UPDATE 6:10 p.m. Some in Bethesda are unhappy with the Maryland Transit Administration’s recent proposal to shut down a commuter bus that delivers people from Columbia, Burtonsville and Olney to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center Campus.
The MTA has given notice of three public hearings in which it will propose to shut down three commuter buses that use the ICC because of low ridership. Bus No. 203 delivers people from the Route 29 and upper-Georgia Avenue corridors to Bethesda’s traffic-heavy section of Rockville Pike at the secure Walter Reed base.
Ilaya Hopkins, a civic activist and member of the Walter Reed BRAC Integration Committee, will testify against shutting down the commuter bus at a June 6 hearing in Gaithersburg. Bethesda residents involved in Walter Reed’s BRAC move to the Naval Military Medical Center have long been concerned with added traffic from a large increase in employees traveling to the base.
Phil Alperson, Montgomery County’s BRAC coordinator, said he will also testify against the route cuts. Members of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board agreed to oppose the discontinuation of the route at their meeting on Monday.
Arlington County transportation planner and blogger Dan Malouff called the move a “classic bait and switch from highway builders,” who promise a multimodal road to build political support for a project before cutting those other modes later.
“What we’ve done is simply make some proposals,” said MTA spokesperson Terry Owens. “But we’ve looked at ridership on some of the routes and they have not met expectations, thus the proposal is to consider scaling those back to reallocate those resources.”
If the MTA follows through on the proposals, the 203, 202 and 205 routes would be discontinued on August 1.
Owens said the MTA anticipated having an average of about 20 riders per trip with that number growing to 30 riders per trip over a 24-month period. The 203 route is averaging fewer than 15 riders per trip.
“It’s those kinds of numbers that have us taking a look at this and scheduling these public hearings,” Owens said. “We are talking to elected officials, stakeholders and others about our proposal. Certainly, we want input from a wide cross-section before we make any decision.”
Flickr photo by BeyondDC
Police say a man walked to the back of a house in Chevy Chase and threw rocks at an expensive set of French doors and a window, causing thousands of dollars of damage.
The Chevy Chase Village Police Department said the incident happened at about 1 p.m. on April 29 in the 5500 block of Montgomery Street. The Department is hoping photos of the suspect captured by Village security cameras lead to his arrest.
The suspect, a black male about six-feet tall and 230 pounds with a red-hooded sweatshirt and blue backpack, apparently never made it into the house. Chevy Chase Village Police said he is a suspect for vandalism only.
Police said the man threw “several large rocks,” at the doors and a rear window.
Anyone with information can contact the Chevy Chase Village Police Department at 301-654-7300. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-8477. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided that leads to an arrest in this crime.
Photos via Chevy Chase Village Police Department
The rational choice was obvious.
A group of Italian researchers gave participants in an experiment two scenarios: Take the metro for a fixed cost or take the car for an uncertain cost determined by construction delays, traffic congestion or weather. Take a bus, with costs determined by a different combination of chance and traffic congestion, or take the car with the same uncertain costs present in the metro scenario.
The researchers gave participants feedback on the actual travel times of both modes in each scenario. The more participants chose cars, the more congestion would be factored into the travel cost.
Still, they chose cars over metro and bus by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, despite a clear demonstration that the average cost of a car trip would be almost 50 percent more.
The study, published earlier this year and highlighted by The Atlantic Cities, demonstrates a concept Montgomery County planners are grappling with as they contemplate a Bus Rapid Transit system that would take away a general traffic lane in each direction of Rockville Pike/MD 355 and dedicate lanes inside the Beltway exclusively to a bus transitway.
The study shows people prefer their cars and are inclined to stick with them even when given a mass transit option that is, in psychological terms, more rational.
“BRT does not have the data to support ridership. It turns out the forecasting model is simply that we think people will ride a fast bus,” said Bethesda resident Robert Dyer, who got a decent amount of media attention last week after his testimony deriding the BRT proposal at a Planning Board public hearing. “This is really junk science.”
Crucial details of the proposed 79-mile, 10-corridor Bus Rapid Transit network remain to be planned. As the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan heads to the Planning Board for deliberation and a recommendation slated for June, critics question whether BRT will be convenient enough to entice drivers out of their vehicles.
It’s a hard sell to make.
“We have the worst congestion in the United States. To suggest now that we’re going to have people just flocking to Bus Rapid Transit and therefore you won’t have as many cars makes one wonder if they’re smoking something funny,” AAA Mid Atlantic spokesperson Lon Anderson said. “Because the history clearly demonstrates that yes, you may stop the rate of growth of vehicle miles traveled, but vehicle miles traveled will continue to grow as the population grows.”
A pair of events celebrating area businesses are set for this week, with The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce’s Business Forum & Showcase on Wednesday and Montgomery County’s first ever Small Business Awards Luncheon on Friday.
The Showcase will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda (7400 Wisconsin Ave.) and includes more than 65 area businesses displaying their products and services.
The event also includes two educational presentations and a networking luncheon. For more information and to register, visit the event website.
Andy Stern, owner of Andy Stern’s Office Furniture in Rockville and the chair of the Chamber Board, sat down with Comcast Newsmakers to discuss the event and challenges facing local businesses.
On Friday in North Bethesda/White Flint, Montgomery County will put on its inaugural Small Business Awards Luncheon from noon to 2 p.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center (5701 Marinelli Rd.)
