Bus Rapid Transit update given to MVF Board

by Mike Conroy

At the June 28 Montgomery Village Foundation (MVF) Board of Directors meeting, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project Manager Corey Pitts provided an update to the project and what residents could expect to see in the near future.

Pitts noted that the goal of the BRT on MD 355 project is to improve speed, ease of use, reliability and comfort for riders; Montgomery County DOT is looking to make trips on the BRT consistent and reliable for public transportation users. To accomplish this along the 22-mile stretch from Clarksburg to Bethesda, MCDOT plans to implement dedicated lanes (where available); enhanced vehicles with WiFi and USB charging ports; comfortable stations with weather protection, pre-payment kiosks and real-time transit information; level boarding for easy access onto buses; enhanced pedestrian and bicycle facilities; and Transit Signal Priority to help keep buses moving.

Phase 1 of the MD 355 BRT plan was completed in 2017, outlining a Preliminary Purpose and Need Statement and Conceptual Alternative Report. Phase 2, which will end this year, is an alternatives analysis led by MCDOT. Pitts noted the objective of Phase 2 was to identify one Recommended Alternative that, among other things, developed and assessed an operations plan and recommended implementation phases.

The phased design and implementation is anticipated to begin in 2019. Pitts said this would likely be a segmented project with each part building on the success of the previous part, in a logical order. He also noted that the new 60-foot buses would be articulated and able to hold 90 passengers.

The fleet will run on diesel fuel, as the electric technology for the larger buses has not been proven efficient as of yet.

Pitts said that MCDOT is providing as many outreach opportunities as possible, and community meetings, focus groups and Corridor Advisory Committees will be established as the project progresses. He added that MCDOT will be present at the MV Farmers’ Market later this season to answer questions and share literature.

He shared concepts for the station prototype design, noting the distinct characteristics each would have. The design calls for protective windscreens, seating, bike racks, landscaping and stormwater management, a ticket vending/reading machine and real-time arrival information board. He said the stations would be scalable to accommodate additional seating and windscreens as necessary. The goal is to have Net-Zero impact with the stations.

For more information or questions, contact BRT Project Manager Corey Pitts at 240-777-7217 or e-mail Corey.Pitts@montgomerycountymd.gov.

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