Tomorrow’s Transit, Today – Together
Every morning, I drive into DC for work. And let me tell you, it ain’t no fun. On a good day, it takes an hour and 15 minutes. On the worst of days, it can take 3 hours, like it did a few days after Snowmageddon.
Such problems are not unique to our region, but thankfully, we have forward-looking community leaders such as Sharonlee Vogel who are fighting to address them now. As Chair of Transportation Advocates, Sharonlee organized and moderated a forum this morning about what the future of transportation should look like in Howard County and the region.
Before I braved my way in DC, I attended the forum. Although much of what was discussed surrounded the future organizational structure that will provide transit services in the county and region, I was curious how this would actually be incorporated into the redevelopment of downtown. And after hearing many people speak on the topic, a few things became clear.
First, the new development we will see must be clustered around transit stations. It must be pedestrian-friendly, attractive, and connect the rest of the neighborhood to the transit station. These mixed-use centers will foster that “sense of place” so many people feel is lacking downtown.
Second, transportation choices will be key. Public transit, walking, and cycling all must be given equal consideration. Living, shopping, entertainment, and employment opportunities must be within walking distance of transit stations so that people can easily use transit in place of cars.
And finally, we need to make a real, long-term commitment to transit if we want it to succeed. We must work with local and state officials to ensure that the quality of our transit service is safe and reliable. And our local policies must support and encourage transit usage.
One more thing (and I hate to even mention this): I saw some of the same old faces of the people who continually gripe, continually criticize, and never offer any answers. When are they going to start focusing on solutions instead of problems?
Guys, we are all working towards a better Columbia. Please, let’s work together to accomplish this, instead of undermining each other so that nothing gets done. “No one wins when everyone loses.” We have a real opportunity for everyone to win here. Let’s not squander that!
These are just a few quick thoughts I had after the forum, but I think they are worth exploring. What about you? Let us know your thoughts…
– Brian Dunn