On October 24, 2018, Montgomery County started construction of 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 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.”
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.