BOWIE – The Mayor and City Council addressed a need for more transportation but at least one county official says the there has not been sufficient planning for transit growth in the city. “The reality is as it stands today, we cannot afford to have local bus service. The bus provides theater service to […]
BOWIE – The Mayor and City Council addressed a need for more transportation but at least one county official says the there has not been sufficient planning for transit growth in the city.
“The reality is as it stands today, we cannot afford to have local bus service. The bus provides theater service to a lot of routes. We don’t have the capacity or the economic resources to provide additional services with our existing bus. Transportation is 1 percent of the county’s budget. There is no way that we can grow transit with 1 percent of the county’s budget,” said Tomika Monterville, chief of transit for the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation.
According to Joseph Meinert, director of planning and economic development for Bowie, the city has grown over the years and the people need more transit options.
“The city has grown tremendously over the past several decades and now supports a town center, several million square feet of employment use and high-density multi-family development that did not exist in 1995 when the last transit service and operation plan was approved by the county,” Meinert said.
According to Meinert, the city has sent a letter to the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation based on recommendations from the city council, requesting that county officials attend a future city council.
“We strongly believe it’s time for the county’s five-year transit service and operation plan—the TSOP—to focus on ways to enhance transit service within and to the city of Bowie,” said Meinert.
According to Monterville, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s service is designed to serve people who are going to employment centers and most of these routes all go to the metro rail station.
Monterville said there is approximately 5 billion dollars in economic development coming to the county. She wants to create opportunities for more development in the Bowie area to “increase the densities to support the type of heavy transit that we want.”
“The reality is we can plan all day long, if our current bus service does not rise to the level of high ridership to support street car, BRT (bus rapid transit) and heavy rail, then we won’t be able to compete nationally with other jurisdictions that have those densities and that ridership,” said Monterville. “So the first step to increase ridership and the key to do that is to get a long-range transit plan…We have to get ready and we need to start making the case for transit.”
Council member Diane Polangin said reduced ridership is due to crime at metro stations.
“People are scared off from riding a bus like metro,” said Polangin. “I’ve seen several fights break out when I’ve been at the stations and I just go and call the police on my cell phone. But it’s a frightening thing, especially when someone who is taking the bus or the subway for the first time. Once that gets a better reputation, I think ridership would increase.”
Council member Dennis Brady asked Monterville about the role she sees the city playing in the county’s future transit plans.
“Developers will come when they see that they have places to come to and ways to get their employees there,” said Monterville. “We have to be talking about this together and not in silos…Let the demand dictate the mode and that’s how you really grow comprehensively.”