Monday, June 04, 2012


The less than 20 Montgomery County officials ramming through a $2 billion boondoggle known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) are desperately trying to recover from last week's devastating critique by their own master planner, Larry Cole.

Enter Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney.  In yesterday's Metro section, McCartney gave getting the BRT narrative back on track the old college try.

Suffice it to say, McCartney really, really likes the Emperor's new clothes.  And he needs to educate the masses, who just aren't smart enough to get these things.

How biased is McCartney's piece?  Check out this word cloud of McCartney's descriptions of the BRT plan:

ambitious, big idea, jazzy (!!), 
rare merit,
 bold, innovative, 
make a difference on a large scale, 
visionary, worthy

Wow.  OK.  Whatever happened to the phrase, "critical thinking" or "journalistic skepticism?"

McCartney had bought in to a plan that is nothing more than pie in the sky, by and by.  He doesn't need supporting data.  And gosh, that's good, because the county council and transit task force sure ain't providing any!

Now let's just take McCartney's piece apart, fiction by fiction:

He tries to float a general theme that there are no beneficial transportation projects that could be built - until these super geniuses, and all-around swell folks, invented BRT.

"Everybody talks about Washington traffic, but nobody does anything about it.  Despite having the region's second-longest commuting time, Montgomery has no big-ticket transportation project underway."

This is complete hogwash.

The county council and planners have been well aware for decades of our unbuilt master plan highways.  They have stalled construction of Midcounty Highway Extended [M-83], and the Outer Beltway for decades.  And they cancelled the Rockville Freeway, Northwest Freeway, North Central Freeway and Northern Parkway - just to name a few.

In 2010, Councilmember George Leventhal said, "the Rockville Freeway is dead, the M-83 will not be built in my lifetime."

Mr. McCartney, Leventhal referred by name to just 2 of many "big-ticket transportation projects" that would "make a difference on a large scale."

He, and other councilmembers, have failed to execute the known solutions to gridlock.

So, to say BRT is "all we got," is not fooling anyone.

Second, McCartney boasts that BRT "would actually relieve some of the region's chronic congestion."

Again, patently false.  In fact, by taking away existing traffic lanes, and reprogramming traffic signals, BRT will actually worsen congestion.

What will make the 85% who drive take BRT, Mr. McCartney?

His column didn't answer.  It's not speed, because it takes BRT 50 minutes to go 15 miles.  It's not convenience, because 95% of residents don't live on the major highways where BRT will run.

Pray tell, Mr. McCartney, what does make a person voluntarily agree to double their commuting time, by trading car for BRT?  Making it mandatory, like China?

Tell us, because the BRT folks so far cannot.

McCartney's suggestion that Montgomery is falling behind Fairfax County because it doesn't have BRT is ludicrous.   Have you checked the number of jobs created in both counties over the last 10 years, or 6 months?  The numbers are staggering, and an indictment of the council's failure to do anything but spend money.

Worst of all, McCartney lowballs the tax you'll be charged, which for Bethesda residents will be $1000 or more per year for single family homes, and upscale condos.

Don't "applaud the county" just yet, Mr. McCartney.  Failed policies and outlandish spending and taxes are their specialty.  BRT is just the latest scheme.

Do your homework, and get back to your readers with fact-based, skeptical, critical thoughts on BRT, a political vanity project run wild.

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