Better Buses Coalition Letter: Summer 2024 Red Line Closures (Montgomery)

Paul Wiedefeld, Secretary
Maryland Department of Transportation
7201 Corporate Center Drive
Hanover, MD 21076

Randy Clarke, General Manager
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
300th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024

Marc Elrich, County Executive
Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor
Rockville, MD 20850

Chris Conklin, Director
Montgomery County Department of Transportation
101 Monroe Street, 10th Floor 
Rockville, MD 20850 

Dear Secretary Wiedefeld, General Manager Clarke, County Executive Elrich, and Director Conklin:

The undersigned 10 organizations representing the Montgomery County Better Buses Coalition are writing regarding mitigation strategies for the Metro Red Line closure from Fort Totten to Glenmont as planned for June through August 2024. 

We thank you for the measures you have already taken to address transit needs during this extended closure and publicize available alternatives, including: temporary curbside bus lanes on portions of Georgia Ave./MD-97, Veirs Mill Rd, Colesville Rd, and East-West Highway; discounted MARC fares; free local and express shuttle service; and signage regarding the closure at affected Metro stations. We are also glad to hear that MTA plans to continue operating all commuter bus routes, which will offer another transit alternative during the Red Line closure.

In addition to measures already in place, we ask that you consider the following measures to ensure transit alternatives are fully utilized and operate smoothly during the closure.

  • Bus lane enforcement during first two weeks of closure: We ask County Executive Elrich to direct MCPD to enforce temporary MD-97 bus lanes through warnings during the first two weeks of the closure. A small number of drivers that do not adhere to, or do not understand, the new bus-only lanes can cause major delays and disruption for the hundreds of bus riders who will travel through this corridor.
  • Consider implementing bus lanes throughout MD-97 between Silver Spring and Glenmont: While we thank SHA for implementing temporary curbside bus-only lanes on certain sections of MD-97, we had hoped and would prefer for bus lanes to be extended continuously on MD-97 between Silver Spring and Glenmont. Frequent traffic congestion in the sections of MD-97 where SHA does not currently plan to implement curbside bus-only lanes should make these areas a higher, not lower, priority for dedicated bus-only lanes to most effectively reduce delays for riders.

This is a unique opportunity to more thoroughly test out the benefits of extended dedicated bus lanes. More complete and continuous bus lanes throughout this corridor would encourage people to use the bus as a travel alternative rather than exacerbating congestion by switching to personal vehicle trips, and would reduce potential confusion for drivers on MD-97.

We realize that time is now short as we approach the beginning of the closure, and ask SHA to consider extending the MD-97 dedicated lanes during a second implementation phase this summer.

  • Add a featured banner or information hub to the MCDOT website: We recommend that MCDOT create a homepage website banner or otherwise prominently direct website visitors to resources on the closure and transit alternatives as soon as possible and for the duration of the closure. Among these resources we recommend including an interactive map that allows visitors to explore transit alternatives.

We greatly appreciate the comprehensive information MCDOT has shared via email and in a press release, and believe it will be very helpful for riders visiting MCDOT’s website to be able to easily and directly access this information.

  • Publicize discounted MARC service and MTA commuter bus alternatives: We ask WMATA to update its list of Shuttle Bus and Travel Alternatives:
    • Under “Rail Alternatives,”  mention that MARC will offer discounted $3.00 one-way fares from Garrett Park, Kensington and Silver Spring to Union Station during the closure.
    • Under “Bus Options,” mention MTA commuter bus routes as a transit alternative and direct to MTA website for additional information.

These changes will provide riders with more complete information as they consider their travel plans during the closure.

  • Consider offering free or discounted Capital Bikeshare rides for those who live and work near affected stations: Alexandria offered free bike rides during the 2022-3 Yellow Line Closure, and D.C. offered residents 30-day Capital Bikeshare memberships during Metro service reductions in 2021. We believe CaBi would be a particularly helpful alternative in the areas around the Takoma, Silver Spring, and Wheaton Metro stations. If it is not possible to offer free or discounted rides, Capital Bikeshare should still be promoted as a potential travel alternative for those affected by the closure to ensure riders are aware of this option.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests.


Carrie Kisicki
Coalition for Smarter Growth

Jane Lyons-Raeder
Silver Spring Organizing Committee, Montgomery for All

Sean Emerson
Action Committee for Transit

Mary Kolar
Community Development Network

William Clements
Gaithersburg HELP

Abe Schuchman
Housing Unlimited

Jackie DeCarlo
Manna Food Center

Jack Ewart
Montgomery County Food Council

Bee Ditzler
Montgomery County League of Women Voters

Seth Grimes
Washington Area Bicyclist Association

William Pines, Administrator, State Highway Administration, MDOT
Andrew Friedson, Council President, Montgomery County Council
Evan Glass, Transportation & Enviro. Committee Chair, Montgomery County Council
Kate Stewart, District 4 Councilmember, Montgomery County Council
Natali Fani-Gonzalez, District 6 Councilmember, Montgomery County Council
D18, D19, and D20 State Representatives