Back on the bus: Montgomery County sees bump in Ride On numbers

The Ride On buses in Montgomery County, Maryland, still have plenty of unoccupied seats, but ridership figures are climbing.

According to Montgomery County Transportation Director Chris Conklin, ridership is at 80% of pre-pandemic levels, with Ride On service carrying 55,000 people per day. “We continue to see increases in our transit ridership each month,” Conklin said during a briefing Wednesday with Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.

Elrich said he doesn’t expect everyone to switch over to mass transit to get to their destinations, but he added the need to incentivize mass transit use, as well as the encouragement in the use of telework policies to reduce traffic on area roads.

Along with increasing Ride On bus ridership, Conklin said there’s a new tool for bus riders to use to get the latest information on bus arrival and departure times.

The Trip Planner app, which has been operating for a few weeks now, has information to tell you when you should leave to get to your nearest stop and includes information on whether the bus is crowded.

“This is a new service that’s powered by Moovit,” Conklin said.

The trip planner app can also alert Ride On Communications staff when buses are at capacity, so they can dispatch additional buses when needed, making bus service more efficient, according to Conklin.

Similar to Metrobuses, Ride On will also allow passengers the option of requesting a “courtesy stop” — asking the driver to let them off at a point that is along the route and may be closer to their destination than the marked bus stop. The option is available after 9 p.m., and passengers will be required to use the front door when getting off the bus.

Passengers are expected to tell the driver they want a courtesy stop when getting on the bus. Then when approaching the area where they want to get off, they should pull the bell cord and head toward the front of the bus. Drivers will have discretion to determine the safety of the stop.

Courtesy stops will not be accessible on highways or on the system’s Flash buses.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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