LARGO – The Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation closed out the second phase of their Transit Vision Plan on March 22 with the final of four public meetings.
The Transit Vision Plan includes five-year and longer-term plans to improve public transportation in Prince George’s County. Development for the project began in late spring last year.
“The current transit plan, completed in May 2009, is outdated and does not reflect the current development activity and travel behavior occurring within Prince George’s County,” said Paulette Jones, an information officer with the Department of Public Works and Transportation.
“The county, through the (Department of Public Works and Transportation), wants to attract more ridership and use our existing transit system as a way to stimulate or support economic development, proactively look for strategic opportunities to expand transportation options and improve access to jobs for residents, especially to and from major existing and future 24-hour centers in the county.”
In total, more than 50 people attended these public meetings. Jones said attendees of these meetings frequently recommended “longer hours, weekend service, reliable service and safer bus stop locations, especially in less dense areas in the county.
“Feedback will be used to confirm or revisit our assumptions and priorities for recommending service improvements.”
The first phase of the project involved about a dozen “pop-up” meetings in September at bus stops, surveys of riders onboard buses and surveys of nonriders.
The onboard surveys revealed that the highest area of dissatisfaction among respondents was the lack of weekend service. The highest respondent satisfaction is with driver friendliness and vehicle condition.
Seventeen percent of onboard respondents requested later hours of service and 12 percent requested better service reliability.
The vast majority of these onboard respondents said they did not own a car or have access to a vehicle for their trip. Nearly half of the respondents – 47 percent – use TheBus every day. Slightly more than half – 65 percent – ride TheBus for their commute to work.
TheBus system has a daily ridership of 13,000 across its 28 routes.
The second phase of the plan aimed to identify the strengths, weaknesses, short and longer-term recommendations for public transportation.
Some of the strengths include the “high ridership and productivity” of numerous routes, such as Route 16 from the New Carrollton Metro to the Greenbelt Metro and Route 20 from the Addison Road Metro to the county courthouse.
The noted weaknesses include the frequency between some routes exceeds the minimum standards of 30 minutes between buses in peak and 45 minutes during off-peak times. Other routes are occasionally overcrowded.
The Transit Vision Plan recommendations are quick to point out the suggestions made operate on a “one size does not fit all” basis, due to the diversity of the county’s density and needs.
Jones said the priorities and recommendations were based on several factors, including “the concentration number of auto-less households, lack of nearby existing Metrobus service, the presence of major activity centers, community feedback, and existing ridership levels.”
One recommendation is to “utilize Call-A-Bus improved scheduling capabilities to provide first mile/last mile connections to the fixed-route transit system” along with a bus route between Bowie and Upper Marlboro.
The recommendations include providing Saturday service, expanding hours of service and increasing service frequencies on certain TheBus routes.
Another recommendation is to introduce a bike share program and to increase sidewalk connections.
The Department of Public Works and Transportation intends to present a final draft of the Transit Vision Plan to the public in early May.
If the Department of Public Works and Transportation can receive sufficient funding, staff will begin implementing the short-term recommendations in 2019.
If residents are interested in getting involved or providing feedback, they can visit www.princegeorgestransitvision.com, attend the mini pop-up information sessions in April or the public meetings in May.