Frequenty Asked WILMAPCO Questions
How did MPO’s evolve into what we have today?
Is WILMAPCO part of DelDOT?
No, we are a federally designated metropolitan planning organization. An MPO acts as a regional transportation planning agency. We bring together the transportation and land use leaders in the area to help make informed decisions regarding the future of our region.
Is WILMAPCO a federal agency?
No. While we are designated by federal legislation, we are a unique agency. We receive funding from federal, state, county and local government. We are a non-profit government agency, but not specifically part of the state or federal government.
What power does WILMAPCO have to get things done?
Since we are a planning agency, we don’t implement the suggestions we receive. We facilitate the dialogue among the implementing agencies and the public. We make sure the public’s voices are heard!
If I have a problem or suggestion regarding a transportation project, what should I do?
There are several things you can do. If you have a minor problem, such as a pothole that needs filling, a new roadway sign or a transportation maintenance problem, you can contact DelDOT, MDOT or Delaware Transit Corporation. If you have a suggestion for a roadway, transit, bicycle or pedestrian improvement, you can submit it on our homepage. We take these suggestions and submit them as ideas for our transportation agency for consideration. You can also attend one of our meetings and make a suggestion there. See a schedule of our meetings on our calendar of events page.
How do I get to the WILMAPCO office?
General Transportation Information – Why we support transit and non-motorized options
(Q and A format from the July 2005 Transporter)
There’s so much traffic. Why don’t you build roads big enough to reduce congestion?
It seems an easy solution. If a road can’t fit all the cars, why not just build another road or a bigger road to fit all the cars? Unfortunately, more roads invite more traffic. Once people find a nice open road to drive on, they are more likely to take that route to their destination. When they might have taken transit or carpooled to reduce congestion, now they decide to drive. It’s called induced demand.Secondly, roads attract development. What good is a road without a gas station…and a McDonalds…and then a strip mall and some houses. In no time that road becomes not only a means of connecting two points, but a destination, attracting more traffic, and eventually more congestion.
I bought a house in the country because I wanted to get away from traffic. How come it followed me here?
People move to rural areas hoping to find a number of things – peace and quiet, a safer atmosphere for their family, a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Unfortunately, once they get there, they still want the perks of suburbia. They want grocery stores, places to rent movies or buy their morning coffee, and, of course, an easy commute to work.All of this requires development – development that brings people and cars and congestion. If you don’t have stores located within walking distance of your house, you have to drive. If your children’s schools aren’t close by, they have to ride a bus or be driven. You have to get to work each day. All of this puts pressure on roadways that weren’t designed to handle the increased traffic.
What about the safety of my children? I’m afraid they’ll get hurt if I don’t drive them.
That’s a valid concern. But what you may not realize is that you may be doing them long-term harm. Walking is a cheap, easy and healthy way to exercise. By learning to build it into their routine at an early age, your child will be more likely to maintain a healthy weight, reducing their likelihood of diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.It is also important to note that over 40,000 people in the U.S. are killed every year in car accidents. It is the number one cause of death for children ages 3-18. Conversely, riding in a school bus is extremely safe. In 2003, there were only 31 school bus related fatalities. While the number of bicyclists and pedestrian killed each year is moderately high (5,300 in 2003), less than a fourth of the accidents have involved children.
As you can see, riding in a car may not be the best way for kids to safely get around.
Why should we spend money on sidewalks and bike paths?
If only 5 % of the population walks or bike, why not just put money into roads?
True, only 5% bike or walk every day; however, in Delaware only 1% of the transportation budget is dedicated to non-motorized facilities. It may be that people don’t walk because there aren’t enough facilities and they don’t feel that it’s a safe option.Also, that 5% is comprised of people who commute daily. A much higher percentage walk on occasion. This figure does not factor in people walking their dog or having a stroll after dinner. It also does not include the number of children walking to school.
While safety is always an issue for pedestrians, a recent study found that there are fewer accidents in areas with more pedestrians. Drivers know to look out for people in high pedestrian areas. So encouraging more people to walk actually makes it a safer mode of transportation.
How about buses, do we really need them? Doesn’t everyone drive?
First, not everyone can drive. The elderly, the disabled, people who can’t afford a car, people who choose not to drive, people who have lost their license; there are thousands of people who wouldn’t be able to get to work, stores, the doctor, or church, if transit weren’t available.Plus, transit can be used if your car breaks down or you are temporarily unable to drive due to injury, finances or health problems.
There is a huge benefit to transit. A bus can hold 40 people. Imagine how much less traffic and air pollution there would be if 40 people left their cars at home and rode the bus to work each day.
But I’ve seen buses blowing out black smoke. Are they really better for the air?
Buses today are designed to pollute less. As we replace our fleets, you will see much less smoke. Plus, DART First State has been testing bio-diesel fuels and hybrid electric/diesel buses to reduce pollution even further.
Why don’t we use rail more? Where I used to live, everybody took the train.
Rail is a viable option that we are studying; however, it has several drawbacks. One, it’s very expensive. You have to buy the land, buy the trains, build the stations, and pay for maintenance and operations.Second, to be financially feasible, it has to be built in an area that connects large populations of people with a destination. It has a fixed route and it can’t be adjusted as the demand shifts locations. In our region, our population is spread out and there are only a few major employment centers. This makes it hard to attract large ridership.
Fortunately, we are surrounded by two large cities, Philadelphia and Baltimore. There is rail service from Baltimore to Perryville that could be expanded across Cecil County, and perhaps even link up with the Newark/Wilmington line. This would allow for uninterrupted commuter rail service from Washington, DC to Philadelphia. We are also looking at expanded rail down to Middletown or Dover to reduce traffic from below the canal. Again, it is very expensive, but we continue to consider expanding rail service in our mix of transportation options.
Doesn’t public transit just cost us money? Maybe our taxes would be lower if we didn’t have to fund it.
It’s true, the government subsidizes many of our bus and rail services. What you may not realize is that it also provides a substantial amount of funding for roads. In fact, more money is given to pay for highways, bridges and other seemingly ‘free’ transportation methods than public transit.
Something else to consider. It is estimated that the average American spends $6300/year to own a car, including payments, gas, insurance, etc. In fact, the proportion of your household income dedicated to transportation has grown to record levels. Driving a car is not only expensive for you, it is costly to our government. If you want to save money, consider taking transit. To see the impact cars have on our lifestyle, visit this website.
As you can see, there are a lot of important elements to consider when developing our transportation future.
We have two choices – provide more transportation options so people don’t have to depend solely on their cars or learn to live with congestion and increased pollution. This is the price we pay for the convenience of driving anywhere, anytime.