Saturday, March 5, 2016


Somewhat overshadowed by the news that Governor Hogan's administration had finally awarded the Purple Line contract was Montgomery County's announcement of plans to provide $11.5 million in funding for bus service improvements.  Although advertised as initial efforts to implement a Bus Rapid Transit system, the immediate effects - additional limited-stop, rush hour service on Rockville Pike, express rush-hour service between Clarksburg and Shady Grove, and similar rush-hour service on Veirs Mill Road - would be the equivalent of additional limited-stop MetroExtra bus service, which I enthusiastically support.  The Veirs Mill Road service, in particular, appears to be equivalent to the Q9 MetroExtra route that WMATA proposed and then had to scrap last year due to lack of funding.  The more ambitious plans that more closely resemble true BRT service on Columbia Pike and Veirs Mill Road require a lot more money and will take several years to implement.  Hopefully, people will come to their senses and fund higher benefit, lower cost improvements in the interim.

To wit, the proposal contains no mention of extending the highly successful K9 MetroExtra service to the White Oak Transit Center, let alone implementing the long overdue C9 MetroExtra route on WMATA's most heavily trafficked Metrobus corridor in Maryland.  I guess that working class residents of color are expected to keep standing on packed C4 buses up and down University Boulevard.  The K9 situation is in some respects even more inexplicable.  WMATA has celebrated high ridership on the K9 as a transit success story (although GSA deserves most of the credit or blame for relocating thousands of federal government employees to a facility so far removed from Metro service), and continuation of the line to White Oak was actually part of the original plan.  And yet this obvious and modest extension has yet to be implemented, even though it would only cost $150,000 annually and would actually improve transit options for those who would otherwise use Columbia Pike, which is the ostensible goal of the more ambitious BRT plans.

Oh well, I guess that Ike Leggett and Marc Elrich reasonably believe that East County residents, particularly those who rely on public transit, won't stick up for themselves and their interests.

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