Montgomery County, Maryland, has been awarded a federal grant that will help develop an app that lets riders know the real-time status and occupancy of buses.
It’s called Ride On Crowd Sourcing System, or ROCSS, and not only will it let riders know how full the bus is, but it will also give information to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s central dispatch.
The new technology will be used with strategically placed buses to assist routes nearing capacity and offer trip-planning services, which will feature other local options such as Metrorail and Metrobus, a Montgomery County news release said.
A pilot program will begin this fall, and the rollout to all riders is projected to start next spring.
The program aims to decrease wait times by providing additional buses instead of requiring riders to wait for the next scheduled one. There will be strategically placed buses on routes that can provide service on a route nearing capacity, and ROCSS will let the public know when a new bus is being dispatched.
The real-time passenger count updates every 20 seconds, and Montgomery County said it will “increase rider confidence and reliability.”
“In order for us to achieve our county’s goal of reducing carbon emissions, we need to reduce the number of cars on our roads and increase the number of residents choosing mass-transit as their commuting option. By improving the reliability of our buses and cutting down on wait times, we are making transit a more attractive option for our residents,” county Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement.
The $450,000 grant by the Federal Transit Administration supports strategies that improve transit operations and enhance mobility of riders affected by the pandemic.
Ride On services are currently free to all passengers, a change made during the pandemic. They are required to wear a face covering while on the bus.