Leggett Opposes Council Bill 35-08, Use of Speed Camera Funds — back
Bill 35-08 proposes establishment of formulas for the distribution of speed and red light camera revenues for Fire and Rescue equipment, pedestrian safety programs and traffic safety programs. The Bill also allocates a portion of the revenues to municipalities that have traffic control signal monitoring or speed monitoring devices, but do not have a police department (Town of Poolesville).
On September 8, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett proposed using $4.8 million of speed camera revenues for funding the County's pedestrian safety programs. Bill 35-08 provides significantly less money to County pedestrian safety programs. The County Executive opposes this legislation. He believes the Bill will increase the County's budget gap and provide substantially less revenue to the County's Fire and Rescue Service --at no cost to County residents -- than the Emergency Medical Services Transport Fee. Leggett also stated that the existing budget process should be used to determine the allocation of resources based on a comprehensive assessment of needs, related costs, measurement data and evidence of what works to improve public and pedestrian safety.
The bill would allocate net revenues as follows:
- 50 percent to purchase emergency apparatus for use by Fire and Rescue Services;
- 35 percent for pedestrian safety programs, with 75 percent of this 35 percent (or 26 percent of total net revenues) going to County programs and 25 percent of the 35 percent (9 percent of total net revenues) going to the Town of Poolesville; and
- 15 percent for Montgomery County Police Department traffic safety programs.
Leggett's statement on the Emergency Medical Services Transport Fee is available on the County's website.
Ride On Eliminates Paper Transfers; Ride On Continues Free Bus Transfers for SmarTrip Card Users and Adds Bus-to-Rail Transfer Benefit — back
The already "green" Ride On bus system has gotten greener - it's gone paperless. Ride On no longer issues or accepts paper transfers on its buses. Instead, riders can use their SmarTrip cards to conveniently transfer for free from bus to bus. And, for the first time, bus riders receive a discount when they transfer to Metrorail.
As part of the switch, Ride On has extended the transfer time from two hours to a three-hour window. Using a SmarTrip card makes the bus fare 10 cents cheaper than paying with cash. Ride On will continue to accept the Weekly MetroBus pass, but it will drop the 20-Trip Ticket, since the SmarTrip card provides the same discount. By making this change, Ride On will save paper and printing costs. Passengers will find using a SmarTrip card is easier and faster than feeding cash into the fare box.
Ride On still sells a one-day bus pass that is also honored by Metrobus. For infrequent bus riders, this pass can be an economical option.
To learn where to buy a SmarTrip Card, visit the County's website or call the Transit Information Center at 240-777-7433. Information about using SmarTrip cards is available in both English and Spanish on the Montgomery County You Tube site.
Ride On Continues to Break Ridership Records — back
Montgomery County's Ride On bus system continues to break ridership records. Based on the number of passengers so far this fiscal year (FY), the system is expected to carry well over 30 million passengers during FY2009. This continues the trend over the last four years during which ridership has increased an average of more than six percent.
For the month of December 2008, ridership increased by 5.2 percent compared to December 2007. The average weekday ridership for the month grew by nearly two percent, with a total of almost 2.4 million riders for the month.
With a fleet of 375 buses, Ride On is the largest suburban transit system in the Washington region.
SoberRide - Helping to Fight Drunk Driving — back
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program, or WRAP, is a non-profit, public-private coalition that fights drunk driving. Through state, federal, and corporate funding, WRAP operates a free cab service called SoberRide during major holidays. Their next campaign will be held during St. Patrick's Day in March.
If you need a ride home from the District or surrounding counties, including Montgomery County, during one of SoberRide's campaigns, call SoberRide at 1-800-200-TAXI. SoberRide will give callers a free ride home, up to a $50 fare. Since 1993, WRAP's SoberRide program has provided 41,000 free cab rides to would-be impaired drivers in the Washington area
Property Owners are Responsible for Clearing Snow from Sidewalks — back
During this winter season, residents, businesses and other property owners are reminded that they have a role in keeping their sidewalks clear of snow so pedestrians will have safe passage. In 2001, the Montgomery County Council enacted the Pedestrian Winter Safety Act that requires all residential and commercial property owners to clear their public sidewalks of snow and ice within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm.
