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Old September 6th, 2010, 08:58 PM   #121
manrush
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It would be interesting to see DC's streetcars having some premetro sections, akin to the Brussels tram system.
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Old September 7th, 2010, 05:31 PM   #122
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manrush View Post
It would be interesting to see DC's streetcars having some premetro sections, akin to the Brussels tram system.
The old D.C. streetcar ran underground for a short distance at Dupont Circle, and had one underground station. There aren't currently any plans for the streetcars to go to Dupont Circle, let alone reuse the old tunnel.

Photo by conoperative:


Dupont Circle Underground


Beneath Dupont, A Renaissance in the Making


I doubt if any of the new D.C. streetcars will run in newly-dug tunnels, except for a few key sections to avoid road crossings (like the section near Union Station, which will be briefly below street level near H and North Capitol Streets), but it might be a good long-term idea to put the proposed 7th Street line in a short tunnel underneath the National Mall, perhaps with one underground station.

My opinion is that if you're going to go through the expense of digging a long tunnel with subterranean stations you might as well make it heavy rail (Metro).
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #123
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Obama’s plan could alter Md.’s transportation funds

President Barack Obama’s plan to create a government-run “infrastructure bank” could have a major impact on how Maryland pays for projects and on the people who invest in the state’s bonds.

Obama, in a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, touted the proposal as a way to help states and local governments fund needed improvements to roads, rails and airports. The idea is to pool federal dollars and private funds and lend them to states and municipalities to pay for these projects. The plan’s details have yet to be spelled out and must eventually be approved by Congress.

The infrastructure bank would give Maryland an alternative to issuing its own bonds to pay for transportation projects such as the proposed Red Line on Baltimore’s Metro and the Purple Line linking Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, transportation advocates say.

But as Steven Isberg, an associate professor of finance at the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore points out, it has yet to be determined how much the federal government would charge states to borrow from the infrastructure bank. That makes it difficult to know whether it would be cheaper for Maryland to issue its own bonds or borrow from the government-run bank, Isberg said.


Read more: Obama’s plan could alter Md.’s transportation funds - Baltimore Business Journal
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Old September 18th, 2010, 12:17 AM   #124
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I have a feeling if Ehrlich wins the governor's race, then the red line and purple line will either be put on hold while he is in office or be replaced with half-assed BRT service.

I do think that BRT could serve as a decent substitute for the red line though. The #40 quick bus gets downtown in 20 mins from the end of route 70. Not bad.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 12:49 AM   #125
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Does Washington DC itself have any control over what gets built where?

That is, can the city construct a separate subway network that serves the capital's urban area, or is transit funding a hostage to suburban politics?
The closest equivalent is the proposal to build an M Street tunnel to relieve Rosslyn's bottleneck and give Georgetown a Metro stop. Because this involves tunnelling under the Potomac and rebuilding Rosslyn, there's no issue of location.

In real life, the Silver Line is being funded partly by WMATA despite only being in Virginia, so once again the location is less of an issue than importance.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 10:42 PM   #126
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Well, if Ehrlich does get elected(and I have a feeling he will), I hope he has a change of heart and decides to support the construction of Purple and Red Lines in the future.
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Old September 20th, 2010, 04:51 PM   #127
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I don't know if it has been said yet, but from 1-Aug the ticket price has been increased.
On 2-Aug I charged some 4/5$ to get to West Falls Church. The gate didn't open and the guy in the staff booth told me that from 1-Aug the fares had been raised of another .50$ ("never mind for this time, go ahead", he said).
The funny thing is that they didn't put any advice in other stations such as Mt Vernon sq or Metro center.
It's the cleanest and most futuristic subway (its stations remember a lunar base and some Soviet era stations) I've ever seen, but it's the most expensive one, too.
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Old September 20th, 2010, 05:20 PM   #128
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I don't know if it has been said yet, but from 1-Aug the ticket price has been increased.
On 2-Aug I charged some 4/5$ to get to West Falls Church. The gate didn't open and the guy in the staff booth told me that from 1-Aug the fares had been raised of another .50$ ("never mind for this time, go ahead", he said).
The funny thing is that they didn't put any advice in other stations such as Mt Vernon sq or Metro center.
It's the cleanest and most futuristic subway (its stations remember a lunar base and some Soviet era stations) I've ever seen, but it's the most expensive one, too.
The point has been made that the D.C. Metro functions as both a downtown subway and as an ad hoc commuter rail system for the D.C. area. Washington D.C. has commuter rail (VRE and MARC), but it's pretty bad in both coverage and service frequencies (not to mention lack of weekend service), nowhere near the standards of the LIRR in New York, Chicago's Metra, or Boston's MBTA commuter trains. This theory (kind of) explains the relatively high fares and the distance-based fare system used in D.C.

