Montgomery County’s bus system will soon have a new bus route connecting Bethesda to Gaithersburg. Rides on the new route will be free all October long.In April, Ride On announced that it will be launching a new high speed, limited stop bus service route called Ride On extRa. It will offer faster express services along Route 355 during rush hour; from the Bethesda Medical Center Metro Station to the Lakeforest Transit Center in Gaithersburg. Montgomery County says that the route will make just 12 stops and provide fast and efficient service with “Less Stop and More Go.” As the majority of local area residents know, Route 355 is a heavily used corridor along which many businesses and work offices are located. When the new route begins, the buses will run every 10 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The new route will also provide convenient connectivity to other Ride On routes, MTA Commuter Buses, the Brunswick Marc Train line, Metro bus routes and Metrorail stations. In the county’s press release, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said that the new service route also will feature “modern, sleek vehicles with enhanced amenities.” Leggett and the county also say that in addition to giving travelers more options, the new route will “reduce the number of cars on... this highly congested thoroughfare” and make driving easier for those who are not using public transportation.
The 17 new, sleek vehicles that will be used will provide easy boarding, and even Wi-Fi access and USB ports for charging your devices. Commuters will be able to stay on top of their journeys with route information being displayed in real time. No changes will be made to fares and the types of passes used on Ride On bus routes once the free month of rides has ended. The county also has in place a Transit Signal Priority System, which has the capability to provide buses with a couple extra seconds at intersection traffic lights, making the route more efficient. Future plans for the new route include dedicated lanes, larger and higher capacity buses, station upgrades which are equipped with payment machines as well as a full Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. According to MCDOT Director Al Roshdieh, "Ride On extra is an interim step to BRT that will enhance transit options with faster service, expand transit capacity on the busy Maryland 355 corridor, and lure more drivers out of their cars. The new service route will begin on October 2 and concludes on October 31. Riders should note that fare cards cannot be reloaded on Ride On extRa buses. What do you think of the bus system? Will you be taking advantage of the free bus rides? Let us know in the comments below.