Tag: rapid transit

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



RELEASE: Make the Connection: Bethesda-Chevy Chase Businesses and Residents Call for Montgomery Rapid Transit to Extend to Friendship Heights, D.C. Border

Bethesda-Chevy Chase area residents and businesses today called for Montgomery County officials to ensure that the rapid transit line proposed for 355 connects Friendship Heights’ jobs and homes to the rest of the county. Stopping the route at Bethesda, instead of connecting it an additional 1.5 miles to the D.C. border could shortchange the area and the county in several ways, supporters said. “With traffic congestion rising and the possibility of local Metro stations shut down for extensive repairs, residents in our area are seeking more options for getting north to Bethesda and beyond, or to Friendship Heights and D.C.” said Chevy Chase resident Ronit Dancis. “BRT would be a great new option for our neighborhoods.”

Montgomery Rapid Transit System Takes Major Step Forward with Planning Board Approval

JULY 12, 2013

CONTACT: Alex Posorske, (202) 675-0016 ext. 126

Montgomery Rapid Transit System Takes Major Step Forward with Planning Board Approval

A new county-wide rapid transit system in Montgomery County took a major step forward yesterday when the Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously approved a master plan for the system.

Transit advocates hailed the Planning Board’s decision, noting that with Montgomery projected to add more than 200,000 people in the coming decades, it is critical to invest in new transit infrastructure now.

“This plan is one of the most extensive and progressive transportation plans of any suburban community in our region, and is in keeping with Montgomery County’s record of innovation in land use transportation and housing policy,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

“Rapid Transit represents Montgomery’s best, most affordable option for providing needed traffic relief to residents,” Schwartz said. “The old model of building ever more and wider roads for cars has not worked; we have to figure out how to move more people, more sustainably, with the infrastructure we have and Rapid Transit will do that.”

The plan lays the groundwork for a high quality transit network, based on successful bus rapid transit systems around the country, which would connect the County’s key economic and commercial centers, many of which are not currently served by Metro. The service would operate like Metrorail on county roadways, including features like dedicated lanes, comfortable stations, off-board fare payment, and frequent, speedier service to provide commuters relief from some of the longest commute times in the nation.

After reviewing hundreds of public comments, the Board spent many hours making edits and additions to this long range plan. One key change was the inclusion of a “performance standard” that would help ensure the County commits to a high level of transit service.

Kelly Blynn, Montgomery County Transit Organizer for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, highlighted that piece, noting that it was a break from the thinking of the past that often unfairly shortchanged transit.

“In order for this plan to be successful, we must be willing to place transit on equal footing with cars, and dedicate car lanes to transit where it can move more people than individual vehicles can,” Blynn said.

However, Blynn expressed concern that other new language in the plan, pressed by the State Highway Administration, would place too high of a standard on moving cars through without considering a more proper standard of what approach would move the most people. “It’s something we will be monitoring,” said Blynn.

In addition, the Board increased the size of the network, adding a critical connection on the map to Clarksburg, a planned community in need of transit options. Upcounty activists cheered the move.

“The Upcounty is the fastest growing region of Montgomery County,” said Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board member Beth Daly. “The extension of Rapid Transit north on 355 is a step in the right direction to for Clarksburg residents, offering them an express transit option to get to Shady Grove Metro and work centers quickly.”

The Board will now send its recommendations, officially known as the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan to the County Council, who will review the plan starting in September. The plan will most likely first be reviewed by the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, and then move to the full Council.


About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington D.C. 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 needed to make those communities flourish. To learn more, visit the Coalition’s website at www.smartergrowth.net.


Public Hearing Testimony Regarding Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit Proposal

In the last couple of years we have seen Montgomery County renewing its focus on transit and transit-oriented development (TOD) — first and foremost with the Purple Line, as well as the White Flint plan, CR Zone and now the Rapid Transit proposal in the list of important county initiatives.