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Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 11/21/2011

Montgomery County receives bus rapid transit grant

Montgomery County has received a $260,000 grant it plans to use in the planning of a bus rapid transit system that county officials say would provide the convenience, comfort and reliability of light rail.

A 20-member county transit task force is studying how to build and pay for a 150-mile network of dedicated bus lanes to reduce traffic congestion and improve mobility for riders.

The Rockefeller Foundation grant— part of an initiative to assist localities in the United States to plan and construct bus rapid transit systems—will be used to hire consultants to conduct studies and research other areas with such systems already in place, officials said.

“I’m excited to see the Rockefeller Foundation’s recognition of Montgomery County’s proposed rapid transit system’s potential as a model for the nation,” Montgomery County Council member Marc Elrich D-Ay Large), who serves on the task force, said in a statement. “It’s economically affordable, reduces congestion and helps to improve air quality.”

The county has not determined how it would pay for the express bus network in tight economic times. Building the system could cost $2.5 billion, according to one preliminary study. However, advocates say the per-mile cost is much less than constructing light rail or extending Metro.

By Luz Lazo  |  11:39 AM ET, 11/21/2011

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