With no facts or hard data to support the need or justification for a Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit system, it's no surprise that developer-backed proponents have to resort to fantastical predictions and deceptive tactics, if they hope to ram this "billions and billions" BRT boondoggle through.
On Wednesday, I was interviewed by WUSA9 reporter Debra Alfarone for her follow-up story on BRT. When I arrived, Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth - a prominent advocate of BRT - had just finished his interview. He then told her that opponents had made a false claim regarding the $10 billion cost of the original BRT proposal. Schwartz stated that no one had ever given that figure.
Having written extensively about the BRT proposal, I interjected that Schwartz's claim was incorrect. In fact, it was Montgomery County Master Planner Larry Cole himself who made that *official* $10 billion projection in early 2013.
Furthermore, it was Cole's projection that led the county to reduce the size of the system by 50%, the smaller proposal now on the table, I pointed out.
Schwartz responded that he himself had never heard that figure.
Is that believable?
The Stewart Schwartz, guru of transit, "smart" growth, and BRT didn't review the basic documents the county itself released on the BRT system he is the expert on?
Stewart Schwartz, the development-friendly spokesperson quoted as an authority by local media almost daily, didn't know the budget projection given by an official government office?
OK, let's say he somehow missed all that. Did he also miss the many articles that cited Cole's $10 billion projection?
The $10 billion BRT cost was not only in a banner headline on my blog, but in the bigtime corporate media, as well.
"Nobody ever said $10 billion."
You be the judge.
But you can discern the pattern of deceptive tactics here. Once again, we're hearing BRT proponents claim that 200,000 new residents are coming to Montgomery County.
And, as always, that is complete bunk. 200,000 people can only come here if the Planning Board and County Council approve 200,000 new housing units. One would assume they would ensure our incomplete highway system was finished before allowing an influx of that size. 85% of these newcomers will drive, and our roads are already over capacity.
So, for Schwartz's claim that a $10 billion price tag was never cited for Montgomery County BRT, I have to award "4 Pinnochios" or the "Pants on Fire" rating found on those fact checking websites. Verify it yourself.
Just the facts, Ma'am.