On November 19th, UMD Vice President of Administrative Affairs Doug Duncan wrote a letter to, his predecessor, MD Secretary of Transportation John Porcari. In the letter, Duncan and his staff attempt to clarify UMD’s Purple Line position by continuing to express the transitway’s supposed incompatability with the Campus Master Plan, aesthetic concerns, and concern over the implications for pedestrian safety.
On December 6th, we responded by pointing out several innacuracies and contradictions in Duncan’s original letter and laying out perhaps our most comprehensive case for the Campus Drive alignment to date. As of today, December 26th, there has been no formal response from the Administration, nor any attempt (publicly or privately) to answer any of the following questions we raised regarding the University’s continued adcovacy for only non-Campus Drive alignments:
1) If Stadium Drive is a convenient transit route, why don’t all the current campus transit (Shuttle UM and commuter) routes run along it? Long ago the university located its main transit hub in the heart of campus, where most commuter students, faculty and staff wish to go. What specifically about light rail necessitates parting with history?
2) The Administration actively opposes an alignment which connects some of the area’s key existing daily destinations (the Green Line Metrorail station, the Student Union, UMUC) with important future activity centers (East Campus and M-Square). Can the university really justify a more circuitous route (Stadium Drive or Mowatt Lane) that bypasses key campus activity centers and plainly hurts ridership?
3) If the Administration is so concerned with pedestrian safety on Campus Drive, why has it not pursued any of the transportation suggestions of the nearly seven-year-old Campus Master Plan? ( e.g. closing Campus Drive and other roadways to automobiles, initiating an internal a high quality internal campus shuttle loop, replacing the dangerously low level of lighting, and paying for other major streetscape improvements.)
4) Considering the dreadfully worn state of Campus Drive, how can the Administration forgo an estimated $2 million in streetscape improvements— street treatments, street lights, crosswalks, landscaping, a potential bikeway— that would accompany the Purple Line?
5) In light of MTA’s traffic analysis, what makes MTA’s proposal for Campus Drive more dangerous than the status quo? Many cities across the nation and internationally successfully accommodate Light Rail in heavily populated places, even in busy public plazas. What makes the University of Maryland an exception?
6) Considering the importance of the ridership, which group will maximize use of the Purple Line— Terp fans or daily commuters? Certainly the Administration and the MTA should prioritize the needs of the thousands of daily commuters over occasional, though passionately loyal, visitors.
7) You note in your letter that the Master Plan calls for minimizing Shuttle-UM busses on Campus Drive in favor of an internal campus shuttle that links to commuter routes that would stop on the periphery of campus. Why isn’t the university pushing the internal shuttle and what would the added transfers mean for existing Shuttle-UM ridership? How is the Purple Line not consistent with this plan were it to ever actually be implemented?
8) Does the Administration have enough confidence in its “analysis” to continue to go against a highly standardized, multi-year, multi-million-dollar public planning process? The MTA studied alignments based on what experts’ opinions (not armchair analysis) believe to be the most useful and that which is most likely to receive Federal funding. Is the Administration prepared to reject the Purple Line in any viable form?
–> Read our response (PDF)