D.C. has a draconian prohibition on food and drink in the Metro (they don't mess around--a girl was ARRESTED a few years ago for eating french fries on a train), which is one of the reasons it's kept so clean. I think Athens has a similar policy. The "no food" policy has advantages and disadvantages.

The stark station designs have aged well, I think. They're not as visually engaging or contemporary as some of the newer European stations (the newer stations of the Naples Metro come to mind) but they're not exceedingly ugly (older Boston Blue Line stations) or tacky (Los Angeles Red Line) either.
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Old September 20th, 2010, 08:51 PM   #129
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At least those stations have an unique look I've never seen before. Furthermore, the red blinking lights whenever a train is coming are really important.
However I think that the lights in the stations are too dim.

I agree that wmata metro plays an important role for commuters: On the Orange line, I heard two men who were talking about how they left their car home and avoided being stuck into the congested beltway every morning.

OMG @that kitsch LA subway photo :O
That old Blue Line outbound station should be somewhere before Airport station, right? I remember it.
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Old September 21st, 2010, 10:13 PM   #130
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O'Malley proposes $90 million for transit projects...

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/mar...,3385067.story

That is, if he wins in November...
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Old October 4th, 2010, 12:33 AM   #131
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O'Malley-Ehrlich transportation gulf is wide

Incumbent would build light rail; challenger would scrap it

This time around, in their rematch for governor, the differences between Martin O'Malley and Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on transportation issues are stark.

Unlike 2006, when the two substantially agreed on the state's largest road project, in 2010 the Democratic incumbent and Republican challenger are at odds on billion-dollar decisions that could determine how Marylanders will get from place to place for decades to come.

If O'Malley is re-elected, he will almost certainly keep Maryland on a course toward construction of two long-sought but expensive light rail systems — the $1.8 billion Red Line in Baltimore and the $1.6 billion Purple Line in the Washington suburbs. As governor, Ehrlich supported the planning process on both lines, but has turned against them as proposed by O'Malley. The Republican has vowed to scuttle light rail on both lines, saying rapid bus lines are his preferred choice.



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The two candidates, both of whom answered questions from The Baltimore Sun last week, also have significant differences over the question of financing transportation. O'Malley expressed his views in a face-to-face interview, while Ehrlich provided written answers to questions submitted by the newspaper.

For Ehrlich, the transit issue has complicated his relationship with business leaders, who tend otherwise to be receptive to Republican appeals. In the populous suburbs of Washington, the influential Greater Washington Board of Trade is an enthusiastic supporter of light rail on the Purple Line. The Greater Baltimore Committee is equally committed to O'Malley's plan for the Red Line.

The Board of Trade, which supported Ehrlich in his 2002 and 2006 runs for governor, cited the Purple Line last week when it threw its endorsement to O'Malley. The GBC does not endorse candidates, but has expressed misgivings about Ehrlich's stance on the Red Line.

In the past, both men have shown a willingness to raise revenues for transportation — O'Malley through taxation in 2007, and Ehrlich in the form of fees in 2004.

