Detailed Responses - County Council At Large
Do you support the Locally Preferred Alternative selected by Gov. O'Malley for the Purple Line, including an at-grade light rail line with a trail alongside it on the Georgetown Branch right of way between Bethesda and Silver Spring?
Marc Elrich (D) Yes, I voted for the Locally Preferred Alternative, which passed the Council unanimously.
Nancy Floreen (D)Yes. I voted to recommend the Governor endorse a Locally Preferred Alternative with light rail as the preferred mode and using the Georgetown Branch right of way with the trail alongside it as the preferred alignment.
George Leventhal (D) Yes. I have been among the Purple Line's strongest supporters in elected office.
Raj Narayanan (D) I don't know what the specifics of 'at-grade light rail line' implies on safety, environment, convenience, etc., and therefore I must say that I am open to being educated on such issues. On the surface given that there is no real connection between eastern and western Montgomery county, this seems to be a reasonable idea.
Hans Riemer (D) Yes, this critical project is long overdue. Not only will it establish a critical east-west rail route, connecting arms of the Metro, it will also enable us to complete the Capital Crescent Trail into Silver Spring/Takoma (establishing a true "bicycle beltway") and make significant improvements to the roads on the route to promote walking and biking.
Duchy Trachtenberg (D) Yes.
Becky Wagner (D) Yes.
Jane de Winter (D) If it had been feasible, I would have supported the Purple Line as an extension/expansion of the Metro system which would have put more of it underground. I support the PLA and believe the county needs to commit to restoration of the trail to the extent possible, even if state funds aren’t available for trail restoration.
Robert Dyer (R) Yes. I have supported the Georgetown Branch route for the Purple Line from the beginning.
Incumbent voting record Jan. 27, 2009 vote to recommend at-grade light rail - Elrich, Floreen, Leventhal, and Trachtenberg voted yes.
Which is a higher priority: maintaining Ride-On Service or building the $80 million parking garage in Bethesda?
Marc Elrich (D) We need to maintain Ride-On service. With my proposed BRT system (see discussion in question #3), Ride-On can be used much more effectively, becoming a feeder system to the BRT vehicles. With $80,000 per parking space, the garage is bad idea destined to become an expensive boondoggle that I do not support.
Nancy Floreen (D) I have consistently supported maintaining funding for Ride-On buses, even in the case of severe cuts in the County operating budget, such as this year. I also believe that downtown Bethesda does need more parking facilities and have voted for capital budgets that include funding for new parking garages. If you are referring to Garage 31, note that that is a joint project creating more affordable housing , retail and density close to the urban core, which also is replacing existing parking at the corner of Bethesda Avenue and Woodmont Avenue.
George Leventhal (D) Maintaining Ride-On service is a higher priority but the parking garage is paid for with capital funds which do not compete with the operating budget, out of which Ride-On is funded.
Raj Narayanan (D) That depends on demand and payback on investment. In general it seems to make sense to keep Ride-On Service. But if the wealthy people in Bethesda don't care to use it and if private parking lots are charging a fortune and people continue to use them and don't have adequate space, and if there is county land sitting there to build a lot where handsome returns would come on the investment it would make sense. I know that some degree of public transportation subsidy is a great idea. I support environmental protection. But there is only that much one can do when since user behavior can only be changed if somebody is willing to remove options.
Hans Riemer (D) Maintaining Ride-On service is the higher priority. The $80 million parking garage should be delayed until all of our long term fiscal priorities are in order. While it would be nice to add 1,000 or more parking spaces I question how prudent it is for the County to spend $80 million on that when there are parking garages in Bethesda that are not fully utilized.
Duchy Trachtenberg (D) Maintaining Ride-On bus service.
Becky Wagner (D) In terms of people effectively and efficiently traveling throughout the county, we must maintain the Ride-On Service and keep it affordable.
Jane de Winter (D) Ride-On is more important overall.
Robert Dyer (R) Ride On is the higher priority. I will restore routes that were cut by the County Council, such the Urbana Park-and-Ride, and Rt. 90. Cutting Urbana forced Frederick County riders to drive to Shady Grove Metro on 270 and 355, defeating the purpose of the park-and-ride!
Incumbent voting record Feb. 9, 2010 vote to preserve Ride-On service, using cable TV funds to cancel proposed bus cuts - Elrich, Leventhal, and Trachtenberg voted yes; Floreen voted no.
Do you approve or disapprove of County traffic engineers' current policy of giving equal priority on the road to autos that carry a few people and buses that carry many people?
