Archive

Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

O’Malley’s Light Rail or Ehrlich’s Bus Rapid Transit: Which One is Better for Us?

October 13, 2010 4 comments

O'Malley and Ehrlich Televised Debate 10/11/10

On one hand, you have O’Malley’s plans for light rail.  On the other hand, you have Ehrlich’s bus rapid transit system.  Which one do you think is better for Washington, D.C. metro area commuters? 

As per usual, there are plenty of pros and cons on each side.  Bus rapid transit would involve setting aside bus-only lanes (not sure if this means stealing existing lanes from automobile traffic or not) along portions of existing routes.  The light rail would be built along an existing route and would not create additional traffic

Baltimore Sun’s Michael Dresser says Ehrlich’s bus rapid transit system would be a little cheaper to build — estimates are $1.2 billion — as opposed to $1.68 billion for O’Malley’s light rail project.  However, at an estimated $5.9 billion, the annual operating costs for buses quickly turn that positive on its head — light rail would only cost about half of that — an estimated $3.2 million annually.  

Ehrlich — who is not opposed to not building anything at all — says the money is simply not there to build.  Light rail proponents at Maryland Transit Authority disagree, saying that money could be made available soon through President Obama’s long-term transportation bill.  

Developers, proponents of transit-oriented development, the Prince George’s County council, the Montgomery County council, and a host of area businesses like the idea of light rail because it has a permanency that rapid bus transit does not that would make it ideal for becoming hubs of future business activity, creating much-needed jobs in the area.     

There are more pros and cons of both, but I’ll stop right here.  Personally, I’m for O’Malley’s decision to go with light rail.  It would be a shame to waste almost a decade of planning and the $40 million that MTA has already invested into deciding which way to go, only to implement the more expensive of the two — or even worse — nothing at all. 

Do you have an opinion about this one way or another?  Don’t be shy – I’m very interested in learning your thoughts.

Construction Delays – The Unintended Drama from Obama’s Recovery Act

July 14, 2010 5 comments

Today, I experienced a very common frustration for those of us who commute to work everyday — construction delays.  While it’s great that, due to the Economic Recovery Act, money for construction projects has been flowing into Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., the unintended result is more construction delays — and misery — for commuters.

The route that I take to work is usually heavy with traffic.  I choose this route because, even with lights and traffic, it is actually more tolerable than crawling along I-495 to work everyday.  And, for the past several months, I have been enduring construction delays, resulting in even more increased traffic congestion and longer commute times. 

We Need a Solution

One solution that I came across was Emily Cyr’s blog on How Fix Traffic Congestion, which asserts that we could use computer software that syncopates lights with each other on major routes to minimize wait times and move traffic along more efficiently.  In other words, during rush hours, these lights could be constantly adjusted to accommodate and ease the inevitable traffic ebbs/flows that occur when crews repair roads during these hours. 

Montgomery County is already using a traffic control system, which apparently has had some major kinks in the past several months.  Judging from how bad my commute through the county still is every day, it probably isn’t geared towards construction delay workarounds such as the ones that Brian Park at the University of VA’s Center for Transportation Studies talks about.      

I think that many different solutions applied at once would be the only way that we all would experience sustained collective commuter relief.  As a worker who has to commute about 25 miles to work one way every day, I would certainly appreciate the relief that this solution would provide.  The sooner we implement smarter traffic control systems, the better our collective commutes will be.

%d bloggers like this: