Why BWI Beats IAD

pax

Source: Airport Council International

BWI Airport, Maryland’s perennial also ran, is now leaving the juggernaut of Virginia’s Dulles Airport (IAD) in the dust. In 2007, BWI had roughly 3 million fewer passengers than IAD. Reduced traffic at IAD juxtaposed  with increases at BWI resulted in BWI surpassing IAD by 700,000 passengers in 2013.

BWI has blossomed even though IAD has far more land and gates, as the Washington Post revealed:

Airports

Why is BWI killing IAD?

1. Architecture. Dulles has Eero Saarinen’s soaring design. But the need to preserve it and the impressive view prevents changes to make the airport more functional. The entry area is a disaster. The island check-in desks force many passengers to play hunt the airline and then to go around to the back.

The space between the counters and the front windows is not wide enough for all of the people to move. In contrast, the unmemorable buildings at BWI are more easily altered for functionality, including the creation of far wider (and modern) spaces in front of the check-in counters that make it easier to pass and a far less miserable experience.

2. Intra-Airport Transportation. I recall when mobile lounges were the height of cool. The AeroTrain designed to replace them cost $1.4 billion (!) but leaves passengers incredibly far from the concourses and doesn’t go to the D Concourse (mobile lounge or walk from C). While Concourses C and D expected to be torn down at some point, it stinks for the forseeable future. You can walk to all the gates at BWI.

Passengers arriving on international flights still have to take mobile lounges to immigration. No one wants to move to the back because that puts them at the end of the customs line, so everyone ends up walking over other people as it gets packed like a sausage for a voyage that takes place at a majestic pace.

3. United versus Southwest. It has taken me a very long time–I must have ridden a mobile lounge–to get converted to the virtues of budget instead of legacy carriers. United and American have convinced me otherwise. They’ve managed to combine passive aggressive service, inefficiency, and pseudo perks with all of the budget airline charges. United has a planned cluster every afternoon at IAD when the international flights are set to depart with not enough agents to handle the traffic.

Southwest loads its planes faster, partly because they don’t charge for the first bag, and most of their employees don’t seem to hate their employer or their customers. They also don’t charge honking fees to change a ticket. (I’m still waiting for the day for when an airline sends me $150 when they change my flight times.) While United accounts for around two-thirds of the traffic at IAD, Southwest has over 70% of the traffic at BWI.

4. Getting There. Like many in southwest Montgomery, I’ve been hesitant to go to BWI because of greater potential for traffic problems. Going to IAD, you know you’re golden once you hit the Dulles Access Road even if you have to spend quality time on the Beltway. However, the Intercounty Connector has created another option to BWI, where parking is substantially cheaper.

The big planned improvement for IAD is the Silver Line. But it won’t attract many from Montgomery because passengers will have to ride downtown first before heading out to Dulles. Like the AeroTrain, it will end up far away from the terminal, again due to difficulties related to the building.

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Robin Frazier Meet Bus

Robin Frazier, the singing, defeated, blogger bait county commissioner who is also the Carroll County Republican Central Committee (CCRCC) choice for Carroll’s vacant senate seat, is already getting thrown under the bus in the first bipartisan act of the incoming Hogan administration.

Len Lazerick at Maryland Reporter has the story (quotes below are from him). Key updates:

1. Governor-Elect Larry Hogan is already looking for ways not to have to appoint Robin Frazier to Carroll’s vacant Senate seat:

“We think there could be more transparency,” Hogan told reporters Tuesday. “We’d like to encourage them to make the process more transparent.”

“Our hands are not tied” by the central committee actions so far, Hogan said. “They’re supposed to send three names.”

While the three names claim seems to be a work of fiction, it speaks volumes to Hogan’s sensible desire to find another candidate without having to say it aloud.

2. Senate President Mike Miller doesn’t want her. He has also given the CCRCC an out by pointing out that the vacancy does not exist yet, as no one has resigned their seat. Sounds like an even better excuse for a mulligan.

3. Outgoing Sen. Joe Getty has been tasked to solve the problem:

Two of those sources also indicated that Hogan has told Getty to “fix” the problem prior to his appointment.

Getty said given his role in the Hogan transition, “my position is whatever the governor’s position would be” and he would not comment further.

Interesting response by Getty.

Sen. Getty and Del. Justin Ready, who lost the CCRCC vote to Frazier by 5-4, do not get along. For Getty, a Frazier appointment has two virtues. It would keep out Ready and fill the seat with a very weak incumbent. If Getty should leave the Hogan administration, he would be well positioned to seek his old seat again in 2018. So I wonder if Getty is now having to work to undo something he supported–or at least did not discourage.

