Provides Passengers with Real Time Information on Bus Arrivals
Ride On has launched a new system called Ride On Real Time that allows passengers to obtain real-time information on bus arrivals using the internet, texting, a smart phone or mobile applications (apps) for iPhones or Android phones. The new tools will help passengers determine when the next arriving bus will be at their stop.
Last year, Ride On added unique identification (ID) numbers to the signs at each of the County’s 4,800 bus stops. The ID numbers are used by the real time system to pinpoint a passenger’s location and give arriving bus times at that stop. The ID numbers can also be found at www.RideOnRealTime.com.
Ride On Real Time can be accessed in several ways:
By texting the bus stop ID number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Passengers will quickly receive a text message indicating when their next arriving bus is coming. Riders should check with their cell phone provider to see if additional charges apply.
Ride On has made the source information for the new system available to the public through an application programming interface that allows third parties to develop additional applications.
Features of Ride On Real Time include:
A “Notify Me” option. After registering their email address and selecting the bus stops, routes and times of bus service they are interested in, passengers can automatically receive regular notifications of bus arrivals.
A real time map that tracks the location of buses.
Ride On’s bus schedules.
A Trip Planner feature on the website helps users figure out bus routes and schedules to get them to their destinations. This feature is especially useful for new transit users or those who may be going to an unfamiliar destination. The App includes schedules and real time information for Ride On, as well as the Metro system and some regional transit systems.
In the next few months, the County will be adding equipment to the County’s newest buses so they can be tracked by the Real Time system. There are still a few bus stops that cannot be accessed by Real Time, but will be added soon. For those stops, it is suggested that riders enter the bus stop ID number for the preceding stop to estimate when their bus will arrive. Ride On encourages passengers who encounter a problem with Ride On Real Time to email staff at email@example.com.
Four “how-to” tutorials on using Ride On Real Time are also available on the County’s You Tube site. Go to Videos and search for the Ride On Real Time titles. Check the County’s website for more information on Ride On or call 311.
Nearly Doubles Number of Parking Spaces at Popular Metro Station
A second garage at the Glenmont Metro station has increased parking spaces at the popular Metro station to 3,000. The garage was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, helping the County attain its sustainability goals.
A canopy connects the garage entrance to the Metrorail entrance. The garage features customer assistance phones, extra lighting, digital security cameras and a police room to enhance security. Parking at the garage costs $4.75. Parkers can use a ‘SmartTrip’ fare card or credit card for payment.
The garage has six levels of parking, with one level below ground. The garage’s environmentally sensitive features include energy efficient light fixtures and measures to reduce energy use; maximization of recycling and reuse of construction, demolition and land clearing debris; and use of building materials that are locally produced or contain recycled content.
The cost of the garage was $24.7 million, with financing provided from County revenue and liquor bonds backed by Metro; a special parking surcharge at all Metro stations in the County; and a $1.6 million matching grant from the State of Maryland. To aid commuters during construction, Congressman Chris Van Hollen obtained $500,000 in federal funds to purchase two new buses that enhanced the frequency of Ride On bus service to Glenmont Station.
Metro managed the design/building project for the County and contracted with Forrester Construction Company, a local Rockville firm. The garage will be operated and maintained by Metro.
Go to Metro’s website for more information about riding Metro or parking at the station.
Barnesville Road at Bucklodge Creek has reopened after being closed since early March for repairs following the failure of a five-foot diameter pipe that ran under the bridge.
The work was conducted by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Division of Highway Services and involved excavating the road, removing the old pipe, installing a new 60-inch diameter pipe, backfilling material around the pipe and reconstructing part of the road. The repair project also required diverting Bucklodge Creek and constructing new end walls on each side of Barnesville Road. MCDOT appreciates the public’s cooperation and patience during the repairs.
The Division of Transportation Engineering (DTE) has reopened the White Ground Road Bridge over Bucklodge Branch following a project to reconstruct the failing bridge built around 1950. The project also included extensive stream restoration and rebuilding of 500 feet of approach roadway on either side of the bridge.
The new bridge is 48-feet long and 18-feet wide and consists of a single span concrete slab. White Ground Road is designated as an exceptional rustic road, so in order to maintain the road’s character, the one-lane width of the bridge was not altered..
The Division of Transportation Engineering has begun construction of a 1,000-foot extension of the Montrose Trail from the eastern end of Swim Club Way to Tildenwood Drive. The hiker/biker trail will have a 10-foot-wide paved surface, five-foot grass shoulders, drainage ditches on the north side and a six-foot-high wooden fence along the southern portion to screen adjacent residential properties on Wolftree Lane and Oden Court.
Trail landscaping will include deciduous trees along the northern side of the trail and deciduous and evergreen trees behind the wooden fence to provide additional screening for adjacent residential properties.
To provide access the Shady Grove Metro station and Crabbs Branch Way, DTE begins construction in April of a new 10-foot bike path along the east side of the Shady Grove Metro access road from Shady Grove Road to Redland Road. The project also includes installing raised crosswalks and speed humps on the access road.
