Tag: bus rapid transit

RELEASE: Reaction to County Executive Leggett BRT Annoucement

March 2, 2016

Pete Tomao, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Montgomery County – Earlier today, County Executive Ike Leggett released an update to his proposed transportation budget, adding funding to make near term improvements to bus service and continue Bus Rapid Transit studies.

“When the County Executive’s first proposal came out in January it didn’t have the funding needed to make important transit improvements, so we are very pleased to see the changes he and his staff have made,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “It’s not everything we had hoped for – it depends on state funding to complete the Route 355 BRT study and to add priority bus service on Veirs Mill Road for example, but the County Executive has certainly responded positively to our requests, and those of the Council, to keep moving forward on Bus Rapid Transit, while also providing near term improvements.”

“I’ve ridden just about every route in Montgomery and it’s clear to me that the demand for better transit in the county is strong and we need to be making these investments,” said Pete Tomao, Montgomery County Transit Organizer for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “Demand for transit crosses socio-economic boundaries, from new immigrants, to seniors, to millenials – including a young mother, Gretchen Goldman, whom I met during my outreach and regularly rides the bus with her young son, Thomas:

“One of the reasons my family and I chose to live here was for the county’s convenience to the city. We’re lucky to live along one of the county’s few express bus routes—the K9 on New Hampshire Ave. Thomas and I ride it regularly. For us, bus access is convenient and quick. It allows us to be a one car family, since we can quickly get to work and social activities in downtown DC or elsewhere in the county.

BRT is about access, it’s about freedom and it’s about equity. In Montgomery County, many do not ride the bus by choice, but by necessity. For them, BRT increases options and decreases burdens. It enhances quality of life and creates opportunities.

When I think about what I want for Thomas’ future, I have a new vision for Montgomery County. I want Thomas to live in a place where he has mobility and independence; where he doesn’t need a car to get around; and where he can have access to safe and affordable transportation options.”

The County Executive is proposing to the Council important investments along Route 355, US29, and Veirs Mill Road, the three primary corridors for the BRT, including:

  • Route 355: Instituting a new Ride On Plus priority service from the Lakeforest Transit Center to Medical Center Metrorail and adding $5 million to the planning budget for the Route 355 BRT proposal. If the state government matches that, it could ensure enough funding for the next phase of the Route 355 planning process.
  • US29: Adding $6.5 million to the planning budget for BRT along US29, with the goal of getting the route up and running within four years.
  • Veirs Mill Road: Requesting that the state prioritize $1.8 million in annual funding for rush hour express bus service along Veirs Mill Road – the busiest bus route in Maryland. The proposed Veirs Mill BRT route already has enough funding to complete planning.

“Looking ahead, our group will continue to work for the funding necessary to build the BRT to the standard necessary to support rapid, efficient and frequent service – service that will attract new workers and new companies and improve access to jobs,” concluded Tomao.

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.


RELEASE: New report identifies key ways to make Montgomery County’s bus rapid transit succeed

September 1, 2015

Pete Tomao, Coalition for Smarter Growth

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD — In 2013, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a plan for an 81-mile Rapid Transit network based on modern bus rapid transit. Today, appointed citizen task forces are working with county and state staff and consultants to design the network’s first three corridors. But the success of the system depends on getting the details right in order to provide high-quality, frequent, reliable and rapid service.

A new report, “Best Practices in Rapid Transit Design,” provides a roadmap for what’s needed to make Montgomery County’s Rapid Transit System a success.



The report, released jointly today by Communities for Transit and the Coalition for Smarter Growth, draws lessons from successful bus rapid transit systems throughout the US and Canada. “As of 2015, there are more than 30 bus rapid transit systems in operation across the US and Canada and more than 25 others in planning. Many have been running since the early 2000s, and have greatly exceeded expectations for ridership and service,” said Pete Tomao, the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Montgomery County Advocacy Manager. “In Eugene, OR, for example, the Emerald Line has doubled transit ridership in the corridor it serves.”

