Over 50 speakers packed the Planning Board auditorium in Silver Spring last night to offer comments on Montgomery County’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit network. During a hearing that lasted over 3 hours, residents debated the merits of the 10-route, 79-mile system envisioned by county planners.
A slight majority of speakers spoke in favor of the plan, saying BRT could give people a real alternative to driving and support projected population and employment growth. Many speakers highlighted the importance of transit in attracting new residents, particularly young adults who already flock to the county’s walkable, transit-accessible neighborhoods.
Skeptics of the plan had concerns about taking away space from cars on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase and Route 29 in Four Corners to give buses dedicated lanes, arguably BRT’s most important feature. These corridors already have the county’s highest transit ridership and are projected to carry the BRT network’s most-used routes.
The Planning Board will discuss the plan and potentially make changes to it during a series of worksessions over the next several weeks. After that, they’ll vote on whether to approve it. If it passes, the plan will then go to the County Council later this year for additional public hearings and worksessions and a final vote.
WTOP and BethesdaNow have additional coverage. Kelly Blynn of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, who live-tweeted the event with myself and Ted Van Houten from the Action Committee for Transit, compiled this summary of the hearing on Storify.