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 route 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, Patch reported.
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.”