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BRT Not Wanted in Montgomery County

An open letter to Gov. O'Malley: County citizens want light rail, not fuel dependent low capacity noxious buses.

cc: Montgomery Community

May 12, 2012

Governor Martin O'Malley
110 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Re: Your Dreadful Bus Rapid Transit Decision

Your  (CCT) in Montgomery County is no doubt the worst transportation decision you have made since taking office as Governor of Maryland.

When you first came into office one of the first decisions you made was to continue construction of MD 200 highway despite many objections. That road was built in record breaking time between 2007 and 2011 during our worst recession cutting a wide swath of right of way through Montgomery County. Other major roads were also built during that time.

It took you several years to make the wise decision for LRT for the Purple Line. The decision was very slow in coming but you finally did the right thing.

Meanwhile a modal decision for the CCT languished while you did nothing about a timely decision. Although Montgomery County leadership and citizens preferred LRT they became so disgusted with a non decision and super delayed construction schedule, they eventually decided to go with the state vaunted BRT for the CCT. Maybe politically a good strategy to get Montgomery County to switch to BRT but a despicable course of action for good transportation for the county and state.

Now you can blame the county for wanting BRT and in keeping with that political decision you followed suit. Not your fault, not your strategy?

You think BRT will be useful 10, 25, 75 or 100 years from now? You should know better. You made all the right comments about LRT for the Purple and Red lines. But now, all of a sudden LRT is unaffordable and takes too long to build for the CCT, especially in one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the state.

Convince me that a wide super eight lane divided highway can be built so quickly while a simple two-track LRT takes eons to plan and build. Meanwhile, all over the U.S. and world LRT is getting built, even in Washington, DC. It's LRT the public wants, not junk BRT.

Montgomery County is going nuts about BRT with its plans for a 160-mile BRT network. They are thirsty for diesel bus exhaust everywhere. You want Maryland to be transformational with energy use and clean environment—Montgomery claims to be a green county. How do you propose to achieve that with more and more buses polluting the environment?

You have little control over the price of noxious fuel. Not only do buses consume tons of it but also the delivery trucks bringing it to the depots. Buses require fuel on an endless basis no matter the efficiency—forever.

Buses have much less capacity than modern LRT that you boasted about for the Purple Line. "This is not your grandfather's LRT"—remember? LRT trains can be coupled together as needed and controlled with a single operator. Each bus requires an operator and more buses needed to match the capacity of LRT. That's greater bus frequency and fuel consumption forever. Over the long run LRT is by far more efficient than any bus and certainly more attractive to riders. LRT enhances the county, buses do not. Montgomery County has too many buses now. Rail is what is needed—not more buses.

If true BRT is built with separate lanes, etc. how is that so much cheaper than LRT which can also be built in many places with only ballast, ties and rail. You can't possibly justify the long construction schedule of LRT while roads get priority and built quickly. Apparently, you want to send more money abroad to buy foreign oil. The new patriotism? That money can be used to construct clean, smart LRT.

BRT is a loss in every conceivable way. Buses will wear out in 10 to 15 years and need replacing. LRT cars can last 50 years and more. BRT roadways will need heavy repairs frequently due to heavy bus usage.

Your BRT decision for the CCT is totally unwarranted from a practical and transportation need. Maybe a smart political decision but lousy from every other perspective for the community.

You have now made me and many others feel ashamed of your considerable anti-rail decision when you could have made it years ago for LRT. Shame on you for giving Montgomery County a worthless, needless and expensive transit monster.

As with LRT, BRT could be all electric powered by clean renewables. Bet nobody thought of that. Thanks to you we can all breathe more noxious pollution from buses. Your legacy for generations to come. You will make us green, OK, but from breathing in more O'Malley bus pollution.

It's time to reverse course or you will be the next Titanic captain.

Moving ahead … in the wrong direction. 

BRT = Build Rail Transit

George Barsky

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donna Baron (Scale-it-back.com) June 14, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Interesting post but have you noticed the route for the CCT? It twists and turns in order to stop at every development along the way so the developers can get their highest amount of allowable density. Light rail can't make all those twists and turns. Johns Hopkins wants the CCT to run the full length of Belward Farm. Muddy Branch Road will be widened to six-lanes to accommodate the additional cars. When the CCT reaches Muddy Branch it will have to cross two buffers, two sidewalks, six lanes, a median, two entrances to neighborhoods and then make a left turn at Great Seneca Highway, one of the most congested intersections in Montgomery County. If the CCT is light rail the neighborhoods would likely have railroad-style gates across their entrances and the train would have a bell or horn to signal the crossing and turn...every three to six minutes. What a nightmare. The CCT is like a camel which has been described as a horse designed by a committee. The primary objective of the CCT is to serve as the trigger for massive amounts of commercial density on Belward Farm and the Science City. Transit is not a bad thing, as we all know, but it cannot be used as an excuse to add tens of thousands of additional people...perhaps up to 40,000 in the Science City alone. Especially when the roads are already full and the CCT will carry only a fraction of the newcomers.

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