Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MoCo 2040: County Plots 150-Mile Transit Plan // MoCo 2012: Schools Seek 2% Increase, Cite Rising Transportation Costs

UPDATE:  HELP ME NAME THIS NEW PROJECT: Maryland Juice has decided that he's done calling this the "Bus Rapid Transit" plan. That sounds like an STD. This transit project needs a new name. I nominate something like "The MoCo Grid" or "The MoCo Web." Try it out: "Let's take the Purple Line and transfer to the Web/Grid in Silver Spring." Okay, maybe my idea isn't the greatest, but you get the idea.... Send your alternate suggestions to If anyone has a good idea, I'll post it!
THE RETRO? Maryland Juice Reader Terrill North sends in the following suggestion: "How about the RETRO?  As in, I took the red line to Silver Spring and hopped the RETRO to Kensington.  I think a superbus is kind of retro compared to people movers you see in sci-fi movies."
Montgomery County 2040 | The Gazette reports on preparations for a 150-mile transit network. See the proposed routes below and an excerpt from The Gazette article below:

Map Source:

Route List source:

The Gazette reports on preparations for the 150-mile transit network:
Since its adoption in 1931, Montgomery County’s Master Plan of Highways has been altered to include some of the area’s most ambitious transportation projects, such as the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway....
At an open house meeting last month at the Upcounty Regional Services Center, transportation planners from the county talked about the work being done to make way for a bus rapid transit amendment in the plan. The amendment would help clear the way for the development of a 150-mile bus system in the county by 2040....

Bus rapid transit systems are akin to light rails in that they have routes, lanes and stations, though they often travel on dedicated bus lanes on public streets. And unlike the existing Ride On bus service, rapid transit buses would travel on lanes without any other traffic, provide real-time information about how soon the next bus would arrive and receive priority at traffic signals.... Read the full article at The Gazette.

Montgomery County 2012 | The Washington Post reports that new Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr is requesting a 2% increase in the school system budget:
Montgomery County teachers would receive their first pay increase since 2009 under Joshua P. Starr’s first budget proposal as superintendent of schools.

The $2.13 billion request for the fiscal year that starts July 1, to be made public Wednesday, includes no significant program changes or increases to class size and reflects the new leader’s focus on improving instruction across the school system.

Starr’s plan represents a 2 percent increase — $41 million — over current spending, the smallest requested increase in more than a decade. The proposal accounts for a projected 2,250 new students, higher insurance and transportation costs, as well as pay increases for employees.

“The most important thing for next year is acknowledging how our employees have met the fiscal crisis,” he said. “You are only as good as your people....”

“I am looking forward to a much more collaborative process this year,” said Nancy Navarro (D-Eastern County), vice president of the council. “We need to deal with still-limited resources . . . but the new superintendent has signaled a willingness to work hand in hand with us."
There are a few interesting tidbits in the WaPo article, but we're only focusing on the transportation bit here. That's because it seems increasingly clear that dealing with transportation is critical for the region's future. Starr may be dealing with the school system's transportation budget in the article above, but the same increase in transportation costs likely applies to many in his workforce (and in the broader economy). This problem can only get worse, as housing closer to D.C. becomes more expensive and people have to spend more time or money getting to work. The Greater Greater Washington blog recently pointed to a Der Spiegel article discussing how in Munich, many middle-class residents are increasingly finding themselves priced out of the entire city. GGW blames height limits on buildings in the city.

These debates are going on right now in Montgomery County and in Maryland. Start paying attention, folks.

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