Greater Greater Washington

How do you get people excited about Bus Rapid Transit? Bring a bus to the county fair

Bus Rapid Transit has become an increasingly popular concept for communities in the DC area, but to see it in action, you'd have to travel to Cleveland or Los Angeles. This week, you can get a glimpse of our possible future at the Montgomery County fair in Gaithersburg.


Photo by betterDCregion on Flickr.

Communities for Transit, a local nonprofit that promotes Montgomery County's Bus Rapid Transit plan, set up a brand-new bus to display outside the gates of the fair, which began last Saturday and runs through this Saturday, August 16. Visitors can learn about the county's concept for an 80-mile system of bus lanes on major streets like Rockville Pike, Georgia Avenue, and Columbia Pike, and tour the bus, which will eventually make its way to Denver.

At a press conference yesterday, county councilmembers and County Executive Ike Leggett said they hope to ride BRT here within four years. Getting there will require more detailed studies, which are currently underway, and securing a funding source.


Fairgoers check out the bus while CFT's Scott Williamson explains how it works. Photo by the author.

While the BRT plan faced intense opposition from wealthier neighborhoods like Chevy Chase West and Woodmoor, those at the fair were more receptive, asking Communities for Transit staff and volunteers when it was going to happen. Parents searched a route map to find the closest stop to their jobs, while their kids hopped into the bus driver's seat and pretended to drive.

Most people don't participate in traditional community meetings, meaning a vocal minority can dominate the conversation. That's why there's a bus parked outside the county fair: it brings people into the conversation who otherwise wouldn't get engaged, revealing that public support is actually greater than we thought. And the display vehicle, with its big windows, cushioned seats, and overpowering new smell, may have changed any negative impressions some visitors may have had about riding the bus.

Hopefully, Montgomery County officials will encourage people to ride the Metroway BRT line that will open in Arlington and Alexandria in two weeks. It'll be the region's first chance to actually ride BRT in person, and a prime opportunity to build support and allay some residents' concerns.

Until then, you can see the Bus Rapid Transit vehicle for yourself from 12 pm to 8 pm every day this week through this Saturday at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fairgrounds, located at 16 Chestnut Street in Gaithersburg.

A planner and architect by training, Dan Reed also writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. 

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Of note is that the vehicle in question will be used by RTD in general service, usually on busy limited-stop and express routes such as the 15L and 120X. This bus isn't substantially different from articulated buses operated in general service throughout the country, including in the Greater Washington area. This bus has only two doors, a front-door farebox, as well as more seats than RTD's other new articulated, three-door, no farebox subfleet assigned to the Free MetroRide.

Ironically, RTD did something similar two years ago. A NABI bus destined for VIA Primo service in San Antonio made a detour to Denver for the public to tour.

by Zmapper on Aug 12, 2014 12:30 pm • linkreport

Gotta love the wooden ramp to enter the bus. Because, you know, bus doors are so poorly designed to enter and exit from.

by Jasper on Aug 12, 2014 12:36 pm • linkreport

Jasper, are you familiar with the concept of accommodating people with disabilities?

by JJJJ on Aug 12, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

I'm guessing the ramp is more useful for people with strollers and those who have trouble using steps (such as the elderly). Not sure how many wheelchair users are frequenting a county fair (notwithstanding motorized scooters).

by Scoot on Aug 12, 2014 12:48 pm • linkreport

Dan, can you confirm that this is the NABI bus, and also describe any special features it may have. It looks like it has wider than normal doors, is it intended to be an all-door boarding situation with its service at RTD?

by Will on Aug 12, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

The ramp is there because the bus is sitting on grass. In normal operation, it'd be pulled up next to a curb and so when it "kneels," it would be level with the curb. Obviously, Mother Nature doesn't comply with the ADA, and thus the ramp had to be there if people in wheelchairs were to not be excluded.

