Friday, September 27, 2013

Study Begins On Bus Rapid Transit System

Identifying the specific lines and approximate station locations for the proposed bus rapid transit lines within Montgomery County, as well as the minimum rights-of-way required for the segments in each line, will be the focus of the County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee as it holds as many as five worksession in October on the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan.

The T and E Committee, which is chaired by Roger Berliner and includes Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, is scheduled is tentatively scheduled to hold worksessions on the plan on Oct. 7, 11, 14, 18 and 21. The meetings will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and streamed live on the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/.

At public hearings on Sept. 24 and 26, approximately 70 speakers testified about the bus rapid transit plan that, if fully implemented, would cover about 80 miles around the County, not including the already planned Corridor Cities Transitway between Shady Grove and Clarksburg. Those who generally favor the proposal stressed the need for better public transportation options that connect various parts of the County. Those opposed to the plan cited the cost and the concern that re-purposing certain lanes for express buses would generate increased congestion in the remaining lanes.

The transit corridors master plan also proposes establishment of several Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Areas and the addition of a third track on the CSX Metropolitan Branch between Metropolitan Grove and Frederick County to allow for the potential for MARC rail service during other than weekday peak periods.

The Planning Board’s draft of the master plan can be found at: http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/viewer.shtm#http://montgomeryplanning.org/transportation/highways/documents/ctcfmp__planning_board_draft_production_version_7-24-2013.pdf

The appendix to the master plan draft can be found at: http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/transportation/highways/appendix.shtm

The Countywide Transit Corridor Functional Master Plan’s recommendations include:

• Transit facilities along 10 corridors to facilitate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service that will move more people to and from jobs, homes, shopping and entertainment areas in urbanizing parts of the County, while making more efficient use of our public rights-of-way and existing pavement.

• Pedestrian facilities that meet ADA Best Practices and provide safe and adequate accommodation along and across the recommended transit corridors, ensuring that transit patrons can safely cross to and from transit stops and that the general public can safely cross these roadways at all intersections.

• Accommodating all master plan bikeways within the recommended rights-of-way and accommodating additional on-road bike facilities where possible.

• Designating more than two dozen Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Areas around major transit stations, several of which are included in the County’s initial round of proposed bikeshare stations.

• A third track on the MARC Brunswick Line between the Frederick County line and the Metropolitan Grove MARC station to reduce conflicts with freight service and enabling the expansion of commuter service, as recommended by the Maryland Transit Administration’s Growth and Investment Plan.