Chris Spruill’s letter in Friday’s edition hit the nail on the head.

We have lived in the Frederick area for over 30 years, and I still do not understand. I worked “down the road” in Montgomery County for years and spent hours commuting. There was no other option. Now finally there is discussion at least of a better way. There should be some form of mass transit available to get to Washington. Oh, and by the way, it will cost about a third as much and be much better for the environment.

When I was a teenager in northern New Jersey (1960s and ’70s), we lived 40 miles from New York City. If you wanted to go to the city, you just got on the train. The system was as reliable as air. No one really drove to NYC.

We, here in Frederick, should have that same option to go to D.C. Imagine if you worked in D.C. and arrived without the incredible stress of driving from here.

Ken Berkowitz

Walkersville

(32) comments

mrnatural1

One consideration...

The number of passengers Metro can carry is limited. In some cases they have already exceeded that limit.

The maximum number of cars per train is 8 (platforms are 600' long, rail car "married pairs" are 150' long). Each car can hold approx 175 people, max.

The maximum number of trains per hour is 26 -- a little over 2 min between trains:

https://planitmetro.com/2016/08/22/the-origins-of-metros-26-trains-per-hour-limit/

What I'm getting at is, between Metro already bumping up against max capacity and the right-of-way for area highways quickly being built out, the D.C. area has really reached it's limit. It is physically impossible for many more people to be able to commute to Washington every day.

It really would be better for all involved if we encouraged major employers to go elsewhere.

There are powerful forces continuing to push for growth -- but those people are not going to be sitting in traffic for hours everyday, and/or crammed into a Metro train car -- up close and personal with hundreds of strangers.

Now is the time to start rethinking the whole "Growth is good" mantra -- before all transportation options are gridlocked and we are out of options.

mrnatural1

glen,

Thanks for sharing the High Road monorail video link:

https://www.thehighroadfoundation.org/video-presentations

It is well produced and persuasive.

It is also the first instance that I'm aware of where someone pointed out the massive, soul-crushing traffic jams that would result if the Lexus lanes for the rich were to be approved, The construction delays would be so bad that many people would be forced to quit their jobs.

As a retired Metro ATC technician, I am interested in the monorail idea, but I have to admit that I am not a proponent. I see public transportation (regardless of type) as the lesser of the evils. Anything that allows even more humans to travel from FredCo (and points beyond) to MoCo and the D.C. area will only cause more destruction of what remains of Frederick County and further reduce our quality of life.

Even people who can ride public transportation to work must drive locally. There can be no "smart growth" in FredCo. It's too late for that -- if it ever was possible. The best we can hope for is "slightly less stupid growth". It is all destructive.

That said, anything is better than the idea of grossly regressive Lexus/HOT lanes for the rich. That idea must be shot down in flames. If we truly want to do the greatest god for the greatest number of people then Lexus lanes are clearly NOT the way to go.

Attempting to solve traffic congestion on I-270 with Lexus lanes is the equivalent of trying to alleviate FCPS school overcrowding by allowing a private, for profit, mega corporation to build additions on existing schools and then charge wealthy parents tuition for their kids to attend classes in those new additions -- with smaller class sizes; new computers; advanced/college prep courses, etc.

The other kids? Well, they'd be left behind, most of them effectively sentenced to a life of drudgery and menial labor. But hey, they should've been born rich.

THAT's what Lexus lanes are.

Boyce Rensberger

In all the talk about a monorail, why don't we hear about birail? It's probably cheaper. Rolling stock is easier to come by.

gary4books

Can it fit in the center of 270?

Boyce Rensberger

Sure. The same columns used to support a monorail can support conventional light rail. And where the median strip is wide enough, either can run at ground level.

glenkrc

Boyce – As I have told others who have proposed light rail, it’s all about the terrain. The terrain between Clarksburg and the Monocacy is simply not amenable to placing rail lines down the center of 270. It’s not all that amenable to running a monorail, either. But the idea is growing on me. It’s far easier for me to envision a monorail running along, say, the east side of 270. It would ride above the fray and be capable of dampening out, to a certain extent, elevation changes and curves. The proponent has a video depicting such an approach. https://www.thehighroadfoundation.org/video-presentations

Next time you drive past the scales on 270, think how you would route light rail in the “median”.

