Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation expanded Ride On bus service starting Sunday, Aug. 2, to support businesses that continue to reopen and residents who are resuming activity previously reduced by the COVID-19 health crisis. All Ride On-branded bus routes and Ride On Extra routes will be in service, with an overall increase of nearly 40 percent on weekdays from current service levels. The on-demand Flex service remains suspended.
MCDOT continues to encourage essential trips only in order to maintain bus capacity for those who most need public transportation to access to work and essential services. While all Ride On routes will be in operation, ridership capacity remains limited to 15 to 20 passengers per bus (about 40 percent of normal capacity) to maintain a safe distance between riders.
Service was reduced during the health crisis as MCDOT implemented an “Essential Services” plan, which was expanded to an “Essential Plus” plan.
Ride On planners will closely monitor ridership data and feedback from riders to identify routes that have demand levels requiring additional capacity. Extra buses are stationed at all Metro stations in the County and are ready to deploy to any nearby service route that is experiencing levels of demand that cannot be met by buses under the standard schedule.
Service hours and bus frequency will be provided on all routes, but will continue to operate on a reduced basis and riders are encouraged to visit the new schedule webpage for detailed information at montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/schedules.html.
The Ride On Real Time web application will not reflect the temporary bus schedules, but real time bus locations will be visible without identifiable route information for riders who find it helpful to view when a bus is approaching.
A notable difference from pre-COVID-19 service is that no bus routes will initiate service runs after midnight. Some specific bus stops typically included as standard route deviations, such as stops at schools that do not have current on-campus activity, will not be included in the service plan.
Ride On passengers should expect detours and potential bus stop relocations across the system in response to ongoing summer construction disruptions. More information on service impacts can be found at montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/rideondelays.html.
Operational changes implemented by MCDOT during the health emergency for riders boarding buses will remain in place. All passengers are required to wear a face covering to board and must continue wearing the covering for the entire time riding on a bus. All buses have a supply of face coverings for those who cannot provide their own. More than 170,000 face coverings have been distributed on buses to Ride On passengers since late April.
Riders are asked to make best efforts to maintain maximum physical distance between themselves and other riders who are not from the same household. Passengers generally must board at the rear door of the bus, but can board through the front door if a ramp is needed to accommodate a disability or stroller.
Ride On services remain free to all passengers—a temporary change made during the health crisis.
Bus interiors will continue to be cleaned by the County’s Department of General Services on a nightly basis with hospital-grade disinfectant. Bus filter and ventilation systems also are treated each night with a disinfectant.
MCDOT is seeking feedback from Ride On users about service during the health crisis and plans to release its next rider survey in mid-August to access reopening efforts.