Planners on Thursday will present recommendations for Bus Rapid Transit routes, including a number in Bethesda and North Bethesda officials hope would ease traffic issues as the area continues to develop.
The Bus Rapid Transit system would feature streetcar-like vehicles operating in dedicated lanes on repurposed existing roads with all-day service, 10- to 15-minute wait times and stations or stops every mile or half-mile.
Planners on the project will discuss potential stops along the busy Wisconsin Avenue corridor, all the way from Friendship Heights to Rockville, and a North Bethesda Transitway that would service riders traveling east or west from Grosvenor Metro Station to Rock Spring Drive.
The BRT system is very likely many years and many budget battles away from reality, but those in support of it claim it’s a cheaper and more flexible mass transit alternative for a growing county because it uses existing roads.
Much of that growth over the next 25 years will occur in North Bethesda and White Flint, where the 2010 White Flint Master Plan is estimated to bring in 14,000 more housing units and 13 million square feet of development. In their presentation before the Planning Board tomorrow, planners discuss a few potential BRT corridors in the North Bethesda area.
The North Bethesda Transitway has an estimated daily ridership of 8,000 to 10,000 riders.
Planners also modeled routes from the Medical Center Metro station east along Jones Bridge Road and Connecticut Avenue to Silver Spring and along Old Georgetown Road, south from Montgomery Mall to the Bethesda Metro station and north from Montgomery Mall to White Flint Metro station. But both those models had low ridership volumes and did not warrant dedicated lanes.
The Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue route from the Friendship Heights Metro station to the White Flint Sector Plan southern boundary showed the highest forecast daily ridership of any route studied in the entire county, with 49,000 daily riders.
Planners said since the forecast for ridership in the year 2040 exceeds existing traffic capacity on the road, two dedicated lanes should be provided by lane repurposing.
Check out all the modeled routes and stops along those routes here. Tomorrow’s hearing will take place tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the County Planning Department’s headquarters in Silver Spring.
Images via the Montgomery County Planning Department