Thursday, January 9, 2014

BRT & Four Corners: Intro

As I've mentioned before, the ongoing BRT debate is one of the main reasons I created this blog.  I wanted to reduce the amount of misinformation that was being spread about the proposals, and learn more about BRT myself.  I have read through the Countywide Bus Rapid Transit Study (PDF), which goes into great detail on all aspects of BRT and what it means for different parts of the county.  The findings of this study were adopted into the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, which was approved by the Montgomery County Council on November 25th, 2013.  Short answer: BRT is probably going to happen.

There's a lot I want to say about this topic, and there's no way it will all fit into one blog post.  So this post will be the first of many about BRT.  Through my extensive research and careful reading of the Countywide Bus Rapid Transit Study, I have come to the opinion that BRT will be a good thing for Four Corners if it is implemented appropriately.  What do I mean by appropriately?  I will explain that over the next several posts on this topic.  So before jumping to conclusions and ranting about how bad this will be for our community, please hear me out.

The BRT network as proposed by M-NCPPC


No one likes traffic.  Four Corners has a lot of it, and its not going anywhere anytime soon.  With new development planned for White Oak and other surrounding areas, some other form of moving people is going to be necessary.  The roads are already over-capacity at peak hours, so more cars would just be a disaster.  There's no room to build more roads or significantly widen the existing ones without destroying homes and businesses.  A Metro line would be nice, but that would be prohibitively expensive, and the money is simply not there.  BRT is the only viable solution from a cost standpoint.  What is the cost of building it?  For an optimal countywide BRT system, it is between $2.3 and $2.5 billion dollars.  What is the cost of not building it?  More wasted time and energy, more emissions, and more Four Corners kids with asthma.  I can't put a price tag on that.  

This is a very controversial issue.  Please be respectful of other peoples opinions and viewpoints.  If you disagree with someone, state why you do so in the comments section in civil terms.  I will publish my next BRT related post in a couple days.


15 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog. VERY informative!

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  2. Are you concerned about the safety of the hundreds of Blair HS students who will have to cross in front of BRT busses to get to school during rush hour?

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    1. Sure. But I'm much more concerned about the Blair students who currently cross the intersection everyday. If a student wants to walk to McDonalds for lunch they have to cross 14 lanes (9 on Colesville and 5 on the eastbound side of University by the Shell). BRT buses will be driven by professionals, and they will travel at the speed limit. That's more than can be said for all the cars that travel through the intersection each day.

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    2. These professional bus drivers will have the power to override traffic signals. I am concerned about students corralled at crossings and possible jaywalking. As far as their professionalism, remember a professional Metro bus driver lost control of his bus and drove it almost to the front door of a neighbor in the 10200 block of Colesville Road

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    3. "power to override traffic signals"

      I assume you're referencing priority signalization? That's run by computers and transponders, not the driver. While I appreciate your use of colorful, emotion invoking verbiage, students will not be 'corralled' at crosswalks. Priority signalization would have little impact on a large intersection like Four Corners, where 2 BRT routes would cross. See page ES-4 of the Countywide Bus Rapid Transit Study for more details.

      "Possible jaywalking"

      Students already jaywalk.

      "lost control of his bus"

      Wasn't that over two years ago? I wonder how many buses have safely traversed the intersection since that accident. Probably tens of thousands. I wonder how many cars have crashed at the intersection since that time? Probably dozens. It's a bit of a stretch to imply that one bus driver's error somehow makes all bus drivers unprofessional.

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    4. It only takes one bus accident to injure a lot of people. And they do happen. It's not helpful to your BRT cause to downplay the risks to these kids. What will your blog say if one of them gets hurt?

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    5. Blair students have to cross highways that include cars, buses, and trucks. They have to do this everyday. I'm not clear on how a BRT bus will be somehow more dangerous than any other multi-ton vehicle.

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  3. Could you please talk a little bit more about the extensive research you did? Thanks.

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    1. I will in future posts. This is just the intro. Thanks for reading.

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  4. Many of the properties along Route 29 and other BRT routes are historic, yet the plan and studies do not require any historic resource review or surveys. Do you think these surveys are important? For example, Mrs. K's is in the path where the road will have to be widened.

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    1. I love history. I've owned an autographed copy of Jerry A. McCoy's book "Historic Silver Spring" since I was 10. Historical reviews are important, but if BRT is implemented using existing lanes, the road will probably not have to be widened, so no properties (historic or otherwise) will be in danger. BRT will only be built in a way that requires widening if people refuse to allow an existing travel lane to be converted to a BRT only lane. Even in this scenario, I doubt very strongly that any properties would be destroyed along Colesville Road. To do so would have serious political ramifications, and no one wants those. Remember that the logistics of this plan are not set in stone, which is a good thing, because it means various options are being considered. In my next post I will explain how the loss of existing travel lanes for BRT is not a terrible thing. Thanks for reading.

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  5. I'm not downplaying the risk to kids from buses, I'm emphasizing the current risk to 'kids' from cars. Like I said, tens of thousands of buses safely pass through Four Corners each year. The chances of a pedestrian being hit by a car are exponentially higher than their chances of being hit by a bus. Almost all the pedestrian injuries at Four Corners over the years have been caused by cars (I can't even think of an example of a pedestrian being hit by a bus). A pedestrian was killed just today in Hyattsville by a car. That area has frequent bus service, yet no one has ever been killed by a bus there. Read this story: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2014/01/car-hits-man-crashes-into-building-in-prince-georges-co--99193.html

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  6. You obviously are unwilling to consider anyone's reservations about the BRT. Like Dan Reed's blog, this is the blog of an advocate, not someone who takes a balanced view of the community's needs.

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    1. Maybe I'm advocating for BRT because I have taken a balanced view of the community's needs? Four Corners, and Montgomery County as a whole, needs to attract more young people like Millennials. Mellennials want to live near transit (MoCo Young Democrats recently said that better public transit in the county is the issue most important to them). If Montgomery can't attract young people, tax revenues will take a major hit as the baby boomers age. Senior citizens are great for a community because they have so many life experiences to share with younger people, but without young people to balance them out, the economy will not be in good shape. People of my generation don't want to waste weeks of their lives stuck in traffic like our parents did. People of my generation want to live closer to jobs, entertainment, and transit. Four Corners already has jobs and entertainment nearby (thanks to Downtown Silver Spring), but we don't have good transit yet. There's data and studies to back up everything I just said., but I can't link to it in the comments.

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