Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a highly efficient, bus-based mass transportation system. There are several things that distinguish BRT from other bus services:
High frequency, all-day service
BRT increases reliability in service; frequent use of dedicated bus-only lanes allows BRT vehicles to move past stopped traffic and minimizes opportunities for automobiles to turn/stop in front of buses
New type of vehicle
Fare payment occurs before boarding the bus
Priority for approaching buses at signalized intersections (e.g., extended green light to allow a bus to make it through the intersection), a technique known as transit-signal priority
Raised platforms at stations to allow for easy, level boarding
Comfortable, stations with good lighting
Real-time passenger information at stations
Wi-Fi and USB ports on the BRT vehicles
What makes BRT different?
Who will benefit from BRT?
Bus Rapid Transit is for anyone who wants to save precious time and money when they travel around the county. BRT will serve local residents, commuters, students, and transit users who want cost-effective, quick, comfortable, more frequent transport to destinations along designated corridors.
Why do we need BRT?
Montgomery County residents feel the stress and frustration of driving in one of the most congested areas in the United States. With BRT, residents will enjoy many benefits of this new form of transit:
BRT is a reliable way to get you to work and other destinations around the county (shopping, work, medical facilities, and schools) quickly, so you spend less time in traffic and less money commuting.
BRT makes it possible to move more people on the existing road network. Each BRT vehicle can take as many as 90 cars off the road and move more people per lane than cars. That makes our transportation network more efficient. It also makes our air cleaner. And it makes your life less stressful.
Montgomery County must look for ways to address traffic congestion as the area continues to grow. We are already experiencing all of the problems that come with too many cars on our roads. And it’s only going to get worse because congestion is predicted to increase 70 percent by 2040.
County residents, workers, and visitors need more ways to get around. A BRT system costs less to implement than other transit options. It uses existing roads and increases the transportation connections between communities while providing frequent, reliable service.
Communities can be revitalized with economic development and growth.
Areas close to public transit can experience increased property values.
Who is funding BRT?
Montgomery County is pursuing multiple sources of funding, including State and Federal funding. In 2016, Montgomery County was awarded a $10 million federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant toward the US 29 project by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The TIGER grant supports efforts to get the US 29 corridor up and running by 2020.
How much will BRT cost to build?
It’s too early to tell how much BRT will cost. To accurately estimate the cost of any project, a certain amount of design and engineering work needs to take place. Often up to 30 percent of the project needs to be engineered in order to be able to make a realistic cost projection.
At this point, most of the BRT corridors under study are not far enough along in the design process for Montgomery County and the State of Maryland to predict the final cost. Issues such as where specifically the stations will be located, whether the BRT will operate in its own separate lane, in the median, or in mixed traffic, and construction and operation requirements will have critical roles in determining the future cost of a line.
Where are the BRT routes located?
Montgomery County is currently working with the State of Maryland to study four corridors for possible BRT implementation. The corridors are:
Why were MD 586, US 29, MD 355, and the CCT selected for study?
Montgomery County is committed to bringing BRT to corridors where it will be most effective in enhancing the future mobility of residents and supporting economic development and job creation goals. US 29, MD 355, MD 586, and the CCT are the current priorities.
What is the timeline for the current BRT studies?
The US 29 study is currently scheduled to reach a Recommended Alternative in early 2017. It will then proceed to 30% design. The US 29 BRT is expected to begin operations in 2020. See more about BRT on US 29 here.
The MD 355 study is currently in the first of several rounds of engineering, ridership forecasting, and cost estimation that must be completed before construction of any long-term improvements. The next project milestone is the selection of the Recommended Alternatives Retained for Detailed Study, which will occur in Spring 2017.
The MD 586 study is currently scheduled to be completed in early 2017 and it will result in a Recommended Alternative. The next phase would be to determine appropriate phasing and then to take the Recommended Alternative to 15% and the 30% design.
All of these timetables are subject to change and the degree of design figures are rough estimates.
The Corridor City Transitway (CCT) (Phase 1) reached the 30% design milestone in Fall 2015. The next steps are final design, right-of-way acquisition and implementation.
What data sources are used for the studies?
Current data for the MD 355 and US 29 BRT studies was collected between 2011 and 2015: WMATA bus ridership, Ride On ridership, MTA ridership, SHA traffic counts (turning movements, class counts for truck percentage, and pedestrian volumes), Montgomery County DOT signal timings, corridor car travel time runs, corridor bus dwell and bus travel time runs, and land use forecasts. For additional detail, see:
There are also FAQ documents for both the MD 355 and US 29 studies that have more detailed questions concerning the data and analyses being utilized. See the individual Corridor Advisory Committee pages (MD 355 North,MD 355 South, US 29 North, or US 29 South).
Project documents for the Corridor City Transitway are available on the Maryland Transit Administration’s website at www.cctmaryland.com
When will I be able to ride BRT?
The first line to open will be US 29 between Burtonsville and downtown Silver Spring. It is expected to open in 2020.
Will existing lanes be removed to accommodate BRT lanes or will new lanes be added? How will this affect the current flow of traffic?
BRT can be accommodated in a variety of ways, such as by adding new lanes in the median of a road or by repurposing lanes currently open to all traffic. The best solution depends of the existing conditions of the corridor. We are currently studying the best way to incorporate BRT on the US 29, MD 355, and MD 586 corridors.
How much will fares be?
Fares are anticipated to be the same as those for local bus.
Are the buses handicap accessible?
Yes, the BRT will be handicap accessible.
Is this related to the Purple Line?
BRT is not directly related to the Purple Line, but they are both new, reliable modes of transportation coming to Montgomery County. The Purple Line is a light rail system with modern streetcars, powered by overhead electrical wires, operating on tracks operate mainly in dedicated or exclusive lanes. Different modes of transportation are suitable for different purposes, and together make it possible to build a robust transportation network.
Corridor Advisory Committees have been formed by the County to provide feedback and input into the design and implementation of each proposed Bus Rapid Transit corridor. They comment on issues such as the project’s “Purpose and Need” documentation, station locations, and pedestrian and bicycle access. Committees include neighbors, business owners and other interested residents, such as frequent transit riders.
Where are project documents available to the public?
Why are there two BRT-related websites operated by the County?
In the fall of 2016, MCDOT launched an education campaign to enlist the support of residents for BRT in Montgomery County. You are currently on a component of that campaign, the new educational website. This new site is designed for readers who want to understand the BRT concept in general. You can check this new site for the latest information or events related to BRT development in the county. The original BRT site, located within the County MCDOT site, is a good resource for technical documents, presentation materials from the advisory groups (CACs), or other resource materials. While there may be some duplication of information on the two sites, the original BRT website will tend to be a place for technical information and other more detailed resources you might need.
What will it be called?
A contest was held from November 2016 through January 2017 to name the BRT system. Votes were received for three different names and “Flash” was the winner! Learn more about the contest and the winning BRT name here.