Driving Progress: The Completion of Dedicated Bus Lanes on University Boulevard

Montgomery County, state and local transportation officials convened at Wheaton Forest Local Park on Friday to mark the completion of the dedicated bus lane project on University Boulevard, stretching from Amherst Avenue to Dennis Avenue in Wheaton.

Present at the event were County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Andrew Friedson, Councilmember and Transportation and Environment Committee Chair Evan Glass, and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Natali Fani-González. Also in attendance were Leroy Jones, the Senior Vice President for Bus Services at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Will Pines from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administrator (MDOT/SHA), and Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Director Chris Conklin (video below).

The new red dedicated bus lanes, operational since late February, border Wheaton Forest Local Park along University Boulevard. These lanes span over two miles and are designed to facilitate bus travel by minimizing traffic congestion on one of the area’s busiest routes.

According to a county press release, the University Boulevard bus lanes, which are part of the MCDOT’s broader Bus Priority Project, aim to enhance bus service by ensuring faster and more reliable transportation connections to Metrorail, Ride On, Metro buses, and the Silver Spring Transit Center in downtown Silver Spring. Marked with solid red paint and “Bus Only” labels, these lanes are exclusive to buses.

“We are redesigning our approach to transit, to prioritize transportation options that are equitable and climate-friendly,” said County Executive Elrich. “The University Boulevard dedicated bus lanes will improve the daily commute for thousands of workers, students and residents along this corridor who depend on public transportation. Additionally, these new bus lanes will also attract new riders to Metrobus and Ride-On services as a more convenient, safe and cost-effective option as compared to using automobiles. I appreciate the work of MCDOT and our partnership with Metro and Maryland State Highway to make commuting via bus better throughout Montgomery County.”

Serving three Ride On bus lines (Route 7, Route 8, and Route 9) and WMATA’s C2 and C4 Metrobus lines, the University bus lane corridor accommodates approximately 9,300 riders daily, making it one of the most heavily used routes in the D.C. region.

“I want to thank MCDOT for their efforts to create a better bus experience for our customers,” said Metro Senior Vice President Jones. “Frequent, reliable bus service provides pathways to opportunity for riders by connecting them to jobs, education, healthcare and vital services across the region. Our region as a whole will benefit from these improvements to our bus service by spurring economic development, reducing traffic congestion and improving health outcomes through the increase in physical activity and reduction in air pollution. Better bus service builds better communities.”

As a pilot program, MCDOT will assess the performance and safety of the bus lanes for 12 months, with an evaluation scheduled for December 2025 to confirm their efficacy along this corridor. Collaboration between WMATA and MCDOT led to securing approval for the project from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT/SHA), responsible for overseeing the state road.

“We are grateful for MCDOT advancing this project to improve Maryland’s multimodal transportation system,” said State Highway Administrator Will Pines. “Efforts such as these benefit the region by providing better transit connections to life’s opportunities. This project serves as a model for the importance of state and county partnership in Montgomery County and across the state.” 

The newly implemented bus lanes are accessible to emergency vehicles and bicycles. However, private vehicles are only permitted to enter and use the bus lane within approximately 100 feet before turning right, as indicated by striped red markings.

For further information on the University Boulevard Dedicated Bus Lane project, refer to MCDOT’s project page.

Photo: WMATA / Twitter

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