I serve on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (CoG) Transportation Policy Board (TPB). This is a regional body that analyzes transportation requirements along with the expected funding over the long term, over the next 25 years and beyond. The federal government requires each regional CoG to perform rigorous analysis before the state, county, and local governments can utilize funding for transportation projects. This forces everyone to think regionally and not just about their own jurisdictions.
Many people in the region see the TPB as being biased toward mass transit. When I joined the organization, I had not realized that I was required to choose a side. I was asked, at a separate meeting with one of our elected officials (not from our city) if I was a roads guy or a transit guy. My answer was that I was a “get from point A to point B with a minimum of hassle” guy. I commuted to Reston last year, and that was no fun at all. It was 30 minutes to work if I left at dawn, 2+ hours to get home at 5 PM on a Friday, and an hour by Metro. There has to be a better way!
I know people who think we should get 50% of the cars off the roads. I know other people who think that bicycles are the answer. In a suburban community where there as many jobs in other suburbs as in the center of DC, the region needs to rethink how we handle transportation.
The region has major plans for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). This includes much upgraded buses (almost more like light rail than the Ride On buses) as well as dedicated express lanes so buses move to their destination in the minimum time possible. Gaithersburg has 2 lines planned in the near term, the CCT and the route 355 BRT lines, although neither is funded yet. Both would provide a boost to economic development as well as reducing gridlock.
Transportation alone is not the only solution to gridlock – we need to focus land use policies on reducing sprawl. Building more roads so people can commute from far away is the reason that there are anti-road people. But, if we built denser developments near job centers, then people would not have to drive from Gaithersburg to Reston, or to come here from West Virginia.