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Gaithersburg may start its own bus network

Gaithersburg is interested in starting its own local bus network, and will soon begin a feasibility study to consider whether that makes sense.

Gaithersburg has a number of walkable areas, but they're poorly connected by transit. Most of the bus lines are designed to get riders to Shady Grove Metro station, and they don't come very often. A new system would be more oriented towards circulation between Gaithersburg's own nodes.

Unofficial concept of what a Gaithersburg bus might look like. Image and cheesy name by the author.

The State of Maryland is already planning to build the Corridor Cities Transitway BRT line through Gaithersburg, and Montgomery County is considering a line on Frederick Avenue as part of its BRT network planning, but those projects are still years away from completion. Even when they're done, Gaithersburg will still need better bus service on other corridors.

One particularly important destination might be Gaithersburg's historic downtown, which has a MARC station but won't have stations on either BRT line.

Gaithersburg's local system could be operated by WMATA as part of Metrobus, or by Montgomery County as part of Ride-On, or it could be something else, like the Bethesda Circulator. The study will presumably look into what would work best.

With its own system, Gaithersburg would have more control over routes and schedules as compared to WMATA or Ride-On. Its own system would also be more recognizable, and could potentially be cheaper to operate. On the other hand, it would be more difficult to set up.

The Metropolitan Washington Transportation Planning Board approved the study at its meeting yesterday, as part of its Transportation / Land Use Connections planning assistance program.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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I like the name "Gaithersbus."

by Steve Dunham on Jul 18, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

Me too!

by Washingtonian on Jul 18, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

I wonder if this proposed system could be set up similar to the existing Springfield TAGS bus system. WMATA operated the two TAGS routes which have a 50 cent fare.

by Transport. on Jul 18, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

I also like the Gaithersbus name :-)

by Transport. on Jul 18, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

I live in the Old Town Gaithersburg, near the MARC station. This would be very helpful because the most direct Ride On bus routes to Shady Grove stop along 355, which is not near where people live. A better bus service for the Old Town area would make Gaithersburg a much more attractive place to live. As of now, my fiance and I plan on moving somewhere else with better access to transportation when we look for a more permanent place. MARC doesn't count b/c it's strictly a commuter service.

Better bus service to the Washingtonian and/or the Kentlands would also help.

by Paul Meyer on Jul 18, 2013 1:05 pm • linkreport

As someone who lives right near Gaithersburg's MARC station, all I can say is yes please. Ride-On works great, but there are definitely lots of neighborhoods (including mine) that are either not served by bus, or require a fairly decent walk to get to a bus. I think that if there were smaller buses, and they went up into the neighborhoods and acted as feeders to the main Ride-On trunk routes, this would be a fantastic addition.

(also, Gaithersbus is now the only acceptable name for this service)

by Justin..... on Jul 18, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

One of my coworkers (foreign) told me she lived in "Gettisburg," which I thought was Gettysburg, but she actually just had trouble saying Gaithersburg. I thought she might be some kind of super commuter for about a year.

I like the bus name.

by Richard B on Jul 18, 2013 1:08 pm • linkreport

I mistyped above, "WMATA operateS the two TAGS routes..." Here is the link to the TAGS system website:

by Transport. on Jul 18, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

"Unofficial concept of what a Gaithersburg bus might look like"

Where is the pork pie hat?

by KnowDewsh on Jul 18, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

Glad to see the coverage of this topic. I don't know what the results of the study will be, but I'm glad we are considering it. I see a need for better connectivity between MARC and METRO, so they could be serve as backups for each other, given the frequency with which they both have delays. Like the other commenters, I like the name Gaithersbus.

by Cathy Drzyzgula on Jul 18, 2013 5:39 pm • linkreport

First off, Gaithersbus is definitely a working name for it all.

It would be exciting for Gaithersburg to adapt more transportation options considering the high population and the infinite wait it will take for both the BRT and the CCT to come to fruition. It would also be much better to have good transportation options to both Rio and Kentlands to Shady Grove Metro to double up on RideON on weekdays and especially for weekends (only the 54 runs from Lakeforest to Rockville to Rio and the 56 likewise from Lakeforest to Rockville to Kentlands).

by Shayne2 on Jul 18, 2013 9:47 pm • linkreport

It's a surprise to me that making these kinds of connections via transit, between activity centers, transit stations, etc., isn't already a part of the RideOn model as it would relate to Gaithersburg.

That's an indicator of a need to look at RideOn as well.

by Richard Layman on Jul 19, 2013 7:41 am • linkreport

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