DC Sustainable Transportation applauds Mayor Bowser’s ReOpen DC transportation agenda and urges rapid implementation


Joe Sternlieb
Chairman, DC Sustainable Transportation

David Alpert
Executive Director, DC Sustainable Transportation

WASHINGTON, DC - DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST), applauds the transportation recommendations of Mayor Bowser’s ReOpen DC Advisory Group, released last week. “We stand ready to assist her in implementing the changes to our transportation systems and infrastructure needed to protect public health and get the District's economy working again,” said Joe Sternlieb, Chair of DCST and CEO of the Georgetown Business Improvement District.

DCST supports and encourages quick implementation of the proposals to create dedicated bus lanes, particularly on the “lifeline” bus routes; maintain and expand pick-up/drop-off zones for restaurants and other businesses; and widen sidewalks so pedestrians can safely get between home, businesses, and services.

The District faces unprecedented challenges in bringing back business and other basic functions of society while protecting the health of residents, workers, students and visitors. The transportation system that recently facilitated hundreds of thousands of trips each day must be redesigned to avoid close contact, maximize the number of people who can get around, and avoid choking our roads and hampering the recovery. “With transit capacity drastically reduced for the foreseeable future, Mayor Bowser’s Reopen recommendations underscore the reality that urgent action is needed to increase transit capacity and support walking, biking, and scooting so that people can reach jobs, businesses, and services,” said David Alpert, Executive Director of DCST and also Executive Director of Greater Greater Washington.

DCST hopes the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) can immediately begin installing the quick-build bus lanes and traffic signal prioritization recommended in the report. With bus capacity gradually working its way up to 20% over time, buses can carry more people safely if they can move quickly and arrive frequently. So bus lanes need to be in place when people are ready to start riding them again.

“The recommendation to expand the bikeshare system, particularly the subsidized program, shows bold leadership to reduce car dependence, especially for low-income residents. The COVID-19 crisis provides both a necessity and an opportunity to vastly expand the use of e-bikes that can improve health and eliminate the hurdle of hills and distance,” said Sternlieb. “The city has always subsidized every transit ride. It should now consider subsidizing e-bike rides and purchases as well. More broadly, improvements to the city’s bicycle route network, alluded to in the report, will encourage more people to shift to active modes (non-car or transit) that support the recovery.” Actions like these will enable DC to achieve the goals of MoveDC (the District’s long range transportation plan) of 45% of trips using active modes — up from the current 18% — years ahead of schedule.

Along with increasing transit and micromobility capacity, DCST supports the report’s proposals for reorienting streets and public space to improve safety and access for walking, biking, scootering and people in wheelchairs. DCST is excited to support the mayor’s group “big idea” to close off some streets to facilitate safe access to businesses and services such as restaurants. Swift action on these recommendations will help people get to, and support, businesses that are vital to the economy. 

DCST shares the Mayor’s goal to deliver a safe, resilient, and equitable recovery to the citizens and businesses of the District. Our members look forward to working with the Mayor and her administration to implement the needed recommendations of her ReOpen DC transportation group.

About DCST

DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST, https://dcstcoalition.org/) is a coalition of business, civic and advocacy organizations that works to make DC a global leader with frequent, rapid, safe, affordable, and reliable transportation to, from, and around DC job centers. It was created in 2005 to advise the DC government on its transit programs, particularly the Circulator. Since 2016, DCST has engaged its partners to advocate for improvements to bus service, curbside management, and emerging mobility technologies. DCST members include nine of DC’s Business Improvement Districts and the Rosslyn BID; other business and civic groups; and advocacy organizations that work on transportation issues. 

DCST believes in providing all residents and workers with options to travel by transit, walking, and biking; to mitigate congestion, better manage curb space; and to prepare for mobility changes in the future with advancing technology.