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bus rapid transit

Nov 7 12

Planners Propose Rapid Transit Corridor Recommendations to Planning Board

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – On Thursday, transportation planners hoping to increase the appeal of transit for people living in Montgomery County’s centers – Silver Spring, Bethesda, White Flint, and Germantown – will present the Planning Board with preliminary recommendations for a countywide transit network.

The recommended transit corridors will accommodate bus rapid transit (BRT) with all-day service, 10- or 15-minute wait times, stations or stops every half-mile or mile, and high-quality vehicles that resemble streetcars rather than traditional buses. Planners recommend rapid transit service primarily in existing lanes that would be repurposed to serve transit. Locating BRT within existing pavement wherever possible would help avoid large capital costs and environmental impacts.

Transportation modeling estimated the number of potential riders and found, unsurprisingly, that densely populated activity and employment centers will generate a greater number of transit riders. The recommendations focus on service in those areas, where high-quality transit mixed with growing mixed-use centers will make the best use of available road space.

While it makes sense to put transit where people are and want to be, planners explain that fitting it into existing roads will be a challenge. They recommend converting travel lanes to bus service on roads within first-ring communities inside and near the Beltway, as well as along the I-270 Corridor, where the forecast transit ridership is highest.

In their analysis, planners used a threshold for dedicated lanes of 1,000 passengers per hour in the peak direction in the peak period. In areas with lower levels of forecast transit demand, they recommend that buses generally operate in mixed traffic but prioritized at traffic lights.

Their studies showed:
Highest forecast ridership (49,000 riders a day) along MD355 between Friendship Heights and Rockville. Dedicated lanes or a dedicated busway would provide frequent all-day service in that corridor.

  • To accommodate high ridership on more commuter-focused corridors they recommend a mix of options. For example, along US29, with 17,000 forecast daily riders they recommend a mix of dedicated lanes (south of Lockwood Drive), mixed traffic (on Lockwood Drive and Stewart Lane in the area of the White Oak Transit Center), and a median busway north of Stewart Lane.
  • Planners ran the transportation model both with and without a test of lane-repurposing on segments of four corridors: MD355/Rockville Pike, MD97/Georgia Avenue, US29/Colesville Road, and MD650/New Hampshire Avenue to determine the relative impacts on transit ridership, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and vehicle hours traveled (VHT) in the year 2040. Results varied by area but were generally favorable, and the benefits were greatest in the down-county area; in Silver Spring alone, VMT would be reduced by 6 percent.

While a forecast of sufficient ridership is needed to justify transit, planners also point out the need a pedestrian-friendly environment to attract that ridership. They emphasize that safe, handicapped-accessible pedestrian facilities, attractive shelters and landscaping, and bike access to stations are needed to make a top-tier, well-functioning system. They hope to refine standards for those amenities in the next phase of work.

Montgomery County Planning Board

Consideration of rapid transit corridors preliminary recommendations

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 8

WHERE: Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring

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Feb 1 12

Making Transit Human: International Expert to Headline Planning Department Speaker Series Event

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING, MD – With interest growing among county leaders and residents in new transit options, the Montgomery County Planning Department has booked international expert and author Jarrett Walker for its next speaker series event on February 7.

The international consultant on public transit planning and policy will make the case for focusing on network design and maximizing the usefulness and reach of quality transit service. Walker will explore how to think differently about transit to create systems that are attractive because they fit the community’s needs.

Walker’s more than two decades of experience designing transit systems ranges from small towns to metropolitan areas, and his network designs have been implemented in many areas. His track record in transit planning and policy includes bus-rail integration and bus rapid transit.

Walker’s recently published book, Human Transit, addresses how public transit can address a range of community problems, from traffic congestion to economic development. He explains the “geometry” of transit and how to match technology with individual communities.

Examples of his work integrating transit with planning include designing comprehensive bus service in San Antonio, Boise, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Reno, Spokane and four southern California suburban areas. He also has managed transit projects in major cities throughout Australia and New Zealand.

His focus on the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand is not by accident. Communities in land-rich nations, developed recently compared to European and Asian communities, have grown in low-density, car-dependent patterns and now clamor for a congestion fix.

Walker is known for educating stakeholders about the choices that transit requires, building clear processes and helping organizations form coherent and implementable transit goals. His popular blog, Human, has grown into an online collection of articles explaining key transit concepts and issues. Copies of his book will be available for purchase at the speaker series event.

The presentations are part of the Planning Department’s speaker series – free, informative sessions about ways to forge great communities. Continuing education credits (AICP credits) are pending for planning professionals.

Walker also will headline local events on Thursday, February 9: at the National Building Museum at 12:30 p.m. and an informal discussion and question/answer session at the Young Professionals in Transportation office at 6:30 p.m.

Montgomery County Planning Department, featuring transit consultant Jarrett Walker

Human Transit: A mobility-based approach to transit decisions

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Park and Planning Headquarters auditorium
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring

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Sep 21 11

Planning Board to Consider Scope of Work for Bus Rapid Transit Study

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – On Thursday, September 22 the Montgomery County Planning Board will review a scope of work for a transportation study that will evaluate corridors, signalization and right-of-way options for a new bus rapid transit network for Montgomery County.

Bus rapid transit (BRT) is intended to provide many of the benefits of light rail, such as greater speeds and passenger comfort, at a much lower cost. BRT offers bus priority on dedicated lanes and/or at intersections equipped with priority traffic signals, faster passenger boarding, and speedy fare collection. Successful BRT systems have been built in California, Oregon and other places around the world.

The bus rapid transit study will advance the recommendations of a county rapid transit task force that in August identified 16 corridors covering 150 miles on which the transit system could run. Some of those include MD 355/Rockville Pike, US 29/Columbia Pike and MD 97/Georgia Avenue.
The bus rapid transit network will become part of the county Master Plan of Highways and Transitways, a planning document that guides major transportation projects and any right-of-way requirements.

In the scope of work, planners describe each phase of the project, starting with reviewing the corridors already recommended and assessing the network for ridership potential to determine the level of investment each corridor merits. From there, planners propose to develop illustrations depicting how the proposed transitways and stations are accommodated within the corridors. Another significant task will be to identify where travel lanes might be repurposed or additional right-of-way acquired along corridors to accommodate BRT.

Planners will work with a consultant who will provide technical analysis.

To involve the community throughout the year-long project effort, planners propose to form a technical working group of state and county agency representatives and to hold public meetings to present draft recommendations and collect feedback. Comments also will be accepted at the BRT study webpage.

The Planning Board, which will consider the draft from transportation planners next summer, is scheduled to send its version of the plan to the County Council next September.

Montgomery County Planning Board

Proposed BRT study scope of work

Thursday, September 22, approximately 3 p.m.

Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD
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