Revisiting stories: 2005 BRAC and Fort Belvoir transit + disconnected BRT transit planning in the DC metropolitan area
1. In 2005, I wrote about the military Base Reconciliation and Closure program, and how the federal government was making changes in facilities which would create massive changes in transportation demand, without taking any responsibility for addressing this.
-- "Military Base Relocation"
One of the changes was increasing the number of agencies located at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, which is not quite 10 miles from the end of the Yellow Line Metrorail Line station at Huntington.
In 2011, the Post ran an article ("Study: Pentagon should pay for transportation improvements necessitated by BRAC") about a study that said the Federal Government should pay for the transportation infrastructure costs BRAC would impose on the region. From the article:
The Defense Department has shirked responsibility to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation improvements required as it transfers thousands of workers to Fort Belvoir, Fort Meade and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, according to a congressionally mandated study released Monday.
At the time I made the point that BRAC, deliberately or not, was about promoting sprawl, that making Fort Belvoir a bigger regional military center increases car trips because it's not well connected to the current transportation infrastructure.
Do you really need a congressional study to determine if you move lots of jobs from a concentrated place with highly developed alternative transportation modes, to places that are farther out in the region(s), inducing longer trips, to places where the presence of efficient non-automobile based transportation modes are limited, without investing significantly in new transportation infrastructure that there will be problems?
Or are that many people unaware about how things work in real life?
Why then weren't plans executed to extend the Yellow Line, as is suggested in the Metrorail future vision expansion planning graphic produced by Paul J. Meissner?
Conceptual Future integrated rail transit service network for the Washington DC National Capitol Region. Design by Paul J. Meissner. Concept by Richard Layman and Paul Meissner
2. A couple years ago I wrote about how three different BRT development programs: WMATA with Metroway; Fairfax with Route 7, and Montgomery County, Maryland's extensive proposals; prove that the DC area doesn't do integrated transportation planning because instead of one common system for bus rapid transit, with unified branding, station design, etc., each is unique.
-- "Route 7 BRT proposal communicates the reality that the DC area doesn't adequately conduct transportation planning at the metropolitan-scale," 2016
-- Nikitas, Alexandros and Karlsson, MariAnne (2015) "A Worldwide State-of-the-Art Analysis for Bus Rapid Transit: Looking for the Success Formula." Journal of Public Transportation, 18 (1)
These stories are now linked, as Fairfax County is planning a BRT line connecting the Huntington Metrorail Station to Fort Belvoir ("Plan for Richmond Highway includes widening, bus rapid transit system," WTOP).
Hopefully Fairfax County will use the same branding, station design, and ticketing system for both lines, as according to their recent presentation, they have not moved into the detailed design phase for the system (see photo below).
Bus rapid transit best practice. I like the branding system created for the ART Bus Rapid Transit system in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
-- ART branding, Studio Hill Design Ltd.
Although that system is having problems launching, problems with buses etc.
For more discussion about BRT and regional transit planning, see "What can Suburban Atlanta and Greater Detroit learn from Virginia's Fairfax and Loudoun Counties."
And the WSJ recently published an article saying that buses are the future for urban transit ("The Next Big Thing in Urban Transit: Fast-Bus Systems"). They are, but in smaller metropolitan areas.
Plus, this article ("What could BRT look like in Tampa Bay? Three examples") in the Tampa Bay Times made me realize we sometimes fail to distinguish between center city BRT services such as the Wilshire Line in Los Angeles or the HealthLine in Cleveland and more suburban and longer distance routes such as the not quite 10 mile long Connecticut Fastrak line connecting New Britain and Hartford.
CT Fastrak station. CDOT photo.
Although as I keep pointing out, switching to double deck buses would make a huge branding difference ("Making bus service sexy and more equitable," 2012).
Sydney's B-Line buses today, looking for more information on Sydney's Cross-City Tunnel (thanks Nigel).
I sure wish I could score some of these cardboard models of buses produced by Transit Graphics of Australia.