In the 2007 special General Assembly session called to deal with budget issues, O'Malley raised about $400 million a year for transportation by raising the titling tax and by increasing the sales tax and devoting a part of the proceeds to the Transportation Trust Fund. The fund, which collects roughly $2.7 billion in state funds each year to pay for transportation infrastructure, has been under severe pressure in recent years to keep up with growing demand for maintenance and expansion.

Ehrlich has vowed to roll back the sales tax increase from 6 percent to 5 percent, though he indicated he would continue to dedicate a percentage to transportation. He estimated that the rollback would cost the Transportation Trust Fund no more than $48 million each year — a number he called "manageable." He said he has no plans to cut the titling tax, which is, in effect, a sales tax on cars.

The two governors' priorities — expressed in hard dollars — also have differed significantly. O'Malley has brought about a clear shift in projected capital spending away from highways and in favor of transit projects.

In Ehrlich's last transportation plan as governor, the state projected capital spending of roughly 28 cents on the Maryland Transit Administration — which administers buses, light rail, the Baltimore Metro and MARC — for every dollar spent on highways in fiscal 2008. O'Malley's plan for 2012 calls for spending 50 cents on the MTA for every dollar on the highways.

In four years under O'Malley the percentage of capital transportation funding directed to highways has declined from 54 percent to 48 percent. Meanwhile the combined total for the MTA and Washington Metro system has grown from 28 percent to 35 percent.

O'Malley said the shift is consistent with the platform he campaigned on in 2006. He added that as two major road projects — the Intercounty Connector and the express tolls lanes on Interstate 95 northeast of Baltimore — wind down, and if the proposed light rail lines move forward as expected later this decade, the shift could become more pronounced.

"We can't build enough roads to ease the congestion that's coming," he said. "We have to find other options."

Ehrlich said O'Malley's spending on transit is "out of balance'" because the governor has wasted millions of dollars on planning light rail systems that he said "can't be built without massive tax increases."

"My administration would restore the balance between working on transit and highways by setting realistic priorities," he said.

O'Malley has also held the line on bus and rail fares at a time when transit agencies across the country have been charging more for their services. He said he hopes to keep fares stable for another four years in the hope of attracting more riders, with the goal of doubling ridership.

Ehrlich didn't criticize O'Malley's fare freeze but said there is a trade-off between stable fares and service quality.

"Once in office we will have to look for the right balance between improving transit services and maintaining transit fares," he said. The former governor rejected a proposal by some General Assembly Republicans to adopt a cost-recovery formula that could force a roughly 50 percent increase in fares.

During his four-year term, Ehrlich put the weight of his office solidly behind highways. His No. 1 priority, which he successfully steered to federal approval after a half-century of starts and stops, was the $2.5 billion Intercounty Connector, a toll highway that will run from Gaithersburg to Laurel.

O'Malley has continued work on the ICC and the other mega-project launched under Ehrlich — the $994 million widening of I-95 between Baltimore and White Marsh — but scaled the latter project back and delayed completion to shift Maryland Transportation Authority funds into the maintenance of existing facilities.

Ehrlich called the changes to the project — eliminating interchanges to Route 43 and the Beltway — "a real shame."



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The Republican has also faulted O'Malley for diverting the highway user funds, which the state usually provides to local governments each year for road projects, in order to help close budget shortfalls in fiscal 2010 and 2011

As a former mayor who depended on such funds, O'Malley said, he "hated" to make that cut.

"I went to it reluctantly and went to it only as the other options were exhausted," he said. "I hope it can be one of the first things we can restore as revenues can come back."

But the governor refused to commit a specific amount to local aid, saying he doesn't have a "crystal ball" on revenue collections.

Ehrlich has promised to restore one-quarter of that money in his first year in office — suggesting he would use $80 million O'Malley wants to direct toward engineering on the Red and Purple lines.

