UMD Purple Line Response

After nearly three weeks of waiting, the University has responded to student concerns about their new position against an at-grade alignment of the Purple Line on campus.

Here is President Mote’s response

Not only does the response completely ignore the basic point of the original student letter (we weren’t simply advocating the benefits of the Purple Line), it maintains the University’s wildly unresponsible position against an at-grade alignment through campus. All we asked is that the University work pro-actively and collaboratively with MTA to ensure that we get the best possible alignment through campus. Instead, Dr. Mote’s letter only reinforces the fact that the University fundamentally misunderstands the Purple Line planning process.

Response to the response:

Dr. Mote,

I appreciate your response to our April 25th letter concerning the University’s position on the Purple Line. I also appreciate the University’s continued support for the project (in the abstract). That being said, I’m extremely disappointed to see that the University is apparently holding to its opposition of an at-grade Purple Line crossing of campus. Our letter was not simply advocating the benefits of the project, but pointing out the fundamental misconceptions about the project’s planning process which reach the highest levels of the University administration.

As has been made abundantly clear by various MTA officials we have spoken with, an underground alignment through College Park has long since been abandoned because of cost constraints. After much study, the only alignment through campus which MTA is considering is an at-grade light rail or bus rapid transit option along Campus Drive. I’m confident that this alignment can be pursued in a safe and effective manner while maintaining and enhancing the aesthetic beauty and pedestrian safety on campus. This ideal can only be accomplished through proactive and collaborative effort with MTA’s Purple Line planning team – an effort which is hindered by the University’s continued opposition to an at-grade alignment. Again, we urge your administration to rescind its at-grade position in order to pursue the best possible options for the Purple Line.

David Daddio

15 thoughts on “UMD Purple Line Response”

  1. Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth
    Like a genuine,
    Bona fide,
    What’d I say?

    Ned Flanders: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: What’s it called?

    Patty+Selma: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: That’s right! Monorail!

    [crowd chants `Monorail’ softly and rhythmically]

    Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud…

    Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.

    Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?

    Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.

    Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?

    Lyle Lanley: You’ll be given cushy jobs.

    Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?

    Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I’m on the level.

    Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.

    Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.

    I swear it’s Springfield’s only choice…
    Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

    All: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: What’s it called?

    All: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: Once again…

    All: Monorail!

    Marge: But Main Street’s still all cracked and broken…

    Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!

    All: Monorail!

    (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

  2. Maybe the response wouldn’t sound so bad if everyone knew exactly what the University is doing (possibly behind closed doors) to “promote” the Purple Line.

  3. My $0.02.

    There is no way that Mote or the campus are going to give unconditional support for anything unless they know exactly what the campus will get in return. I’m sure this really boils down to politics and positioning. Think about it, if Mote gives resistance to a “at grade” solution then he retains leverage with the MTA. Then later MTA through Porcari can get the new Gov to strike a deal with Mote such as; “at grade” BCT in exchange for increased State funding or some other sweet cherry.

    Still, I think it is VERY good to keep the pressure on campus to not screw this up. For what its worth I had heard that it was the campus that pushed the College Park metro out to Calvert road back in the 70’s. The original plans were for the station to be right near the Union.

  4. At first I thought that this position was a matter of “leverage”. Then I realized that they just really have no idea what’s going on. Opposing an at-grade alignment really shows how little they know about the project planning process. It’s also downright embarrassing.

  5. Is there evidence that there has been a behind the scenes effort at the university to get the Purple Line? Has the university lobbyist been working legislators to get funding for it?

    The studied avoidance of the words “Purple_Line or Light Rail Transit” on the part of the university annointed design team at east campus briefings suggest quite the opposite. It is like some sort of ill timed deep freeze – a hope that the whole thing can go away so the university can continue in its traffic-dominated development program. A good question would be – how many fewer parking spots would be required for the east campus development if it was centered around a Purple Line stop as opposed to a huge parking garage?

    Has the university administration developed their wish list of things to get or improvements that must be made if the line runs through campus? Isn’t that how you negotiate the best deal for campus?

    As for the tunnel only position, has the university made a similar position about the proposed I-95 connector? The university has lobbied for this road over the past four years. Are the thousands of cars passing through former BARC farms and winding their way through campus two lane roads looking for parking aesthetically and environmentally pleasing while quiet, pollution free LRT trains running through campus are somehow anathema to the educational experience?

    A list of universities with transit links can be found at

  6. Clay – I always heard the same thing (green line station in the basement of the Union or UMUC but the Univ Admin at the time put the kibosh on it for fear of increased crime)

    Wouldnt it be great if Mote et al were using this as negotiating leverage:

    “The only way the line comes through campus is if it tunnels under the campus at a cost of $200-300 M. Of course, we will let it through at grade if we get the 200-300M to underground all of the utilities along Rte 1 from the beltway to Hyattsville” (wink wink – nod nod)

    Ahhh now wouldnt that be sweet. “To dream the impossible dream”

  7. and it wouldnt be limited to the undergrounding of utilities, it would be for the reconstruction of Rte 1. A reconstructed Rte 1 with underground utilities could kill the desire for a campus connector forever

  8. Never going to happen and a reconstruction of Route 1 is a much higher priority.

  9. whats never going to happen? the negotiating stance? the undergrounding of the wires? the connector? backing down and forgetting about the connector? or re-building Rte 1?

    how could we have a serious discussion about re-building rte 1 with out analysis of how to hide the wires?

  10. Undergrounding the wires is not part of the reconstruction of route 1. it’s too expensive. I don’t believe they have a negotiating stance with regard to the tunnel position. Their current stance just makes them look ridiculous because a tunnel isn’t even in the realm of possibility. The only thing they can expect to get is substantial mitigation and a greatly improved Campus Dr. Let’s not forget that the university should be the one begging to have the purple line built for the success of East Campus. They shouldn’t be playing politics with it and even if they do, I don’t see that that will get them very much.

  11. Somebody tell me why monorail is always the laughingstock of transit solutions? Give me a few reasons why they suck so bad. Too Flash Gordon? Too Disney? Seems to me there are a lot more folk on the monorail than the train ride. I mean what is it? Light rail advocates say the technology is proprietary and will drive costs high. Nonsense they actually run a profit on some lines in Japan and Seattle. Not too many trains can beat that. Japan, the model of transit efficiency for the world, has several modern monorail lines with metro like cars (even walk-through). And don’t think the Japanese don’t consider transit safety. The track is a bit ugly but it wears for years unlike rail. Plant a few trees and you’ll barely notice the quiet trains.

  12. David, I am curious how you interpreted opposition to an at-grade Purple Line from Pres. Motes response. Maybe I can’t see through his political prose, but I interpreted Mote’s letter to indicate the University waiting for a comprehensive configuration plan before taking a postion.

  13. I didn’t interpret it exactly that way, but if that’s what he meant then we got exactly what we asked for. Nonetheless it still shows that they haven’t been working closely enough with MTA… Fortunately they are working more closely now.

    The configuration through campus has been explored in some detail and will be explored more. They are just unaware of what is actually being looked at.

  14. 1. It’s not out of the question, and in fact, probably likely that WMATA would run a purple line, even though it would be built by MD.

    2. I don’t know the details but I read somewhere but haven’t been able to confirm that Arizona State U funds in part the new light rail system that will serve Phoenix and the campus in Tempe. That’s an interesting model.

    Thanks for the links.

  15. I agree with Monty. It seems to me that a monorail would be the best solution for the Purple line. They are quiet and can be less expensive to build and operate than light rail. They can run above the road to minimize traffic impact. What is not to like?

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