Monday, November 24, 2008

purple line hearing: residents debate wayne ave. route, who rides the bus

Part TWO of a re-cap of last Saturday's Purple Line hearing in Takoma Park. Earlier, we looked at what elected officials had to say. Also check out this slideshow of the hearing.

East Silver Spring resident Karen Roper testifies at the hearing. BELOW: Elaine Ellis holds up a "No Train On Wayne" sign.

Among the residents who testified at last Saturday's Purple Line hearing, nearly all endorsed some form of the proposed transitway between Bethesda and New Carrollton though many were more specific about what they'd like to see. Woody Brosnan of North Woodside dismissed the Bus Rapid Transit option, saying "we have enough buses already."

He quoted from a letter to the editor in Saturday's Washington Post, a resident of Chevy Chase who claimed the Purple Line would make the Georgetown Branch unusable. "'Where will all the families walk their strollers?' Our families walk their strollers on sidewalks," said Brosnan. "I didn't think the County spent $10 million for some of our wealthier residents to have a tree-lined baby walk."

The most controversial topic, however, was one proposed alignment which would run down the middle of Wayne Avenue. Erin Johansson, who lives on Wayne, looks forward to seeing the Purple Line built on her street. "My son likes choo-choo trains, but my husband and I are for it because we lived in San Francisco, a block from the light-rail," said Johansson. "It was a controlled street, very safe, very quiet, more so than on Wayne now with the buses."

Tina Slater, who lives on Mansfield Road "six houses" from Wayne Avenue, noted that their Park Hills neighborhood wouldn't have a stop on the Purple Line if it were below ground. She called the transitway "an excellent solution that respects both the needs and character of our urban community."

so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

Residents watch the proceedings.

Kathy Christiansen, who originated the "No Train On Wayne" signs that currently line the avenue and surrounding streets, called the route a "recipe for disaster, not a panacea to our traffic woes," while Christine Arnold-Lourie complained about the possibility of "clanging bells and whistles as the train approaches and unnecessary stop at Wayne and Dale." She ridiculed projections that the station, one of twenty-one proposed along the Purple Line, would have fourteen hundred boarings each day. "That's more people than are in our neighborhood!" she said.

Karen Roper, an East Silver Spring resident who sits on the Purple Line Advisory Committee, focused attention on another alignment that would tunnel under her neighborhood along Silver Spring and Thayer avenues. "The public discussion on the Purple Line has shortchanged East Silver Spring in favor of traffic relief," said Roper. "The issue is how much negative impact can East Silver Spring stand for the development of Long Branch and Langley Park."

Many of the people who testified did not drive and spoke of the current difficulties of getting around with public transportation. Eastern Village residents Ed and Joan King gave up their cars to help the environment. "I've been riding buses for three years and I'll tell you, it's not always pleasant," said Joan King. "I was persuaded that for our planet, mass transit is necessary . . . I hope our neighbors will understand."

A pro-Purple Line sign outside of Falcon Hall.

Kathy Jentz, who lives in East Silver Spring, said the light rail option was the only viable way to build the Purple Line. "We've already had Bus Rapid Transit. It's called the J4, and I've waited forty minutes for it . . . it's failed as a solution for getting from College Park to Bethesda," says Jentz, a former board member of Purple Line Now! "Often I am the only white person on the bus. I've talked to my neighbors and they will not ride the bus . . . there is a long-time stigma."

Outside of the hearing, one person who asked not to be named said she was "very disturbed" by Jentz's statement. "I ride the bus," said the resident, who is white. "I mean, is this Montgomery County?"

Elaine Ellis, who lives along Wayne Avenue, was equally dismayed about the Purple Line debate and what it said about the community she's lived in for so long. Since the doors opened at 12:30, she'd stood outside of Falcon Hall in below-freezing temperatures, holding a "No Train On Wayne" sign. "I wouldn't be out here all day if I wasn't pissed off," said Ellis. "I feel like the County Council is not looking out for residential neighborhoods. It's just development, development, development."

6 comments:

Thomas Hardman said...

"I wouldn't be out here all day if I wasn't pissed off," said Ellis. "I feel like the County Council is not looking out for residential neighborhoods. It's just development, development, development."

I'd say that Mr Ellis has finally caught on.

Maybe the next time a "bona fide real person" candidate is out there in opposition to "letting developers run the government", he can dig into his pockets and contribute to the campaign.

It's not enough to just get out there and vote, or even to get out and run for office. No, you have got Big Money funding anyone who seems to be ready to be a lackey for those Pave The Bay Developers and their bottom-feeding hangers-on.

Until and unless the citizens can put more money into winning campaigns than the Developers can, the Developers will be the ones whose wishes become law.

WashingtonGardener said...

>>"[Jentz] says the price of the train's going up so only white people will ride it and she'd feel comfortable . . . I mean, is this Montgomery County?"<<
I NEVER said anything in my remarks at the event (or elsewhere for that matter) regarding pricing NOR do I feel uncomfortable being the only white face around. Quite the opposite in fact, if you knew me or my background.
I'm not sure where this person got this from - it certainly does not reflect my sentiments in any way.
As far as the stigma of riding buses vs trains, I was not referring just to racial but mostly to class distinctions -- unless you "have to" ride the bus, most people who can afford to will not do so. When asking co-workers and neighbors in the past about this issue, I've been told many reasons for not wanting to go by bus -- from waiting in the exposed weather to being around the "great unwashed." Metro and Rideon need to launch a pro-bus rider PR campaign to combat this image problem.

Cavan said...

Thomas,
How do you propose we enhance mobility on the Purple Line corridor in a "developer free" manner? Lemmee guess... you propose we do nothing. Just let the problem fester longer. Because that always works great.

