Planners Say Rockville Pike Could Handle Major Bus Rapid Transit System


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Montgomery County planners think Rockville Pike is the county's best candidate for a "true" Bus Rapid Transit route, meaning the traffic-clogged artery could support a two-lane median busway similar to major systems that serve millions of riders in other countries. The finding came today in a briefing from planners in front of the Montgomery County Planning Board and a little more than a week after it was revealed that an outside consultant found a potential 150-mile BRT system in Montgomery County would not have enough riders. Today, planners presented a modified 87-mile BRT system they said would attract more riders than the outside report from the New York-based Institution for Transportation and Development Policy suggested. "ITDP’s report’s focus is on which corridors are best suited to high-quality “true” BRT with frequent all day service. The report finds that MD355 is the best candidate for this treatment, but expresses a concern that if future BRT ridership is only double the existing bus ridership, it would be very low compared to other BRT operations nationwide," reads the Planning Staff's memo. "ITDP did not do any ridership forecasting however, whereas our transportation modeling work has shown that the forecast 2040 ridership on MD355 is far higher and we are confident that we should begin planning for a two-lane median busway for most of this corridor." The Planning Staff briefing also found that the proposed North Bethesda Transitway BRT route (with a previously estimated daily ridership of 8,000 to 10,000 riders) was a corridor that could stand alone, without the benefit of a county-wide network. The Coalition for Smarter Growth, a D.C.-based nonprofit lobbying for smart growth initiatives and transit funding, had supportive words for the latest proposal. "The planning staff's network is smaller than the full Transit Task Force proposal but also much larger than the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) proposal.  The staff's analysis is both rigorous and practical, and results in a network that can be effectively implemented," Coalition for Smarter Growth Stewart Schwartz said in a statement. Daily ridership projections by 2040 presented at a Coalition for Smarter Growth meeting last week show between 44,000 and 49,000 riders for a southbound MD 355 system and between 22,000 and 34,000 riders for a northbound MD 355 system. The projections for the North Bethesda Transitway range from 4,000 daily riders to 10,000. Photo by Juanman 3 via Wikipedia; route map via Montgomery County Planning Department

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