Boyce Rensberger

You are right, Glen. I hadn't thought about the problem of hills and valleys. But I would think that a combination of regrading and supporting columns of varying height ought to produce an acceptable grade for monorail or light rail.

gary4books

Thanks!

gary4books

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas_Monorail

DickD

I agree, Ken and it would give us more time to watch the football and basketball games too. Middletown Walkersville games are always good to watch.

rbtdt5

I'm willing to bet a lot of people want this for others to use. Most commuters that I know want to drive themselves. We could have metro come up here and run every 20 minutes and they would still drive.

gary4books

rbt - Very true. But every rider makes it an easier drive for those who still drive. Over time, even the drivers may want a break from driving.

MRS M

............................been to the EU anytime in the last 50 years, rb?

gabrielshorn2013

Mr. Berkowitz, MARC has been available from two locations in Frederick for many years. I used to take it to either Rockville or Union Station, depending on where I had to go in DC. Amazingly, the trains leaving Frederick were fairly empty, but began to fill up at Point of Rocks and points south. Did you try MARC?

sevenstones1000

The current MARC trains are of limited use for Frederick commuters trying to get to DC. They stop numerous times in Montgomery County, which already has numerous other mass transit options, making the trip painfully slow and long.

The MARC bus, which stops behind Target in Frederick and also in Urbana, goes direct to Shady Grove metro and is a much better commute.

The problem is the extremely limited hours. But I have lived in Fredrick for more than 30 years, and I can tell you Frederick has always been reluctant to connect to the rest of the world and leave the big pick up trucks and SUVs behind. It’s part selfish and part fear of “others” being able to use the same transit to come to Frederick.

gary4books

Express trains could be possible to DC if (IF) they build two more tracks. Who knows what that might cost? The service could be much better and even allow Frederick people to go on shopping trips and return home quickly. I expect they will want more ways to get to the train stations and even to park there. But as an investment, it makes sense if there is room to build two more tacks.

gabrielshorn2013

It makes sense only if the revenue pays for itself.

DickD

Yes, but Gabe is worried about bringing more development and most likely it would. It would also increase home values.

gabrielshorn2013

Dick, to clarify, if we build additional ways to get here, more people will want to move here. Unless an increase in development is allowed, the current stock of houses will increase in value due to demand. When that happens, low income residents and those on a fixed income will not be able to afford to live here. If additional development is allowed, existing home prices will not rise as much, but the additional homes will lead to an increased demand for schools and other services, and raise taxes. As we all know, development does not pay for itself.

gabrielshorn2013

Seven, while the train may have been slow, I can't remember it ever being slower than driving to DC or Rockville during rush hour. Time on the train could also be used productively by preparing for the day by reading or doing paperwork. Driving is a waste of time, which can only be spent...driving. The MARC timetable comports with rush hours, or the time most people would be on the road commuting. That's why I shake my head when some folks demand additional train service to Frederick, because they aren't using what they have now. Additionally, if we make the commute easier, it will invite more residents, which will drive more development due to demand, which will increase school overcrowding, which will increase demand for new schools...

DickD

We had a van pool and most days we could make it to D.C. in a hour. Snow days we should have stayed home. But a 15 passenger van pool is good. When I took the train I caught up on loss sleep. Never took the Marc, to out of the way. Taking the bus to Shady Grove and hopping on the Metro took an hour and a half. Still better than driving. The complainers here don't seem to realize they are going to add lanes and/or monorrail whether any of us like it or not.

shiftless88

Driving with a carpool is faster than the MARC. Mostly because it swings down to Point of Rocks and then stops frequently in MoCo. They should just run it to Rockville and then dump into the metro, which is generally what I do anyway when I take the train.

threecents

[thumbup] Seven. I completely agree that the commuter bus is better option than the current MARC trains and that they don't run often enough. The busses do fill up, so people are using them. Nice comfy busses. But those busses take a long time to get to Shady Grove and Silver Spring.