Jasper - do you disapprove of this arrangement, and if so, why? If not, then was your comment 100% snark?

by Dave on Aug 12, 2014 12:57 pm • linkreport

Elrich isn't putting BRT in Old Town Gaithersburg, which pretty much says he's NIMBY but force it down other's throats.

by asffa on Aug 12, 2014 1:03 pm • linkreport

What are the planned headways on what are the future Q bus routes all day? I think the plan for Montgomery County is to have pricey new buses and bus lanes that don't run buses more often - especially not on weekends - taking Metroway as its model.
Based on average bus frequency -Metroway's service is inferior to much of what is available right now in Montgomery County. Nobody ought to put 2 billion extra dollars in on that.

by asffa on Aug 12, 2014 1:09 pm • linkreport

Gotta love the wooden ramp to enter the bus. Because, you know, bus doors are so poorly designed to enter and exit from.

It's BRT. It promises level boarding from specially designed stations. I think it would have been nice to build something a little nicer than a wooden ramp, but no level boarding is one of the plans sticking points.

by Richard on Aug 12, 2014 1:13 pm • linkreport

@Will

This subfleet is front door boarding only, with the trivial exception of express routes out of Union and Civic Center Stations during the PM rush hour, which are all door boarding, front-door exit only.

by Zmapper on Aug 12, 2014 1:20 pm • linkreport

Or they can come to Grand Rapids, MI in two weeks where the first BRT system in Michigan starts operating. You'll get to experience 10 minute intervals, WiFi, level boarding, real-time arrive time displays, platform fare kiosks, a free park-n-ride lot. We aren't a tier 1 city - so all our projects get ignored. But if you are in the midwest and want so see a BRT....

by Adam Tauno Williams on Aug 12, 2014 1:23 pm • linkreport

@Scoot it doesnt matter how many people need to use the ramp. If theres a chance the number will be greater than 0, it's needed.

Its not like they spent $10,000 on the thing.

by JJJJ on Aug 12, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

@ Adam Tauno Williams -I hope someone does a post on that when it opens...

by JDC on Aug 12, 2014 2:40 pm • linkreport

It used to be that the social darwinists only posted in comment threads about real estate prices in DC, but now they are expanding their reach

by Hadur on Aug 12, 2014 2:45 pm • linkreport

One of THE things - I thought - that made Bus Rapid Transit, rapid, was at-grade boarding.

It takes a lot of time for people with kids, bungie carts, or the elderly to climb up to get on a bus or to wait for the bus to lower and then raise itself, again.

I thought at-grade loading was one of the things that defined BRT because it shortened time spent loading and unloading passengers.

by Capt. Hilts on Aug 12, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

@JJJJ:Jasper, are you familiar with the concept of accommodating people with disabilities?

This fancy BRT bus is not ADA compliant?

by Jasper on Aug 12, 2014 3:14 pm • linkreport

Seriously Jasper?

"The ramp is there because the bus is sitting on grass. In normal operation, it'd be pulled up next to a curb and so when it "kneels," it would be level with the curb. Obviously, Mother Nature doesn't comply with the ADA, and thus the ramp had to be there if people in wheelchairs were to not be excluded. "

by JJJJ on Aug 12, 2014 3:14 pm • linkreport

We want rail not BRT. We want Metro with two more sets of tracks so that we can run express trains and have REAL options when WMATA's broken system goes through it's weekly breakdowns. BRT will be an addition to a broken regional system.

by Redline SOS on Aug 12, 2014 3:18 pm • linkreport

Good luck with that, Redline SOS.

If WMATA bus lines didn't stop at Friendship Heights, the bus system might be able to take some pressure off the redline. That doesn't seem to be happening.

by Capt. Hilts on Aug 12, 2014 3:26 pm • linkreport

I dunno, a single BRT line versus redesigning the entire Metrorail system to accommodate an extra pair of tracks for an express train system for some reason, sounds like a totally reasonable comparison.

How many new systems these days actually have express/local differentiation? Actual question.

by FBJ on Aug 12, 2014 4:30 pm • linkreport

No transit system built after... 1950 has express tracks. If you put all that money for express tracks into capital maintenance you could have newer cars that don't break down and a properly maintained system that doesn't break.

by MLD on Aug 12, 2014 4:34 pm • linkreport

Express trains on subway line that also carries "local" trains are quite rare. More typical are individual lines that only carry express service, such as airport to city trains in Hong Kong, Vienna, etc.

