Free rides mark launch of new Montgomery Co. commuter route

WASHINGTON — Significant rush-hour changes for hundreds of Montgomery County commuters start Monday, including the launch of a new express bus along Route 355.

The new Ride On extra bus is free to ride for the entire month of October. It makes 12 stops between Lakeforest Mall and the Medical Center Metro station. When fares do take effect in November, the rush-hour-only route will cost the same $2 to ride as other Ride On and Metro buses. To keep the bus moving, riders will not be allowed to add cash to their cards on the limited-stop buses.

As the new 101 bus begins, with service scheduled every 10 minutes between 5:30 and 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., Metro is ending the J7 and J9 buses that ran express along Interstate 270 between Lakeforest Mall and the Bethesda area. The final day for those two routes was Friday.

The new Ride On service aims to cater to commuters who might be reluctant to get out of their cars by offering new buses with Wi-Fi, charging ports and extra padding on seats. Similar buses are planned by 2020 for the U.S. 29 corridor, where Montgomery County plans to build separate bus lanes to speed buses past traffic.

To keep the buses from sitting at too many red lights, the Route 355 corridor and these special buses have transit signal priority technology that will extend green lights a few seconds for approaching buses.

The 12 stops along the route where these buses will stop are:

  • Lakeforest Transit Center
  • Summit Avenue
  • Westland Drive
  • Shady Grove Metro (Red Line)
  • Montgomery College
  • Rockville Metro (Red Line and MARC service)
  • Edmonston Drive
  • Halpine Road
  • Marinelli Road
  • Security Lane
  • Tuckerman Lane
  • Medical Center Metro (Red Line)

The regular bus routes along that stretch have up to 80 stops.

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