Serving 10 communities within two miles, the path will connect to a sidewalk and a nearby bikeway network, including existing or proposed facilities on Shady Grove Road, Crabbs Branch Way, Redland Road, Needwood Road, the Midcounty Highway and the Intercounty Connector/MD200.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority provided land for the project to the County at no charge. The project received Federal funding.
JonesBridge Traffic Calming
The MCDOT Division of Traffic Engineering and Operations (DTEO) recently completed traffic calming and pedestrian safety improvements on Jones Bridge Road between Connecticut Avenue (MD 185) and Jones Mill Road. DTEO installed new concrete median islands, marked crosswalks, ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps and permanent traffic signs and pavement markings, and patched the roadway, where needed. Concrete median islands have successfully reduced vehicle speeds in residential neighborhoods and improved safety for pedestrians.
The Division of Highway Services (DHS) will begin a repaving project on Seven Locks Road in early May that will take about four weeks to complete. DHS will patch areas of distressed pavement; mill the roadway surface, removing one to two inches to improve drainage; make utility adjustments; seal cracks; repave the road using hot mix asphalt; and restore the lane markings.
DHS will also begin concrete curb, gutter and sidewalk repairs in the Longmead Crossing Community in Silver Spring in early May. While DHS is in the neighborhood, residents can take advantage of discounts for concrete work repairs to driveway aprons (the portion of the driveway that is within the public right-of-way) and lead walks (the sidewalk from the edge of the road to a homeowner’s property line).
Highway Services has begun its annual street sweeping program on the County’s 5,000 curb miles of roads. This joint effort between the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) removes abrasives and other debris left behind after the winter snow season and improves the appearance and safety of County streets. Based on past results, officials expect the effort to remove more than 3,000 tons of material that could, otherwise, be washed into County streams.
Removing excess debris and abrasives from road surfaces helps to keep drainage systems clean. It also helps to reduce pollutants that flow into local streams and, eventually, into the Chesapeake Bay. Roads in areas identified by DEP as sensitive watersheds. Those areas will be swept first and, if needed, will receive additional sweepings.
Brightly colored signs are posted in neighborhoods a few days before street sweeping begins. To improve the quality of service and the effectiveness of the sweeping program, residents are urged to find alternative parking while their streets are cleaned.
Updates detailing which areas are scheduled for street sweeping are available on the County’s website.
Street Smart is a regional public safety campaign that has addressed the challenges of pedestrian and bicyclist safety since 2002. According to Street Smart, the Washington region ranks 20th out of the 52 largest metropolitan areas in pedestrian deaths per capita. On average, more than 2,600 pedestrians and bicyclists are injured in the region every year and 89 are killed. Pedestrians and bicyclists account for 30 percent of the region’s traffic fatalities.
Street Smart urges pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists to stay safe by following the law and sharing the road safely. The Street Smart program is coordinated by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) and is supported by federal funds made available through state governments, plus funding from some TPB member jurisdictions. Visit the Street Smart website to learn more about the campaign.
Teens to Compete in “See Them See You!” Best Eyes and Texting Contests
As part of Montgomery County’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety in areas with the highest densities of collisions, the County has launched a campaign aimed at high school students in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring. Photos of the eyes of two teen winners from Montgomery Blair High School will be featured on posters that urge pedestrians to establish eye contact with drivers and look both ways before crossing the street. The poster theme is “See Them See You!” and will feature messages, such as: “Hey you, I’m looking at you!”, “Hey driver, I’m looking at you!”, or “Can you see me now?”
A group of Montgomery Blair high school students was involved in developing the public education campaign aimed at teens. Collision data from the Four Corners area shows that those under 20 years of age and those over 50 have been involved in the most collisions, mostly during daylight hours.
Montgomery Blair students also can participate in a text message quiz about pedestrian safety to win gift cards and other prizes.
Participating students receive rubber wristbands that reinforce pedestrian safety, featuring messages that include “Make Eye Contact. SWAG,” “Use Crosswalks. SWAG,” “Look Both Ways. SWAG,” “Text + Walk = FAIL” and “Get Hit by a Bus. FAIL.” (SWAG and FAIL are slang for good and bad, respectively.) In addition, SWAG is used as an acronym for See them see you, Wait for the walk, Always use crosswalks, and Go reflective (especially at night). The wristbands are reminders of safe pedestrian behaviors for the teen wearers, as well as other students.
On May 18, commuters will have the opportunity to participate in the Washington area’s annual Bike to Work Day celebration and show their support for bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work. Bike to Work Day is a free, non-profit event that encourages commuters to try bicycling to work as an alternative to solo driving. Last year, Bike to Work Day attracted nearly 11,000 bicyclists.
Go online to register for the event and get more information. Learn about the 58 pit stops throughout the region and 13 in Montgomery County, commuter convoys, how to find a ride buddy or become a sponsor.
