Metro ends cash-free bus pilot; Montgomery Co. launches app-based shuttle

A file photo of a Metrobus in the D.C. area. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Metro is scrapping an effort to block people from paying with cash on some bus routes.

The cash-free pilot program on limited-stop Route 79 between Silver Spring and downtown D.C. ends Sunday. Metro has not released details on the impact of the ban on paying with cash or adding money to SmarTrip cards.

Other Metrobus changes include reductions in rush-hour service on Route 2A, the Washington Boulevard-Dunn Loring line, and on the S2 and S4 down 16th Street between Silver Spring and downtown.

The removal of extra weekday rush hour trips on the S2 and S4 comes after Metro added longer buses on other trips.

In Prince George’s County, Metro opens a new bus garage at Andrews Federal Center on Sunday with new maintenance, storage and operations space.

In Montgomery County, a new local on-demand transit service begins Wednesday in parts of the Rockville, Wheaton and Glenmont areas.

Ride On Flex is an on-demand transit service that is app-based. It launches on June 26, and it will provide trips within one of the two designated zones on an 11-passenger bus.

After requesting the trip, riders will get an estimated pickup time at a nearby street corner to meet the shuttle.

In Rockville, the bus is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In the Glenmont-Wheaton area, the bus is scheduled to run during rush hour: 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

There is no extra charge beyond the regular Ride On fare. The base fare is $2.

Riders will pay when boarding the shuttle, just like any other bus. The shuttles are wheelchair accessible and have free Wi-Fi.

It is the first time Montgomery County is trying a transit service without a fixed route or specific schedule.

If the project goes well, similar programs could be set up in other parts of the county or region.

Other changes

Arlington’s ART bus is making some schedule cuts starting next weekend, June 30.

ART 43 will no longer run on weekends starting June 30. The route will stay the same on weekdays between Crystal City, Rosslyn and Court House.

ART 53W (Westover extension) will also be canceled starting July 1, and midday service will be eliminated on Routes 53A and 53B.

On the rails, VRE riders will see fare increases starting July 1 averaging around 3%. Riders can buy monthly tickets for July at the current, lower price by purchasing before July 1.

Metro is also scheduled to end the last regular midline turnarounds scheduled in the system when it extends all rush hour Red Line trains past Silver Spring to Glenmont.

Maryland’s MTA Commuter Bus also has some scheduled adjustments effective July 1.

In Montgomery County starting in July, all children under 18 will be able to ride free at all times on Ride On with a county-issued SmarTrip. From July 1 through Sep. 30, students can show a school ID to ride during the transition period of the expansion of free rides.

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