Tag Archives: Action Committee for Transit

Hogan Approves Purple Line

In a surprise move, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he is ready to move full-speed ahead on the light-rail Purple Line that will travel from Bethesda to New Carrollton in suburban Washington. The Baltimore Sun reported:

“Working closely with Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, we have discovered the means to reduce costs substantially,” said Gov. Hogan at an early morning press conference. “If we eliminate frills, I am now confident that it can be built in a cost-effective manner that will bring business to Maryland.”

Hogan explained that a major barrier has always been the price of the light-rail cars, which are expensive and have to be imported from Ostrava in the Czech Republic:

We have cut unnecessary extras. Seats provide no benefit to the taxpayer, so they have been eliminated from the redesigned trains. Indeed, we have now also done away with walls and the ceiling to go with a sleek, modern flatbed design.

Purple Line Project Manager Mike Madden applauded the move:

I appreciate the governor’s support and leadership on the project. Eliminating not just doors but walls will make it easier to board and to exit the train, thus reducing time spent at stations and increasing speed, resulting in an estimated increase in ridership of 31.7%.

When asked for the documentation on the increased ridership, Madden described the information as “proprietary” but also reassured the public on their accuracy: “They were calculated by the same high-quality experts who designed the Silver Spring Transit Center that will open later this year.”

Hogan’s decision to simplify cars was hailed by former Action Committee for Transit President Ben Ross:

This new design is in touch with the simplified lifestyle preferred by Millennials. Let’s face it: seats are emblematic of the bourgeois Lexus lifestyle. I’m glad that Maryland and Montgomery County have said “yes” to our smart growth future by embracing open plan light-rail.

Similarly, Montgomery Council President George Leventhal congratulated Hogan on WAMU for “finally following his lead” and said “The open plan is an excellent forward-thinking idea. I think of it as a moving Capital Crescent Trail. It will be a first-class system.”

Not all of Leventhal’s colleagues were so sanguine. Council Vice Chair Nancy Floreen said to the Washington Post:

Heck, I never thought the Governor would invest so much money in areas that will never vote for him. Now, I’ll have to come up with all the money that Montgomery County promised when I’m Council President next year. I don’t see why I shouldn’t just run for Congress instead.

But Robert Thomson, better known as Dr. Gridlock, reassured the public in an online Post discussion: “I have every confidence that the Purple Line will light a fire under small business in Langley Park just as the DC Streetcar has sparked long quiet H Street.”

Former Carroll County Commissioner Republican Robin Frazier denounced the move. Appearing at a “Help Save Maryland” rally, she said that it would only help “homosexuals and illegal aliens get around so that they can use bathrooms in more places.”

 

 

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.