Transit Task Force Outlines Vision For Bus Transit Network

The task force's 150-page report was unveiled Tuesday.


A county-commissioned task force Tuesday called for a “comprehensive” bus rapid transit network across Montgomery County that would span 160 miles, providing an alternative to congested roads.

A bus rapid transit network was first envisioned four years ago by County Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At Large) of Takoma Park, The Gazette reports.

The task force unveiled a detailed report Tuesday outlining their vision for the transit system. The group refined the vision over a period of 15 months, meeting more than 30 times to create the 150-page report, The Washington Post reports.

Officials have touted the system as the “future of transportation” in Montgomery County, according to The Gazette.

In a statement Tuesday, Elrich called the group’s findings the “most practical, efficient and cost effective way to develop a world-class transit system to deal with the challenges of mounting congestion and declining mobility.”

Greater Greater Washington reported Tuesday on some of the key features of the network proposed by the task force, which include vehicles that would run in lanes separated from traffic. Advocates, including the Action Committee for Transit, lauded the finding and urged county officials to “use existing roadway lanes more efficiently by reserving them for bus-only traffic.”

The group envisions a system with “sleek and stylish” vehicles equipped with WiFi capabilities and electronic real-time messaging, a peak period frequency of three to five minute headways and off-peak period frequency of five to seven minute headways, and safe, wide and weather-protected stations with a “consistent and distinctive style,” GGW reported.

The network is expected to cost about $1.8 billion to construct, along with $180 million annually to maintain. The task force recommends funding the system in part through special taxing districts, which would require approval from the state legislature, The Washington Post reports.

The network would have up to 25 routes, including the Corridor Cities Transitway, the proposed north-south corridor from the COMSAT facility near Clarksburg to the Shady Grove Metrorail station. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) this month endorsed the use of a bus rapid transit system for the CCT,

Most of the routes would fall in the heavily populated downcounty and along Interstate 270, the Post reports. The system is proposed to be constructed in phases, with the first phase “emphasizing service to areas that are most critical to our economic development and connects our federal research facilities,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who commissioned the task force, said in a statement Tuesday.

In the statement, Leggett recognized the work of the task force and said he would begin work immediately with county transportation and finance departments to develop an “affordable plan” for the system.

A rapid transit network is a perhaps the single most practical and cost-effective alternative in solving our significant transportation capacity problems and relieving not only current, but future congestion,” Leggett said in the statement. “Gridlock is rampant and is hurting our economy, our safety and our quality of life.  That is why we need to invest in alternative transportation on a scale that will really make a difference to our residents and employers.”

