Ride On Bus Service Reductions in Montgomery County, Maryland
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will further reduce service for Ride On buses beginning Sunday, March 29. This reduced Essential Service Plan includes 35 critical routes so that residents can take Ride On for essential trips during the COVID-19 health crisis. The Essential Service Plan will apply seven days a week, with no differentiation between weekdays and weekends.
Details for each Ride On route remaining in operation under the Essential Service Plan can be viewed at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/essential-plan.html.
The Essential Service Plan website includes a link to an interactive map that can be found at http://ow.ly/jypS50yXNKi. The map shows all Ride On routes that will be operating under the Essential Service Plan and their proximity to essential services (such as healthcare, pharmacies, groceries, banks and Montgomery County Public Schools food distribution sites). Some Metrobus routes remain in operation as well, and the most up-to-date information on Metrobus coverage can be viewed at wmata.com/service/bus/.
Riders should check schedules daily in case additional changes are required in response to operational resources. Significant delays remain a possibility. Real time arrival information is no longer available by specific routes, but real time bus locations are visible at rideon.app/busmap. Passengers can look at the bus map to see in real time if a bus is approaching their bus stops. During the changing conditions due to the health crisis, other trip planning resources, such as transit apps and Google Maps, may not be accurate.
Under the Essential Service Plan, 35 routes will continue to operate—less than half of the routes normally in operation. The routes selected for continued operation are based on the heaviest ridership patterns, Metrobus routes anticipated to remain in service, maintaining access on primary corridors and maintaining access to key locations such as hospitals, medical facilities, grocery stores and pharmacies. Some food distribution sites operated by Montgomery County Public Schools are covered by the new plan, but not all. The Essential Service Plan also includes careful consideration for those areas defined as Equity Emphasis Areas by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Four routes servicing area hospitals (52, 53, 66 and 67) have been modified to include midday service, which is an increase in service.
The Essential Service Plan maintains service to all primary transportation nodes in the County, including all Metrorail stations and established transit centers. The Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail station will still be served by Ride On, despite Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s announcement that the station is now closed.
“Ride On bus service will be further reduced to an Essential Service Plan beginning Sunday, March 29,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “While we can no longer provide comprehensive bus coverage, our planners have worked ceaselessly in the face of these new challenges to select and modify routes to provide the best possible access to critical public resources, including hospitals, grocery stores and pharmacies. I cannot emphasize enough that we ask all County residents to avoid any unnecessary travel—especially on transit, which is increasingly a limited resource.”
Ride On bus operators will not be asking for proof of need for travel. However, if buses have high passenger loads, it may become necessary to leave passengers behind in order to maintain social distancing guidelines. Buses that have reached safe social distancing capacity will display “Full Bus” signs and report to main dispatch if more capacity is needed to meet demand.
During the health crisis, all Ride On services will be temporarily free to all passengers. In addition, MCDOT has implemented a procedural change for riders. Passengers are now required to board at the rear door of the bus. Passengers can board through the front doors if a ramp is needed to accommodate a disability or stroller.
Bus interiors will continue to be cleaned by the County’s Department of General Services on a nightly basis with hospital grade disinfectant. Bus filter and ventilation systems are also treated each night with a disinfectant.
For the most up-to-date service information, riders should follow @RideOnMCT on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, go to RideOnBus.com or subscribe to MCDOT news releases and Ride On Services at Montgomerycountymd.gov/GovDelivery.
For the latest updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.