I doubt DC even has the demand to support any express trains other than to Dulles, and the demand even for that is questionable. Moreso, DC does not have the gumption to do it either.

by Scoot on Aug 12, 2014 5:11 pm • linkreport

This kind of helps show the difference between Metro and older, slower systems:
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/5183/average-schedule-speed-how-does-metro-compare/

The express trains in NYC aren't even that much faster - the A is only 2.1mph faster than the C.

by MLD on Aug 12, 2014 6:20 pm • linkreport

No transit system built after... 1950 has express tracks. If you put all that money for express tracks into capital maintenance you could have newer cars that don't break down and a properly maintained system that doesn't break.

Patently false.

Seoul's old line 1 has express and local tracks. Actually 2 sets of express and then one local.

Seoul's new line 9, which opened in 5 years ago has two sets of tracks for express and local.

by Exergy on Aug 12, 2014 7:32 pm • linkreport

"The ramp is there because the bus is sitting on grass. In normal operation, it'd be pulled up next to a curb and so when it "kneels," it would be level with the curb.

Wait, there's no curb at the county fair? It's the MoCo County fair, not the North Slope county fair.

Perhaps BRT buses are always stopping at ADA compliant stops with a curb. But that's not the case for buses in general.

May sarcastic remark was intended to point out that it is rather silly that to 'demonstrate' a bus, you have to rely on additions that do not exist in real life. Hence the demonstration is false.

The point is that you do not get people to use transit (or BRT) by lying to them. Show them the actual product.

Find a curb. Put the bus there. Kneel the freaking thing a gazillion times. Many people are not aware that these features exist. Show them how good transit can be. Do not lie with a wooden fake ramp.

by Jasper on Aug 12, 2014 8:43 pm • linkreport

MLD, I don't believe it is speed that makes Express trains faster, but far fewer stops.

by Capt. Hilts on Aug 12, 2014 9:39 pm • linkreport

Right, but wouldn't that show up in the average speed anyway?

Anyway, this is besides the point, which is that remaking the entire Metrorail system to include a NYC Subway-like express lane would be ludicrously expensive and have only marginal benefits.

by SYH on Aug 12, 2014 11:49 pm • linkreport

I think a second track between, say, Grosvenor and Rockville would be good. You could go from Medical Center to Rockville without stopping. It would save not a lot, but some time on the over-taxed Red Line.

Just as important, some trains could skip those stops and it would provide somewhere to place extra or disabled trains.

by Capt. Hilts on Aug 12, 2014 11:52 pm • linkreport

Throwing this out there (idea inspired by Jasper)...

Many county fairs and the like use tractors with hay bale-covered trailers to shuttle fairgoers to and from the parking lot. How feasible would it be to instead use the demonstration bus "in service?" Yea, a quarter-mile parking lot shuttle isn't representative of urban or BRT service, but it does provide a convenient opportunity to show the public how the bus would look and feel while in motion.

by Zmapper on Aug 13, 2014 12:26 am • linkreport

"While the BRT plan faced intense opposition from wealthier neighborhoods like Chevy Chase West and Woodmoor..."
I used to live in that area of SS. I took the bus all the time and was part of a group working on improving the services through there including pedestrian crosswalks. So I'm familiar with all the neighborhoods there as well as the transportation services. I wouldn't say Woodmoor is a wealthy neighborhood, certainly not wealthy as the author's neighborhood.
There has been a lot written about this and there are a number of neighborhoods that have questions and concerns about details of the plans especially the neighborhoods that have less right of way available. Recently it was revealed that in Olney, many businesses could be lost by the expansion required for the Georgia Ave BRT.

http://ow.ly/AgzmT

Those are the same concerns in Silver Spring, Four Corners, Long Branch, Montgomery Hills, and Bethesda. It has nothing to do with wealth. It has to do with impact and operational considerations. Seems like you're trying to create a false narrative. As the actual studies are done, more details will be known. Everyone wants better services. But many are also looking at the potential of losing community assets and asking legitimate questions. There should be ways to balance both. Some don't care about neighborhoods losing their businesses and community assets because it's not their neighborhood but obviously others do.
Smelling a new bus (which by the way looks a lot like the articulated buses we already have here) is different than engineering and implementation. As these things get discussed it would be helpful for the public discourse to have honest and transparent discussion about the costs and benefits instead of divisive rhetoric.

by Bill on Aug 13, 2014 1:59 am • linkreport

@Capt Hilts
MLD, I don't believe it is speed that makes Express trains faster, but far fewer stops.

