Tag Independent Transit Authority

A revised Independent Transit Authority?

BRT

County Executive Ike Leggett has revived the group that first laid out how a countywide bus rapid transit system might work to examine his controversial proposal for an Independent Transit Authority.

In a letter to Transit Task Force Chair Mark Winston, the County Executive wrote:

As you know, last December I proposed enactment by the General Assembly of legislation (MC-24-15) that would have enabled Montgomery County to establish a transit authority, and accomplish other purposes.  That proposal became controversial and, since it was obvious that it would not be enacted in the 2015 Session of the General Assembly, I asked that it be withdrawn.  However, while I have been open to other proposals that might be made that would allow the County to pursue its goal of having a comprehensive transit system at the earliest practicable time, I continue to believe that my proposal for a transit authority is the best approach.

I ask that the Task Force study the legislation that I proposed, develop procedures for soliciting community and commercial input to its deliberations, offer its comments, and provide advice and recommendations on how it may be improved.

Winston said the Task Force, composed of county government leaders, regional transportation officials, transit advocates, chamber officials and several community representatives, hopes to finalize its recommendations by Sept. 30.

The Task Force meets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6 at the Executive Office Building in Rockville, The meeting is open to the public.

 

Leggett Withdraws Proposal for Independent Transit Authority

Unfortunately, we learned that County Executive Isiah Leggett withdrew the proposal for an independent transit authority for Montgomery County on Saturday. The independent transit agency would finance and operate the Bus Rapid Transit network planned for the county. The authority would be funded by a new transit tax that would not be counted against the charter cap limiting the amount of revenue the county can collect.

The County Council was expected to vote on the proposal today but Leggett asked that the proposal be removed. He has not determined if the the bill will be amended or not be put forth at all. The bill did not have a good reception by many council members and the public. Many were concerned with ceding control and were upset that they received little notice of the proposal before it was put forth to the state on January 23rd.

 

Tonight’s Hearing on the Independent Transit Authority

I thought I’d share with you our testimony that we will give tonight to the Montgomery County State Delegation concerning the Independent Transit Authority.  If you want to send your own comments, you can do so easily through the Coalition for Smarter Growth by clicking here.  They have also created an informative fact sheet about the Independent Transit Authority that you may find helpful.

Below is our testimony:

My name is Amy Ginsburg, and I am Executive Director of the Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization with more than 1,100 supporters, including residents, businesses, homeowners associations, and property owners.  Our only mission is to ensure the full implementation of the White Flint Sector Plan so that the promise of a walkable, transit-oriented, smart-growth community is achieved in the Pike District.

We support the legislation that enables the formation of an Independent Transit Authority that in turn will create and operate a Rapid Transit System along Route 355 and elsewhere in the County.  RTS is critical to improving the quality of life for a growing population and to attracting businesses and retailers to the Pike District. Building a Rapid Transit System is a crucial step in creating a vibrant, prosperous community in the White Flint area.

Just like bread needs a baker, an RTS needs an organization whose focus is transit. The Independent Transit Authority is an innovative way to provide that dedicated concentration to public transit. Essentially, it provides Montgomery County with the ability to efficiently and quickly create the kind of walkable, transit-friendly community so important to our future sustainability. The Independent Transit Authority will result in a faster design and build out of the indispensable RTS along Route 355.

Without a government body providing a singular focus to transit, there will likely be long delays in creating the Rapid Transit System in the County, including along Route 355, delays that will be detrimental to the successful transformation of the Pike District. Therefore the Friends of White Flint is strongly in favor of this legislation to create an Independent Transit Authority.

From all of us at Friends of White Flint, thank you for your continued support of the White Flint Sector Plan.

Yes, let’s support the Independent Transit Authority

Over the past few days, you may have read about the proposed Independent Transit Authority. Essentially, Montgomery County state legislators introduced a bill that would enable the County Council to set up an Independent Transit Authority which would plan, develop, and operate the Ride-On bus system and the planned Rapid Transit System network, coordinate with WMATA and the Maryland Transit Authority, and operate the County’s four parking lot districts.  The bill was introduced this past Friday and this Friday, there is a hearing at which Friends of White Flint will testify.

The board of directors of Friends of White Flint discussed this proposal in-depth last night and voted unanimously to support this bill creating an Independent Transit Authority.

Is it a perfect bill? Nope.

Does the cliché ‘the devil is in the details’ ring true? Yes, just like it does in any new venture, especially when it comes to funding and governing structure. Fortunately there will be many opportunities to hash out these details.

Is a Rapid Transit System/Bus Rapid Transit essential to the full implementation of the White Flint Sector Plan? Absolutely yes.

Will there be a BRT in the near future without an agency to design and manage it? Probably not.

For that reason, we believe that creating an Independent Transit Authority is an innovative, pragmatic solution to developing the transit Montgomery County requires to meet the needs of its growing population, attract business, and provide its residents with a better quality of life. This is important throughout the County, but it is especially critical in the part of MoCo we’re most fond of, the Pike District.

You can learn more about the Independent Transit Authority at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/transit-authority/factsheet.html.