Marc Elrich (D) I strongly believe that we need to focus on improving public transit. That is why I have proposed a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for Montgomery County. The BRT system I propose would provide dedicated right-of-way for the transit vehicles (thus taking them out of traffic) and reliable, frequent service – key elements to a transit system that can attract “choice riders” (those who choose to use public transportation rather than individual cars). It offers the greatest bang per dollar – it can be built in the near term, it caan serve large portions of the County without requiring additional rights-of-way, and additional lines can be added with relative ease and lower costs. It is also planned to integrate with the Metrorail and the light-rail Purple Line stations. With the Purple Line, and the BRT system, which would include the Corridor Cities Transitway, we would have 4 north-south routes and 4 east-west routes, covering most residential and commercial areas in the county. The BRT system, along with the Purple Line, is the only economically viable way to address congestion and have a positive environmental impact as well. And it's a system we can implement relatively quickly.
Nancy Floreen (D) I do not approve. Be aware that this system is the Council’s doing, in adopting Growth Policy after Growth Policy that prioritizes automobile mobility. I have spoken and voted against this approach repeatedly, but the majority of the Counciil has pushed the current tests. The one time we were able to be successful indiluting this was during the last Council; this Council, insisting on PAMR, completely undid our efforts to try to move away from this single driver vehicular dependent sysem for measuring capacity and mobility. The staff is just implementing that. I authored the County’s revised Road Code, which required the Department of Transportation to make new residential streets as well as roads in redeveloped commercial areas friendlier, safer for pedestrians and better for the environment. I have urged DOT to treat transit as a priority in allocation of resources and road design.
George Leventhal (D) I would like to see as many major streets reconfigured for express bus lanes as possible. I won preliminary planning funds for Bus Rapid Transit funds on Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue and support the recommendation in the White Flint Master Plan for BRT on Rockville Pike.
Raj Narayanan (D) I did not know this was the policy. I thought HOV lanes were meant for this purpose. I don't understand this.
Hans Riemer (D) I do not approve of this approach. My transportation policy will focus on moving people rather than cars. I believe we need exclusive lanes for rapid bus transit on our major commuting corridors county wide.
Duchy Trachtenberg (D) I disapprove of current policy -- we need to focus on buses, public transportation.
Becky Wagner (D) I disapprove of this current policy. We do have to “drive people” to use transit. Once again though, those buses have to be reliable and better connected to job centers, schools and daycare.
Jane de Winter (D) In my opinion there are likely more opportunities for bus priority than are currently being utilized. In the County’s response to the suggestions for changes that would give buses priority, several specific suggestions were referred to the State; the County should continue to press on these locations. I also believe that more people would ride buses if route information and timetables were more readily available. The construction of shelters gives the County an opportunity to improve that with the installation of equipment and software that could transmit that information to cell phones. I’d like an app for that.
Robert Dyer (R) We can use the new wireless technology that gives buses a priority at intersections.
Should any money be spent on increasing highway capacity associated with the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan before a light rail Corridor Cities Transitway from Shady Grove to Clarksburg is fully funded for construction?
Marc Elrich (D) Transit should be the first priority ahead of the roads. The road projects are so expensive that they'll consume any money that might be available for transit, much as the ICC swallowed dollars that could have been used to build both the PL and the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT).
I don't believe that the CCT is going to be funded as an LRT system and that the area needs transit as quickly as possible. If sometime in the future there's both money and a justification for LRT, then the system could be modified. There are no projections of ridership that favor LRT over BRT, and no speed gains. Implementing the CCT should be the top transportation priority in that area. BRT can easily support the projected ridership numbers along the CCT route. With the dedicated right-of-way, BRT can operate as efficiently as light rail and at much less expense. Moreover, if it's built on a fixed guideway as I've proposed, it provides the same assurance that the route is as fixed and permanent as a light rail line.
Nancy Floreen (D) I voted in support of a light rail Corridor Cities Transitway and to require funding of the CCT before full build out of the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan. Some new interchanges and road construction will be required to support the new development in the plan but we do not know at this time the extent of the new construction or the full cost.
George Leventhal (D) Our first priority should be constructing the CCT to serve the Great Seneca Science Corridor.
Raj Narayanan (D) If there is traffic congestion there, what are the other options?
