The Town of Chevy Chase is moving forward on a proposal to provide a free shuttle service to Chevy Chase residents hoping to avoid traffic in downtown Bethesda.
The 0.5-square mile town of just more than 2,800 people east of downtown is floating the idea of spending between $89,000 and $118,000 a year to run a midday shuttle from the Town Office to points in Bethesda that could include the Bethesda Metro station.
The idea was put forth by Chevy Chase At Home, a nonprofit senior villages organization that provides car rides, community events and other volunteer services to seniors in Chevy Chase who want to remain in their homes but need assistance.
Chevy Chase At Home Vice President Frances Pitlick said the multiple construction projects going on in Bethesda make it difficult for people in the organization to get to the area, even between rush hours. Many of the group’s participants live east of Connecticut Avenue, making a walk to Bethesda Row or any other popular Bethesda area too lengthy.
At a discussion of the proposal during Wednesday night’s monthly Town Council meeting, the group decided to develop potential shuttle routes through a committee before holding a public hearing sometime early next year.
Town manager Todd Hoffman said about 125 people responded “yes” to the question of using a shuttle between the Town and Bethesda on the annual Town survey. That’s about 35 percent of respondents.
The 14-person shuttle would run between rush hours and stop at as many points as requested by the Town. The contractor could provide it for a six-month or one-year timeframe the Town would use as a trial run. The company told Hoffman it can record how many people use the shuttle, though it would be difficult to pinpoint how many of those riders are from the Town or even Chevy Chase.
Most on the Council seemed to agree that people from outside the Town (including those who use the Montgomery County Recreation Department’s Jane E. Lawton Community Center next to the Town Office) should be welcome on the shuttle.
Hoffman detailed two options, a shuttle circuit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays that would cost the Town almost $90,000 a year and one with a two-hour block in the morning and a two-hour block in the afternoon would cost $118,000.