Purple Line Meeting Monday: Where Should it Go on Campus?

Purple Line in front of UMD Student UnionThe Maryland Transit Administration will present information this Monday about where the Purple Line could go on campus when the light rail link is constructed between Bethesda and New Carrollton. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 in the University Visitor Center. We strongly encourage everyone interested in the future of the Purple Line to attend.

The meeting comes amid increased conversation about the proper location of the train in relation to East Campus and the larger campus. After months of insisting the trains should travel under Campus along Campus Drive as a tunnel, President Dan Mote has come out with a new, forceful position in an article in the Diamondback yesterday: he strongly supports the line at street level (at-grade), but along the university’s newly invented alignment that uses stadium Stadium Drive instead of stopping in front of the Student Union. Readers will remember that together with other student leaders, we pressured the administration last spring to re-think their insistence on an infeasible tunnel and champion the project. While we’re glad Mote has accepted the inevitability The big of an at-grade alignment, we think Mote’s recent column distorts both the character of Light Rail technology and the campus master plan (which in fact argues Campus Drive should contain public transit). Among the misconceptions and thinly supported opinions the article contains is the allegation it cannot bisect East Campus because it requires a 130-foot right of way.

During a detailed presentation to the East Campus Steering Committee on Monday, I showed how Light Rail technology could fit into streets as narrow as 35 feet. Indeed, Salt Lake City has built a system on streets with four lanes of traffic and two 10-foot sidewalks on a right-of-way just over 100 feet.

President Mote’s strategy of privately determining where he believes the line should go and entering the public forum demanding we support the “right” location makes a mockery of good leadership. The university is a large, complex institution with thousands of people who rely heavily on transit. The “right” location can only be determined through a robust dialogue with engineers based on hard facts about the true width, noise, and trade-offs required by various locations on campus. We will continue to address the full nature of the impact of the project on campus and advocate for solutions that maximize the benefit to the University and the region.

Purple Line Route

9 thoughts on “Purple Line Meeting Monday: Where Should it Go on Campus?”

  1. Dr Mote should be applauded for confirming UM’s support for the Purple Line. The transit line is an essential element in any “green university” program given that transit ridership to campus remains miserably low. More importantly, if ridership is not boosted, the east campus development simply will not work. Rt 1 is already dysfunctional, and the campus drive pedestrian environment Dr. Mote claims to want to protect is growing worse each year.

    What is this “analysis of the needs of campus” he reference in his op-eds? Is there some campus report on how to deal with traffic in 2030 that has been issued? It seems the major focus of campus transportation planning has been on getting the I-95 connector built.

    As for east campus, what planner is suggesting that putting a purple line stop at the far reaches of this development will ensure the most utility and best ridership for that stop?

  2. The Purple Line will not be built. It is a waste of taxpayer money that is not scalable for the needs of the region. How will it circle Washington DC? Too slow, not part of Metrorail. It will not reduce car traffic. Even Sec of Transportation Porcari says it is being built to serve people who currently rely on transit. The Red Line in Baltimore will be built first, followed by the Corridor Cities Transitway.

    Once people start paying significant County and State taxes they realize that tax funded projects must provide bang for the buck. The light rail Purple Line will not.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for this White Elephant to appear.

  3. In contrast with the Inter-county Connector, the Purple Line is more important, enjoys wider support–based on facts rather than myths. It will:
    * provide a travel choice that meets the growing need of people to avoid congested, dangerous highways;
    * enhance the usefulness of and ridership on existing transit network, both bus and Metrorail; and
    * will let countless UMD students commute by transit rather than auto–likely saving lives as a result since transit is far safer than driving (especially by teen-agers).

    Do not give up on the Campus Drive alignment! It would maximize Purple Line usefulness for students, and thus ridership and chances of federal funding. Absent federal funding, car-oriented Maryland is likely to drop the whole project! Campus Drive should be part of the Environmental Impact Statement process. It is possible to grade separate pedestrians from Campus Drive traffic.

    In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Northeast light rail line became possible thanks to support from the new chancellor at UNC-Charlotte. Ron Tober, CEO of Charlotte Area Transit System, said on Saturday that the line would not be going forward without the chancellor’s support. The danger in Maryland is that university support for the Stadium Drive alternative is only a Pyrrhic victory for the Purple Line.

