Corridor Forward Plan Transit Options

Six Transit Options Under Review for the I-270 Corridor

The Corridor Forward Plan will produce a prioritized list of transit options to improve access and mobility for residents and workers in the I-270 corridor. After evaluating 13 initial transit options, six options were retained for future study based on their mobility, economic, environmental, and equity benefits. The six options include:

The analysis assumes that MD 355 BRT will be constructed prior to implementation of the transit options prioritized through Corridor Forward.

The Corridor Forward Plan is a planning-level evaluation of different transit options to identify priority investments. Detailed facility planning and design, including the exact alignment, station locations, and service patterns would occur in subsequent efforts.

A. Enhanced MARC Rail

This transit option would expand existing MARC rail service on the Brunswick Line, adding two new stations and increasing peak period and midday service. Given the freight demand along the corridor, an additional mainline track would be required to provide increased MARC service. The proposed MARC enhancements are based on the Maryland Transit Administration MARC Cornerstone Plan and recommendations in the 2021 Shady Grove Sector Plan Minor Master Plan Amendment and 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.

  • New stations at Shady Grove and White Flint Metrorail stations
  • Increased service, with peak hour service to 15-minute headways in the peak direction (e.g. southbound in the morning) and increases midday service to hourly trains in both directions

Map of Corridor Forward Transit Option A

B. Red Line Extension

This option would extend the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA’s) Metrorail Red Line from the Shady Grove Station to Germantown along the existing rail corridor used by MARC trains. In Germantown, the Red Line extension would divert from the existing rail corridor to serve Germantown Town Center.

  • New stations at Old Town Gaithersburg, MD 124/ Montgomery County Fairgrounds, and Germantown Town Center
  • Service patterns match Red Line frequencies (6-minute peak period headways)

Map of Corridor Forward Transit Option B

C. Corridor Cities Transitway

The master-planned Corridor Cities Transitway is a BRT route connecting the Shady Grove Metrorail Station to Clarksburg via the Life Sciences Center. This option, which would run in dedicated transit lanes, is a central element of the 2010 Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan and the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. The alignment and service frequencies for this option match the service studied by the Maryland Transit Administration’s 2017 Environmental Assessment for the Corridor Cities Transitway.

  • 17 planned stations comprise the transitway, providing connections to the Metrorail Red Line, MARC Brunswick Line, and planned MD 355 BRT
  • Service patterns include 5-minute headways during the peak period

Map of Corridor Forward Transit Option C

D. Purple Line Extension

This transit option would extend the Purple Line light rail, currently under construction between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County from Bethesda to Northern Virginia, terminating in the Tysons area of Fairfax County, Virginia. There are multiple alignment options that could be beneficial, and the Purple Line merits its own study. As a result, it is recommended that this option is removed from prioritization due to need to study multiple alignments in a future effort. 

E. New Rail Connection to Frederick

This option includes a rail connection – either light rail or monorail – between the Shady Grove Metrorail Station and Downtown Frederick, in Frederick County, Maryland. The alignment and service assumptions are based on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study.

  • Stations include Shady Grove Metrorail Station, Metropolitan Grove MARC Rail Station, Germantown Town Center, COMSAT, Urbana Park & Ride, and Downtown Frederick
  • Service patterns match MDOT’s monorail service plan (6-minute headways) 

Map of Corridor Forward Transit Option E

F. I-270 Corridor Bus Rapid Transit

This option would provide BRT service along I-270 from Frederick County, Maryland to Fairfax County, Virginia. The buses would primarily travel along I-270, though the option would divert into neighboring communities, such as Montgomery Village and Park Potomac, via dedicated bus lanes.

  • Four service patterns (green, blue, pink and orange) provide a mix of local and express routes and balance access and speed
  • Peak period service includes 15-mintue headways the green, blue, and pink routes, while the orange route runs every 30 minutes
  • High-frequency stations, with 6-minute headways achieved through the combination of the four service patterns, include Metropolitan Grove MARC Rail Station, Shady Grove Metrorail Station, Montgomery Mall Transit Center (Westfield Montgomery), MD 190 / River Road Park & Ride, and Tysons Metrorail Station
  • Dedicated bus lanes would be provided on MD 118 / Germantown Road, MD 124 / Quince Orchard Road, and Gude Drive, for use by both the BRT and local bus routes

Map of Corridor Forward Transit Option F

Evaluation Metrics & Considerations

We are currently evaluating each of the transit options with a consistent set of metrics such as change in transit ridership, travel time, vehicle miles traveled, and jobs accessible within a 45-minute transit ride. These metrics are being considered across four dimensions of performance including:

  • Strategic Dimension: Fulfillment of Plan and broader public policy goals.
  • Economic Dimension: Monetized value of the benefits of each option.
  • Financial Dimension: Capital and operating costs of each option.
  • Implementation Dimension: Regulatory and technical requirements to deliver the option and potential risks requiring mitigation.

This evaluation, including the metrics and dimensions of project performance, is creating a comprehensive picture of each transit option’s merits, and informing the prioritization of transit options. Montgomery Planning may recommend refinements to the options studied to date or a combination of options to provide a robust transit solution for communities along the I-270 corridor.

Next Steps

Over the next few months, Montgomery Planning will be working with key stakeholders, municipalities, and the Planning Board to prioritize projects to serve communities along the I-270 corridor, as well as developing preliminary recommendations to support the Plan goal.

Last Updated: July 16, 2021