Members of the Montgomery County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment committee said last week they are frustrated with the lack of communication on the county’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit.
The members met with Transportation officials April 14.
The Bus Rapid Transit is a proposed plan for a high-speed bus that would operate in an exclusive or limit use lane. The master plan calls for a BRT on MD 586, MD-355 and U.S. 29. Currently, the county is in the early stages of planning of BRT with no finalized plans.
At the committee meeting April 14, committee members were frustrated by members of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s lack of communication with the Corridor Advisory Committees with respect to the BRT on U.S. 29.
Montgomery County Council President and Transportation committee member Nancy Floreen said that community members along the proposed U.S. 29 BRT are frustrated by absence of meeting the Montgomery County Department of Transpiration has had with the CAC and on how slow they have responded to inquiries.
“They feel like they’re not treated respectively,” Floreen said of the CAC.
One of the main disagreements between the committee and representatives from MCDOT was over a change to the BRT U.S. 29 plan to have the bus lane double as a high-occupancy vehicle lane.
“Generally HOV lanes haven’t been successful,” said committee and County Council member Tom Hucker.
Al Roshdieh, director of MCDOT, disagreed with Hucker’s saying that including HOV lanes into the BRT plan on U.S. 29 would cut traffic.
“Actually, I think in acting HOV lanes will help some people change their modes …we expect 10 percent shift in increased HOV vehicles.”
Currently, MCDOT is studying the potential cost and expected ridership for the proposed BRT plans.
“I look forward to seeing their numbers, with respect to ridership and particularly with the route 29 plan and how it affects automobile traffic,” Floreen said.
On March 2, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett proposed plans on moving the Bus Rapid Transit Plan forward. Leggett said that he is setting aside $6.5 million for the planning and design of U.S. 29 BRT in hopes to have the project finished in less than four years.
Leggett said that the four-year time frame is ambitious for BRT on U.S. 29 but doable because the BRT could operate on the roadway shoulders.
Leggett said that depending on the amount of funding that Montgomery County could get from the state of Maryland, construction for the U.S. 29 BRT could began as early as fiscal year 2018.
Meanwhile, plans for the BRT on MD 355 are not as far along in the pre-planning stage. To cut down traffic in the shorter term, Leggett has proposed a Ride On Plus bus service that would operate between Lake Forrest Mall and Medical Center Metro Station with limited stops.
The Ride On Plus bus service is expected to start in the fall of 2017 with a total operating cost of $2.6 million.