FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2015
Montgomery County Advocacy Manager
Coalition for Smarter Growth
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD— A coalition of business leaders and transit advocates is endorsing a council initiative to jump start Montgomery County’s plan for a Rapid Transit System (RTS).
Yesterday, the County Council transmitted a letter to County Executive Leggett advocating a six-pronged approach for getting RTS back on track, which included funding study money in the CIP FY17-FY22, a quicker timeline for RTS implementation, and the development of a viable financing plan. Seven of the nine councilmembers are in support. “It is great to see the council take action and work toward next steps for RTS. The council letter makes clear that the RTS needs to be on a quicker path toward implementation,” said Pete Tomao, representing Communities for Transit and the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) as CSG’s Montgomery County Advocacy Manager.
“A strong majority of the council recognize the importance of prioritizing RTS in the current CIP, while building consensus on how to move forward with this vital project. We must keep momentum moving forward for an RTS” said Tomao.
“The current timeline for RTS does not have service starting until the middle of the next decade, that is simply too long. The RTS needs to be branded and marketed correctly and put on a path toward completion. It is essential that the Council and County Executive work together and follow through on the points laid out in the Council letter” said Tomao.
The six-pronged approach includes the following:
- Marketing and branding
- Fund planning and preliminary engineering studies in the FY17-22 CIP
- Develop a real and viable financing plan
- Push MTA to develop a more rapid timeline and to work with partners
- Ensure that MTA does not “over engineer” RTS
- Continue to dedicate high level staff to effort
Additionally, Communities for Transit and the Coalition for Smarter Growth are supportive of ongoing efforts to create more cost effective plans for Phase 1 of Montgomery’s RTS Network: the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT), MD355, US29, and Veirs Mill Road. As some of the largest transit projects in the state, it is important that funds become available for Phase 1 of the RTS Network, and that cost-effective financing options are developed.
With companies like Marriott demanding transit accessibility, Montgomery County needs to prioritize transit and transit-oriented development utilizing Metrorail, the Purple Line, and RTS if the county wants to enhance its economic competitiveness. The RTS is predicted to provide $871 million in net fiscal revenue to Montgomery County over 25 years. Building this system is crucial to keeping Montgomery competitive with Northern Virginia.
“Not only is rapid transit a must for enticing and retaining businesses, it is a must for social mobility. Recent reports have shown that access to transit is the greatest indicator of one’s odds of escaping poverty. Shifting funds from roads to transit not only helps business, it connects residents to jobs, and supports upward economic mobility,” said Tomao. “By 2040, Montgomery County will have 20% more people, 40% more jobs, and 70% more congestion. As the Council letter makes clear, we need RTS and we need it now.”
Background: Every two years the Montgomery County Executive submits a plan for capital improvements. The improvement plan encompasses six fiscal years. It takes a vote of at least five council members to approve or modify a proposed improvement plan, and six votes to amend a previously approved capital program. The capital budget provides an important opportunity to shift funds from roads to transit.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.
About Communities for Transit
Communities for Transit (CFT) educates the public on the planned and unanimously-approved Rapid Transit System for Montgomery County, MD. CFT focuses on community outreach to build awareness of the compelling case for rapid transit as an effective response to our unsustainable traffic problems. Learn more at communitiesfortransit.org.