Montgomery County and Westfield Montgomery mall officials on Thursday celebrated the opening of a relocated and greatly expanded bus station at the Bethesda shopping center.
The $7.1 million Westfield Montgomery Mall Transit Center will open for Ride On and Metrobus service Sunday in the northeast corner of the mall property bracketed by Westlake Terrace and the I-270 spur.
The facility, which has six covered bus bays, screens with real-time bus arrival information and walled-in areas with radiant heat lamps, will replace the two existing bus bays at the intersection of Westlake Terrace and Auto Park Avenue.
Montgomery County officials said there have been 2,500 passenger boardings per day at the existing bus bays, which serve five Ride On bus routes and two Metrobus routes.
Westfield contributed $6 million toward the cost and helped construct the new transit center, which was included in the shopping mall company’s expansion plans for Westfield Montgomery.
The completion in 2014 of the mall’s new-look Dining Terrace, new parking garage and ArcLight Cinemas space was phase one of that expansion, Westfield Senior Vice President Clive Mackenzie said.
Photos by Aaron Kraut
The next phase, for which there are no immediate plans, would expand the mall to the location of the existing bus bays.
“It will take years to work through the process,” Mackenzie said at Thursday’s ceremonial ribbon-cutting event for the new transit center. He said the mall plans to demolish the existing bus bays in the next few weeks and add about 50 parking spaces in their place.
The new transit center also includes 156 commuter parking spots and bike racks with space for 20 bicycles. Buses accessing and exiting the new facility will use Motor City Drive. The county said a bus stop will remain on Westlake Terrace for Ride On routes 42 and 47.
“We want to assure [our new transit centers] provide the amenities to keep existing customers and entice new ones,” county Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh said. “This facility does just that.”
County officials also think it will be more comfortable for bus drivers—with wider turning areas and bus driver-only bathrooms.
The existing mall transit center (highlighted to the left) and the site of the new mall transit center opening Sunday (highlighted to the right), via Google Maps