Route 17 is one of the most modified bus routes in MTA history from its original route. Only three of the 27 miles of its initial route in 1973 are still in place today. Much of its original route is not served by any public transportation, particularly portions along Maryland Route 177.
Its current route is actually the successor to several other bus routes no longer in operation. The route has seen a very fragile existence, facing a lot of budget cuts that have resulted in its route and schedule being reduced, and a near threat of elimination.