Be a good neighbor so school kids, transit users and anyone out walking after a snowstorm will stay safe. The County's Volunteer Center will try to match volunteer snow shovellers with those in the community who have special needs and have no other options for sidewalk snow removal. Anyone who can help for even one or two hours should call 240-777-2600. CASA de Maryland, a non-profit organization, provides snow shoveling services for a fee. Call 301-431-4177 or 301-431-4185 to request assistance.
For information about the County's snow removal operations, go to the County's website.
CIP Budget Update on Transportation — back
On January 15, County Executive Isiah Leggett submitted his recommended Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Capital Budget and proposed amendments to the FY 09-14 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) to the County Council for their approval. Under a 1996 County Charter amendment, a new CIP is developed in even-numbered calendar years. In alternate years, like this year, the Executive may recommend amendments to the existing six-year CIP. This year's CIP recognizes the serious fiscal constraints facing the County.
Transportation-related items in the budget include maintaining Leggett's commitment to funding the Clarksburg Town Center Connector Road to Maryland Route 355, which leverages contributions from a development partner to provide much needed access and accelerates construction of the Burtonsville Access Road.
Faced with cost increases resulting from escalating construction prices, the budget supplements funding for essential transportation safety, including Father Hurley Boulevard extended, White Ground Road Bridge, Clarksburg Road Bridge and East Gude Drive Road Bridge.
The CIP amendments assume the use of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) revenues to cover cost increases for the Glenmont Metro Parking Expansion, which will be designed and built by WMATA to meet critical Metro parking needs. Although Leggett remains firmly committed to updating the County's transit buses, a five million dollar reduction in FY09 State aid for this program will delay some new bus purchases during FY09 and FY10.
The entire proposed CIP budget is available on the County's website.
Leggett Announces Environmentally Friendly Car Share Pilot Project — back
Montgomery County is testing a car share program using 'green' vehicles that is expected to further promote environmental sustainability. County officials believe that in addition to the environmental benefits, this program will save money by permanently reducing the need for some administrative vehicles.
Under the one-year pilot program, the County will make 30 hybrid and sub-compact vehicles available at three locations for shared use by employees. The County's administrative fleet of 757 vehicles is managed by the County's Department of General Services (DGS). According to DGS, savings would be realized as departments turn in under-utilized vehicles, reducing motor pool and fuel costs associated with assigned vehicles.
Montgomery County Awards 67 Taxicab Licenses to Enhance Competition and Customer Service — back
Montgomery County's Department of Transportation (MCDOT), Division of Transit Services continues its efforts to improve competition and enhance customer service in the taxicab industry. In December, MCDOT awarded 65 new and two reissued Passenger Vehicle Licenses to three taxicab fleets and 15 individuals.
Regency Cabs received 25 licenses; Sun Cab, 18; and Action Taxi received nine. The licenses allow the companies to expand the number of taxicabs they operate. Licenses were awarded based on the company's record of customer service, its knowledge of the taxi industry, level of service provided to customers, business plan and financial and management resources. Individual licenses went to the most experienced drivers with the best customer service records.
MCDOT regulates the County's taxicab industry by ensuring that it operates under established standards. MCDOT licenses all taxicab vehicles and drivers and regulates rates charged by taxicabs. For more information, call the Taxicab Regulation Office at 240-777-CABS (2227) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
County Executive Endorses Light Rail Option for Purple Line — back
This month, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett endorsed a light-rail plan for a Purple Line link between Bethesda and New Carrollton. In a memorandum to the Montgomery County Council stating his position, Leggett noted that the corridor is experiencing unacceptable levels of roadway congestion, unreliable transit travel times, limited travel mode options and degraded transit accessibility to the larger metropolitan region due to inferior connections to radial Metrorail lines and to other rail and bus services.
