July 28, 2010

DOUBTFUL: Leggett doesn't agree with his own DOT??

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett doesn't agree with his own administration's policies, or at least that's what he said in his responses to a questionnaire by the Action Committee for Transit. ACT asked,

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?

And Mr. Leggett replied,

I disapprove. My policy is to favor transit over roads.

ACT was referring to the County DOT's position on bus priority. The State Highway Administration agreed that, in principle at least, it makes sense to design roads and intersections to move the most people, not the most vehicles. If there's an intersection where a "queue jump" lane could let a bus carrying 40 people skip ahead of a queue of 20 single-passenger cars, it makes sense to let the bus cut the line. If there's a traffic signal where buses frequently turn onto a main road from a side road or out of a transit station, it makes sense to build in a sensor in that light to let the buses go without having to wait 2 minutes or more since the light is otherwise timed to give the vast majority of time to the main road.

But the Montgomery County DOT doesn't seem to think so. MCDOT Director Arthur Holmes dismissed suggestions of this nature from ACT in February, and refused to suggest any alternate improvements of his own. Instead, he talked about the need to "balance" the transportation system for "all users" in a way that made it clear he doesn't believe bus priority is "balanced."

If Mr. Leggett really believes in favoring transit in the County's transportation policy, why hasn't he asked Holmes to be more amenable to bus priority? Or perhaps Mr. Leggett just didn't understand the question. Based on his wording about favoring "transit over roads," whereas bus transit goes on roads, maybe he didn't recognize they were talking about bus priority. In general, Mr. Leggett doesn't seem to devote much attention to transportation policy, and therefore is led astray by his old-fashioned LOS-centric transportation department.

I suspect if Mr. Leggett thought more about this issue, he'd come to the same conclusion as Neil Pedersen and realize Mr. Holmes is stuck in the 1960s. Now would be a good time for him to start paying attention and tell Mr. Holmes to give serious attention to bus priority, one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve mobility in Montgomery County and the entire region.SOURCE: Greater Greater Washington

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