- The Greater Washington Partnership — which represents the Baltimore, Richmond, VA and Washington, DC regions — released a transportation report entitled "Capital Region Report for Regional Mobility" to act as a call to action for reshaping the transportation system. It says the transportation system "is too often failing to meet our needs" and provides an agenda that leaders can follow to overcome challenges and make improvements.
- The report lays out four main priorities: connect the super-region, improve the consumer experience, ensure equitable access and integrate innovation. The many individual recommendations include modernizing rail, investments in trails, expanding employer mobility programs and implementing technology such as smart traffic signals.
- The report suggests that simply going forward with existing plans will only slow the system's performance deterioration, not fix it, because of the rate at which the population is growing. Currently planned investments would cause citizens to experience a 150% increase in congestion by 2040, compared with 2015 levels.
The report notes that the region has a lot of multi-modal transportation compared to other regions, but it suffers from a lack of coordination across jurisdictions, underinvestment and inconsistent agenda execution. An overarching theme is that leaders and transit agencies throughout the region must work together for transportation system interoperability and the region's prosperity.
The region's population has experienced significant growth over the past couple of decades, and that is only expected to increase — and at a faster rate — with Amazon's decision to position half of its second headquarters (HQ2) in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. The area already suffers from crippling congestion; with the population growth and no commensurate transportation system improvements, the gridlock could reach even more challenging levels.
As the region continues to grow, a sub-par transportation system "is on path to become a liability that undermines our competitiveness and impedes our quality of life," the report states. That sentiment is in line with a report out of Chicago that indicates high-quality transit attracts and retains jobs in a city and infrastructure investments are necessary to retain a competitive advantage.
The Capital region report does make mention of transportation equity. While always an important aspect to keep in mind, equity takes on particular significance because Amazon's employee influx is promised to be six-figure workers. That creates strong potential for leaders to cater to wealthy residents' transportation needs while lower income residents are left in the dust.