    –Ross Capon, Bethesda
    Executive Director, National Assn of RR Passengers and a UMD parent

  4. Who is advising Mote and where is he getting his “facts”? As a UMD alumni I’m extremely disappointed on his lack of knowledge and his pushing of a route that does not serve the campus and CP population.

  5. Ross Capon, one of the Co-founders of the (developer sposored) Action Committte for Transit says that it is FACT that the Purple Line enjoys wider support than does the ICC.

    As my teenager would say. What? Huh?

    Either you are a flat-out disinformer, or you and your co-horts in this Light Rail circle jerk actually have each other believing this fantasy. Hale Bopp here we come.

  6. Ross Capon identified himself correctly as the Executive Director of the Nat’l. Assoc. of Railroad Passengers, a 501 c-3 non profit that promotes passenger rail passenger service in our petroleum dependent country. (See: narprail.org)

    The Action Commmittee for Transit (www.actfortransit.org) is a transit advocacy group with more than 1,000 individual members in Montgomery County. It is simply not true to call this organization “developer-sponsored”.

    It is amazing how opponents of the Purple Line can act like promoting transit is taking us as a region and country in the wrong direction. If light rail is so dysfunctional why are virtually all cities with system working on expanding them. Check what is going on in red state Utah or Texas where Salt Lake City and Dallas continue to expand their networks. do a search of light rail in Denver or Minneapolis – you will get the same result. In fact, Minneapolis-St Paul are planning a line connecting through the Univ. of Minnesota campus with campus support.

    Our country is a major contributor to the problem of global warming is part because of the auto-dependent transportation system. We need to change this system, and change begins with expanding transit options. Was metrorail a boondoggle? Believe me, there were plenty who fought it, sin verguenza. They shamelessly and myopically believed the best system is one based primarily on single occupancy vehicles. Of course, if metrorail weren’t carrying a nearly half a million passengers back and forth to work each day we’d all be stuck in traffic.

  7. Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe,

    I am all for Metrorail. You have got my vote. Make the Purple Line underground Metro and I am on board. It is the light rail that I am against because it will not help meet current and future transportation needs for the entire DC Metro region.

    Was Ross Capon one of the co-founders of ACT or not? I thought he and Harry Sanders were the founders of ACT. I don’t have a problem with either of those guys. It is this new generation of ACT-ivists.

    I personally have a real problem with some of the members of ACT. I have seen their members try to intimidate women who were having a petition drive. One of their members was in a rage because he could not pass through a crowd at a anti-Purple Line rally. He literally came within about an inch of striking my four year old daughter in the face with the bottom of a flag pole that was sporting a Purple Line Banner. He has NO idea how lucky he is that he didn’t hit her. To put it simply some these folks (BR) that represent ACT are not wrapped to tight.

    If ACT worked in a spirit of compromise without all of the confrontation we would probably have less heat in this debate.

  8. MTA has estimated metrorail costs to be in the range of 250 to 350 MILLION a mile if the line is underground. Taking the low number – that would be $4 billion for the 16 mile purple line. The commonly used number for the outer Purple Line, promoted by Doug Duncan at the time Governor Glendening was moving forward with planning for the inner line was $5 billion.

    If you have been following discussions at both the federal and state level, I think you would agree that funding of this level is unlikely. There are plenty who think that even pulling together a package for the Purple Line as a good quality LRT line is unlikely.

    It is not just here that LRT is becoming the norm – look at France – new T-3 line opened last year – LRT not metrorail. Other lines throughout the country – LRT. In the U.S. the situation is no different.

    This is not to say metrorail technology is not good and that the higher capacity and travel speeds would not be desirable. But it would take a tremendous change in land use to create the demand on the Purple Line corridor to justify such an investment and the Purple Line is not about creating manhattan densities in Bethesda, Silver Spring or College Park. It is about supporting the smart growth centers that exist and allowing the visions of their respective master plans to be fulfulled.

  9. They should show videos of how this works in dozens of countries in more congested settings than the UMD Campus. Get real! United States!

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