Leggett received assurances from State officials that, to the extent feasible, Montgomery County will not be required to contribute funds as part of the State's local share of a federally approved project. The County will be credited for its significant contributions to the project that includes the Georgetown Branch right-of-way purchases, design and construction of the Bethesda South Entrance to the Mctrorail system and replacement and improvement of the existing Capital Crescent Trail (CCT).
Leggett has asked Maryland transit officials to consider ways to reduce the impact of rail line on the CCT. Those measures could include widening the paved trail from 10 feet to 12 feet, planting grass between the tracks, and using hybrid light-rail cars that would spare more trees because they do not require overhead wires.
The County Council voted on January 27 to also support the light rail option.
Sustainability Working Group Presents Climate Plan:
Transportation Important Component in Reducing Greenhouse Gases — back
The Montgomery County Sustainability Working Group (SWG), representing a diverse group of business, government and environmental activists, presented its climate protection report to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the County Council that includes recommended measures that are amongst the boldest and most innovative in the nation. The report recommends 58 actions that can be implemented effectively to meet the County's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
The SWG was charged with developing a comprehensive, coordinated and cost effective strategy to meet the County's climate protection goals. The group had its first meeting in September and has met its ambitious deadline of developing a comprehensive action plan of bold initiatives by January 15.
The SWG studied and selected the best parts of programs from around the country and solicited ideas from County departments and agencies to create the climate protection and sustainability plan. The report recommends a comprehensive and diverse package of initiatives that will benefit residents and businesses and save them money in the long run by reducing dependence on imported fuels; investing in clean energy, green buildings, fuel efficiency and mass transportation; improving public health; and protecting critical natural resources. A portion of the plan makes the following transportation recommendations:
- Conduct parking supply and pricing study to ensure parking policies and zoning requirements are consistent with transportation demand management goals.
- Establish a car sharing program in Parking Lot District facilities.
- Support the Ridership Growth Initiative by 2020 by implementing bus rapid transit on Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue, and study and implement where appropriate light rail transit and bus rapid transit systems in other corridors.
- Conduct transportation planning studies during 2009 in order to better target transportation-related GHG reduction programs.
- Identify pedestrian improvements to maximize walking and bicycling to recreation centers, libraries, shopping centers and schools.
- Plan, design and construct bicycle paths, lanes and shared signed roadways, as well as facilities supporting bicycling, to encourage increased use of bicycling for commuting and other transportation needs.
- Explore ways to reduce vehicle travel to schools by expanding walking, bicycling and use of buses.
- Develop a policy that requires the consideration of roundabouts whenever traffic signalization is being pursued.
- Develop comprehensive idling policies supporting Maryland's vehicle anti-idling law with an emphasis on both education/outreach as well as effective enforcement of the law.
- Increase the County government employee commuter benefit to be consistent with US government agencies.
- Create an effective transportation education and outreach campaign to modify resident and business transportation behavior to reduce GHG emissions.
- Coordinate with other regional, state and federal governments and organizations on activities that will result in reduced emissions from the transportation sector as a result of a more efficient transportation system and the use of more efficient modes of transportation.
The complete Climate Protection Plan is available on the County's website. For more information, call the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection at 240-777-7700.
Award Winners of the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Annual Beautification and Amateur Photography Contests Announced — back
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) announced 28 winners of its 22nd annual Keep Montgomery County Beautiful (KMCB) community beautification awards. Fifteen amateur photographers were also honored.
The beautification contest is open to community groups, businesses, public institutions and other organizations undertaking landscaping projects that enhance the appearance of commonly owned sections of commercial or residential properties. Landscaping along County roadsides, medians, or other public locations is also eligible.
More than twenty years ago, concerned volunteers formed the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Task Force (KMCB) to work with the County to develop beautification projects and anti-litter and recycling programs. The group also conducts public education to change resident attitudes about littering and graffiti.
View the complete list of award winners on the County's website.