On November 15, 2012, I, as both a resident of Wheaton and member of WUDAC, attended a community meeting at the Wheaton Library where transportation planners discussed their preliminary recommendations and solicited input on a proposed Countywide Transit Corridor Functional Master Plan, which would amend the Master Plan of Highways to include the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit network in the county.
At the meeting, planners gave an overview of both projected future growth needs for county transportation and the history behind the current proposed plan. I urge those with interest to visit the planner's website at montgomeryplanning.org/brt for full information and history of this proposal. BRT envisions a system of transportation similar to the efficiency of light rail but with the economy of sleek modern buses. These buses may look more like subway cars rather than traditional buses. Some of the ideas presented included dual median bus lanes, single median bus lanes, curb lanes, and in some cases where space is at a premium mixed traffic lanes where a bus shares space with cars. The planners stressed that this was a preliminary plan and work is still in progress. From here the draft will be presented to the Planning Board in March with more public hearings in May and then Planning Board work sessions before a plan can be presented to the County Council for approval.
During the meeting planners took questions and concerns from the community. Some concerns voiced included the cost of the plan and who would pay, congestion on roads due to repurposing, bicycle and pedestrian access to stations, conflicts with existing buses, parking for riders, and location of bus stands/stations. The planners stated that their plan did not address how it would be funded.
WUDAC will continue to monitor this proposal and report to the community. All with concerns should contact their council member and the County Executive and become involved with future public hearings.