Welcome to transitwaycolumbia.org
History & Background
Updated February 2020
In 1964 Columbia's visionary founder, James Rouse, laid out a plan for a new city which would be radically different from the bedroom communities of that day. Five villages, each with its own shopping center, schools, and centers for community gatherings and recreational activities would linked by a network of pathways which extended to include the hospital and community college. Man-made lakes and ample woodlands and open space owned and maintained by the Columbia Association would provide an attractive and environmentally sustainable buffer as new villages were added and population increased. What was then called Town Center, and is now Downtown, contained the Columbia Mall, major entertainment venues, and administrative offices such as for the Columbia Association.
City planners set aside a 50 foot wide right-of-way for a transitway which would provide a car-free link for residents to get between locations without use of an automobile. In 1968, Rouse submitted a proposal for a federal grant to build an elevated route along the transitway for autonomous electric minibuses which could be summoned by passengers who could specify their destination.
Unfortunately the federal grant went to West Virginia where an electric monorail now connects three campuses of West Virginia University with Morgantown city center. Without the funding which the grant would have provided, the Columbia transitway was never completed. This transitway, still largely intact, is owned by the Columbia Association.
It's Time to Build the Transitway
As automobile traffic in Columbia reaches unsustainable levels and "Olli", an autonomous electric minibus, wins support to operate on public roads in Maryland, our advocacy group believes the time has come to build Rouse's planned transitway.