Leggett, Van Hollen, Riemer, Rahn and Other Dignitaries Break Ground for the FLASH—Maryland’s First Bus Rapid Transit Line
For Immediate Release: October 25, 2018
Today, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett launched the start of construction for the FLASH, the County’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line, which will operate along US 29 — the busiest transit corridor in Montgomery County. Starting in 2020, the 14-mile, 11-station BRT will run between Burtonsville and downtown Silver Spring and is expected to serve about 20,000 riders per day. Leggett also unveiled the new FLASH vehicle and Briggs Chaney station designs.
“In 2016, I laid out a plan to put a practical, cost-effective, world-class transit option on the ground within four years, and I am very proud to see the realization of that vision today as we break ground for the first BRT line in the State of Maryland,” said Leggett. “The future economic vitality of our County depends on increased transportation investments to accommodate more residents and to encourage job growth. The US 29 BRT will unlock this economic potential for our eastern County — and it’s already begun. The FLASH will serve the Food and Drug Administration and Viva White Oak, where just this week, I celebrated the groundbreaking for this major, mixed use development.
“There are many people to thank for helping to make this project a reality, including our Maryland Congressional delegation and former Senator Barbara Mikulski, who helped secure federal funding for this critical project; the U.S. Department of Transportation for a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant that will help pay for construction; the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for their support in allowing the FLASH to use Route 29, a state road, and their commitment to improve the shoulder travel lane; the Montgomery County Council for their funding support; and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) for fulfilling my transportation vision.”
Joining Leggett at the groundbreaking ceremony were Senator Chris Van Hollen; County Council President Hans Riemer and Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Tom Hucker and Nancy Navarro; Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn; Federal Transit Administration Deputy Regional Administrator Anthony Tarone; Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Corridor Advisory Committee Member Sanjida Rangwala and MCDOT Director Al Roshdieh.
“We need safe, reliable, and accessible public transportation options to help families and workers get where they need to go, grow our economy, ease congestion on our roadways and reduce air pollution,” said Van Hollen. “This transit line is a big step forward for Montgomery County residents and will help more people commute quickly and efficiently. I was glad to support federal funding for this project, and I will continue working to provide our state with the resources it needs to modernize and improve our transportation systems.”
“This service should attract thousands of new riders and improve the access of East County residents to high quality public transportation,” said Riemer. “I have always believed that we should take a step-by-step approach towards bus rapid transit, and indeed, this is a big step forward. Thank you to the advocates in the East County who have pressed for better service and to our federal elected officials who along with our County Executive and Council came together around this vision and brought it home.”
“Together, we are building a balanced transportation network that provides great options to beat congestion, including: Montgomery County’s Bus Rapid Transit line, the Purple Line, WMATA bus and rail, MARC, local bus networks, the Intercounty Connector and the Traffic Relief Plan,” said Rahn.
The FLASH will be a new, innovative transit option in Montgomery County that provides immediate, positive benefits to the diverse population living within the highly congested US 29 corridor, supports smart growth development, expands mobility options and provides future connections to the Purple Line.
FLASH will be a network of fast, reliable, train-like buses that will move more people per lane compared with cars — with each bus carrying as many as 90 passengers. It will use existing roadway pavement when possible to minimize the need for new infrastructure improvements. The new BRT service will link a continuous corridor of suburban centers, highway developments, shopping centers, federal offices, neighborhoods, a regional Park and Ride Lot and job centers. Discussions with Howard County continue about making the US 29 FLASH a bi-county service.
The comfortable FLASH will have frequent service with fewer stops than regular buses; shorter waits at bus stations; and faster transit. The FLASH could cut commutes by an estimated 30 percent compared with current bus routes because of its added features that include all door boarding, exclusive transit use of the shoulders along the northern section of US 29 and traffic signal priority. The fare will cost the same as Ride On’s regular fare, making the FLASH an economical option. With the FLASH’s WiFi and USB ports, riders will be able to use their commute time productively, or just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The FLASH will have comfortable stations along the route that feature weather protection, pre-payment kiosks and real-time transit information. As part of the project, community-friendly design elements will be added that include improved pedestrian walkways and ADA sidewalk upgrades, bike facilities and 10 new, bikeshare stations.
Montgomery County also is studying BRT lines along MD 355 and MD 586 (Veirs Mill Road). Construction of the US 29 BRT will cost about $31 million, of which $10 million will be paid by the federal TIGER grant.
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Media Contact: Esther Bowring, 240-777-7170