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O'Malley And Ehrlich Differ On Purple Line

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Maryland governor Martin O'Malley speaks with riders at the New Carrollton metro station, which is one of the end points for the proposed Purple Line.
Matthew Bush
Maryland governor Martin O'Malley speaks with riders at the New Carrollton metro station, which is one of the end points for the proposed Purple Line.

By Matt Bush

In Maryland, the Montgomery County council is expected next week to approve a station alignment plan for the proposed Purple Line, to Prince George's County. But some argue the plan may end up being meaningless.

Nearly a year ago, governor Martin O'Malley and several other state politicians announced Maryland would seek federal funding to build the Purple Line as a light rail system. With O'Malley seeking re-election this year, he's sticking by that plan.

But his likely opponent, former Republican governor Bob Ehrlich, says federal money for light rail does not exist. Ehrlich wants to instead build a rapid bus line as a substitute if he's elected, saying it costs about a third of what the current Purple Line plan does. O'Malley says busses won't save that much money.

"If you look at the operations long-term, there really aren't cost advantages of going with the bus, rather than the light rail. There's some additional capital costs up front, but the longer term operating costs on the back end is what makes bus rapid transit not the preferred option for this particular route," says O'Malley.

Right now the federal government is evaluating the light rail plan.

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