Participants who pre-register will receive a free tee-shirt, refreshments and a chance to win bicycles and other raffle prizes. Tee-shirts are available at the pit stops and are limited to the first 11,000 who register.
The Public Technology Institute (PTI) has honored Montgomery County with an award in the Geospatial Information Systems category for the County’s On-Line Bikeways Map Viewer. PTI is a national technology organization created by and for cities and counties. The organization identifies opportunities for technology research, shares best practices, offers consultancies and pilot demonstrations, and promotes technology development initiatives.
The map viewer is a collaborative effort between the County’s Department of Technology Services and Department of Transportation (MCDOT). In addition to viewing the bikeway map online, a poster-sized printed version of the map can be downloaded.
Nominations are being accepted for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) annual Keep Montgomery County Beautiful (KMCB) landscaping and photography competitions.
The 26th Annual Landscape Contest is open to community groups, businesses, public institutions and other organizations undertaking landscaping projects that enhance the appearance of commonly owned sections of commercial or residential properties in Montgomery County. Landscaping along County roadsides, medians or other public locations is also eligible for the award.
For the 21st Annual Amateur Photography Contest, photos of County locations or residents are judged on effective composition, originality, interest and relevance of the subject matter, and technique. Subject categories include Montgomery County by day or by night, County landmarks, people and persons at work. There is also an optional youth category for those 18 and younger who wish to be judged only against their peers.
Seniors looking for transportation alternatives to driving in their own cars have a number of options in Montgomery County.
First is the County’s own Ride On bus system, with 82 routes. Every Ride On bus is lift-equipped to handle wheelchairs and most buses kneel to make entry easy. Seniors ride free from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and at half fare during other hours. MetroBus service is also available for longer trips, including into the District. Special training is available to make the first bus ride easy through the Connect-A-Ride program at senior centers.
Other options include MetroAccess and Medicaid Transportation for medical appointments; Call ‘N Ride, which provides discounted coupons for use on taxis; and a special senior bus service sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services that provides transportation to recreation centers or shops.
A new public parking garage has opened in downtown Silver Spring below the Galaxy Apartments being constructed on 13th Street. The garage is part of a public-private partnership that created a 195-unit apartment building. Formerly a County public parking lot, the underground garage has 208 private spaces for Galaxy residents and 160 County-owned public parking spaces.
Parking rates at the new public garage will be 75-cents an hour for short-term parking and 60-cents an hour for long-term parking of more than four hours. Pay by space on an hourly basis or use a monthly Parking Convenience Sticker (also know as the PCS Permit).
Check the County’s website to view all the public parking options in Silver Spring.
John Aaron, WTOP Radio, reported that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting while driving is the number one killer of American teens. The not-for-profit Texting Awareness Foundation hopes that statistic will convince drivers to put away their phones when behind the wheel.
As part of Distracted Driver Awareness Month, the foundation released the following facts:
Answering a text takes the driver’s attention away from the road for about five seconds, enough time to travel the length of a football field.
When a driver is texting, steering capability decreases by 91 percent.
While texting, reaction time decreases by 35 percent.
About 6,000 deaths and a half a million injuries are caused by distracted drivers every year.
Text messaging increases crash risk 23 times more than driving under normal circumstances.
Clean Air Partners is a non-profit, public-private partnership that distributes daily air quality forecast alerts and action tips for the metropolitan Washington-Baltimore region, western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Their alerts use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI), which rates air quality by color codes and levels of air pollution.
The group educates residents about the health risks associated with poor air quality, and encourages individuals and organizations to take simple actions to protect public health, improve air quality and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that can impact the climate. Tips include driving less. Cars are THE major source of air pollution in the Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore region. By leaving one’s car at home one day a week, 55 pounds of air pollution is prevented.
The Clean Air Partners color-coded air quality alerts are:
Green – good air quality.
Yellow – moderate air quality. Make fewer vehicle trips and combine errands on each trip.
Orange – unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups. Postpone errands and try to schedule meetings and trips to the grocery store when air quality is better.
Red – unhealthy air quality. Don't drive alone. Instead, carpool, take public transit or telecommute to reduce air pollution contributions and greenhouse gas emissions which can lead to climate change.
Purple -- very unhealthy air quality. Children (especially those with asthma) are at higher risk for illnesses from air pollution. Even the simple act of playing outdoors can become a health hazard.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the average American family spends more than $7,600 a year on transportation, more than they spend on food and more than twice what they spend on out-of-pocket health care costs. For 90 percent of Americans, transportation costs absorb one out of every seven dollars of income.
Traffic congestion on roads results in 1.9 billion gallons of gas wasted per year and costs drivers more than $100 billion in wasted fuel and lost time. Americans who were able to live in “location efficient” housing -- close to their jobs and/or transit -- were able to save $200 per month in transportation costs, including paying less at the pump over the past decade, according to the new research.
Commuter Services helps employers and employees understand and connect with cost-effective, sustainable transportation options. Visit their website for more information. Or, sign up for Commuter Services’ online newsletter, “Better Ways to Work” for more information on programs and services that assist commuters.