FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2015
Pete Tomao, Coalition for Smarter Growth
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND — On the heels of a draft report on options for financing and building the Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, the Coalition for Smarter Growth urged the county’s elected officials to find a way to make it happen.
“The Transit Task Force makes a strong case for the importance of finding the best way to finance and build the bus rapid transit (BRT) network, which the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved in 2013,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “As the report makes clear, the county’s economic competitiveness and ability to deal with growth and traffic depends on investing in an expanded and modern transit network — one that we see as complementing other transit investments like Metro and the Purple Line.”
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett convened a Transit Task Force (TTF) earlier this year to evaluate whether an independent transit authority should be established to oversee design, construction and operation of the system, and the best approach or mix of approaches to fund the system. The Transit Task Force is holding a public hearing to solicit comments on the report this Wednesday evening, September 30.
“Montgomery County needs to build this system,” said Schwartz.
“New transit investments must be a top priority if the county is to handle population growth and maintain good access to jobs and services for county residents and workers.” By 2040 there will be 20% more residents and 40% more jobs in Montgomery County.
CSG’s Montgomery Transit Organizer, Pete Tomao, added, “Speaking with residents across the county, we are hearing strong support for improved transit. The next generation workforce in particular wants better options than just sitting behind the wheel of a car in endless traffic.”
To finance and operate this new system the Task Force recommends the creation of an Independent Transit Authority (ITA), which supporters say could help build the BRT system quickly and efficiently. An ITA can be singularly focused on large scale transit projects, ensuring that a BRT system has a dedicated funding source and is implemented properly. Schwartz said the proposal is a great starting point and that county leaders should look closely at the proposal as they consider how to move forward.
“We understand that the county has a lot on its plate right now, but we need to be making investments for our future. We need an effective means to fund and build modern transit. The county Council should seriously consider the ITA as a vehicle for overseeing design, construction, and operations, and evaluate the dedicated funding approaches identified by the Task Force, ensuring that the costs are fairly shared between business, residents, and transit riders,” said Schwartz.
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 and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net