“Our report is designed to assist the citizen task force members, elected officials and staff in their deliberations,” said Tomao. The report identifies and describes over a dozen features of successful bus rapid transit, including:

  • dedicated lanes for vehicles to bypass traffic
  • frequent and reliable service
  • stops spaced farther apart than local buses
  • 10’ general travel lanes
  • comfortable stations
  • offboard fare collection
  • level boarding
  • easy, safe access for people walking and bicycling
  • real time arrival information.

“BRT systems can produce travel time savings of up to 25% compared to other transit and can move far more people between home, work, school and services along our crowded arterial corridors than can single-occupant vehicles,” said Tomao. “The county’s ability to manage growth and traffic, and to attract the next generation workforce and companies, depends on investing in a well-designed system that attracts passengers because of its quality, efficiency, speed, and reliability.”

“In our research, we’ve found that successful systems around the country consistently share the same features, which we outline in our report and which we hope will be incorporated into Montgomery’s system,” Tomao concluded.

Earlier this year, Montgomery County appointed citizen task forces for each of the network’s first three bus rapid transit corridors: Route 355, Viers Mill Road, and Route 29. The task forces began meeting in Feb 2015 and are split into five groups — MD 355 North, MD 355 South, US29 North, US 29 South, and Veirs Mill Rd. Key decisions include whether to provide dedicated right-of-way, street and station design, fare collection, stop locations and more.  The corridor task forces are separate from the Transit Task Force appointed to recommend how to finance the system and who should operate it.

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish.  Learn more at smartergrowth.net.

About Communities for Transit

Communities for Transit (CFT) educates the public on the planned & unanimously-approved Rapid Transit System for Montgomery County, MD. CFT focuses on community outreach to build awareness of the compelling case for rapid transit as an effective response to our unsustainable traffic problems.  Learn more at communitiesfortransit.org



Coalition For Smarter Growth Has a New Manager

The Coalition for Smarter Growth, an organization dedicated to promoting walkable and transit-oriented communities, has a new advocacy manager in its Montgomery County office.

Pete Tomao is taking over the position held by Kelly Blynn and said as the new advocacy manager he hopes to work on increasing transportation choices for the county.

“Whether that is through more bicycle lanes, more 8-car trains on Metro, expanded RideOn service, or a bus rapid transit system,” Tomao wrote in an email to MyMCMedia.

Tomao added there are a lot of “great plans and ideas circulating” in the county. Plans that, according to him, will be necessary to meet the population needs.

“By 2040, forecasts project that Montgomery County will have 70 [percent] more road congestion, 21 [percent] more residents, and 40 [percent] more jobs than today, so our need for a robust variety of transportation choices has never been greater. … from the bus rapid transit network to the Purple Line, to more Metro investment, to making it easier for people to bike or walk,” Tomao wrote.

Tomao is originally from Long Island, New York, and moved to the region to attend American University. He is also a former union and political organizer.

“I’m excited to be working for CSG and look forward to meeting many new friends and smart growth supporters in Montgomery,” Tomao wrote.

The new manager took the job during a busy time for transportation advocates. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced on June 24 the Purple Line– a proposed $2.44 billion light rail extending from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County- is scheduled to move forward. Tomao wrote he was glad the governor approved the project but “want to make sure that Montgomery and Prince George’s get the support and funding they need to successfully build the project.”

“We were disappointed by some of the announced service changes — decreased frequency and fewer train cars. That could have a negative effect on reliability and level of service, and will only be more expensive to fix in coming years. We still feel positive that the project is moving, but will be watching developments very closely in the coming months and will be prepared to help out where we can,” he wrote.

Read original article here.

I-66 to gain toll lanes inside, outside the Beltway

He says it’ll induce more drivers to commute long-distance alone. He also says VDOT has made promises about providing robust bus service on the 495 and 95 express lanes but neither have come to fruition. “If they consider rapid bus service as a top justification for the project, then we expect guarantees that VDOT will fund rapid bus service in the corridor. They’ve failed to do it on the 495 and 95 Express Lane deals,” says Schwartz.

Montgomery paves the way for bus network that could zip by traffic

With Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett running for a third term in November, transit advocates are planning an agenda for his next term. Leggett will run against Republican James Shalleck in an overwhelmingly Democratic county. For transit advocates, this means a push to turn projects such as the Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transitway and a bus rapid transit network into reality.