Friday, July 18?Arlington County Board members John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey welcomed the new rapid transit bus service to Crystal City in a ground-breaking ceremony today.

?This is a great example of smart spending to help solve our transportation issues,? Vihstadt said.

Added Garvey: ?Even the county?s own press release on the new Crystal City Transitway says it will ease congestion and support both redevelopment and high-density growth. This is exactly what we have been saying BRT (bus rapid transit) can do and this is why we don?t need an expensive streetcar. We appreciate the validation of BRT and look forward to watching how it performs.?

Vihstadt emphasized that a rapid transit bus service can be implemented faster and at a fraction of the cost of streetcars.

Both Vihstadt and Garvey have consistently opposed county plans to install $560 million worth of streetcars along 7.4 miles of Columbia Pike and Crystal City.

On Thursday during a County Board work session, Vihstadt and Garvey moved to delay all spending on the streetcar plan for two years until an independent study of the rapid transit bus service is completed. The motion was defeated by a 3-2 vote.

?We now have our very own test model right here in Crystal City,? Garvey said. ?Let’s use it. Why on earth would we rush ahead with a streetcar at $75 million a mile when we have a reliable solution at a much lower cost right here??

The bus service will have eight stops between 15th Street South to the north and Potomac Avenue to the south, including a stop at the Crystal City Metro. The service is slated to open in August.

Construction costs, according to the county web site, are $10.5 million with total project costs pegged at $21.3 million. Federal, state and local money is funding the project. Local money is from a transportation tax on commercial property.

For more information, contact Eric Brescia or Joe Junod at 703-237-6734.