Funding Questions Loom for Montgomery County's BRT Plans

Even when a community has thrown its full support behind a transit project, questions of funding and operations can create controversy. The next few months will be worth watching for Montgomery County, Maryland's proposed BRT system.
February 19, 2015, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Kelly Blynn reports on an ongoing question about how to fund the operations of a proposed bus rapid transit line in Montgomery County.

"Montgomery County needs to find a funding stream in order to make its Bus Rapid Transit happen, and county executive Ike Leggett is exploring the possibilities. One of them is an independent transit authority, and while that may still work, the county needs to both vet it more thoroughly and weigh other options."

Leggett, however, already proposed an independent transit authority at the end of January, only to rescind that suggestion last week, "citing a need for a more in-depth community review," according to Blynn.

Reporting for the Washington Post, Bill Turque describes the response to the independent transit authority idea as "questions and withering criticism."

Blynn also describes the plan, approved in late 2013, as popular with Montgomery County residents. According to Blynn, "a survey of 400 residents in early 2014 found 71% of residents support BRT. They see BRT as a way to revitalize aging commercial corridors, make the area safer for people walking and on bikes, ease traffic congestion, and decrease air pollution."

Finally, Blynn states support for the idea of creating an independent transit authority with a dedicated funding stream: "Similar structures have worked well, primarily at regional scales, to provide laser-focus to build and finance new transit systems such as a streetcar in Pima County, AZ. Local funding and oversight for BRT may be more important than ever given the new Governor's expressed interest in cutting transit investment."

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Published on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 in Greater Greater Washington
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