In what is already a two-bus transit desert, WMATA is proposing to reduce what little bus service there is even further. Among ridership-based cuts on the table, is reducing rush hour service on the T2 Metrobus from every 15 minutes to every 30 minutes. Such a cut would make using the bus even less viable for commuters.
Should the service cut be made, transit capacity would be reduced 50% during peak travel times. That should require the County to recalculate its transportation impact analysis entirely. By the most conservative estimate, the growth allowed by the 2016 Westbard sector plan will bring over 3000 people and over 4000 more cars to a 1.5 block area in the next 5 years. A Maryland State Highway Administration official became alarmed at a Development Review Committee last year when he heard the County planned to not pursue any projects to increase vehicle capacity on River Road, despite the growth numbers I just cited.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has said, when I asked him a few years ago, there are no plans - and no money, he emphasized - to add a new bus route to the Westbard area. Now the T2, which runs between the Friendship Heights and Rockville Metro stations via River and Falls Road, could provide even less service. To give you an idea of how far Westbard is from Metro, you can literally reach Rockville Town Center faster from River Road on the T2 bus than by subway. Oops.
The cuts are not a sure thing. WMATA is trying to drum up public support for new taxes and fare hikes using the specter of cuts. But the important point is that WMATA decides which routes to put on the chopping block based upon ridership. WMATA's decision shows that the already-minimal use of transit in automobile-dependent Westbard is in decline, not increasing.
For all of its talk about transit, the County Council didn't feel it was a priority in the Westbard sector plan it passed last May. The Council deleted a planned transit center from the Westbard Avenue redevelopment of property owned by Equity One/Regency Centers, and dropped any firm requirement for a new shuttle service. No member of the Council uses transit to commute regularly.
Once again the Council and Planning Board have proven to be shoot-from-the-hip amateurs at (sub)urban planning, approving Metro-proximity density where there is no Metro - and where Metro itself is now bearish on future demand for transit. Humiliating.