This content is sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.
Montgomery County’s Ride On Flex on demand transit service is celebrating three years of helping riders get around Rockville, Glenmont/Wheaton! The simple and convenient bus service is hailed for its ease of use and reliability.
Using Flex is straightforward and has proven to be a convenient option for Montgomery County residents. All riders have to do is download the Ride On Flex app or call 240-301-3842 to request a pick-up spot and a drop off location within one of the two service zones. The microtransit service, which launched in 2019, was the first on-demand bus service in the region using a mobile app to book rides and a 2020 National Association of Counties (NACo) Innovation Award Winner.
The Flex has no fixed stops or a set schedule. It comes when the rider books their trip within the service hours. After a customer books a ride, the app allows them to track their bus and receive real-time updates on the vehicle’s estimated time of arrival. Riders are notified when the bus is two minutes away and again when it arrives. Boarding is at designated corners, not at bus stops. Curb to curb service is provided for people with disabilities.
All riders must have a booked reservation to ride. The cost to ride is standard Ride On fare. Riders can pay with cash or by using a SmarTrip card.
Service is only provided within the two Flex zones – Rockville and Wheaton-Glenmont. The Rockville zone covers an area of about 0.7 square miles. The Wheaton-Glenmont zone is larger covering 3.4 miles. Riders can travel to and from any location within the same zone but cannot travel between zones.
The Flex buses are smaller, 11-person vehicles so they can easily navigate neighborhood streets. Each bus features mobility device accessibility and free WIFI.
The Flex was created to help reshape the way County residents think about getting around in the Rockville and Glenmont/Wheaton zones, as well as to help the environment by cutting back on the use of cars and to provide a dependable on-demand service for residents.
As Ride On looks for ways to continue to upgrade and improve service moving forward, the bus service is working on additional new initiatives. First, Ride On launched a comprehensive study – the Ride On Reimagined Study – in the Fall of 2021. The study aims to take a critical look at the County’s current and future bus network and transit systems, including Metrobus and the planned Purple Line, to pinpoint where improvements can be made. The study is based on experience and feedback from the community.
Another program is the Bus Priority Program which was created by a group of MCDOT and Montgomery County staff members last year. The program focuses on advancements for bus operations including dedicated bus lanes, bus signal prioritization and enhanced bus stops. The first project created under this program, dedicated bus lanes around the Germantown Transit Center.
The Great Seneca Transit Network is also in planning stages. The plan is for hubs at Shady Grove Metrorail Station, the Universities at Shady Grove, and Adventist Shady Grove Hospital. The service, which will be branded as Ride On extRa, is slated to start in 2024. It will include 11 stations, dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority at seven intersections and new bike and pedestrian connections.
Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s focus is to provide a seamless transportation system for people of all ages, incomes and abilities that supports the community. In addition, the department aims to reduce the number of single occupant vehicles on the roads, especially during rush-hour times, and to help increase the efficiency of the infrastructure and address climate and air quality concerns.
Montgomery County Transit Services plans, schedules, and manages over 80 bus routes using 375 County owned and operated buses including the Flash, Ride On Bus, Ride On extRa (a popular limited stop service on MD 355), and Ride On Flex. Montgomery County’s transit system is designed to complement the service provided by the other transit providers in the County and is integrated with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrobus and Metrorail and the Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC commuter rail and MTA commuter bus systems.
Learn more at RideOnBus.com.