The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of using bus rapid transit on the planned Corridor Cities Transitway, a transit system on the I-270 corridor.
County Executive Ike Leggett has already expressed his support of a bus-based CCT.
The county's recommendation will go to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who will make his own recommendation before sending an official proposal to the Federal Transit Administration for funding.
The decision to back bus rapid transit, or BRT, reverses a 2009 decision to support light rail for the transit system. The change results in part from an analysis by consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff that found that a BRT-based system would be less expensive and take less time to build than a light rail system.
Buses are more flexible than light rail, in terms of route locations, and more easily built in stages, said Councilman Phil Andrews, D-Gaithersburg/Rockville.
By using BRT, the county also will be able to more easily integrate the CCT with a countywide BRT system, a possibility a county commission is studying, said Council President Roger Berliner, D-Bethesda. When that system is constructed, the county will be able to extend BRT to Clarksburg.
Councilwoman Nancy Floreen, D-at large, also urged the extension of the transit system to the county's border with Frederick County.
"We’ve got to provide other options for people to get out of their cars, and that’s what this does," said Councilman Criag Rice, D-Germantown.
Last week Rice expressed concerns that county residents won't want to use the new system if it means getting on a bus, rather than a train. This was a concern shared by CCT Coalition Chairwoman Marilyn Balcombe.
But others at that meeting and on Tuesday insisted that BRT vehicles will not look like other public buses.
"The public will have the same experience on the bus rapid transit as they would on a light rail because of the feel of the vehicle," Andrews said Tuesday.