Montgomery County Executive Leggett has appointed the Transit Task Force and charged it with “making a comprehensive rapid transit system a reality in Montgomery County.” That is our goal.
To accomplish this objective, and so that members of the Task Force have a common base of information, the Task Force will need to understand the:(1) scope and quality of performance of existing transit facilities and services in the County; (2) current plans on the drawing board for public investment in the County for rapid transit by federal, state and local governments; (3) current and projected future availability of federal, state and local funding for the development and operation of rapid transit facilities and operations; (4) current interest of the developers of major real estate projects in the County, and of other private parties, in investing in the development and operation of rapid transit; (5) the County’s legal authority to create special infrastructure/transit taxing districts, either on a county-wide basis or for specific areas within the County; (6) information regarding the development and operation of mass transit systems in other jurisdictions; (7) results of the rapid transit feasibility study currently underway by the Montgomery County DOT; and (8) the alternatives relating to the management and ownership structure of the transit system to be proposed.
The approach of the Task Force will be to gather, analyze and discuss information, discuss the viable alternatives, discuss their sustainability, and then consider specific proposals to plan, finance, construct and operate such a system.
I. Basic Questions
The Task Force should discuss, at the outset, some basic questions noted below in this Part I. This will help the Task Force focus on the fundamental questions that we must consider and resolve. It should also be understood that at the appropriate points in the deliberations of the Task Force, we will return to these questions to confirm that our specific recommendations comport with our answers to these fundamental questions. (Also, our thinking on the kind of system we want will undoubtedly be influenced by things we learn and the views of our colleagues as we go through this process.)
What kind of a transit system do we want? What does a successful transit system look like? What does the definition of a “comprehensive” and “effective” system mean? Who does such a system serve? What objective measures do we have to describe what we are trying to achieve? For example, what are our ridership goals? What impact do we want to have on the reduction of personal vehicle traffic? What impact do we want to have on environmental health and safety? What impact do we want to have on the ability and timing of private parties to commence and complete residential and commercial real estate development? What impact do we want thetransit system to have on other economic development opportunities? What immediate, mid-term and long range impacts do we want the system to be developed to have?
II. Information Gathering
A. The County Executive has asked Assistant County Administrative Officer (“ACAO”) Tom Street to be his representative in supporting Task Force efforts, and to coordinate staff support and other assistance the Task Force may need to accomplish its mission. Mr. Street will work with Executive Branch departments, regional and state agencies, and private sector interests to provide the assistance the Task Force may need. In addition, if Task Force members have information that they believe is relevant to our work, they are asked to provide it to Mr. Street, who will circulate it to the Task Force.
B. In addition to the eight (8) categories of information described in the introductory section of this Work Plan, the appropriate staff will, to the extent available, also provide information to the Task Force regarding: (1) the performance of existing County mass transit facilities and services; and (2) the financial results of such operations. To the extent available, the Task Force should also receive copies of the reports of groups conducting studies similar to our own.
C. In furtherance of its on-going consideration of the Basic Questions outlined in Part I above, the Task Force will receive briefings on certain alternative means of implementing rapid transit, such as bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail, circulator bus services, and others. Included in this briefing will be information on existing BRT systems in other jurisdictions. The Task Force may conduct field visits to jurisdictions that have already developed BRT systems.
D. The Task Force will determine how to solicit the views of interested public and private sector groups and individuals on how an integrated rapid transit system should be developed. It will then solicit and receive such views.
III. Evaluating and Deliberating on Specific Alternatives and Specific Projects
A. What is the scope of a potential BRT system, the cost of development and operation of such a system, the alternative sequencing of a build-out of the system, and how such a system would be financed?
B. Generally, how can we integrate existing transit assets with new transit components being proposed? For example, if the Task Force determines that the characteristics of a rapid transit system are based on use of BRT on major roads in the County, and that neighborhoods, business locations and recreation areas need to be integrated with the arterial system, how can and should this best be achieved to maximize ridership and the other policy goals sought to be achieved? How do these questions impact the sequencing and timing of development?
C. How will the cost, sequencing and time to complete such a system impact the choice of the type of system to be developed?
D. Other considerations.
IV. Discussion of Specific Proposals and Drafting and Adoption of an Initial Report
A. The Task Force will discuss, consider and adopt specific proposals for how to implement a transit system for Montgomery County. These proposals will include the locations and routes of the system components; the approach to planning, financing, design, construction, opening and operation of the system.
B. The chair will appoint a drafting committee to prepare a draft of a report on the recommendations of the Task Force. The Task Force will consider the report of its committee and adopt a preliminary report which will be published for public review and comment.
C. The public will be invited to a public hearing to present views on the draft recommendations and report, or to submit written views.
D. Based on the public comments, the Task Force will meet and conduct final deliberations on its recommendations and report to the County Executive and adopt the final report and recommendations.
V. Monitor and Advise the County Executive on Implementation Issues
The Task Force, on as needed basis, will advise the County Executive on any implementation issues which may arise including, but not limited to: (A) the implementation priority for specific transit corridors; (B) the best funding and financing options; (C) the integration of transit plans with county master plans; (D) the identification of potential sites for support facilities; and (E) how the county system might best be integrated with those of adjacent jurisdictions, and regional and state systems.