Bob B May 23, 2012 at 01:22 PM
What a stupid idea.
Bob B May 23, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I can't believe they could be so naive "“use existing roadway lanes more efficiently by reserving them for bus-only traffic.” The point of rail is NOT to use existing roadways but to reserve them for people and freight, and to create a fast transportatin system that bypasses all congestion, traffice lights, and cross traffice. This plan is not going to make it, and if it does, it will make congestion even worse. One is not going to take these buses if one's first bussiness appt is 630 in Alexandrai, followed by a 10 in Reston, a 1230 lunch downtown, a 230 at the Pentagon, and then a 4 in Potomac, endin up in Gaithersburg for a 6:00 pm meeting. Lots of people do this.
Get Rid of The Council May 23, 2012 at 01:49 PM
HMMM to pay all that money to sit in traffic on a bus that looks like a train but in reality is a bus. Playing catch up is not working, Who is going to ride this Disney Tram?
Bob B May 23, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Well, if you are jsut saying that those who ride the current bus system will ride the new one, that doesn't say a whole lot about the effectiveness of this. Moreover, the point is that these are taking away a lane of traffic. That is just stupid. I've seen lanes reserved for bus-only traffic. They stop at lights just like everybody else, and they travel on roads and are not a whole lot better than current busses. The point of subways when they were created (NY, Paris, London) was to maintain current traffic capacity and add a whole lot more capacity by moving transportation underground. The "extreme" comute"I talked about was obviusly exagerated but the point remain. If you want to do something like that, you have to move it underground or you could make it above ground, but then you would be building a brand new bus- way system throughnout the country and the metro. Moreover, you have to do it on a big scale, ten, twenty new freeway throughout the county.
Bob B May 23, 2012 at 04:01 PM
That comment was submitted before I had a chance to correct the typos. Sorry about that. Patch, you need a better system that allows one to go back and correct typos, even after one hit the submit button.
Bob B May 23, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Frank, a city like Paris has more than 25 metro lines. Generally, only four of those metro lines (trams), travel on surface streets. Moreover, there are a ton of suburban trains, plus a bus system. All buses in Paris have their own travel lane. Indeed, some have their own street because several streets are closed to trafice in some places and only busses go down them. But the overwhelming strength of the transportation system is created by getting rail traffic below ground or on their own right of ways where they have nothing to do with traffic. This way they do not take away lanes, are not bothered by car accidents, and simply run on its own. Anything that takes away a lane of traffic from an existing road is not a good solution in this county, be it for buses or bikes. Creating new bus lanes and bike lanes that do not take away a lane from the road is fine, but it is not a serious atttempt to address our transportation problems. These people are not thinking big picture or they would do cheap quiet rail of some type on dedicated right of ways that are not on roads, and that zoom right along regardless of traffic and roads. A limited amount of trams on roads would probably be necessary, but those would be the weak sisters of a system. To contruct an entire sysetm of weak sisters, and to do it with busses and not trains (thus limiting volume per moving unit) is a waste of taxpayer money and I for one would not support it.
Jerry May 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Totally agree. Just what we need, more taxes for a subsidized bus system. Experience has shown that buses alleviate the traffic congestion that they cause in the first place. The only beneficiaries are the riders who do not own their own vehicles. Name one metropolitan area in the Western world that has a successful bus system, in contrast to a light rail or subway. The money would be much better spent expanding the Metro.
Jerry May 23, 2012 at 05:26 PM
The riders will be chiefly people who do not own their own vehicles. Experience has shown that busses alleviate the congestion that they cause in the first place. They are a zero sum game. The money would be much better spent expanding the Metro.
Jeff Hawkins May 23, 2012 at 05:40 PM
@Bob B Excellent points all around. To take away a lane is a problem, throw in a accident as you state and you are in trouble. Another issue is snow (if we ever get any again). Where do you put it, how will the plows deal with it and the impending snarl of traffic that will follow. I envision even more gridlock....
Jerry May 23, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Having lived in the DC area for most of my life, perhaps this firsthand experience will provide some insight. Back in the 1960s, when we did not have nearly so much traffic as today, I used to drive to the free parking at the Carter Barron ampitheater lot. Then, I would wait for the S2 bus because the traffic on 16th Street was too congested for my private vehicle. Well, one day, I waited and waited but the bus never arrived. So, I got back into my vehicle and zoomed along 16th Street. The traffic was extremely light with no congestion. Later, I learned that the bus did not arrive because the drivers were on strike that day. The lesson learned was that the busses only served to alleviate the traffic congestion that they caused in the first place.
Tom Rowse May 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Rich Bus Vs. Poor Bus---Let the debate begin!!
Jerry May 23, 2012 at 10:06 PM
No, Frank, this was a DC Transit bus strike circa 1964. There was no subway then, and so to compare it to the 1978 strike would be the proverbial apples and oranges. Clearly, if you suddenly transfer thousands of subway commuters to the streets during a strike, then there is going to be gridlock. This is a good demonstration of why subways are a more desirable means of transportation compared with busses. They take commuters off of the streets and redistribute them into the subway tunnels. That's a good thing. Simply taking them out of personal vehicles and attempting to restribute them onto busses is not relieving the congestion on roadways.
Jerry May 25, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Frank, I respectuflly disagree. While busses do remove individual commuters from the roadways, that is not nearly to entire story. In fact, the congestion those same busses cause surpasses that due to a dozen or more small computer vehicles that they might replace. In this case, size very much matters. In fact, it is critical. No doubt, we have all experienced the congestion on I-95 in the vicinity of DC. Based upon my personal observation, that congestion is mostly due to trucks, busses, and RVs, more so than the pure number of vehicles. Common sense, as well as some fundamental physics, substantiates that observation. If the only vehicles on commuter routes were scooters or motorized bicycles, then there would be little or no congestion and traffic would move swiftly. At the other extreme, if the only vehicles on the same commuter routes were trucks, busses, and RVs, then traffic would be perpetually at a standstill. The fact is, those large vehicles are less maneuverable, accelerate more slowly, obstruct vision for smaller vehicles, and, in the case of busses, make frequent stops. A good analogy is the human circulatory system. Lots of tiny red blood cells can easily move swiftly and without stopping throughout the system. Introduce a few large bodies, and circulation comes nearly to a standstill. In view of this, introduce behemoth busses onto commuter routes is counterproductive, just about the least sensible thing one could do.
macadoodle June 16, 2012 at 01:33 AM
A smarter group of people on this page than in the entire bureaucracy of the County Executive building and the County Council. Unfortunately, the opinions of John & Jane Q. Public mean very little to the people they elected. The leaders enjoy noblesse oblige and rule their Montgomery County fiefdom like the princes of another time in the distant past. They have no idea how their subjects live day to day. As King Arthur and his Guinevere sang in Camelot: What do the Simple Folk do? ......
Corbin Dallas Multipass June 16, 2012 at 10:30 PM
"A good analogy is the human circulatory system" Red blood cells have no ability to change their route as far as I know. Humans can maneuver around large obstructions. From my personal observation, I see it every day and do it myself, and so the Busses only slightly affect my commute. I think comparing fluids to traffic only gets you so far.
Bob B June 18, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Corbin, you make the point. You have to go around the bus, into the other lane. Tons of busses, tons of people doing that, messing up the other lane. Add in someone turning left where is no left hand turn lane and you have a three lane road narrowed down to one lane. With the stopping, restarting, and doing that again as people come into your lane to avoid the bus, congestion is created that need not be.


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