4. Republican Del. Krebs has publicly condemned the process:

Four-term Carroll County Republican Del. Susan Krebs, the top vote-getter in the general election for three-member District 5, said, “I did not apply for the vacancy because I knew it was going to be a sham. I want people to know that I did not apply.”
“This central committee did not support Hogan,” Krebs noted.
Yikes. And to think these people are supposed to be playing for the same team.
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George Leventhal’s Double Standard

Nobody does high dudgeon quite like Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal. The Washington Post reported that his latest expression of outrage was in response to the Council having to approve another $21.2 million for the Silver Spring Transit Center:

General Services director David Dise, lead county official overseeing the project, offered no specific opening date but said repairs would be complete “by late May, certainly in the spring.”

Dise’s forecast drew a stiff response from Council President George Leventhal (D-At Large), who said some county taxpayers are so deeply frustrated with the delay that they advocate tearing down the building.

“Mr. Dise, a growing number of my constituents don’t believe anything you say anymore,” Leventhal said. “And I’m hearing from constituents that they think the promises are covering up a structurally-flawed building that ought to be torn down, that we ought to declare a loss and give up.”

County residents are rightly upset about the management of this project. The Transit Center was supposed to open four years ago and is massively more expensive than originally intended:

Silver Spring Transit Center 2

While pungent responses towards people testifying before the Council are nothing new for George Leventhal, his views on cost increases here contrast sharply with his stance regarding far greater increases on another transportation project.

Purple Line Double Standard

George is a lot more bothered by some cost increases than others. A huge fan of the Purple Line, he seems unconcerned about its rising cost and argues vociferously against anyone who opposes the project. And the costs have doubled to $2.4 billion (table below from the Washington Post), an increase that makes the spike in the Transit Center’s cost look piddling.

PL CostsIndeed, the latest cost increase of $220 million was more than the entire price of the Silver Spring Transit Center. The consistent increases in costs suggest manipulation as costs should sometimes go down if estimates are randomly off. Moreover, costs have increased even though the promised quality of the project continues to decline. The Bethesda Terminus has been downgraded and the tunnel for the Capital Crescent Trail under Wisconsin Ave. shelved.

Yet George will brook no opposition to his pet project. The contrast is especially striking as Parsons Brinckerhoff has been involved heavily in the design of both the Transit Center and the Purple Line. Despite the Transit Center fiasco, MTA remains unwilling to disclose how Parsons calculated ridership figures for the proposed light rail project.

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UPDATE: Carroll County GOP Frazier Follies

Over at Free State Notes, Walter Olson has a valuable update on the Carroll County Republican Central Committee’s (CCRCC) appointment of whackadoodle Robin Frazier to fill the vacancy caused by Sen. Joe Getty’s acceptance of a position in the Hogan administration:

(1) Although I wrote that “nobody puts crazy in the corner,” I had not realized that Frazier had ran a write-in campaign for County Commissioner against her own party’s nominee after losing the primary that garnered a whopping 9% of the vote. Makes her a doubly news of the weird choice by CCRCC.

(2) One of the people who voted on the vacancy was an employee of outgoing Commissioner Frazier.

(3) 2000 people have already signed an online petition against the appointment–more than voted for Frazier in the Republican primary–and they have gained support from one member of the Carroll County Commission.

(4) Michael Stewart over at Red Maryland has inveighed against both the secret process (the vote and who was considered were secret) and the decision to appoint this person twice rejected by the voters at the polls. Republicans are livid over this travesty.

(5) Frederick County Councilmember Kirby Delauter must be eternally grateful that Robin Frazier has distracted attention from his own stupidity and public humiliation.

Gov. Martin O’Malley found a way out of having the follow through with a disastrous appointment by the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee. Let’s hope that Gov. Elect Larry Hogan can do the same.

Question: Will this help inspire bipartisan support for reform of the appointment process?

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Bizarro World of Carroll County GOP Politics

Former Carroll County Commissioner Robin Frazier made herself blogger bait when she decided to sing part of the 2014 State of the County address. Unfortunately, her oeuvre has been taken down from YouTube and now, I fear, lost to posterity.

Frazier made the big time news when she violated a court order (follow link for video) regarding prayer at Commission meetings:

Carroll County Commissioner Robin Frazier opened a meeting of the Commission with a prayer invoking Jesus Christ despite a federal court order. She views the order as a wrongly issued violation of her First Amendment rights.

Frazier is “willing to go to jail” and said that America will soon be “all the way to Communism if we don’t start standing up and saying no.” She lumped the anti-prayer ruling with plots to take away guns, palm scan her children, and take away property rights through Plan Maryland.

As I mentioned at the time, her raving looney views (rather than her commitment to religion) and odd behavior placed her in electoral danger even in a Republican primary. Indeed, this former member of the Ehrlich administration lost the primary to Stephen Wantz by 56% to 38%–a sound thrashing for the incumbent.

