County To Add Limited-Stop Bus Service To Rockville Pike

The new bus service will extend from the Medical Center Metro station in Bethesda to Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg


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Image via Montgomery County

Montgomery County is looking to speed up bus service for riders on Rockville Pike with a new limited-stop service during rush hour.

The county announced plans for Ride On extRa earlier this month, which will transport riders between 12 stops along Maryland Route 355 from the Medical Center Metro station in Bethesda to Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg. The service is expected to start in October.

County Executive Ike Leggett allocated $2.6 million in his fiscal 2018 budget request for the program, which is expected to cost about $2 million per year to operate.

The county plans to run 17 new buses along the north-south route. The buses will feature wireless internet and USB charging ports, while renovated bus stations will include real-time information displays so riders can see when the next bus will arrive.

Riders can use cash or SmarTrip cards to ride the buses, which will run every 10 minutes from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. weekdays. To speed up boarding, the county will not allow riders to load more money onto SmarTrip cards on the buses.

The 14-mile route will include stops at Lakeforest Transit Center, Summit Avenue, Westland Drive, Shady Grove Metro, Montgomery College, Rockville Metro, Edmonston Drive, Halpine Road, Marinelli Road, Security Lane, Tuckerman Lane and Medical Center Metro. The 12 stops are far less than the 80 stops along the current Ride On route.

Leggett said in a statement the new bus service is being established as the county continues to plan for Bus Rapid Transit on the roadway.

“The new Ride On extRa service will move people more quickly in modern, sleek vehicles with enhanced amenities,” Leggett said. “Giving travelers more options can reduce the number of cars on this highly congested thoroughfare and ease the commute for the remaining drivers.”

The buses on the route will also operate with a “Transit Signal Priority” system that enables traffic signals to detect the buses and then provide a few extra seconds of green light to allow a bus to pass through an intersection, according to the county.

Fares for Ride On extRa will be the same as other county buses, which will be $2 in October.

The new bus service will run between Medical Center Station and Lakeforest Transit Center on MD Route 355. Image via Google Maps

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