Sunday, October 5, 2008

Everyone is Hoping...

for a more transit friendly administration. For too long cities have been ignored, as has transit. It seems as if Baltimore should really be building a full Subway system like its southern neighbor Washington D.C., but the editors of the Baltimore Sun will not go for BRT. But they hope a new administration will help. From the Baltimore Sun:
Some civic leaders will no doubt object to this. It would certainly alter life along parts of Edmondson Avenue that would have to share the road with light rail trains. And despite putting most of the 14-mile line on the surface, it still might be too expensive to qualify for federal funds. That's because the FTA formula weighs construction and operating costs against the impact on congestion (too often giving short shrift to such factors as the effect on urban redevelopment or vehicle emissions).

But the proposal is probably on the right track - if further tweaks are made. The state doesn't have to choose a preferred option until next year, but this ought to be the centerpiece of conversation between now and then.

Meanwhile, the next president and Congress would be wise to invest far more resources in transit. With higher energy costs and the threat posed by climate change, the need for spending more on sensible public transportation has never been greater. But that, too, would no doubt require some compromise.


Thelonious_Nick said...

I don't know about Baltimore building a full subway system. The Baltimore metro area has 1/3 the population of Washington's, and doesn't have nearly the same traffic problems.

I think their current strategy of building light rail is probably correct. What they really need to do is better tie their different lines together into a cohesive system--something the new red line should really help with.

Cavan said...

Baltimore needs a full heavy rail Metro system. The city proper is slightly more populous than Washington. The city was dealt a fatal blow when the streetcars were ripped out in the '60s. Baltimore is not set up like Washington. It has distinct neighborhoods that are walkable in themselves, but not always walkable between them. The streetcars used to connect the whole city. Without a train system, the city is a mess to get around. It's no coincidence that the sections that are still largely abandoned are places that are the hardest to get to.

The Metro has done unimagined good for us here in Washington. It was/is the key to rehabbing what was a dying city and turning it into a major center of cosmopolitan living. It's no coincidence that neighborhoods that were old and beaten up, but walkable and near Metro stations have been turned into vibrant places.

Baltimore needs rail transit for its future. This light rail line is a compromise in light of current funding and political realities. Our neighbors to the north really could use more of an injection. 50 years ago, Baltimore was a main center for cosmopolitan living AND heavy industry. Currently, it has both in pieces. A full Metro system will be the key for their future, just like it was/is for ours.

One final note, Baltimore is not 1/3rd of Washington. The Census Bureau uses a MSA for Washington that includes very far-flung rural places like Stafford Co, and Faquirer (?) Co. in Virginia, Calvert and Frederick and Washington Cos. in Maryland, and the two counties in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Most of those people who live in such remote places don't go anywhere near the District of Columbia or use the Metro. They're included because there are some extreme commuters from out there. However, they are a minority in their communities. However, Baltimore does not get the same treatment from the Census Bureau. Its MSA only includes, the city itself, Baltimore Co. the eastern half of Howard Co., the northern half of Anne Arundel Co. Carrol Co. and Harford Co. The geographic area of the MSA that Census uses for Baltimore is much smaller in terms of land area, even though it has a similar phenomena of extreme commuters from far flung areas like York, PA, and Hagerstown, MD (Washington Co. in Washington's MSA).

I do applaud the state for doing the best it can in the cruddy environment it's been dealt by the Bush Admin. FTA.