Those are measuring average speed in service, so it is measuring the effect of the skipped stops. It's not the max speed the train goes - it's the speed the passengers are going while they ride the service.

by MLD on Aug 13, 2014 8:14 am • linkreport

This is your friendly reminder that New York didn't just build four-tracked subways because they thought it was a good idea, they built them to replace existing rapid transit: mostly two-tracked elevateds and lots of trolleys.

by Alex B. on Aug 13, 2014 8:51 am • linkreport

Many of NYC's tracks were also built with private money. I know that the IRT was fully private, and I believe the BMT as well.

by Historian on Aug 13, 2014 8:54 am • linkreport

Many of NYC's tracks were also built with private money. I know that the IRT was fully private, and I believe the BMT as well.

In the case of the NYC subways, they were all built under contract with the city and much of the funding came from bonds issued by the city. The city owned the subways once the bonds were paid off.

http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/The_New_York_Subway:_Introduction

It was too expensive and there were too many stakeholders involved (adjacent landowners) for a private company to build a subway on its own.

by MLD on Aug 13, 2014 9:11 am • linkreport

@ Zmapper: How feasible would it be to instead use the demonstration bus "in service?"

Celebrate Fairfax does this to shuttle people from the parking to the fair. Unfortunately, it is a sh!tty experience because buses show up infrequently, and riders are treated like little kids entering a theme-park ride, complete with a plastic fence snake like waiting area.

It was too expensive and there were too many stakeholders involved (adjacent landowners) for a private company to build a subway on its own.

And this is exactly why not only transit but all infrastructure is a core-government task that should not be out-sourced to private parties. Due to the complexities involved, it is rarely a good deal in the long term.

by Jasper on Aug 13, 2014 9:33 am • linkreport

@ Capt. Hilts

If you are going to go through the process of adding more tracks why not just build express tracks from Shady Grove to Twinbrook then follow the Marc to Silver Spring serving the Metrorail Stations between Silver Spring to Union Station as those could add a another tracks easily compared to the Underground stations on the western portion of the Red Line. Other portions of the system also have room for another track such as the Orange Line in I-66 and the Orange Line in Maryland.

Second, why not integrate Marc & VRE to the Metro fare system for stations within the boundaries of the Metrorail System and allow Metro Riders to use it between DC & Greenbelt, Rockville, New Carrolton, Franconia Springfield and pay the same fare or allow Marc riders to get off and continue on Metro or Metrobus with no additional charge (not talking about Transit Link passes but with regular fares)

by kk on Aug 13, 2014 11:57 am • linkreport

Sounds like a plan kk.

by Capt. Hilts on Aug 13, 2014 12:04 pm • linkreport

@Bill

The median income in Woodmoor is actually pretty close to what it is in Chevy Chase West, and much higher than in downtown Silver Spring. You can see for yourself using Census data.

This isn't about wealth, but people who are more affluent do have more time and ability to participate in the traditional public process, which is why there's been such a vocal response from communities like Woodmoor and Chevy Chase. And it's also why we don't always see a wide swath of the community at public meetings, hearings, etc. You might downplay events like what CFT is doing at the county fair, but it does bring this issue to a much wider (and yes, less affluent) segment of the community who could stand to benefit.

by dan reed! on Aug 13, 2014 12:07 pm • linkreport

Thanks. I appreciate what you are trying to say about more participation but you are also basically saying that the concerns raised are because of affluence and I'm saying it's because of impact and that similar concerns were raised across the County in close in and space restricted areas.