But nobody puts crazy in the corner.

Highly regarded Sen. Joe Getty is giving up his Senate seat to work in the Hogan administration. According to Maryland’s process for filling General Assembly vacancies, the Carroll County Republican Central Committee chooses his replacement. And they’ve selected Frazier over Del. Justin Ready.

Please tell me that only Carroll Republican Central Committee members think that an incumbent losing renomination after acting like a guest star on Law & Order or the latest Nancy Grace vehicle is grounds for promotion to a Maryland Senate seat. You can’t blame Carroll’s Republican voters–they tried and now they will be “represented” by Frazier in the General Assembly for the next four years.

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States Gaining and Losing CDs

EDSApportionment

The Bureau of the Census has released population estimates for 2014. Election Data Services calculated changes in the number of congressional districts that would be allocated to each state based on the 2014 numbers:

Gaining One Seat
North Carolina
Texas

Losing One Seat
Minnesota
Pennsylvania

They have also projected changes in the number of CDs in each state after the 2020 Census:

Gaining Three Seats
Texas

Gaining One Seat
California
Colorado
Florida
North Carolina
Virginia

Losing One Seat
Alabama
Illinois
Michigan
Minnesota
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
West Virginia

Other potential gainers of one seat include Arizona and Oregon. Virginia’s seat gain is the most tenuous–they would get the last seat according to this projection. Other potential losers of one seat include New York. Florida has now surpassed New York to become the country’s third-largest state.

Maryland

No one is projecting that the number of Maryland’s congressional districts will change from eight after the 2020 Census. In 2014, the estimated American population increase was 3.27% since the 2010 Census. Maryland’s gain was slightly higher at 3.51%–the 21st highest rate in the country–suggesting that there is little danger of losing a seat. However, Maryland is growing at a somewhat slower rate than similarly sized states that might gain seats.

Slow-Growing States

West Virginia, -0.15%
Maine, 0.13%
Vermont, 0.13%
Rhode Island, 0.21%Michigan, 0.26%
Illinois, 0.38%
Ohio, 0.50%
Connecticut, 0.63%
Pennsylvania, 0.66%
New Hampshire, 0.79%
Mississippi, 0.88%

All of the New England state, except Massachusetts, have grown at very slow rates. Rhode Island could lose one of its two CDs, leaving it with one very highly populated CD with over one million people. like Montana. So far, Maine and New Hampshire are not projected to lose one of their two CDs, though that would eventually happen unless their growth rates pick up.

Fast-Growing States and DC

North Dakota, 9.95%
District of Columbia, 9.49%
Texas, 7.20%
Colorado, 6.49%
Utah, 6.48%
Florida, 5.79%
Arizona, 5.31%
Nevada, 5.12%
Washington, 5.01%
South Dakota, 4.79%
South Carolina, 4.48%

Washington, DC is growing gangbusters and now has an estimated population of close to 659,000.

 

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Del. Mike Smigiel Goes Off on Ferguson & New York

smigiel

Outgoing Republican Del. Mike Smigiel has chosen to end his tenure in elected office by calling the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the Mayor of New York City and Al Sharpton of being morally guilty of killing cops.

Perhaps these statements are Smigiel’s way of launching his 2018 comeback bid. But these public statements reveal why Republicans showed good judgement in denying him renomination for a fifth term this year, albeit partially because of an unusual number of competitors also hailing from Cecil County in this Eastern Shore district.

Smigiel’s defeat is also a blessing for Governor-Elect Larry Hogan. Statements like these by Republican members of the General Assembly will be totally unhelpful to his efforts to work with Democrats who hold over two-thirds of the seats in both the House and the Senate. It also undermines Republican efforts to expand their share of centrist and African-American voters.

UPDATE: Apparently, Del. Smigiel also realizes that his Facebook post showed poor judgement and has taken it down (h/t @BaltMediaBlog).

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Exactly what we don’t need in Annapolis

This statement by conservative Richard Viguerie sums up perfectly the approach that we should endeavor not to import into our newly divided government in Annapolis:

“There’s a certain willingness among conservatives to reconsider our Cuba policy, but the fact that it’s been negotiated by Obama — whom we have no confidence or trust in — makes it suspect,” said Richard Viguerie, a longtime conservative leader. “If this had been done by a trustworthy, conservative Republican, it would have been different.”

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ACT Sees Purple Line Dream Fade; MCDOT Follows 7S

The Action Committee for Transit (ACT) sees its Purple Line dreams moving out of reach and has sent out an email trying to rally support:

The Purple Line is again in grave danger — at the very moment when it is about to begin construction.

