BRT Debuts on Route 29

It’s not the headline I wish I was writing (BRT Opens on Route 355) but it does count as progress and is something to celebrate: Route 29 Bus Rpaid Transit (BRT) began operating last week. Known as FLASH, Montgomery County’s first BRT line is now transporting folks up and down Route 29.

A successful Route 29 BRT will make it easier and more likely for us to one day cheer the start of BRT service on Rockville Pike. While we had advocated for separated bus lanes the entire length of Route 29, the opening of this BRT line is a milestone that we are taking a moment to appreciate.

There’s been lots of news coverage, which I’ve listed below.

DCist: A New Type Of Bus Service Is Launching In Montgomery County This Week

Greater Greater Washington: Breakfast links: Bus Rapid Transit starts today along Route 29 in Montgomery County

Washington Post: The D.C. region’s most ambitious try at bus rapid transit is coming to Montgomery County

WTOP News: FLASH bus route to provide service in Montgomery County’s Route 29 corridor

Maryland Matters: Maryland’s First Bus Rapid Transit Service Opens

MCDOT seeking input on “project design, procurement, and financing” for BRT

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has released a Request for Information (RFI) to gather knowledge in best practices, emerging technologies and innovative opportunities for implementing a cost-effective Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service along MD 355 from Bethesda to Clarksburg.

FLASH, the BRT system in development in Montgomery County, will greatly increase high-quality transit service to the County’s most densely developed corridors and areas of planned growth. With the first corridor currently under construction on US 29 between Silver Spring and Burtonsville, seven additional corridors totaling over 100 miles have been identified for BRT in the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan.

An Alternatives Study for the MD 355 BRT project was recently completed. MCDOT is leading the effort to better understand the opportunities associated with implementing a BRT system and would like to explore methods of project design, procurement, and financing. The Department is seeking input from firms with experience in innovative project delivery, including private financial participation, novel design, construction, and operating strategies for BRT. MCDOT would also like to gauge interest from industry on the market availability of these services. The considerations and questions included in the RFI cover a broad range of topics to maximize MCDOT’s understanding of the existing and emerging technology of state-of-the-art BRT systems, and approaches to implementing, operating, maintaining, and financing the system. Firms considering replying need not respond to all subjects included in the RFI.

More information on the MD 355 BRT Planning Study can be found at:  https://www.ridetheflash.com/md355/.

The Planning Dept. Staff’s Take on Route 355 BRT

The Planning Department staff has submitted their thoughts on Bus Rapid Transit on Route 355. Below are the highlights. (If you need to get caught up with what’s going on with BRT on Route 355, read our blog on the topic.)

1. Advance Alternative B, Median Transitway, as the preferred alternative and seek to increase the use of two-lane median transitways, especially south of Shady Grove Metrorail Station.

2. Construct the MD 355 BRT project in two phases: a. Phase 1: Clarksburg Outlets to Rockville Metrorail Station, including the spur to Germantown. b. Phase 2: Rockville Metrorail Station to Downtown Bethesda.

3. Advance preliminary engineering for both the Veirs Mill Road BRT project and the MD 355 BRT project concurrently. Prioritize construction of the entire Veirs Mill Road BRT project and Phase 1 of the MD 355 BRT project.

4. Proceed with the Snowden Farm Parkway alignment in Segment 7.

5. Concur with the recommended station location and phasing.

6. Conduct additional traffic evaluation and mitigation to determine whether it is feasible to convert general purpose traffic lanes to transit only lanes to reduce the cost and impacts of the project without creating excessive traffic delay.

7. Develop and implement interim improvements to Rockville Pike in White Flint to spur redevelopment and property dedication.

Here are more sections of the staff report that directly affect the White Flint/Pike District area:

Due to the high cost of right-of-way acquisition in Segment 2 (White Flint and Twinbrook), staff believes it would be unwise to implement BRT in this area until additional property dedication occurs. Understanding that current market conditions make redevelopment (and therefore property dedication) unlikely without transforming MD 355 from an auto-centric highway to a multimodal boulevard, staff recommends developing an innovative and exciting program of improvements to spur redevelopment by improving multimodal connections and implementing placemaking activities that create a buzz for Rockville Pike, including: White Flint Circulator Bus, Streetscape Enhancements, Off-Peak Parking, Additional Protected Pedestrian Crossings, Sidewalk Improvements along MD 355, Bikeway Improvements on Side Streets.

The cost of right-of-way acquisition in Segment 2 (White Flint and Twinbrook) is estimated to be about $184 million for Alternative B and Alternative B Modified and $99 million for Alternative C, or over 20 percent of the total cost of each alternative. This presents Montgomery County with a dilemma. Due to these high costs, there is an incentive for Montgomery County to delay implementation of BRT in Segment 2 in the hope that redevelopment and the resulting right-of-way dedication will reduce the cost and impacts of property acquisition. However, due to current market conditions, property owns have indicated that they are unlikely to move forward with redevelopment until MD 355 is transformed from the unenticing auto-centric highway that it is today into an appealing multimodal boulevard as envisioned in the White Flint Sector Plan.