Actually the map shows your neighborhood income increased 38%(the highest increase in the County)and is 17k higher than Woodmore, 4k higher than Chevy Chase West and 30k higher than the County median. Woodmore decreased 8% and is 12k higher than the median so again, I would not call most of the people there wealthy especially for raising a family in MC MD. The area is working families, many of whom use transit for commuting. Both of the neighborhoods you mentioned have a higher proportion of transit users than Countywide. But what's the point? That even though they use transit since they have a certain income, their questions and concerns don't matter? There were well over 100 people from all over the County who had questions on the BRT plan, many from close in neighborhoods that have space issues. There are neighborhoods along Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Ave that have less income that have raised similar space issues and are concerned about losing their property. Agree completely that there needs to be more public awareness of all of this and there needs to be a full, open discussion and study, not selective details. While I understand that many don't participate in the public process, the questions numerous neighborhoods have raised about loss of businesses and amenities and operational issues are legitimate and also deserve attention and truthful answers.
I'm not downplaying anyone's event. I'm all for educating the public with accurate information. But please consider that you may be downplaying the questions asked by numerous neighborhoods. Also if there is to be a real discussion about access to the public process, no one has more access to the public process than the development community who are some of the biggest beneficiaries. Communities for Transit is a developer and Rockefeller backed organization with full time employees who are paid to spend every work day on this and only this project.
Many have asked,where were they when we were working on getting bus shelters, pedestrian crosswalks and more frequent service? If it's really about benefitting those of us in the communities who ride transit, why are they spending all their money only working on BRT when so much more is needed?
Again, as these things get discussed and studied further, the public discourse should include open and transparent discussion about all the benefits, costs and workable solutions so that everyone benefits instead of a bunch of divisive my way or the highway spin rhetoric.
Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

by Bill on Aug 13, 2014 11:01 pm • linkreport

Bill - "Many have asked,where were they when we were working on getting bus shelters, pedestrian crosswalks and more frequent service?

Yes - where are they now, even? Thank you!

by asffa on Aug 14, 2014 12:16 am • linkreport

Action Committee for Transit supports the BRT plan and Purple Line and has been pushing these other transit rider/pedestrian issues in MoCo for years.

by MLD on Aug 14, 2014 8:12 am • linkreport

MLD Sorry I don't believe that, not after they pressured the county to spend 7 million on another study on Georgia Avenue, (after a previous one suggested against it), rather than upgrade either service or the bus stops on the same route. Or say, use part of the funds to run night service for metro.

Obviously anything genuine done affordably to improve service in Montgomery County got to come second to BRT plans, even when they're considered misguided by the Council's own paid experts. Also, they got to push it through despite local objections.

by asffa on Aug 14, 2014 2:38 pm • linkreport

(after a previous one [BRT Study] suggested against it),

We already corrected you on this a couple weeks ago. You need to go back and read the study again.

And the group you're part of that has been tirelessly pushing for transit improvements in MoCo is...? "Anti-BRT Commenters Anonymous?"

by MLD on Aug 14, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

How do you get people excited about BRT?

Tell them it can easily be converted to rail in short order but that the right-of-way must be secured now. And that it will in fact have that ROW along the whole length.

Also, ensure it has sub-10 minute headways.

Level platform boarding across the entire line.

Proof-of-payment and offboard fare collection.

Otherwise, it's just another bus.

by LowHeadways on Aug 14, 2014 4:14 pm • linkreport

Forget about the capital cost to get any of the proposed routes on the ground. The cost for the complete system could be over $10 billion minimum and not the $1b that I read somewhere. For example, the CCT BRT from Shady Grove to Metro Grove is estimated at about $500-$600 million, even with most of the right-of-way available. Now for Georgia Ave, US 29, MD 355, add these engg/construction costs to the right-of-way costs! And you have a fiasco something to tune of Silver Spring Transit Center. Yeah, this is MoCo and they will come up with anything to waste good money and to lobby not building any sorely needed master plan roads and basic transit/bikeway support infrastructure.

It is also interesting to note that none of the CFT/CSG /ACT/County folks would talk about operating costs. With fare recovering probably close to 25% (I think I am being generous here), only MoCo pols would these money losing propositions.

by BRT on Aug 14, 2014 7:51 pm • linkreport

MLD - Interesting - so I'm not supposed to speak, unless I'm PAID by a lobby?
And yes, I have spoken up outside of this forum about these issues. Don't get much opportunity, no, developer lobbies get their own meetings with Council members, everybody else got to wait.

by asffa on Aug 14, 2014 9:20 pm • linkreport

MLD - and NO, I'm not corrected - the study did not support BRT for Georgia Avenue.

by asffa on Aug 14, 2014 9:24 pm • linkreport

Bill - I'd like a list of the businesses they plan to close with their Georgia Ave design.

