As President of Action Committee for Transit, a 30-year old organization and voice for transit, sustainable land use and walkability, we note that July of 2016 was the warmest month humans have recorded on this planet. More asphalt is not the answer to climate change; transit and sustainable land use are the only solutions.
For the 2017 session, we offer these specific comments:
1. Purple Line — We are hoping the judge will render a decision in line with Supreme Court precedent as soon as possible. We ask the delegation to keep up the pressure for this vital transportation need.
2. WMATA Funding - properly functioning Metrorail and Metrobus are not luxuries but a necessity for our region. The budget proposed last month, combining both service cuts and fare increases, is fiscally, economically and environmentally irresponsible. We urge you to make sure Maryland fully funds WMATA, maintains full levels of service and prevents any fare increases. The State of Maryland's portion of maintaining current Metro service without increases in fares is $100 million dollars. In May 2015, Governor Hogan cut state bridge and road tolls at an estimated loss of $54 million dollars per year to the Maryland budget. If our state has money to subsidize Delaware beach house owners, it has the money to keep a transportation system vital to Montgomery County in good order.
3. MARC Brunswick Line - Please see our proposal to upgrade MARC service on the Brunswick Line. It was submitted in response to Governor Hogan's solicitation of proposals to spend $100 million dollars budgeted for "innovative" improvements to I-270 that would not involve adding lanes. Under ACT's proposal, the $100 million would:
- add a second train platform at Point of Rocks station so that Frederick-bound trains can stop there
- build a third track between the Monocacy River and Barnesville so that faster passenger trains can pass slow freight trains
- buy more train cars.
Virginia's expansions of VRE commuter trains are more cost-effective than its HOT lanes on I-495 or Maryland's ICC. So why is the state Department of Transportation refusing to consider MARC trains in its Request For Proposals? Either MDOT will spend $100 million for something with no meaningful impact, or, if a consultant does figure something out, that will just dump more cars onto the Beltway, which is already jammed.
4. Vision Zero - we commend the delegation for working on bills which will save lives and make it possible for more people to walk and bike safely throughout our county. We appreciate the hard work of our county's legislators to make it possible to install HAWK signals on state roads.
There are 3 bills that we are looking forward to seeing become law:
- MC 22-17: would allow the county to lower the default unposted speed limit in Montgomery county
- MC 23-17: would allow the county to lower the posted speed limit in Montgomery County on certain roads to 15mph
- MC 24-17: allows the county's "Safe Routes to School" program to more quickly implement engineering changes and lower speed limits on our children's routes to school
We ask the Delegation to work to ensure that data on road injuries and fatalities is open data available to everyone inside and outside government.
We wish our Delegation much success in the 2017 session.