The rivals have also clashed over the future of the state's MARC commuter train system. After a Penn Line train was stranded on the tracks outside Washington for two hours in the stifling heat in June, Ehrlich attacked O'Malley's stewardship of MARC, again suggesting that Red and Purple line money could be redirected into improvements.

O'Malley countered that a deficit in MARC investments during Ehrlich's administration had hurt the system. The governor said his administration had doubled capital spending on MARC — investing in 13 new railcars and 26 new locomotives — even at a time when the transportation budget was under stress. In fact, Maryland Transportation Department figures show an increase from $102 million in Ehrlich's last budget to $195 million in 2010.

"The Hell Train incident allowed Bob Ehrlich to discover the MARC train," O'Malley said.

Ehrlich responded that his administration was quicker to react to MARC problems and "did not experience the horrific occurrences of the O'Malley administration."

Even more than MARC, it is the Red Line and Purple Line that divide the two candidates. Ehrlich contends that Maryland can't afford to build two new light rail lines; O'Malley says the state can't afford not to.

O'Malley chose light rail as the preferred mode on the two lines in 2009 after a long period of public hearings and consensus-building. The current plans for both lines have drawn the support of a strong majority of local elected officials; hearings showed little demand for bus rapid transit — a system that would separate the vehicles from other traffic for significant stretches of their route.

The governor remains vague on the question of how Maryland would pay its presumed 50 percent cost of building any new transit line the federal government might approve — noting that the Congress could alter that formula when it takes up a new transportation spending bill. He mentioned the possibility of a public-private partnership, though there isn't much precedent for such deals in the heavily subsidized world of mass transit.

Nevertheless, he expresses confidence that a way can be found.

"We have completed important transportation projects before in our past, and we are still a great state and can still do these things," he said.

Ehrlich said O'Malley's mode selection process was "biased in favor of high-cost, neighborhood-killing light rail." In the case of the Red Line, he said, the O'Malley plan is a "boondoggle driven by a handful of developers" that would actually harm east-west mobility. Ehrlich said he would "restart the process" and work toward a consensus among the "realistic alternatives."

One issue on which the two candidates' public statements are not far apart is the gasoline tax. Despite continued pressure from the GBC, the Board of Trade and some General Assembly Democrats, neither says he is prepared to raise the 23.5-cent-a-gallon levy, which has remained unchanged since the early 1990s.

Ehrlich has all but ruled out any increase during the next four years.

"We faced that issue in my first term, and I concluded the gas tax should not be increased," said. "I haven't changed my mind."

O'Malley said he continues to support a proposal — rejected by the legislature in 2007 — to index the current gasoline tax to inflation. Such a move could shield the state from revenue losses if the price of gasoline spikes as it did in 2008, cutting into travel miles.

But the governor said he's not planning to propose any increase in the basic rate.



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"The broader public doesn't share the GBC or Board of Trade's view," he said.

[email protected]



Transportation Issues



Red/Purple lines: O'Malley proposes light rail lines in both Baltimore and the Washington suburbs. Ehrlich says he'd scrap them but would consider rapid bus service.

Transportation Trust Fund: Ehrlich wants a sales tax rollback that could cost the fund up to $48 million a year. O'Malley opposes that idea.

Local highway funds: Ehrlich promises to restore at least one-quarter of the more than $300 million O'Malley diverted to balance the budget. O'Malley says he wants to restore that as soon as possible, but won't pledge a specific figure.

MARC: Ehrlich faults O'Malley's handling of MARC and suggests he would spend more on it. O'Malley points out he's nearly doubled MARC funds since taking office.