ACT’s definition of “about to begin construction” is different from most. While this phrase invokes visions of bulldozers ready to go, no federal funding has been awarded and the State has yet to receive–let alone evaluate–proposals from concessionaires (i.e. contractors) for the public private partnership (P3) who would still need to design the system.

Social Justice Out, Jobs Program In

The reasons that ACT believes we need to save the Purple Line have altered in focus:

Maryland will lose thousands of jobs in construction and future growth if we don’t build the Purple Line now.

Here, ACT has jettisoned its social justice rhetoric, formerly at the center of Purple Line appeals, so easily that it should give pause to those who support the Purple Line Compact to protect residents and businesses likely to be displaced by it. It’s now (and probably always was) all about something else.

Interestingly, the new front-and-center focus is on construction jobs. A temporary jobs program requiring massive public spending seems an odd way to appeal to our Governor-Elect and shows a tin ear in an attempt to bootstrap synchronicity with Hogan’s values by former Brown supporters.

Still Confusing Purple Line with Metro

Not all ACT rhetoric has changed:

The new Silver Line has four stations in Tysons Corner because Virginia understood the economic importance of rail transit; Maryland must not fall behind. Businesses and commuters are counting on the state to keep the commitments it has made and go forward with the Purple Line.

ACT  continues to equate the building of the light rail Purple Line, which will not be part of the Metro system, with the heavy rail Silver Line, which is integrated into Metro and will terminate at Dulles Airport. This effort to obfuscate the differences through the use of a color name similar to Metro lines has long been one of the most clever parts of ACT’s communications strategy. Light rail and heavy rail are quite different–the former is more similar to bus-rapid transit systems (RTS), though RTS is far less expensive.

Give to Aid the Land Company Now

ACT’s email closes with the traditional fundraising appeal:

If you can do one more thing for the Purple Line, ACT needs your financial help to continue our campaign. Please make a special contribution now.

By allowing for increased development, Purple Line proponents argue that it will raise land values around stations. Indeed, that is the goal. For example, the wealthy Chevy Chase Land Company is keen to see the Purple Line built–they’re organizing a letter to Hogan arguing for the pricey project–because it will increase the value of their holdings in that area. Yet we are asked to pay for the privilege of aiding the Land Company by donating to ACT.

Ironically, virtually all of the development over the short and medium terms will occur at Chevy Chase Lake without the Purple Line. The revised sector plan added 1.7 million square feet that will move forward with construction even if the Purple Line isn’t built. This will include about 700 apartments and 70 town houses, a hotel and over 250,000 square feet of commercial development. This is more than than the 1.3 million square feet that would be built much later on condition of Purple Line construction.

New Twitter Follower

I am happy to welcome the Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director’s Office as a follower to @theseventhstate.

Correction: Earlier version had MDOT instead of MCDOT. Apologies for the Error.

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The Republican Bench

The Statewide Republican bench for 2022 got a whole lot deeper on November 4th.

Alan Kittleman
Pro-Marriage Equality, Anti-Death Penalty former State Senator and Howard County Executive Alan Kittleman is a suburban moderate Republican of the northeastern breed that’s been dying out since the early 90’s–socially liberal and fiscal conservative  with a patrician demeanor.  Kittleman brings a growing base in Howard County to a statewide contest.

Boyd Rutherford
The Lt Governor is supposedly an apolitical technocrat with no desire to run for office at the top of a ticket. But an apolitical technocrat who happens to be an African American from the Baltimore Suburbs with a certain affable charm could be a truly amazing statewide candidate. Food for thought.

Barry Glassman
The new Harford County Executive is a talented fundraiser and represents a rapidly growing jurisdiction with around one-quarter million residents. He has an appealingly home spun way about him and Fallston is not a bad place to start raising money for Governor.

Steve Schuh
If I were picking the Republican nominee for Governor, I’d go with the guy. Dartmouth undergrad. Harvard MBA. Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins. A former Senior Executive at two major investment banks. The incoming Chief Executive of one Maryland’s largest counties (Anne Arundel with nearly 700,000 residents). If that doesn’t spell gubernatorial contender, I don’t know what does.

Now, the most interesting play might be if instead of these guys fighting it out in the primary, they formed a formidable statewide ticket. Boyd Rutherford would be a highly intriguing candidate for Comptroller, and Alan Kittleman would be a credible candidate for Attorney General. With Schuh at the top of the ticket and and Glassman as Lt Governor, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a statewide Republican sweep.

The worst thing for the Democratic establishment to happen on November 4th wasn’t Larry Hogan’s election as Governor. It was the fact that further down ballot, Republican’s now have a legitimate bench of candidates.

Missing someone? Disagree with me? Email johnga.ems@gmail.com

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