Montgomery County will roll out a new bus rapid transit line Wednesday that connects downtown Silver Spring and Burtonsville.
The bus line, branded “FLASH,” will operate along the county’s Route 29 corridor and will feature dedicated bus lanes, technology that allows drivers to hold stoplights green, fuel-efficient buses with Wi-Fi and other elements of rapid transit meant to provide upgraded and more reliable service.
“We’re hoping that it’s going to be such a high-quality product, it’s going to be a rail-like experience, that folks who do have a car will leave their car at the park-and-ride in Burtonsville … and other park-and-ride lots, leave their car at home, leave their car at a park-and-ride and take the FLASH bus all the way down to the Silver Spring Transit Center,” Montgomery County Councilman Tom Hucker said.
“That will get some cars off the road and relieve the congestion on that corridor.”
The county said one FLASH bus can take up to 90 cars off the road and move more people per lane than cars.
FLASH will have two service patterns, both starting at the Silver Spring Metro Station. The first pattern will have 10 stops from the Silver Spring Metro Station to Castle Boulevard. The second pattern will offer a more direct route to the park and ride lot in Burtonsville from the Silver Spring Metro Station, sharing four other stops with the first pattern along the way.
According to Hucker, the area where the bus route will operate suffered from an unemployment rate three times worse than the average unemployment rate in Montgomery County before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and it’s only getting worse.
“So they’ve never been served by a high-quality, rail-like, first-class transit product. They have ride-on buses that they’re very dependent on,” Hucker said.
“So this is going to be a way to address a long-standing, historic inequity and to serve the residents of White Oak and East County with a real, first-class transit experience.”
Montgomery County is also planning FLASH bus service along Maryland 355 between Clarksburg and Bethesda and along Maryland 586 between Rockville and Wheaton.
WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this report.