Montgomery County Secures $87 Million for Flash Bus Rapid Transit and Pedestrian Safety Projects

County Executive Marc Elrich announced this week that over $87 million in funding for pedestrian improvement projects and the expansion of the Flash Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network in Montgomery County has been approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW).

The state allocated these funds to the county through a General Assembly Bond Bill passed in 2022. An additional $6 million was also designated for the MD 355 Flash BRT corridor in a Fiscal Year 2021 bond bill. This funding will not only support local initiatives but also serve as a matching contribution for two Federal transportation grants: the Federal Small Starts Capital Investment grant for Veirs Mill Road Flash BRT, and the Federal New Starts grant for MD 355 Flash BRT.

Montgomery County’s BRT service, known as Flash, offers a limited-stop bus service that is increasingly popular in urban areas across the U.S. and globally. Flash and similar BRT systems are designed to provide frequent service, enhanced facilities, pre-boarding payment options, priority traffic light coordination, and dedicated lanes where feasible.

“I want to thank the Maryland Board of Public Works – Governor Wes Moore, Treasurer Dereck Davis and Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman – for their unanimous approval of over $87 million dollars funding for the County’s Flash Bus Rapid Transit network as well as pedestrian improvement projects,” said County Executive Elrich in his remarks at the BPW meeting. “These funds will allow us to invest in infrastructure that will be more equitable, efficient and reliable. Building out the Flash Bus Rapid Transit Network will help alleviate congestion while helping us achieve our Climate Action Plan goals of reducing 100% greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. Flash is also important to our economic development and job growth efforts. If we want to see the kind of economic growth that Northern Virginia has experienced over the last decade, then improving our infrastructure is the key.” 

On January 16, Elrich unveiled his proposed FY25-30 Capital Improvements Program and FY25 Capital Budget. Notably, the Capital Budget allocates $1.7 billion for transportation initiatives, with a key focus on completing the Flash Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors along Route 355 and Veirs Mill Road.

Currently, the county’s Department of Transportation operates one Flash corridor on U.S. 29/Colesville Road, linking downtown Silver Spring to Burtonsville. The U.S. 29 Flash route, which began operation in 2020, stands out as one of the county’s most utilized bus routes, consistently ranking in the top three for ridership, according to a county press release.

Upon completion, the Flash network will consist of nine routes, with over 100 stops, including an extension of the U.S. 29 route into Howard County. The Flash bus fare matches that of other County buses at $1 per ride, while seniors 65 and over, individuals with disabilities, and youth aged 18 and under ride for free using specialized SmarTrip cards.

“I am thrilled that the Board of Public Works has approved this essential funding to advance Flash and improve pedestrian safety in Montgomery County,” said Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin. “Funding from our State and Federal partners will move forward our goal of advancing BRT, will allow us to purchase zero-emission buses and advance a number of pedestrian safety infrastructure projects. This transportation investment will move more people through central areas to help drive growth and vibrancy.” 

Additionally, funds from the 2022 bond bill will be allocated to various transportation projects in Montgomery County, including General Bus Rapid Transit ($63.4 million), Zero Emission Buses ($8.8 million), the Norwood Road Bike Path ($6 million), the Cherry Hill Road Bike Facility ($4 million), the Great Seneca Science Corridor Transit Network ($2.5 million), the Bowie Mill Bike Trail ($1.5 million), and the Oak Drive & MD 27 Pedestrian Upgrades ($1 million). Moreover, further funding from the 2021 bond bill will bolster the 355 Flash BRT project with an additional $6 million.

More information on the Flash BRT network can be found at rideonbus.com.

Photo: “Flash BRT Silver Spring 2020-10-20 12.BusStop.SSMD.20October2020 (50518982047)” by Elvert Barnes from Silver Spring MD, USA is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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