Council to approve budget with BRT, Ride On funding

The new budget will include additional transportation funding. Graphic from the BRT website.

The County Council is expected to formally approve the county’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget this Thursday.

The budget includes $31.5 million for Fiscal Years 2018-2020 for the study, design and right-of-way purchases for the planned Bus Rapid Transit. Six million dollars of that amount is intended for the U.S. Route 29 line to the Silver Spring Transit Center.

The details of the BRT station locations and other elements of that line will be identified during FY18, according to a council press release. In the last two months, the county held an open house and a public hearing on the U.S. 29 BRT route.

The BRT line, which will be branded “Flash,” is expected to become operational in 2020. The county estimates that the initial ridership will be about 13,000 passengers a day. Current plans call for busses to run every 7.5 minutes during peak periods and every 15 minutes off peak from 5 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

Other transportation expenditures in the new budget include more than $730,000 for new Ride On service on U.S. 29 starting Jan. 2018. The service will run from Burtonsville Park and Ride On via the Briggs Chaney Park and Ride, Stewart Lane and Lockwood Drive to the Silver Spring Transit Center. These Ride On busses are expected to run every 15 minutes during weekday rush hours, and busses will have limited stops, similar to MetroExtra service, council said.

Other new expenditures of local interest include:

  • A $750,000 pilot program repair school playing fields
  • $450,000 for 24/7 paramedic services at Takoma Park’s fire station, one of only a handful of stations in the County without paramedics.

“Kids should be able to play on their school fields. Physical activity is vital for not only our children’s health, but their academic achievement too. Yet the fields are in too poor of condition to do so at schools such as Takoma Park Elementary and Rolling Terrace,” said Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-District 5) in the county’s release. “Our new pilot program will start to fix this problem at about a half-dozen elementary schools in the County, with the goal of fixing them all in the future.”

Highlights of the budget are here.

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