The ceremony will honor winners in eight award categories: Bioscience Company of the Year, Information Technology Company of the Year, Montgomery County Innovation Network Company of the Year, Small Business Award for a company with one to 10 employees, Small Business Award for a company with 51 to 200 employees, Small Business Award for a company with 51 to 200 employees, Start-up Business of the Year and Workforce Award.
The county’s Department of Economic Development initiated the event and will present the awards, chosen from more than 60 entries.
Video via Comcast Newsmakers
Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club owner Rick Brown and a host of local dignitaries gathered on Friday for a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration of the historic Bethesda Theatre’s 75th anniversary.
Brown and veteran D.C. club manager Ralph Camilli reopened the venue in late February, investing millions to make the building a regional music destination with no financial help from the county.
Councilmembers Roger Berliner and George Leventhal attended the Friday ceremony, as did County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Director of Economic Development Steve Silverman. The ribbon-cutting was followed by a performance from jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis.
The hotel (8120 Wisconsin Ave.) is adding Friday night pool parties to its Thursday night and Sunday parties, which will make room for a more subdued atmosphere on Thursdays:
“Thursdays 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., this year you will find Thursdays to be a relaxing sophisticated evening with light jazz, crafted cocktails, single malt selections and cigar smokers welcome. The chef will have a Tapas menu available from the grill.”
Fridays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. will be back to margaritas and burgers from the grill. DJs, drink specials and grill food will return on Sundays starting at 1 p.m., in an event that can reach capacity by mid-afternoon. A recently created map of D.C. area rooftop bars found the DoubleTree was the only one in Montgomery County.
The 2013 rooftop pool party season will start Thursday, May 30. For more information about specials and weather, visit the Facebook page.
County Executive Isiah Leggett said there are many complex issues at play when he addressed the 20-plus member group during its first ever meeting on Monday in Silver Spring.
Leggett, who assembled the Task Force to deliver recommendations for improving the county’s nightlife, offered a sobering political reality he said must be considered when talking looser alcohol laws, later bar closing times or higher density development around Metro stations.
“Most people in this county, when you ask them the question about, ‘Should we improve the nighttime economy,’ intellectually, on-paper they’ll probably say, ‘Yes, that’s a good idea,’” Leggett said. “But their view of what that means is we can generate the economic benefits of that all in isolation, that it’s totally removed from their lives. People say, ‘I like the benefits of that, but I don’t want to deal with the practical effects of that.’”
In suburban Montgomery, long associated with wealthy single-family home neighborhoods, a prized school system and an older population, that’s a tough line to cross. But county leaders, seeing young tax-paying professionals flock to the District and Arlington, want in on the action.
“People say, ‘Oh my gosh, well now we’re going to have 23-year-olds driving down the streets of Bethesda at 70 miles an hour and screaming out their windows and kicking over trash cans,’” Task Force Chair and Bethesda land use attorney Heather Dlholopolsky told the group. “That’s not what it means. The key thing to remember is that nighttime economy is so many things and don’t be too exclusive in terms of the things that you’re looking for.”
That means activities for empty-nesters, middle-aged residents and the young urban professionals Leggett said he’s tired of seeing get away.
“We pay a huge investment in our school system, one of the best in the entire country. Many of them go off to college and once they’ve completed college and they are now thinking about settling down, they’re more likely to go to Adams Morgan, other locations in the District, Arlington or, god forbid, Fairfax,” Leggett said. “They’ve taken that investment that we made, that education that we started and they are utilizing that in some other location. We’re not going to capture 100 percent of the people, but there’s a reason as to why they’re not thinking of us as a first choice.”
Tiger Talks Future Of Congressional Tournament — Tiger Woods was at Congressional Country Club on Monday for an annual press gathering ahead of his AT&T National PGA event (June 24-30) and discussed the possibility of moving the tournament to another course in 2015. Congressional’s membership will vote later this year on whether to bring the tournament back from 2015-2017. The Tiger Woods Foundation, which hosts the event, must also re-up with AT&T or find another sponsor. [Washington Post]
Suburban Hospital Breast Cancer Experts Discuss Risk-Reducing Mastectomies — After actress Angelina Jolie revealed she had a preventive double mastectomy because of a BRCA gene mutation known to raise the risk of breast cancer, two doctors at Suburban Hospital answered questions about the procedure and in what circumstances to pursue the operation. [Suburban Hospital]
Congressman John Delaney Backs Doug Duncan For County Exec — First-term Sixth District Congressman John Delaney (D) endorsed former County Executive Doug Duncan for the same job in next year’s Democratic Primary. Duncan has announced his intention to run for his old job and it’s expected County Executive Isiah Leggett will run against him. The only candidate to have officially filed paperwork is Councilmember Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg). Duncan endorsed Delaney in his Congressional race last year. [Maryland Juice]
MCFRS Celebrates National EMS Week — The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is celebrating National Emergency Medical Services Week by recognizing its dual role firefighters/EMTs and firefighters/paramedics. [MCFRS]
Flickr pool photo by diarmaid20814
All indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities will be open and county liquor stores will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some Montgomery Parks will be open, but check the Montgomery Parks website for specific schedules.
County offices, libraries, senior centers and community recreation centers will be closed. So will the Gaithersburg Transfer Station, TRiPS Commuter Stores in Silver Spring and Friendship Heights, MCPS and State offices and courts.
Trash and recycling collection will be provided one day later than regularly scheduled for the rest of the week. Parking at public garages, lots and curbside meters will be free.
Ride On, Metrobus and Metrorail will all run on Sunday schedules.
Flickr photo by davidyuweb
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