Transportation 2050

Our lives are constantly in motion. Our transportation system, made up of roads, bikeways, bus and train routes, keeps us moving, connects us to where we need to be and binds us as a community. It affects every aspect of our daily routines. The 1964 General Plan laid the foundation for Metro’s Red Line through the County, which profoundly impacted where people chose to live and work.

Similarly, this General Plan update must be equally ambitious as it will propose a vision that builds on our strengths to be more accessible, efficient, safe, reliable, resilient, and well-maintained. These goals are explained below:

  • Access: You can get to work, soccer practice or a movie whether or not you own a car.
  • Efficiency: You spend less time traveling.
  • Safety: You and your family are safe when traveling.
  • Reliability: You consistently arrive when you say you will.
  • Resiliency: The transportation system anticipates the unexpected thoughtfully and comprehensibly.
  • Durability: A transportation system that works so well you take it for granted.

The transportation content of the General Plan will consider the latest data and trends on micromobility, community and how our residents and visitors can move more safely, efficiently and sustainably throughout Montgomery County. Here are some examples of what we know so far:

  • The number of trips made in the county and their duration isn’t decreasing any time soon. The demand on the county’s roads and transit services will continue to increase. Following several years of overall decline in the total and per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) between 2005 and 2014, more recent data indicates an overall return to growth with a rise in VMT. Population is forecast to increase, which puts more people on our roadways, sidewalks, buses, and trains.
  • Regionally, people are traveling shorter distances. According to the latest National Household Travel Survey, trips 2 miles or fewer are on the rise. Many of those trips are being made without a car; suggesting that people are choosing to live in places where they can walk or bike for common everyday trips like shopping, entertainment and even commuting to work.
  • Young people are driving again. One indication of the demand for vehicle travel is the number of license and vehicle registrations in the county. From 2012 and 2015, the number of licensed 18-24-year-olds decreased every year, despite an increase in population for the same cohort. In recent years, however, this trend reversed, indicating that vehicular travel will continue to put pressure on local infrastructure.
  • There are more options than ever to driving. More trips are being conducted by walking and biking. Ridesharing has seen a significant increase over the last decade. Newer trends in bikeshare and scooter share are showing rapid growth. Advances in telecommuting and e-commerce are growing and replacing many trips.
  • Transit ridership is declining. Historically, younger people have shown a greater propensity to utilize transit, particularly in urban areas. With the growth of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, and the expansion of bikeshare and e-scooters, transit agencies will continue face greater increases in competition from transportation alternatives, particularly among younger generations.
  • Autonomous vehicles are coming. While the timeline is unknown, experts agree the industry is moving towards self-driving cars and buses. This could have a profound effect on how we design and redesign our transportation infrastructure. Since people will no longer need to park vehicles at their destinations (because the cars can drive themselves anywhere) there may be lower demand for urban, expensive parking garages and surface lots; however, this would also likely increase the amount of cars on the road at any given time. Furthermore, as the technology improves and more people have access to driverless cars, it’s likely the demand for space for dedicated lanes for autonomous vehicles on the roads will increase. Therefore, it’s imperative that the county determine where designated space is needed for sustainable transportation modes such as transit, walking and biking.
  • The store is now coming to you. Online shopping is replacing brick-and-mortar shopping. Amazon alone has over 100 million Americans using their prime memberships. While shopping remotely reduces the number of vehicles on the road for trips to the store, it has dramatically increased demand for delivery services and curbside delivery space in constrained environments.
  • Transportation is our largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 1/3 of all climate change inducing emissions are from our vehicles. Similarly, our transportation system is the dominant source of dangerous air pollution. As our county grows, so too will the impact of our transportation system.

January 27, 2020: Thrive Montgomery 2050 Transportation Summit

The Thrive Montgomery 2050 Transportation Working Group hosted a Transportation Summit on Monday, January 27 to facilitate discussions on what the future might hold and how we should plan for it to achieve a transportation network that functions well for everyone.

Transportation Summit Video Recap

Presentation from the Transportation Summit

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Last Updated: January 29, 2020