2050, while a $491 million bus rapid transit line would spur $2.2 billion, according to the study by consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff.

How soon a Corridor Cities Transitway could be built is key to its economic benefits, because most of the high-density development planned for the Gaithersburg area cannot move forward until a transitway is funded. That includes part of 900 acres west of I-270 near Shady Grove Road, where Montgomery planners envision a 17.5 million-square-foot “science city” for bioscience research, along with retail and 9,000 housing units.

“If we wait 10 years to build it, then we miss all the economic development that could happen now,” said Marilyn Balcombe of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce.

That would be counter to every example of transit systems currently operating in North America.

I don't know why Montgomery County is the outlier. Apparently it is because they anticipate more economic development would happen with an easier to realize bus system than a light rail system that won't happen for at least 15 years.

Yes, there has been some economic development associated with the University-Health Line BRT in Cleveland. I can't say how much has really been triggered. And Cleveland is such a basket case economically, that its experience isn't really generalizable to Montgomery County--meaning that some economic development will happen whether or not there is transit at all, and more maybe if there is better bus service, and even more if there is fixed rail transit service.

4. Here is ACT's upcoming testimony on Bus Rapid Transit for the Thursday Montgomery County Planning Board session on Bus Rapid Transit.



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