To the editor:
The Times has stated that Duke Street is not the place for “rapid speed public buses” because it is “gridlocked.”
The Times reveals its bias in that claim. A bus rapid transit line would allow bus riders to bypass any gridlock that exists – but bus riders are not the Times’ concern.
In fact, Duke Street is an ideal place for a bus rapid transit line. It already has high bus ridership, and its density means more riders who would benefit than in most other parts of the city. That is why it has been in the city plans for a bus rapid transit line since before 2013. Better bus service benefits riders, but it also removes drivers from the streets, addressing congestion, reducing greenhouse gasses and improving safety. A full redesign of the street can also add green infrastructure to help with stormwater, improve safety for all users and improve the overall appearance of the street. Given the varying widths and conditions of the street, this can be done with limited impact on auto travel time, which itself is something that will be studied as part of this project.
The Times says the street should be widened. That would be horribly expensive and would likely raise issues of eminent domain, something the Times has opposed in the past. It would also mean a street that is difficult to cross safely and easily, despite the Times’ claim to be concerned with pedestrian safety.
The Times also repeats the canard that development causes traffic. If the Times is worried about this, they should oppose parking minimums for new development which encourage more car ownership. In fact, when we limit the number of people who can live in the city, we do not eliminate traffic but instead push people to live further out and to cut through the city to get to jobs. More cut-through traffic, more emissions, more greenhouse gasses and more waste of people’s time and money. The way to deal with traffic is to leverage density with new transit and with walkable mixed-use neighborhoods. A new gold standard bus rapid transit line is the ideal way to start that transformation.
-Ken Notis, Alexandria