Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Endorsing Light Rail for Purple Line

Yesterday I joined Governor Martin O’Malley and other stakeholders to endorse light rail as the mode of transit for the Purple Line, which I'm sure you know is a proposed 16-mile extended east-west link to the Metrorail system from the Bethesda to the New Carrollton stations. The light rail supporters gathered yesterday morning at the New Carrollton Metrorail Station.

The Purple Line would connect the four branches of the Metrorail system, three MARC commuter rail routes and several inside-the-Beltway activity centers (including Bethesda, Silver Spring, Langley Park, the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, Riverdale and New Carrollton). The estimated cost of the project is between $1.2 and $1.3 billion. Planners from the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) hope construction can begin in 2012.

In January, the County Council unanimously recommended light rail be selected for the Purple Line. That followed a similar recommendation from the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, which I chair.

I am glad that Governor O’Malley has decided that the Purple Line is right for Montgomery County and light rail is right for the Purple Line. Ridership on the Purple Line is projected as high as about 63,000 daily for a light rail system, including approximately 20,000 new riders to mass transit. The other projected riders would be those who already use a form of mass transit, but would find their commutes greatly enhanced through shorter, more reliable trips.

It is estimated that final design of the Purple Line would be ready by Fall 2011.

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