Friends of White Flint will provide testimony at the Planning Board hearing Thursday night at 6:15 that argues for constructing the White Flint section first since it has the highest projected ridership and is such a vital component of the implementation of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan. While we agree that making the Rockville Pike area and side streets prettier, more walkable, and more bikeable are key priorities, that alone may not be enough to transform the White Flint area.

Check out the Route 355 BRT Presentation

Couldn’t make it to one of the open houses? Click these links to learn all about the Route 355 Bus Rapid Transit Route — station options, cost, benefits, numbers of riders, options. This is a large, important transit project for the White Flint/Pike District area, and you should know more about it. Don’t have time to look through these presentations? We’ve put four key images below.

PREZI PRESENTATION OR VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE https://prezi.com/sndo-osioeo7/brt-on-md-355/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY https://www.ridetheflash.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/DRAFT_355BRT_Executive_Summary.pdf

CORRIDOR SUMMARY REPORT https://www.ridetheflash.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/DRAFT_355BRT_Corridor_Summary_Report.pdf

INTERACTIVE GIS MAPPING https://geodecisions.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=2d8cf6fd650c4790b1fee3dc8d9840cb


Learn about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) tonight and tomorrow night

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is studying options for a new BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) service along MD 355 called FLASH.

MCDOT invites you to a public Open House to learn more about FLASH on MD 355 and to see the results of the extensive evaluation and preliminary engineering of the alternatives, including ridership, benefits, impacts, and estimated costs.

They look forward to answering questions and collecting your valuable input. Your feedback will help inform the selection of a Recommended Alternative.


Wednesday, June 26   6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Activity Center at Bohrer Park
506 S. Frederick Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD

Thursday, June 27   6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
B-CC Regional Services Center
Wisconsin Room
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD
Learn More

BRT Presentation from last week’s Community Meeting

Corey Pitts of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) gave a succinct and informative presentation about Bus Rapid Transit on Route 355 at last week’s community meeting.  We’re happy that we can share the slides from that presentation with you today. (Click on a slide to enlarge it.)

BRT on Route 355 — Alternative Routes and Stops

You’ve been hearing about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for years and wonder when the heck it will happen. No worries: the folks at MCDOT have been busy working on this large project.  Below you’ll see some select boards from their recent Route 355 open house that contain lots of information on alternative routes, headways, and stations. You can see all the boards by clicking here.  Friends of White Flint will also host a special presentation on Route 355 BRT in May or June.

As you can see, there are numerous stops suggested for the White Flint area: Hubbard Drive, White Flint metro, Security Lane, and Grosvenor metro.

There are three possible routes for the Route 355 BRT corridor, Alternative A, B, and C. Basically the differences center on where the bus drives: in mixed traffic, in one or two BRT-only lanes in the median, or in BRT lanes along the curb.

 

 

The proposed headways in the White Flint area are buses are 7.5 minute north of Security Lane and 15 minutes south of Security Lane during peak service.

Catch up on Route 355 BRT

Curious about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Route 355? Then attend one of the upcoming Route 355 BRT Open Houses to learn more about BRT and the project, including where and how the system could operate, potential station locations, and service options. The closest one to the White Flint area is in Bethesda on February 1.Details
Date:  February 1
Time:  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Date:   Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Cafeteria , 4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda

Learn more about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) at www.GetOnBoardBRT.com

Find out why BRT is:

Rapid: Features like limited stops, off-board fare collection, priority signaling, and level-boarding through all doors make for a faster ride.

Reliable: You’ll never wait long for the next BRT and will see real-time travel information at the station.

Relaxing: Avoid the stress associated with driving: use Wi-Fi to be more productive, read a book, or simply use the time to rest.

County Council Votes ‘Yes’ on Route 29 BRT

As reported on WTOP, a County Council committee has approved $7.5 million in design funding for the Route 29 BRT as well as funding to continue work on the Route 355 BRT.  The Route 29 BRT should begin operations in 2020.

 

 

The current plan, which is set to put 14 buses on the road in Montgomery County by late 2019, would see the express buses run on the shoulders of Route 29 between the Burtonsville Park and Ride and Industrial Drive and in regular traffic between and downtown Silver Spring. The county projects the buses running every 15 minutes outside rush hour and twice as often during rush hour would draw about 13,000 daily weekday riders in 2020 (nearly 4,000 of them new transit riders who would otherwise drive) and 20,000 in 2040 after additional development happens in and around White Oak.

While the buses would save significant time for commuters riding the length of the corridor by running on the shoulder at the northern end of the route, Marc Elrich and other supporters believe a dedicated lane along much of the rest of the line is crucial to making it a dramatic improvement over today’s options.

The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee directed the Montgomery County Department of Transportation to come up with a plan for a detailed study of how to implement dedicated lanes for the buses.

Four Corners resident Sean Emerson submitted a plan council members found particularly appealing that would provide one, reversible dedicated bus lane between White Oak and Four Corners, two dedicated lanes for a stretch south of that, and one dedicated lane past Sligo Creek Parkway.

 The county expects to contribute $21.5 million in total for the initial project, which includes safety improvements for people walking or biking in the area. The federal government has also agreed to provide a $10 million grant for the 11-station Montgomery County portion of the route. The precise locations for each station are due to be worked out in this next phase of the planning process.