Yesterday I attended a student forum with members of the University of Maryland’s administration regarding plans for a pilot test this summer where our main road “Campus Drive” will be closed to both passenger vehicles and transit minus emergency vehicles and a couple of campus connector Shuttle-UM buses. If the pilot is successful, this transit idea could become a mainstay in a couple of years.
Closing Campus Drive to cars is a fine idea in my view, but only because that would allow the buses to get around quicker. As someone who has missed a Shuttle-UM bus on its way to our metro station 1.5 miles away, and then beaten it on my legs to the station, our buses would greatly benefit from less traffic on Campus Drive. I could see mobility for students around campus and around College Park significantly improving if we closed off Campus Drive to cars, but allowed buses. It would also shorten travel times for the Metro buses that pass through the heart of campus.
I just don’t under stand how banning both buses and cars improves at all on the situation. Before they were both clogging up campus drive, now they’re both going to clog some side roads on the outside of campus. All we’ve done is abandoned transit at the center of campus, which not only sucks in the near-term, but probably jeopardizes the likelihood of the Purple Line using the Campus Drive alignment if the road ends up being permanently closed after this pilot.
The funny thing is, all that this forum convinced me is the administrators don’t understand what this does either, or why they’re doing it. At least, they wouldn’t admit to us why they were actually doing it. Most of students questions were answered in five words or less, involve some combination of the words “i don’t know” and “okay”. It was like they weren’t even trying to manage this from a PR perspective, which is unusual for them.
Here is a Diamondback article about the event, and the Washington Post has an article out on the issue today. This excerpt from the Diamondback piece says it all…
Jesse Yurow, a junior environmental science and policy major, said the program doesn’t fit in with two key passages in the plan: “maximize use of alternatives to driving to campus” and “improve the campus’s integration into the regional transit system network.
“OK,” he said.
Here’s Ed Markey on MSNBC talking about what he learned from this committee hearing yesterday with those responsible for the oil disaster.
I just got an e-mail from Green For All about energy efficiency legislation called Homestar which will be voted on tomorrow. Below is the e-mail, and if you want even more background on Homestar, check out this fantastic info sheet by Efficiency First.
Urgent: Home Star vote!
Tomorrow the House of Representatives will vote on the Home Star bill (H.R. 5019). We urgently need your help to get it passed!
If you haven’t heard about Home Star yet, listen up. The fast-acting program will create new jobs in energy-efficiency, cut pollution, and lower energy bills.
Please call your Representative now and tell them to pass Home Star.
(Our simple call tool makes it easy).
Home Star will create an estimated 168,000 jobs, save Americans $9.5 billion on energy bills over ten years, and reduce pollution and global warming. It will do all this by providing rebates to homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient.
Please act now! Tell your Representative to pass Home Star!
Our communities desperately need jobs, and Home Star will help create them. It is a critical step towards building the kind of clean energy economy we need to lift people out of poverty, spur on sustainable growth, and end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.
Thank you for taking action.
Green For All
Tom Friedman has the best columns in the NY Times I’ve seen of him, and that’s saying something. Friedman appeals to President Obama and the US Senator to take up clean energy legislation now. I highly recommend you read it, here is the last paragraph, a fantastic ending to a fantastic column.
“If we settle for just an incremental response to this crisis — a “Hey, that’s our democracy. What more can you expect?” — we’ll be sorry. You can’t fool Mother Nature. She knows when we’re just messing around. Mother Nature operates by her own iron laws. And if we violate them, there is no lobby or big donor to get us off the hook. No, what’s gone will be gone. What’s ruined will be ruined. What’s extinct will be extinct — and later, when we’re finally ready to stop messing around, it will be too late.”