FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2016
Pete Tomao, Coalition for Smarter Growth
Montgomery County – Earlier today, County Executive Ike Leggett released an update to his proposed transportation budget, adding funding to make near term improvements to bus service and continue Bus Rapid Transit studies.
“When the County Executive’s first proposal came out in January it didn’t have the funding needed to make important transit improvements, so we are very pleased to see the changes he and his staff have made,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “It’s not everything we had hoped for – it depends on state funding to complete the Route 355 BRT study and to add priority bus service on Veirs Mill Road for example, but the County Executive has certainly responded positively to our requests, and those of the Council, to keep moving forward on Bus Rapid Transit, while also providing near term improvements.”
“I’ve ridden just about every route in Montgomery and it’s clear to me that the demand for better transit in the county is strong and we need to be making these investments,” said Pete Tomao, Montgomery County Transit Organizer for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “Demand for transit crosses socio-economic boundaries, from new immigrants, to seniors, to millenials – including a young mother, Gretchen Goldman, whom I met during my outreach and regularly rides the bus with her young son, Thomas:
“One of the reasons my family and I chose to live here was for the county’s convenience to the city. We’re lucky to live along one of the county’s few express bus routes—the K9 on New Hampshire Ave. Thomas and I ride it regularly. For us, bus access is convenient and quick. It allows us to be a one car family, since we can quickly get to work and social activities in downtown DC or elsewhere in the county.
BRT is about access, it’s about freedom and it’s about equity. In Montgomery County, many do not ride the bus by choice, but by necessity. For them, BRT increases options and decreases burdens. It enhances quality of life and creates opportunities.
When I think about what I want for Thomas’ future, I have a new vision for Montgomery County. I want Thomas to live in a place where he has mobility and independence; where he doesn’t need a car to get around; and where he can have access to safe and affordable transportation options.”
The County Executive is proposing to the Council important investments along Route 355, US29, and Veirs Mill Road, the three primary corridors for the BRT, including:
- Route 355: Instituting a new Ride On Plus priority service from the Lakeforest Transit Center to Medical Center Metrorail and adding $5 million to the planning budget for the Route 355 BRT proposal. If the state government matches that, it could ensure enough funding for the next phase of the Route 355 planning process.
- US29: Adding $6.5 million to the planning budget for BRT along US29, with the goal of getting the route up and running within four years.
- Veirs Mill Road: Requesting that the state prioritize $1.8 million in annual funding for rush hour express bus service along Veirs Mill Road – the busiest bus route in Maryland. The proposed Veirs Mill BRT route already has enough funding to complete planning.
“Looking ahead, our group will continue to work for the funding necessary to build the BRT to the standard necessary to support rapid, efficient and frequent service – service that will attract new workers and new companies and improve access to jobs,” concluded Tomao.
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.