An article in today’s Washington Post explains some of the hurdles facing the Purple Line – and why Maryland has opted to wait until next year to apply to the Federal Transit Administration for funding:
Unlike federal highway funds, which states receive based on a formula and may spend as they wish, money for new transit projects is awarded at the discretion of the FTA. The agency doesn’t have much to dole out. The FTA has proposed spending about $1.4 billion on new transit projects next fiscal year, compared with $42 billion that states will receive for highway maintenance and construction, according to federal figures. More than 100 transit projects across the country are expected to compete for federal money in coming years, according to a federal report. …
To win, said [John] Porcari, the transportation secretary, Maryland’s biggest challenge will be proving that a Purple Line would attract enough riders. He said he thinks it would beat out other proposals in its ability to serve a heavily transit-dependent population and blend into communities while “stabilizing and enhancing” them.
The 16-mile Purple Line, which could open by 2015, is designed to revitalize older communities, including such areas as Langley Park, where many lower-income residents rely on buses because the Metrorail system doesn’t take them east or west. …
It’s worth noting at this juncture that Dan Reed over at Just Up the Pike has produced a newspaper-quality series on Purple Line NIMBYism in Mongomery County. While not the major hurdle for the project, NIMBYism has proven to be a key (and very interesting) component of the debate. We thank Dan for continuing to raise the profile of area blogs.
Also, it should be noted that a fierce political debate lurks on the horizon in Maryland as to whether to raise the state gas tax to fund transportation projects like the purple line. John Porcari clued us in in June.
> W. Post: “Rail Projects at the Mercy of U.S. Agency”
The photo shows a light rail line in Rome