You recently carried a letter to the editor ("State needs to shift focus toward mass transit" by Ali Williams on July 28) saying that mass transit is preferable. But the addition of express lanes in which variable toll rates are used to manage traffic density and avoid congestion will make I-270 a superb transit facility. MARC Rail-to-Frederick is a bust, used by fewer than 400 commuters per day. It’s circuitous and slow. Buses leaving Frederick and running in the future I-270 express lanes (ELs) will be at Shady Grove or Rockville before a MARC train even gets to the main line at Point of Rocks.
A reliable 30-minute bus ride in the 270 ELs to Shady Grove Metro might attract three or four times as many riders. Even so, it will never be significant compared to the 80,000+ users of 270. There's no potential mass in so-called mass transit here in Frederick County. Origins of trips and destinations are too dispersed and population densities are too low.
The letter writer claims "Maryland has forced its residents to rely on cars." Really, how? The sinister state forcing everyone to drive cars against their will? More likely, most people just find their cars more convenient for the vast majority of their trips. The car goes when you're ready, not according to some bureaucrat’s timetable. In the car, you travel nearly door to door, instead of having to get to the bus stop or the train station first. Convenient, customized, versatile.
Environmental? Transit occupancy rates have dropped so much it no longer has an edge. The pandemic is yet another blow. Gov. Larry Hogan's plan to fund additional express lanes with tolls is the only financeable transport improvement game in town. And it will benefit transit as well as the mass of the traffic.