DickD

Yup. look at the soap box complaint from JIm below. He doesn't want better transportation but supports a war monger, Trump.

jsklinelga

Moved here 30 years ago and drove miles back every weekday to work. You are a climate violator. And each morning and evening you are joined by throngs of climate terrorist. And the audacity. You wish for the taxpayers to spend millions so as to make your crime against humanity easier. You must obviously be a member of the new socialist Democratic party. They do not really care what they trash. They just want more like minded voters to move here and support their amoral and sinful ways. Shame on you.

That was fun. No offense Mr Berkowitz. Just some Fredneck Monday morning humor

montgk87

You're mostly right though.

This guy wants the taxpayers to bail out his commute so he can enjoy urban job opportunities but still live rural? No thanks.

There were no other options than driving an hour commute each way? How about buying a smaller house closer to work?

The need for mass transit is great, but asking the citizens of Montgomery county, PG, and Baltimore, the donor counties/areas, to spend millions just so residents of the taker areas (like Walkersville) are bailed out because they chose to drive until they could buy instead of buying a reasonably sized closer to work is unfair.

DickD

Nor only a smaller house, but your pay check is half as much. And why shouldn't DC commuters be bailed out, we bail everyone else out for any pet project that they have. Besides, they don't want to live closer to D.C., they want to be close to nice people like you.

shiftless88

I think the key here is that everyone is SCREAMING for something to be done and the alternative is to spend a ton more money to widen 270. Either way the Frederick driver is bailed out, but the monorail is far cheaper.

mrnatural1

Good point shiftless.

I'm with gabriel -- what would be best for the preservation of what's left of Frederick County would be to do *nothing*. If transportation options remain the same, the malignant sprawl tumor will slowly shrink and die.

If something is to be done, one idea that should be immediately spiked are any form of toll lanes -- particularly Lexus/HOT lanes for the rich.

If "do nothing" is rejected, then like you and many others, I'd prefer to see a slick public transportation system from the Frederick City area to at least Shady Grove. Whether that's a monorail or some form of high speed conventional rail, it would: reduce traffic on I-270; reduce pollution (including CO2); be faster than driving; and allow people to nap, read/write, watch videos, etc -- instead of staring at the same pair of tail lights as they creep along on 270.

One criticism we hear about those who promote public transportation is that they think it's great -- for the other guy/gal. No doubt there are some people like that, however that's all but irrelevant. What is important is projected ridership. How many people currently drive (or take the MARC train) to Shady Grove, or another station? Many/most of those people would take advantage of public transportation that went directly to Shady with few, if any, stops. After all, they are already riding Metro (not driving to their workplace).

The proposed monorail would make the trip in 31 minutes. That's possible to do in a car, but not during rush hour! Some other mode of transit might be even faster.

As for the cost, from what I've read, most public transportation systems do require significant supplemental assistance. The "fare box" generally does not come close to covering all costs. That said, the fuel tax doesn't pay for 100% of our maintenance & construction costs either (recently it's not even close), and never has (although the percentage was higher historically). It would be helpful to see some estimated numbers for fare revenue. Whatever it is (train, monorail) I won't be using it. I don't mind paying something toward it though, as long as it's reasonable. I look at it like parks; schools; libraries; police & fire protection, etc -- we all pay for things we may rarely (if ever) use because we know they're good for society -- and because we'd get thrown in prison if we didn't pay our taxes...[wink]

gary4books

Just "run it up the flag pole and see who laughs."

threecents

Sounds like a Green New Dealer.

DickD

Get off the soap box, Jim.

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