The following written testimony was submitted to the county's Transit Task Force, which held a public hearing on Thursday in Rockville:
In my opinion and in all deference to your hard work and diligence the
Montgomery County (MC) Bus plan is the most unconscionable, ignorant and
dishonest brainless public transportation proposal ever conceived.
Except for the bus lobby and MC officials, by any transit definition buses
are NOT rapid transit nor are they rapid transit vehicles. You can call an
Egg McMuffin steak, but its still what it is.
Thus, the MC leadership is attempting to masquerade the lowly bus; no
matter its shape, style or color, as rapid transit. That is as far from
the transportation truth as one can get. It is pure fiction and an outright
lie. You can call it abc or xyz, but a bus is a bus is a bus ... If you
believe in the Tooth Fairy you can believe that buses are rapid transit.
Only an ignorant and dishonest leadership would make such statements and
try to convince MC residents that buses represent rapid transit and the gold
standard of public transportation.
Rapid transit are the likes of DC Metrorail, NYC subways, San Francisco
BART, Chicago El and subways, Atlanta MARTA, London's Tubes, Moscow
MC has an extreme and deliberate anti-rail attitude, especially light rail
(LRT) that most other cities want, plan and have built while MC has
twiddled its thumbs for generations. Places like Norfolk, Baltimore,
Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Denver, Portland,
San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego and many more have built and extended their
LRT systems while MC has slept. Apparently those places could find the
funding and methods to build and extend their LRT systems while MC could
The glacial pace of the Purple Line LRT, that is only half in MC, is the
only LRT plan now for MC. But, even that has found resistance in MC by
large numbers of ignorant politicians and residents, more interested in a
$50 million 12 foot wide hiker biker path in Bethesda and tree canopy then
MC has spent the better part of a million dollars on bus studies and
virtually zero on LRT. MC and the State of Maryland deny residents the
benefits of very excellent surface LRT while lying and insisting buses are
just like LRT. The truth and facts are very different. The bus lobby and
Rockefeller Foundation (BIG OIL) are so enthusiastic about the bus plan
they provide large grants for bus only studies. Wonder why?
MC contracts with transportation consultants to do bus only studies. MC
creates a Transit Task Force to principally study a mega bus system while
ignoring LRT and all the real benefits that accrue to LRT. The Task Force
website deliberately omits the word BUS from its title and scope of study.
Why? They don't want the public to know they only study buses and not
rail? How stupid do the county officials think the MC residents to be?
With all due respect to the chosen (how so?) task force in my opinion they
are not equipped to evaluate public transportation needs and solutions,
especially when given only the lopsided task of studying a bus system and
not an equivalent study of LRT. At best, a seriously flawed study and at
worst simply appalling and ludicrous.
While the MC Council tries to cope with the ill effects of a single planned
gas station in Wheaton due to car idling exhaust, it simply ignores the
effects of thousands of tons of additional greenhouse exhaust gases from a
mega bus system spread county wide. A mega bus system that encompasses
twice the length of the Washington Beltway. MC, one of the wealthiest
counties in the world, cries poverty when it comes to constructing a 15
mile LRT for the Corridor Cities Transitway but finds 160 miles of separate
lanes for buses and all that goes with it perfectly affordable.
MC and the State can easily afford an 8 lane mega highway (MD 200) and
build it in the worst economic climate between 2007-2011 but can only delay
and delay any rail while co-operating with the state for a mega bus plan
and eliminate additional rail in one of the most congested corridors in the
entire state. In a word - Criminal.
While multitudes of more buses will continually burn noxious fuel they
will all produce seriously damaging green house gases causing ill effects
within the county harmful to the environment and residents alike.
On the other hand light rail vehicles use electricity derived power from
many renewable clean sources. LRT vehicles DO NOT emit deadly exhaust. LRT
vehicles do not consume significant electrical energy while not moving to
load / unload passengers or waiting for other traffic, or coasting. With
regenerative braking LRT vehicles actually feeds power back into the
system. Buses do NONE of that. LRT vehicles do not require massive
refueling trucks and stations that buses need.
LRT vehicles provide smooth quiet comfortable riding and are significantly
more appealing than any bouncing bus. LRT vehicles have great longevity -
up to 50 or more years while buses generally range 10-15 years. LRT
vehicles operationally cost half per passenger mile than do buses - see FTA
While MC sat on its rear end many new LRT systems have been built in
Europe, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Asia, etc. All of the cities in
countries within those continents and other US cities must know something
MC has little knowledge of or interest. They aren't stupid and have figured
out that LRT is a much better transportation and economic return on
investment than any 3rd world bus system. And the few places that do
install the so-called BRT (oxymoron) system is only a few miles in length,
not a colossal 160 miles.
MC officials will travel great distances to visit one of those short bus
systems but have, along with the bus TTF, virtually avoided visiting any
LRT system or conferring with transit officials who know and have
significant experience with LRT.
LRT can operate over grassy beautifully maintained separate right of ways
with trees, shrubs and flowers. LRT can be 100% low floor meaning boarding
is at curb level and they do not need high platforms. LRT vehicle capacity
is easily 200 passengers or more. LRT can navigate steep grades and narrow
streets. LRT is 100% street compatible with other vehicles and especially
bikers. LRT vehicles generally have many doors on both sides of the vehicle
allowing variations in station configurations. LRT vehicles can be
operated from either end of the vehicle or coupled train. Buses have doors
only on one side and are single ended. The lower capacity of buses
requires more vehicles and requires more labor cost to operate them.
In summary, MC has treated LRT like the enemy and opened its arms to
noxious, slow, heavy, pavement crushing buses. In truth, just the opposite
should be the case with LRT being embraced with open arms. But MC officials
will keep on spewing out their cockamamie nonsense about the bus
plan, but they don't have a clue about all the benefits of LRT that are
superior to any bus network. They will contract with consultants to study
only buses and ignore LRT, such as the half million dollar Parsons
Brinkerhoff contract. The bus plan is, if anything, fools gold and nothing
more. It is a disgraceful and obscene display of local politics.
MC officials should be ashamed of themselves for being so outrageously
one-sided and selecting the worst possible transportation plan. It's also
too bad that most county residents are truly ignorant of the serious
benefits of LRT and will follow the official propaganda thinking buses are
so grand when they clearly are not.
Over time due to political pressure and added auto congestion bus lanes are
easily converted to allow normal auto traffic use such as Shirley Highway
in Virginia thus destroying the bus only concept travel lane. LRT does not
have that problem and attracts motorists out of their cars while buses do
Lastly, did you ride the bus to work today? Have you traveled on alight
rail? What real life experience do you bring to suggest the real gold
standard is LRT and not the dismal distasteful bus. Most everything about
LRT is far superior to any bus or bus network. Shame on MC for being the
transit laggard and stooping to the lowest level of transit planning while
continually building, widening, repaving and photo enforcing roads all
over. No problem with roads, only rail transit. More roads are not a very
good transportation solution. Build more for automobiles and guess what -
you get more automotive congestion. That is plain as day but MC only builds
roads and no rail.
Much more information can be found about LRT on the internet, including
photos, videos, statistics and more.