By 2050, 100 million more people will be living in this nation. And that means we will need more public transportation, including high-speed rail, to reduce congestion, strengthen the economy, and serve the needs of an increasingly diverse population
More people of all ages are relocating to urban areas, and Frederick County’s urbanized areas are growing all the time. Transit-oriented development is revitalizing communities, as residents seek a lifestyle with easy access to work and leisure. Some of the strongest – and newest – supporters of public transportation are the Gen X and Y’ers, who seek economic ease of mobility and want to contribute to reducing their carbon footprints.
And it’s not just the younger generations that want more public transportation options.
As our country’s population ages, public transportation should be available to older Americans who choose not to drive or cannot drive any longer. Additionally, 2013 will see an increase in the needs of special populations, such as persons with disabilities, rural residents, and returning veterans. Frederick’s TransIT-Plus demand/response system is extremely popular, and its growth will only be limited by funding for services.
As with most things in our world today, money drives the ability to increase services. In our office, we get questions from people who live in Frederick and commute to Baltimore, wondering when better options might be available to them. We get calls from people who live outside of Frederick’s urbanized areas but come in to Frederick to work, visit, shop, or play. They want to know when a bus might be available to transport them from their neighborhood into Frederick, or when the bus that now runs a few times a day might run more often (in the case of our Brunswick/Jefferson, Emmitsburg/Thurmont, and/or East County shuttle services).
Our response? We are always interested in tracking demand for additional services, and if demand grows great enough. When funds are available, we will present data and request more funds for more service; however, we all know that the economic downturn of recent years has resulted in much tighter budgets.
One of the best ways that people can get the most use out of the transportation infrastructure that does exist is to move closer to a bus route and/or stops. Statistics show that home values near public transportation are 42% higher than those off the beaten path: http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2013/03/home-values-performed-42-percent-better-when-located-near-public-transportation-during-last Many people choose their home location based on home prices, not really fully considering or understanding the full cost of commuting 15, 30, 50 miles each way to work every day.
Conversely, one can try to find work near where they currently live. Again, choices are often made based on salaries being higher “down the road” in more metropolitan areas; but is the commute going to eat up most of that gain in salary?
All things to think about the next time you wonder why your paycheck isn’t going as far as you’d hoped!