I already know Backyard Naturalist's on the guillatine, just wonder what else special to Olney is going to be torn down so a few developers can make more money when they build condos.

by asffa on Aug 14, 2014 9:30 pm • linkreport

and NO, I'm not corrected - the study did not support BRT for Georgia Avenue.

The study said the current level of development was not enough to justify the service. That is all.

But hey, if your goal is to keep things exactly as they are in MoCo for the next 30 years, then yeah, your approach is great. But if you want to develop the county to the level that's going to be necessary in the next 30 years to absorb the people who will move here/be born here, you might want to think about some transit improvements.

I already know Backyard Naturalist's on the guillatine
They can't move elsewhere in MoCo? There are no available business spaces anywhere?

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 8:42 am • linkreport

@MLD

The fact that the current level of development will not justify the service is a BIG problem. Olney, Upcounty, etc. has no more density than mostly approved. And plans to have BRT is to put much more density in areas within the Beltway. But then we have folks like ME and RB on the County Council who oppose tall buildings and higher densities even along the Purple Line route. Go figure. So, as I noted earlier, we are talking about a BRT system that will most likely serve the same 5% who take transit today.

Also, the attitude of not caring about what makes a community is not good. It is just bullying. Just as you are driven by some notion that some community icons could be done away with, people who live in these communities are driven by what they have and what they were promised.

by BRT on Aug 15, 2014 8:59 am • linkreport

MLD - Elrich boasts about starting the BRT idea 8 years ago - That may be partly he didn't coordinate any of these plans with the building of the ICC on Georgia (mostly planned on the shade and behind closed doors) - which means the bridges are too narrow to accomodate, the medians are used already, and local residential traffic is already worse by probably 30% in some locations because they've already REPURPOSED lanes there for the ICC - when planners promised it would be actually improved or not make it worse at all.

The needs of those who ride the bus in Montgomery County or the residents who live here aren't addressed through developer lobbies who have no interest in caring about the details that make people's commutes, in whatever form they take, work best. These lobbies just want one thing - billions spent on them. that's all.

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 9:22 am • linkreport

The fact that the current level of development will not justify the service is a BIG problem. Olney, Upcounty, etc. has no more density than mostly approved. And plans to have BRT is to put much more density in areas within the Beltway. But then we have folks like ME and RB on the County Council who oppose tall buildings and higher densities even along the Purple Line route. Go figure.
OK, so the problem is there isn't the density now, and that shouldn't change. And also council members don't support it. But what then does the future look like? More people living way out in upcounty MoCo and Frederick County and then driving through MoCo to get to their jobs. That is a better future than the one with BRT?

the same 5% who take transit today.

First of all, it's 15%. And that only counts people who use it to go to work - not the students and others who don't work who rely on transit. Not sure why we need to diminish the utility of transit to MoCo residents.

Also, the attitude of not caring about what makes a community is not good. It is just bullying. Just as you are driven by some notion that some community icons could be done away with, people who live in these communities are driven by what they have and what they were promised.

I'm not saying do away with it. I'm saying realize what is an improvement and then work around the bad impacts. Instead, the usual tact is fight fight fight against something until it's too late to do anything but watch the bulldozer run over your business.

It's not like the businesses that will be impacted are going to have their property bought up tomorrow. There is time to make a plan, to convince the county to put together a fund to help businesses that would need to relocate, etc.

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 9:28 am • linkreport

Sorry, the crowing about "developer lobbies" is just ad-hominem and not really a substantive argument against transit plans. The county planners are the ones making the transit plans, not private companies.

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 9:29 am • linkreport

@MLD: In defending BRT with some good points you are perpetuating a falsehood. The Georgia Ave study that Bill cites was a state study that has been repeatedly disavowed by the county and BRT supporters. GGW wrote about it a few weeks ago - http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/23590/maryland-sha-needslessly-draws-community-ire-with-poor-georgia-avenue-bus-rapid-transit-options/.

Basically the state assumed an absurd and unneeded amount of right-of-way as a worst case scenario and then put that scenario front and center in their report. There's no way that much space would be needed for BRT on that part of Georgia.

by Max B on Aug 15, 2014 10:36 am • linkreport

@Max B

Thanks for the info. Agree that not that much ROW is required.

