Speak Out: Should Drivers Lose Lanes For BRT?

It could be a tight squeeze to dedicate traffic lanes for a proposed rapid bus network along some of the county's most congested corridors.

If transportation planners have their way, drivers in some of Montgomery County’s most congested corridors could start losing some of their traffic lanes.

The reason: a sprawling network of high-speed buses that will need dedicated lanes, particularly in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Germantown and White Oak.

Unlike decades-old proposals for mass transit lines like the Corridor Cities Transitway—which has nearly all of its 15-mile right-of-way already set aside—the Bus Rapid Transit network would have to find room along county roadways.

That has raised concerns of even more crowded roadways and increased commute times for those who can’t—or won’t—shake their driving habits, reported The Washington Post.

“Is there a risk here? Yes,” Mark Winston, chairman of the BRT task force, told The Post. “But I think the greater risk over the long run is doing nothing.”

Will enough drivers leave their cars behind to make the BRT venture worth it? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

Woodside Park Bob November 13, 2012 at 12:56 PM
This is one of those situations where it would be great if enough "other guys" took the bus so that enough cars were removed from the roads that traffic would move faster even with one lane lost to buses only. The problem is that most people would prefer to drive and leave the bus to the "other people." Who wants to have to walk to the bus stop in the rain or cold, or the snow and wait for the bus and then perhaps have to get out in the weather again and wait again to transfer to Metro, and then have to walk in the weather again to their final destination once they get there by bus or Metro? It's a lot more convenient to simply walk out of your house get in your car, and go directly where you are going. So unless enough people can be convinced to take the bus despite the inconvenience and higher expense -- almost everyone would still have to have a car -- I just don't see enough cars being removed from the road to make taking a lane away from cars for exclusive bus use something that would help traffic.
Leisure World guy November 13, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I can agree with Woodside Park Bob. It would be great if people can take only one bus to work and back without transferring. In our case, we need to wak one mile to a bus stop then take two buses to our destination which is only less than 7.5 miles from home. Is it worth this hassle?? Its a definitively and resounding 'NO' especially in bad weather!! So we drive...
ArcSol November 13, 2012 at 04:29 PM
This idea is insane. Its another example of transportation planners thinking they can affect behavior rather than planning for what that behavior actually is. These are the people who forbid the original developers on the high density development in Bethesda from providing structured parking for their buildings, under the idea that if no parking is provided, everyone would have to use mass transit to get there. What happened? People drove there anyway, and the county finally constructed its own very expensive structured parking all over the area. You want people to ride busses? Make them clean, predictable, often, on time, safe, and cover a wide area. Then make planning a route simple and repeatable. Losing a lane on our already crowded roadways suggests an amazing lack if simple common sense - something that seems epidemic among transportation planners.
Ebt3 November 13, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Are you kidding me? Just look at the underused hov lanes that we spent millions on for the selected few people who use them. I am tired of paying taxes for services I don't use! Let the the bus users wait! We need flexibility in our daily lives and the use of a car is essential. I cannot imagine sitting in traffic while a bus with 4 passengers flys by me in the "bus lane"!!!!
Bob B November 13, 2012 at 06:23 PM
What an absolutely stupid idea.
jag November 13, 2012 at 06:42 PM
"Its another example of transportation planners thinking they can affect behavior rather than planning for what that behavior actually is." Are you joking? You think the natural order to life is for people to spend 90 hours a month in a single occupancy vehicle travelling over thousands of miles of asphalt? Transportation planners just spent 60 years modifying your behavior to the point where the obvious irony of your statement eludes you. "You want people to ride busses? Make them clean, predictable, often, on time, safe, and cover a wide area. Then make planning a route simple and repeatable." That's the entire point. I agree that it's obviously necessary and has the proper ridership numbers for select routes (Rockville Pike, I'm lookin' at you), but doesn't make financial sense on a mass scale yet.
David W November 13, 2012 at 08:46 PM
It will work if they expand current policy trends by regulating and taxing cars and fuel until we cant afford them. Why assume they will stop at cigs, oversized sodas and now meatless mondays?
Frank November 13, 2012 at 10:40 PM
What does "if it feels good, do it" have to do with driving or not driving?
Brian Lev November 17, 2012 at 08:44 AM
In the past month, I have repeatedly been caught in traffic back-ups caused by Metro or MoCo RideOn buses that had broken down. I am only one of several thousand local citizens along the affected corridors whose job has requirements that make use of public transportation extremely problematic at best. In recent weather emergencies I was able to move freely over most of the county in my (run-of-the-mill) personal vehicle, several times with my entire family accompanying me, while public transportation could not run. A single vehicle failure of a personal vehicle causes some amount of traffic congestion and interrupts the travel of a single-digit number of occupants. A single vehicle failure of a "rapid transit" bus causes an equal amount of traffic congestion but interrupts the travel of 20-40 people at a time. When I, my family, my friends, and my co-workers go shopping, it is a regular occurrence for us to have to carry more bags than can be easily (or safely) carried on an empty bus -- and enough of a load to make boarding & finding space in a crowded bus an absolute impossibility. Should we give up lanes on major thoroughfares paid for with our tax dollars for a "rapid" transit system based on large internal combustion vehicles even more subject to constraints of time, weather, and mechanical failure than our personal vehicles? ABSOLUTELY NOT.


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