To the Editor:
The following letter from County Executive Ike Leggett is in response to residents’ concerns about public transit service to Tobytown and the surrounding community.
As many of you know, I included funding for new transit service to Tobytown in my current Fiscal Year (FY) 16 operating budget. I worked with our Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to develop options to serve Tobytown. There are several challenges in serving this community because of the size of the roads leading into the community and a constricted turnaround for busses. MCDOT worked for several months to develop a solution.
In late spring this year, shortly after MCDOT had developed a workable route, it became clear that the county was facing a significant budget shortfall not only in the current operating budget, but also as much as a $150 million shortfall for the upcoming two fiscal years — a result of a recent Supreme Court decision and reduced income tax revenue estimates. It was also clear to me that this shortfall required an immediate savings plan that would involve difficult decisions in terms of what projects would advance or be placed on hold.
Working with Council, I immediately undertook an effort to identify savings. Our focus was on programs or services that had either not yet been implemented — like the new transit service to Tobytown — or budget items that were an expansion of existing services. In addition to these difficult cuts, we were forced to make deep cuts in existing programs and services. In July, the Council adopted a $54 million savings plan for the existing fiscal year that resulted eliminating or scaling back many worthy and much-needed services to all residents of our County.
Please be assured that I am working closely with MCDOT to identify a way to provide efficient yet affordable transit service for the Tobytown community in the near future. Public transportation is the cornerstone to linking individuals to jobs, schools, healthcare as well as promoting independence in our daily activities, Thank you again for your support of public transportation and for your understanding.