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 10:42 am • linkreport

MLD - Please don't assume adding BRT means better commutes and better bus service for the residents living nearby the street than can be better provided in a less damaging way.

BRT-proponents might be trying to play that BRT is the best, but they're pushing it before the full impact can be evaluated, and treating residents living nearby, the ridership who wants a different tactic, and the current businesses in the area as their ENEMIES.
Who is this BRT meant to help? I don't think it's the people living in Wheaton-Glenmont-Olney.

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 11:41 am • linkreport

@asffa
treating residents living nearby, the ridership who wants a different tactic

While we're talking about assumptions, please don't assume that all transit-taking residents who live nearby are on your side on this. Every conversation you have about this topic, you basically claim to speak for everyone who takes transit on these routes.

Who is this BRT meant to help? I don't think it's the people living in Wheaton-Glenmont-Olney.
Then who is it meant to help. And if your default answer is "evil developers," then think for a second about the fact that even they rely on people actually taking the transit to realize those benefits. So where is that increased transit use coming from?

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 11:59 am • linkreport

Please don't assume adding BRT means better commutes and better bus service for the residents living nearby the street than can be better provided in a less damaging way.

Until we develop technology that lets us see into the future the only thing we can do is plan. And there's probably not a lot of evidence that BRT projects have made things worse in other areas (rather than just not improving things as much as was predicted).

by drumz on Aug 15, 2014 12:02 pm • linkreport

Drumz -
What plans are these? Where's the stops, and what's the bus frequency, and what hours? How's it going to be paid for, are they going to raise taxes on the people living nearby? And all other specifics, like what cuts will be done to RideOn, etc.

No, they aren't giving the dirt, telling their plans, they just wave things around and say "trust us" and insult everybody asking questions about the waste and cost and damage to the community.
This costs what - 20 times what the SSTC does - during a time most of the County is cost-cutting - and we can't get any straight answers. Nor better service right now for bus riders.
No, I don't trust them all at the County. The same people crowing happily about closing the popular used bookstore and building a Library-Gym in Wheaton. Really?

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 1:55 pm • linkreport

drumz When the local community and bus and car riders can all give direct answers about what they need and what they need to have in the future - and no one wants to deliver that, just some concept they lifted off Bogota or whatever - that's not good.

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

You want a fully engineered design with where the stops are and everything before the council is allowed to put recommended corridors into a master plan for the county?

You realize that is totally backwards, right?

This is the next step:
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/RTS/index.html

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 2:05 pm • linkreport

MLD - If you're going to spend 7 million just on one of plural surveys, yes, you ought to be giving some specifics about the idea first!!

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 2:07 pm • linkreport

Uhh, I'm pretty sure those studies for each line are to determine things like how far apart bus stops will be, where there will be dedicated lanes, median running vs not, etc.

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 2:30 pm • linkreport

Asffa,

You're saying that we shouldn't build money to plan for a BRT system until we have a BRT system planned. That's impossible to do. If it were possible I doubt it'd be cheaper than today either.

Most residents don't care about details. That's why the surveys ask general questions. Most people just ask for more public transportation generally and the BRT plan provides that because Montgomery county asked its staff to come up with ways to provide more public transportation to people and BRT is what they came up with. You obviously disagree with their conclusions. That's fine, but...

That leaves you with two options,

1. Prove that planners have it all wrong and you're proposed improvements would have a net greater effect than the BRT plan.

To do that you'll need more than platitudes and claims that "the community doesn't want it". You like to say that simple fixes will get more people riding transportation but I haven't seen anything in the way of proof yet.

2. Convince a majority of the MoCo county board to tell planners to go back and try again and to focus on the things you say you want.

by drumz on Aug 15, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport

drumz - how about they prove to me the local communities - Wheaton, Rockville, Olney, Four Corners, etc. want it?!

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 3:02 pm • linkreport

drumz -
Ask people living nearby - "We want to make the bus run a projected 11% (or two minutes) faster than it does now on Georgia Avenue. To achieve this want to close a lane on your street, and these businesses, and make it a bus lane all day. Further, you may have to pay more in taxes, and it may affect when you'll be able to turn left, and it will cost the same as half the entire Montgomery County budget for a year. And we're going to cut RideOn. Do you support this?"

