The Washington Post PR campaign on behalf of the Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle continued in yesterday's Metro section.
To his credit, columnist Robert McCartney was critical of many aspects of the proposed 98-mile BRT system. He sums up his current position on the initiative as "abundant skepticism."
Still, there were some inaccurate statements presented, and the repetition of these falsehoods is obviously designed to make an impression on readers. So let's provide the facts once again.
McCartney quoted some of his own laudatory, pro-BRT language from 18 months ago, when he cheered the Emperor's New Bus as an "original, bold, visionary plan to solve gridlock in Montgomery County."
Okay. Even the 160-mile version of BRT that he was referring to was never going to solve gridlock. In fact, it was going to make it worse. Roads like Rockville Pike are already operating over capacity. The county itself is telling us roads will be an additional 70% over capacity in the future. But taking away car lanes for BRT would reduce the capacity of Rockville Pike by 33%, making gridlock 103% worse than it is today. So much for "solving gridlock."
McCartney continued by repeating the familiar falsehood we've heard so often in the last few weeks:
"BRT...has one big argument in its favor: It's the only way in the foreseeable future to add ways for people to get around much of Montgomery."
Survey says...! BRRRRRRNNNNTTTT!!!
Readers of this blog already have a greater foreseeableness than Mr. McCartney, because you know that we can also choose to build the Rockville Freeway, a new Potomac River crossing, M-83 Midcounty Highway Extended, and Northern Parkway. Those long-planned but never-built roads would reduce congestion on Rockville Pike, Georgia Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, Randolph Road, I-270, I-495, and Route 29, just to name a few. And every single one of those projects would cost less than BRT individually. The Rockville Freeway, for example, would carry more commuters per day than the entire BRT system - for far less money!
When you read Ike Leggett say "I don't think commuters are going to have much of an option other than to consider some form of BRT to obtain traffic relief," you now know that is simply not true.
In fact, when I brought up the Rockville Freeway at a town hall meeting, the county executive agreed that it was a needed road, and would provide "connectivity" required by existing and planned development in Montgomery and Howard counties. His concern was that there would be no money to pay for it. Fortunately, the funding options for the highways I mentioned are vastly greater than those for BRT, a bus system that can ultimately be funded only by you, the taxpayer. That's because an inefficient system of riderless buses qualifies for zero federal funds. The federal government has a stringent emphasis on how many people your project is going to move. Bang for the buck, you might say. And these unbuilt freeways each beat BRT's people-moving capability hands-down.
Now that's a "bold plan."