Hans Riemer (D) No. According to page 67 of the plan, the CCT must be fully funded for State 2 to begin and the CCT must be under construction for State 3 to begin---which is the stage where the interchanges are to be expanded. The potential of the Great Seneca City Master Plan will never be realized without high quality transit service. The area needs a lot of transformation from its current car-dependent form to a human-scale walkable urban town. Turning already-wide suburban arterials into limited access highways interchanges would decrease walkability and waste valuable transportation dollars.
Duchy Trachtenberg (D) No.
Becky Wagner (D) I know that the CCT has to be fully funded before the Greater Seneca Science Center is built. My question is, what relief can be provided for residents living in and around the I-270 corridor where the growth policy resulted in impossible traffic? Logic tells me that if highway capacity that is required for the CCT is put in place, it may provide relief and will also be ready for the CCT when it is funded. The answer is not as black and white as the question implies. As we consider and re-direct policy over the next decades, we must respect and work to ameliorate the needs of a community severely burden by heavy traffic, which makes daily living chaotic for families attempting to work and take care of their families.
Jane de Winter (D) I support the staging requirements passed by the council on May 4, 2010. In my opinion, the master plan does not adequately address how to tie the existing neighborhoods to transit.
Robert Dyer (R) We may have to spend on highways first if the state and Federal governments fail to fund the CCT light rail. I oppose the oversized, irresponsible Science City plan approved by the county council.
Should approval of Transit-Oriented Development near Metro stations be tied to the movement of cars?
Marc Elrich (D) We cannot allow development without considering the possible effects on traffic congestion and ways to mitigate those effects. The effect of cars is not limited to the Metro station areas. Because there are limited roads providing access to these areas, the impact on the rest of the road network can be severe. A properly designed transportation network should not have a failing road system as part of it - since under any possible scenario that can be imagined most people in a suburban County will still continue to need their cars. Even development near Metro stations will attract additional cars as was shown in the White Flint master plan. We need a solution that gives riders a viable alternative to their cars. Today, "choice riders" are making the choice to drive because our transit is wholly inadequate and inaccessible to most people. We need to create a transit system that is attractive to "choice riders" so we can get more car trips off the road.
So we must develop aggressive measures to encourage people to leave their cars behind. I was very involved in the review of the White Flint master plan, which recently passed the Council. That is a plan that encourages pedestrian-, bike-, and transit-oriented development and redevelopment through appropriately located increases in density, and it's a model we should follow. What we did in White Flint ought to be the model. The Planning Board originally proposed a 39% non-auto share of trips, and the impact on the roads was to turn them into parking lots - negatively affecting tens of thousands of people neither coming to or from White Flint. The solution which I pushed, and that the Council adopted, pushed the non-auto mode share in White Flint to 50%, increased the target for non-auto mode share in 6 other areas in order to take more through trips off the road, and maintained congestion near current bad levels rather than making it worse. The developers also support putting BRT down the center of Rockville Pike in order to provide adequate transit access. The White Flint master plan that passed the Council was a win for everyone: it increases transit usage, which is a desirable Smart Growth outcome, and it did not completely wreck the road network for all the other people who have to use it.
Simply creating the potential for horrible traffic congestion, as some planners suggest, will not get people out of cars in Montgomery County because today's transit alternatives are too limited and often too slow to attract commuters who have a choice. We need the BRT system combined with the Purple Line as I discussed in question #3.
Nancy Floreen (D) No. I am a proponent of smart grown principles and support approval of transit oriented development near metro stations.
George Leventhal (D) I have supported changes to traffic tests to facilitate greater density in Metro Station Policy Areas.
Raj Narayanan (D) I think there should be a tax on employers on a per employee basis based on how far away a person lives from work or percentage of time an employee is not allowed to telecommute. Employers and employees should be motivated to be close to each other to ease congestion or provide options where such commuting can be avoided.
Hans Riemer (D) No. As I emphasized in question 3, my transportation policy for Montgomery County will be focused on quality of life for all people. We need to solve the problems of moving people in and around livable, sustainable, walkable communities, not how to move more cars at the expense of our quality of life.
Duchy Trachtenberg (D) No.
Becky Wagner (D) No. We will be more successful if we re-define movement giving greater priority to transit options which carry more people. This will allow for the density we need to create urban centers where people can live, work and play.
Jane de Winter (D) I am willing to accept higher road congestion levels near Metro stations and believe that the county still has an obligation to ensure that intersection improvements and/or other projects such as creating a grid of roads in urban area are part of sector or master plans.
Robert Dyer (R) Yes, for the simple reason that the County Council irresponsibly approved sector plans that outrageously claim that 9 mph is an acceptable top speed for rush hour traffic.