The Veirs Mill Road Bus Priority Project is considering several strategies to improve the operations and service quality of bus service. The proposed strategies include route modifications, queue jumpers at major intersections, shoulder operations, and bus stations with real-time information.
Veirs Mill Road is MD 586, a four- to six-lane Maryland State highway stretching six miles between downtown Rockville and Wheaton, carrying 55,000 vehicles and 11,300 transit riders per day. Eight bus lines operate along the route. The majority of bus service (80%) is operated by Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA); Montgomery County directly operates the remaining 20% service using its Ride On system.
Route modifications and queue jumping are two BRT strategies that are interrelated in this project. Rerouting takes advantage of an existing slip ramp and a congestion-free parallel street to access the Rockville Metrorail Station. The distance is 3/4 of a mile and will save 60 seconds per peak trip due to fewer traffic signals, less congestion, and faster travel speeds. Because of the geometry of the adjacent intersection and existing congestion backup, this element would be implemented with the creation of an MD 28 queue jumper. However, the state is also analyzing the option of installing an additional general purpose lane instead.
Queue jumpers are a technique for permitting buses to pass through an intersection prior to general purpose traffic. Near side roadway treatment involves an exclusive lane for buses to move to the head of the line (or queue) at an intersection. The principle is that buses advance past backed-up traffic to the front of the intersection. At the concept phase, Montgomery County anticipates continuing the exclusive bus lanes on the far side of each intersection for a sufficient distance so buses can move back into the adjacent general purpose lane. Where adjacent land uses make this approach infeasible, the county will consider providing early green signals for buses so buses can proceed through the intersection before general purpose traffic. Queue jumper concepts have been developed for five major intersections. One of the queue jumpers (intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Aspen Hill Road) is programmed for construction and should be completed within two years.
Shoulder running is the third BRT strategy proposed for Veirs Mill. A 12-foot wide shoulder exists along a 1.5 mile section of Veirs Mill Road between Twinbrook Parkway and Parkland Drive. Buses frequently use this shoulder to avoid traffic conditions, despite the fact that shoulder running is not permitted due to the substandard road surface. This project would upgrade the shoulder for bus operations and construct sidewalks where they do not currently exist.
The county will construct a series of enlarged shelters at key locations along Veirs Mill. The objective of constructing these shelters, more commonly identified with rail systems, is to establish a unique identity to the BRT system and to ensure that patrons are provided with safe, secure, and comfortable waiting areas with ample space. The shelters will provide real-time information on bus arrivals and departures displayed on message boards. The AVL technology necessary to provide this information has been installed on Ride On buses; however, the majority of service in the corridor is operated by WMATA, which has not yet decided on an AVL deployment schedule. Bus service information will also be available by telephone or, by computer, through the world wide web. Solar lighting and emergency call boxes will be installed.
Rob Klein, rob.klein@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov
Manager, Passenger Facility Development and Operation
Division of Transit Services
Department of Public Works and Transportation
101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor
Rockville, Maryland 20850-2540
Related Item: Montgomery Fact Sheet (PDF)