Look, we need more development. Our region will grow whether we like it or not. We need more development in walkable transit-oriented places and none in car-dependent exurban places. Basically, more Silver Spring and no more Aspen Hill. If some developers profit by building walkable places along transit stations, I say good for them because they will be making a profit by doing something good. Isn't that what we want? Don't we still live under a regulated capitalist economic system? Therefore aren't profits desireable? We regulate in order to curtail profits being made in ways that hurt society. However, we want profits that help reduce the environmental degradation caused by automobile exhaust.

And no, this problem won't be solved by having electric cars or some nu-fuel cars. The solution is to make places that don't require cars. Cars should be for long distance trips and should be for hauling stuff. They should not be necessary to function as an American.

Cavan said...

Gardiner, the person who said that about you just ripped a page out of Karl Rove's playbook. When someone points out an unhappy truth that shoots a hole in your argument, accuse them of fomenting "class warfare."

I think the fact that person elected to use that line of attack says all that needs to be said about the person who said that about you.

As far as some sort of bus PR campaign... not worth it. No one likes buses. Even those who have to ride them. Why do you think the Highway Lobby ripped out the streetcars in the 1950's and '60s and replaced them with buses? They weren't trying to upgrade public transportation. They were trying to kill it. Streetcars worked and everyone rode them. No one wanted to ride the buses. They have the problems you mentioned about always getting stuck in automobile traffic, along with being uncomfortable compared to trains.

When I testified at the Chevy Chase Purple Line hearings, I was (not) surprised by the nonstop straw-man rhetoric based off of purely incorrect assertions about trains and anything else that were used to bolster their do-nothing views. That's where we are on this one.

This issue is about whether or not we want to move into the 21st century. It will be a century with a greatly dimished role for the automobile. It will have to be. We don't have enough land to pave over to accomodate all the roads. The other choice is to pretend that the 20th century will never end and the autopia that was first displayed at the 1939 World's Fair will continue as the dominant land-use vision, despite its obvious civilization threating drawbacks (such as wars for oil). Some will go with something so hideous because they don't want change. It's sad how far they will go.

Thomas Hardman said...

Cavan, please don't go putting words in my mouth in one post -- nice try at knocking down a strawman, fallacy that we all know that to be -- and then accuse someone else of stealing a play from the Rove playbook. You appear to be the one that studies the Modern Machiavelli. I admit, you certainly would not be the only one.

Also, try to not falsely conflate "progress" with "developers". The former is an admirable ideal responsible for all that we have that is good, as well as a lot that is not; the latter is a collective noun for the people that get politicians elected by funding their campaigns and moreso by providing "in-kind" organizational support that isn't required to be reported on the State Elections Board form.

Also, in your "rebuttal" to WashingtonGardener, you make a tacit assumption the basis of most of your argument. That tacit assumption would appear to be that there will be endless population growth, which would in fact require endless increases in pavement to allow the single-passenger car as we know it to continue to serve its driver in the modern way.

Well, I don't disagree with the conclusion; that would be reasonable as a conclusion driven by your stack of faulty premises.

1. We do not need, and should not have, endless population growth. Immigration -- legal or otherwise -- has been the sole real driver of population increase in the US since the mid-1990s, sidestepping an aggregate decision in the 1970s by the native-born Americans to reproduce at, or below, Replacement Rate.

Make your premis that we stabilize population growth, and indeed work towards an orderly population decline, and all of your subsequent statement sound ridiculous, as they should in a decent world where the population didn't double globally every 18 or so years.

In any case, absent solving the population growth problem, you can build a Purple Line and in 10 years its capacity will be saturated, and we'll have to build another one, and ten years later another one... the exact same argument you used about having to pave more and more roads to support all of the single-user automobiles that you declare cannot ever go away.

Now, when I take issues with "developers", I am not taking issue with progress. I am taking issue with an unaccountable and non-transparent unelected political influence that forces limitless population growth, because that is where they make money. These are in fact extremely short-sighted people, planning for maybe 20 years out at the most, but they are hardly Futurists; they're just trying to line up projects.

As long as they can move from a completed project to a new one, they have no more concern for the future than to termites devouring one house until it collapses, and then moving on to the next one. Because of their way of life and mode of operation, they cannot help but to leave epic destruction in their wake, once the population gets much past the so-called "carrying capacity" of the ecology. Certainly, with unlimited energy, that carrying-capacity can be greatly expanded and that is why we have not yet run up against Malthus's Maxim. Yet in case you hadn't noticed, there is an increasing shortage of fuels and other energy resources.

I will always oppose any project that will allow anyone to avoid the facts and pretend that there is not a population problem.

Build the Purple Line, any way that works, that's providing new transit options to an area that is already overbuilt. Let's just not go adding new rail lines "out to cow country, they'll never fill up that much land", because that is how we got our first suburbs in the first place.

You are only repeating the rhetoric of the 1920s which is how nice urban Takoma Park got built.

slater402 said...

Thomas,

First off, Cavan was not rebutting WashingtonGardner's points, he was supporting them, but questioning the value of a bus PR campaign. I was also at the hearing and the earlier posting here and what Kathy Jenz said are not the same.

Second, the population growth in this area will continue, regardless of changes in immigration. The Washington metropolitan area has the highest concentration of jobs anywhere in the country. That fact has historically drawn people to this area and will continue to do so. Developers will continue to build housing in response to demand and this is where the demand is greatest. As the job markets in the area have shifted from being centered in downtown to suburbs such as College Park and Bethesda, new transportation routes and modes must be implemented.

Anyone who believes that downtown Silver Spring and East Silver Spring are not urban areas is not paying attention. If Silver Spring were incorporated, it would be the second largest city in the state.

One final note on the supposed inevitability of transit-oriented development. It is not always the case. A very good local example is the Forest Glen Metro Station.