Montgomery County Executive Leggett pulls ITA proposal from agenda

WASHINGTON — After a heated debate Friday night on a plan to create an Independent Transit Authority, Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett has pulled the proposal.

County Council President George Leventhal says Leggett pulled the ITA proposal from a Monday meeting with their Annapolis delegation.  It also means the ITA will most likely not move forward in Annapolis during the 2015 session.

“My preference is that we proceed in a more step-by-step manner.  The first and most urgent decision regarding transit is whether Governor Hogan will decide to proceed with the Purple Line,” says Leventhal.

“If the Purple Line proceeds, then we need to discuss how to pay for the Corridor Cities Transitway.  After that, then we can have a conversation about how bus rapid transit on 29 and 355 is paid for.  We were getting ahead of ourselves,” he adds.

A memo issued on Friday evening was critical of the ITA plans.

“The DOT establishes Ride On routes and schedules, works with WMATA and MDOT to develop Metrobus routes and schedules, proposes fares and proposes taxes.  Although the Council now makes the ultimate decisions on fares and taxes, it usually approves the Executive’s recommendations with, at most minor changes,” writes Deputy County Council administrator Glenn Orlin.

“With an ITA, the Executive’s only role would be to appoint the ITA’s five-member board of directors, subject to the Council’s confirmation,” he concludes.

Councilmember Roger Berliner agrees the proposal was not rolled out well.  He chairs the Transportation and the Environment Committee.

“It was a little early and procedurally rushed.  It was not an ideal way to start this conversation,” says Berliner. “I believe the County Executive would like more time to consider the feedback he has received.  We want to give him the opportunity to revise his thinking on this.”

The decision follows a heated debate on Friday night before state lawmakers in Rockville.

“We remain committed to expanding transportation options and job growth in the county,” says Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield.

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