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BRT Boosters Visualize BRT System

By Aaron Kraut

Thursday - 12/12/2013, 11:25am  ET

A group pushing for bus rapid transit in Montgomery County put together a video visualization of what the system could look like.

Communities For Transit, a Silver Spring-based nonprofit, released the video last week using animation clips from BRT projects elsewhere over the last 10 years to demonstrate exactly how a still far-off Montgomery County BRT would work.

The nearly four-minute video shows animations of a BRT two-lane median treatment, curb lane treatment and bidirectional/reversible median lane treatment.

RTS Map, via Montgomery CountyThe County Council passed on determining treatments for each of the 10 proposed BRT corridors in the county’s now-approved Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, but did determine that 75 percent of the roughly 80-mile system would be for bus-use only. In some corridors, including Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue, that would mean taking regular traffic lanes for dedicated bus use.

Much of the concern from skeptics of the project has been rooted in uncertainty. The Master Plan does not include decisions on specific aspects of how the BRT system would work. Much of that work will be left up to the county’s Department of Transportation.

The video attempts to answer at least two specific questions. It illustrates the concept of transit signal priority, which would let BRT vehicles alert traffic signals to assure a green light when possible. It also shows how left turns would be handled at intersections in which a BRT corridor runs in the median lane. Regular vehicles would be given an exclusive left-turn signal phase, since those BRT vehicles would not be turning left.

A lot of the details, at least in the study and planning stage, are reviewed by the county’s Rapid Transit System Project Steering Committee, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Dec. 17 in Rockville. The Committee is made up of DOT, WMATA, Transit Task Force and Planning officials, as well as others from the Executive’s Office.

The Steering Committee released a very rough draft of what a Montgomery County BRT system map might look like. Note the map doesn’t include all proposed stations on the 355 South Corridor and extends to the Friendship Heights Metro station. In the Master Plan, the Council determined studies of a BRT system south of the Bethesda Metro station/Bethesda Purple Line station would only happen once a connection to D.C. seemed more likely.

Video via Communities For Transit, Photo via Montgomery County