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 3:08 pm • linkreport

how about they prove to me the local communities - Wheaton, Rockville, Olney, Four Corners, etc. want it?!

People want public transportation that is competitve with them driving to work. They also don't like having to spend a bunch of money on it. That leads to to solutions like BRT.

Ask people living nearby...
And you're saying its planners who are disingenous?

Anyway, How do you speed up a bus (10% or 100%) without giving it its own right of way somehow? There are some ways but they're far less effective. If you're concerned about project costs then you should be concerned with doing whats necessary to make a project work.

by drumz on Aug 15, 2014 3:24 pm • linkreport

drumz - I don't have the link, but I read one here that you can speed up the bus quite a bit by having proof people have paid before boarding - ie. tickets, etc. and having doors open both in the front and back.
Much of the expected time savings involves not picking up people from local stops or not dropping them off at their college anymore, and things like that. Call me unimpressed about that - people living near BRT who can currently ride the bus are going to not be able to do it, if some not living nearby but part of this Committee gets their way.

And I concede to some ideas about ROW - I'm not blanketly against BRT - I think if buses are running <6 minutes apart on a route to suit current demand, then during all the times they're running like that - BRT makes sense. If Metroway is any example, BRT isn't meant and planned to improve service to that quality most of the time. It's disingenous to spout at how great the time savings is going to be and then run buses only part of the time and infrequently, isn't it?

Yes, I think sometimes planners are disingenuous. (Thinking of Larry Cole's comment regarding crossing Georgia and Seminary, going against pedestrian bridges. ugh. I think he lost his argument that the street provided safety and they're putting in a tunnel.)

And I think they want to drum up some more ridership, but there would be a little more ridership if efforts were made to make riders more comfortable at the bus stops - shelters and seats, there were more buses or articulated buses run more often where there's need for them, if service on weekends wasn't miserable, and if the apps worked for knowing when buses are going to arrive. If they had bike racks, too, maybe even wifi at the stops or on the bus, since people who ride the bus like waiting where there's wi-fi, just like everyone else.

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 4:16 pm • linkreport

USA today says pay in advance saves 9 percent on time
http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/04/18/11-simple-ways-to-speed-up-your-citys-buses/

by asffa on Aug 15, 2014 4:32 pm • linkreport

Just so we're clear, consolidating stops isn't just about speeding up service, it's also about figuring out how many stops are really needed so that you can save money on things like stop infrastructure, kiosks for proof of payment, etc.

by MLD on Aug 15, 2014 4:44 pm • linkreport

So if you take a lane, and add proof of payment then all of a sudden you're improving travel times by 20%. That's not insignificant and definitely changes things in favor for BRT.

by drumz on Aug 15, 2014 4:53 pm • linkreport

The fact is that only a few people (less than 50) in the whole county is stumping for BRT, and several of them are paid lobbyists - example, CFT and CSG. And ACT is opposed to anything not transit. There is no honest conversation.

Of all the BRT routes, probably US 29 makes the most sense for first implementation, but then, that line is so much messed up south of Tech Dr. There is no ridership to justify Georgia Ave or MD 355 routes (at least in the near future, espcially given the fact that there could be no more density along the routes. MD 355 route south of Rockville makes some sense though).

In all these BRT discussions, the proponents ignore that CCT between Shady Grove and Metro Grove (Germantown Town Center) should be a priority. Why is that? This is purely from a mentality to object funding for any new road infrastructure. The opposition by all the lobbyists and activists against funding construction of M-83 is a classic example.

by BRT on Aug 15, 2014 6:14 pm • linkreport

BRT - Thanks for your points - I think this and other documents about the "M-83 alternatives" needed more widespread reading -http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/corridor/Resources/Files/pdf/May2013_DraftEER/may2013EER_Section2.pdf

I think there was a good opportunity to improve transit, roads, and bike access for upper county and someone's done their best to stop it for no reason I comprehend

by asffa on Aug 16, 2014 1:09 am • linkreport

MLD - You know what happens when a bus approaches a stop that isn't being needed? The bus doesn't stop, it keeps driving.

by asffa on Aug 16, 2014 1:16 am • linkreport

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