After months of studying potential options for a free shuttle service, the Town of Chevy Chase has presented residents hoping to avoid downtown Bethesda traffic with two options ahead of a public hearing on June 12.
Chevy Chase At Home, a senior village operating in the Town, first presented the idea of a mid-day shuttle service for senior residents last year. The idea was to help people avoid construction, traffic and parking areas when heading to shops and the Metro station in Bethesda.
But after the idea was first publicized, Town residents from different age groups and with different needs expressed interest in it. Some would like to use the shuttle to commute to and from the Town in rush hour. Some would like it for evening hours to avoid the parking crush at Bethesda Row.
Town Councilmember Al Lang and the Town’s Public Service Committee have suggested the service run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to also include commuters, but that proposal is not currently on the table.
The two options under consideration are a four-hour (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) shuttle that would run either once-an-hour or twice-an-hour and a taxi reimbursement program that assume 50 monthly users reimbursed at a maximum of $30 per month.
Cost is a big factor. The shuttle (proposed route map provided by the Town above) would cost $10,000 for signs, benches and printing and $132,000 for the operation of a bus every 30 minutes. The once-an-hour shuttle option would cost $66,000.
The taxi reimbursement program would run the Town $18,000 a year.
As a comparison, the 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. shuttle option was projected to cost $215,000 a year to operate for one bus an hour and $428,000 for two buses an hour.
The Town Council hopes the public hearing provides some direction on the matter.
“The Council would like to come away from the public hearing with a clear sense of which, if any, alternative service residents would support,” wrote Town Councilmember David Lublin in an email to residents.