GAITHERSBURG — Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett came to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds Monday to offering residents a chance at a free ride.
On Monday, Leggett announced that the County will waive bus fares for the County’s new expedited bus service Ride On Extra as a way to entice commuters to take public transit rather driving themselves. Ride On Extra’s MD-355 route will begin Oct. 2 and will not charge fares for the month of October.
“Along Route 355, our busiest commuting route, people will have another option for getting to work and home, while using WiFi to stay connected,” Leggett said in a statement. “On an introductory basis, this service will be free during October, to encourage people to try it out and decide whether it might be preferable to their current commute by transit or car.”
Dan Hibbert, the division chief of transit services for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation said the Ride On Extra bus service will be about be 30 to 40 percent faster than a typical Ride On bus commute. Hibbert said the journey for the whole route from LakeForest Transit Center to Medical Center would take about 45 to 55 minutes.
The County’s Ride On Extra service is meant a supplement to the County’s current Ride On bus services and proposed plans for a Bus Rapid Transit system on MD-366, U.S. 29 and Veirs Mill Road. Unlike Ride On Extra, some of the County’s plans for BRT will have dedicated lanes that will speed up travel times. But some critics on the County’s BRT plan have said the service is not drastically different from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metro Extra bus service, which is similar to the County’s Ride On Extra service.
“There’s multiple corridors where we think we can provide better service for our customers and these buses can kind of fill that gap,” Hibbert said of Ride On Extra.
Unlike Ride on Extra, the County’s proposed BRT buses will have level boarding and high capacity with fare paid before people board to speed up travel times.
The bus service will be an expedited version of Ride On regular service by only making 12 stops and be fitted with WiFi, USB charging ports and padded seats as way to lure commuters. The service will run between the LakeForest Transit Center and the Medical Center Metro stop with stops at the Shady Grove Metro Station, Rockville Metro Station, Montgomery College, Security Lane and Tuckerman Lane.
The Ride On Extra will run only during peak periods Monday through Friday 5:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-7:30 p.m. and will run every 10 minutes.
As with Ride On, riders will be able to pay for bus fares with SmartTrip cards, passes or cash when the service will start charging in November.