Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Friday, July 07, 2006

Transit Not Traffic Is What Columbia Needs

As the two articles entitled “Taking It To The Streets” and “Study – Traffic Would Overwhelm Downtown” in the July 6th Howard County Times demonstrates, Columbia Town Center needs to have mass transit and fast. The plans for any development in the eastern part of the county should integrate a mass transit component right from the start. That is the only way Howard County is going to grow in a sensible way, and on a human scale. Visit downtown Bethesda and you will see a high density neighborhood which works because it is supported by mass transit. Let’s get better bus service, then a light rail system and finally bring the metro to Columbia (and eastern Howard County) to create a vibrant urban environment. This can be done. It just takes the vision and political will to do it.


Blogger Ken said...

I fully agree.

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, too. Improved bus service is doable right now and should be done. Considering where gas prices are, if bus schedules and routes are improved, I can only imagine much much more ridership.

But why pursue light rail and metro when they:
- cost so much per mile (~$40 million per mile for light rail)
- are slower than cars (light rail BWI-Hunt Valley goes about 22 mph during non-rushhour traffic and slower during rush hour since it doesn't have priority at traffic lights)
- are not as convenient as cars (you wait for the next slug to arrive at a regional station).
- take such big footprints for rights-of-way and station parking lots?

Instead of light rail and metro, we should pursue personal rapid transit (PRT). It can provide:
- faster transportation than cars , light rail, and metro
- no waiting at stations since PRT vehicles would be waiting at stations for passengers instead of vice-versa
- much less footprint than roadways or rail line rights-of-way/station parking lots
- more convenient stations since, being elevated and not having to service long train slugs, they require so little space, thereby allowing greater coverage of the area letting people walk to neighborhood stations and not requiring a parking lot for each one
- zero ground-level intersection contention with roadways (in Baltimore, light rail doesn't preempt traffic lights, so light rail crawls through downtown traffic just like cars)
- less expensive track-per-mile (possibly $1 million per mile vs. light rail's $40 million per mile)
- less expensive station construction costs (possibly $5,000 vs. light rail's

If we're going to get to energy independence and drastically reduce CO2 emissions, we need a public transit system that:
- is as convenient or more convenient than cars (light rail and metro aren't)
- consumes less energy and preferably less fossil fuels (ranking worst to best: cars, buses, light rail/metro, PRT).

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To ease the flow of traffic, officials also could consider constructing a full interchange at Route 29 and South Entrance Road." The Times article suggests this dumb idea. Wasn't the Brokenland Parkway/Rt. 29 interchange supposed to have replaced South Entrance Road altogether and provide the interchange? It was bad enough when they reopened and widened South Entrance Road across the Little Patuxent River, stream buffer, and wetlands. Now they're suggesting taking an even bigger bite out of what is supposed to be protected sensitive environmental areas? Amazing.

1:05 AM  
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