Accelerating the Electrification of the RideOn Fleet and Seniors Ride Free

MEMORANDUM

To: Council President Hucker and Councilmember Glass
From: Hans Riemer
Date: April 22, 2021
Re: Accelerating the Electrification of the RideOn Fleet and Seniors Ride Free

When the Transportation and Environment Committee takes up the RideOn operating and capital budgets on April 30, I request your thoughtful consideration of the following two proposals I will offer at the worksession.

First, I propose that we include funding in the FY23 Ride On Bus Fleet (P500821) to purchase an additional 10 electric buses instead of diesel buses. Importantly, these new electric buses would be earmarked for the mid and upcounty and stationed at the Gaithersburg Depot. To that end, I ask that the Department of General Services and RideOn begin work to build out charging and electrical capacity at the Gaithersburg Depot. Based on cost estimates provided by MCDOT, the fiscal impact would be approximately $3,860,000.

Combined with a proposed microgrid and other electrical upgrades at the Brookeville Depot, the County Executive recently proposed a schedule of 50 new electric buses over the next 4 years. These are smart investments, but they are geographically-bounded to the down county. My proposal would bring the benefits of electric buses to our mid and upcounty residents.

Second, I’d like to propose that we make RideOn and Metrobus free 24/7 for seniors and people with disabilities. Notwithstanding the current—and temporary—pause on all fare collection for RideOn, seniors and people with disabilities would normally ride free on RideOn and MetroBus Monday-Friday, between the hours of 9am – 3pm, Saturday, between the hours of 8:30am – 4pm, and half fares the rest of the time. Building on previous Council actions to make the bus access more equitable and affordable, I believe now is the time to make RideOn and Metrobus free for our residents most in need. MCDOT has estimated that this targeted expansion would require an additional $949,720 in funding for FY22: $705,620 in RideOn revenue loss and $244,100 in WMATA reimbursement.

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Purple Line — why this matters so much

Dear resident:

The recipe for our future success as a community is not only progressive policy making but also having a strong economic foundation that provides higher paying jobs for our residents and tax revenues to support public services.

As a region with many companies that are turning scientific breakthroughs into commerce, our County government should recognize that strength and do everything possible to build on it.

One key initiative that I have been focusing on a lot: better connecting our economy to UMD and College Park.

UMD is one of the largest higher ed computer science institutions in the US. Although it is in a neighboring County, it is still one of Montgomery County’s key power centers to generate economic progress.

To build on UMD’s potential, we need a high quality Purple Line. The Purple Line runs right through campus with multiple stops there and then continues to downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda while connecting to the Red Line Corridors.

Degrading the Purple Line — as the County Executive is now proposing to do by “single tracking” trains into Bethesda and foreclosing future improvements in the frequency of trains — will really limit our County’s economic potential.

Consider this exceptionally pertinent example.

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Don’t bottleneck the Purple Line

Dear Resident:

The Purple Line will be an economic development engine for Montgomery County.

Connecting Maryland’s biggest university, UMD, with Montgomery County’s downtowns and Metro corridors, it is the kind of infrastructure change that will foster smart growth and prosperity.

I got my start in the County pushing for the Purple Line — in fact I pledged 15 years ago to “Build the Purple Line or Die Trying.”

So you’ll understand that I am concerned that the County Executive has renewed his 2009 proposal to weaken the Purple Line.

Specifically, Mr. Elrich has proposed that rather than having a two way tunnel with tracks in each direction, we’ll have a one way train tunnel into downtown Bethesda. Trains would have to wait on either end for the tunnel to clear before entering.

In other words, we would build a bottleneck into Bethesda.

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What we accomplished in 2019

Dear resident,

Following is a detailed report about my work this past year as your Councilmember. This list is progress that we made together.

Progressive leadership requires making tough decisions and getting the basics right. You can’t reach high from a wobbly foundation.

That’s why I focus every day on making the kinds of forward thinking changes that we need to position Montgomery County for future success and prosperity.

I’m eager to hear from you! Please share your thoughts by email to councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov. Keep reading >>

Councilmember Riemer applauds Council passage of Transportation Demand Management legislation

Bill 36-18 creates new framework to reduce traffic and streamline development review process

Rockville, Md., Dec. 3, 2019—Today the Council unanimously adopted Bill 36-18 to comprehensively amend the County’s Transportation Demand Management law, especially as it applies to new development in the County. Introduced by former County Executive Isiah Leggett at the end of his term, the legislation is the result of a multi-year interagency working group formed under former Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh after requests from Councilmember Hans Riemer and former Councilmember Roger Berliner. Keep reading >>