Gas tax: O'Malley sees no need for an increased rate but likes the idea indexing it to inflation. Ehrlich rejects any increase.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 02:31 PM   #132
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Wow, let's hope anti-rail nut Ehrlich loses big time. He was an unpopular governor before.
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Old October 11th, 2010, 11:16 PM   #133
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I am a one-issue voter and for me it's the light rail. I want it. So you know how I will be voting.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 11:19 PM   #134
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Does anyone know why Metro has never been converted to a zone-based fare system instead of just distance? The biggest reason is the obvious lack of unlimited zone passes, similar to Travelcards in London. I made a small diagram that divided the system into six zones ($1.95-$4.95 regular fare in $.40 increments) based on the distance from Metro Center for the Red, Blue, and Orange Lines and Gallery Place for the Green and Yellow Lines and it seems like it could work.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 01:17 PM   #135
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Quote:
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Does anyone know why Metro has never been converted to a zone-based fare system instead of just distance? The biggest reason is the obvious lack of unlimited zone passes, similar to Travelcards in London. I made a small diagram that divided the system into six zones ($1.95-$4.95 regular fare in $.40 increments) based on the distance from Metro Center for the Red, Blue, and Orange Lines and Gallery Place for the Green and Yellow Lines and it seems like it could work.
Distance-based fares work well with RFID cards in Japan in all major cities there. Using the SUICA card in Tokyo or the ICOCA card in Osaka was fine for me. You can still get commuter passes for these distances too.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 11:24 PM   #136
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It would be interesting if this ever came true , although i do believe the bulk of it will.

I wonder why they don't have the yellow light rail line connecting to the Greenbelt station? It's closer, and since the yellow line already stops at BWI, it could replace the B30 bus service that runs from BWI and Greenbelt.

And as far as the WMATA and MTA ever combining, the new Charm Card which works like the SmarTrip card in DC, is operated by WMATA. It works on both cities systems and vice versa. Since I already have a SmarTrip card, I don't need a Charm Card.

Baby steps, I guess.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 06:53 PM   #137
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Here's a cool regional transit map for Baltimore.

http://www.btco.net/Maps/BALTREGIONALSCHEM.pdf
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Old November 3rd, 2010, 05:02 PM   #138
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So O'Malley won. This is good news for the Red Line in Baltimore and the Purple Line in suburban DC. Hopefully the ball will get rolling soon!
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Old January 11th, 2011, 02:11 PM   #139
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image hosted on flickr

Proposed map of a Washington-Baltimore regional rail system by rllayman, on Flickr

I think the Severn line , should extension of the Baltimore Light Rail system in the format of a Tram train and the Bowie line should be a BRT.
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Old February 4th, 2011, 12:26 AM   #140
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O'Malley takes his message to Washington for third time in three days

By Ann Marimow - Washington Post - 2 February 2011

For the third time in as many days, Gov. Martin O'Malley used his proximity to Washington and new position as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association to take his message to a national stage.

Speaking to House Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, O'Malley pressed the importance of investing in public schools, job creation and infrastructure. Even in tough economic times, O'Malley said he was moving ahead, for instance, with plans to seek highly competitive federal money to build a light-rail Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton and a light-rail Red Line in Baltimore.

"Some people argue we can't afford both the Red and Purple lines. If we don't, O'Malley said, "We're not going to be ready and we're going to be left behind."


Maryland's governor was invited to speak to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a Baltimore native who also had O'Malley as her guest at the State of the Union address last week.

O'Malley received a warm reception from fellow Democrats -- including Maryland's Donna F. Edwards and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger -- who noted the governor's double-digit reelection victory in November. He spent about 40 minutes answering what Ruppersberger joked were some "softball" questions and touted the expansion of tax credits for biotech companies and hiring credits to encourage job creation.

O'Malley's testimony closely followed -- sometimes line-for-line -- his remarks Tuesday at the National Press Club during an event hosted by Governing Magazine. That message also appeared in an op-ed O'Malley penned in Politico on Wednesday. The governor said his State of the State speech Thursday would sound similar themes about the need to make "tough choices" on issues such as the state's pension system.

O'Malley's appearance on Capitol Hill capped off three days of visits to Washington. On Monday, the governor met privately with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to discuss how Democratic governors can do more to work with Democrats on the Hill to help push their message and President Obama's agenda.
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