Monday, May 07, 2012



The Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) proposal has so many flaws, and reasons to oppose it in its current form, it's hard to pick just one.

But for residents of downtown Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring, the biggest reason to stop BRT really stands out:  While those residents will arguably be forced to make the largest financial contribution to fund BRT, they will not be served by it!

It is a staggering reality.  Yet no journalist has reported it, or any of the other fatal flaws in the current BRT plan.

Condo owners in Bethesda could get a yearly BRT tax bill of $700 in older buildings, $1000 in average buildings, and well upwards of $1000 in premium buildings.

Silver Spring condo owners wouldn't be far behind those numbers.

Bethesda and Silver Spring renters won't escape, either.  Take the above numbers, multiply them by the number of units in your building, and then divide the total by the number of units.  That equation will give you a rough estimate of how much more you'll be paying in rent each year.

Sound good to you?

Here's the best part:  the vast majority of Bethesda and Silver Spring residents commute south into DC in the morning, and back home in the evening.  Since BRT routes end at the Bethesda Metro and Silver Spring Metro stations, residents of those downtowns will never ride them.

But they will be picking up a large part of the tab for BRT riders who live farther out.  Does that sound fair to you?

Many of the few advocates for BRT (the whole scheme is being driven through the legislative process by less than 20 people, in a county of nearly a million residents, residents who have yet to be able to comment on the plan even after 2 years of planning!) support policies that encourage people to live in DC or the inner suburbs.  How do they square that supposed belief with a BRT plan that penalizes those who do exactly that, by choosing to live in Bethesda or Silver Spring?

Not to mention that Bethesda and Silver Spring already have rapid transit (it's called Metro, and it's faster than BRT).

And, by the way, the latest BRT concept is demanding lanes be taken from cars on Wisconsin Avenue/355 and Georgia Avenue.  This would absolutely grind traffic to a halt for Bethesda and Silver Spring residents.  If approved, it would be an abdication of responsibility by the State Highway Administration.

If BRT supporters are so confident, why are they afraid to debate their proposal in the public arena?

Where is the journalistic skepticism among county news reporters, regarding the laughable, pie-in-the-sky claims of need and performance from BRT backers?

Will BRT run empty, or will it wastefully duplicate Red Line service, and steal passengers and money from already-underfunded - but faster - Metro?  It can't do both!

Montgomery County BRT is a spectacularly-bad proposal in its current form.  For residents of Bethesda and Silver Spring's downtown areas, it is a true horror story of new taxes and government waste.

I had to laugh when a commenter on Greater Greater Washington exhorted the county government to prepare an application for a federal TIGER grant. Montgomery County BRT violates the rules that govern government funding of transportation projects.  It is not eligible for federal funds, and that is why supporters have recommended a tax on you to pay for it!

Who's going to get the bill for a BRT political vanity project run wild?


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