Beginning July 1, the Kids Ride Free program will once again provide free rides on County Ride On buses and certain Metrobus routes within Montgomery County to students ages 18 and under. The free rides will be available weekdays between 2 and 7 p.m.
The program will operate year-round. Students should show their school photo identification cards (IDs) when boarding buses. The Montgomery County Division of Transit Services will be printing a special ID for elementary, home school, and certain private school students who do not have school photo IDs. Those without IDs should contact their school first or call 311.
Other facts about the program are:
An additional charge of $2.15 in cash is required when taking Express Routes 70, J7 and J9, even during Kids Ride Free times -- weekdays between 2 and 7 p.m. Students riding the Express Routes at other times must pay the express fare of $3.65 when using a SmarTrip card and $3.85 when paying cash.
Kids Ride Free on Metrobus is limited to these routes: C2, C4, C8, D5, F4, F6, J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, K6, L8, Q1, Q2, Q4, Q5, Q6, T2, Y5, Y7, Y8, Y9, Z2, Z6, Z8, Z9, Z11, Z13 and Z29.
Student bus rides at times other than weekdays between 2 and 7 p.m. will require payment, either by cash, a Youth Cruiser Pass or a SmarTrip Card. Youth Cruiser passes allow those 18 and under to take Ride On at steeply discounted rates. (Youth Cruiser passes are not accepted on Metrobus.) The cost is $11 a month, good for unlimited rides. During the summer, a three-month pass costs only $18. To purchase the Youth Cruiser Pass, students must show proof of age at time of purchase.
Youth Cruiser or other fare media may be purchased at the:
Silver Spring TRiPS Store, 8413 Ramsey Avenue;
Friendship Heights TRiPS Store, 17 Wisconsin Circle; and
Montgomery County Transit Information Center, 101 Monroe Street, 5th Floor, Rockville.
Beginning mid-July: Montgomery County Treasury Office, 255 Rockville Pike, Rockville.
The Ride On Monthly Pass, which allows unlimited rides for one month, will increase to $40 beginning July 1.
Also beginning July 1, the price of the second monthly coupon book for Call ‘n Ride participants will increase by $5 to $10.25. The price of the first monthly coupon book will remain at $5.25. Residents who qualify for the Call ‘n Ride program may purchase up to two coupon books a month, each of which provides $60 worth of taxicab rides. The change will mean that patrons can purchase $120 worth of coupons for $15.25 every month.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) recently completed several projects as part of the County Executive’s pedestrian safety initiative. Such investments are intended to reduce the more than 400 pedestrian collisions that currently occur each year.
To enhance safety for students on Bethesda Church Road at Damascus High School, MCDOT installed bump-outs and relocated a crosswalk to make a retail center across the street more accessible. Bump-outs narrow the crossing distance on a road and slow motorists through the area.
On Scenery Drive between Golden Meadow Drive and Sceptre Ridge Terrace, MCDOT installed bump-outs and pedestrian refuge and traffic calming islands.
At the Germantown Transit Center on Aircraft Drive, the traffic lanes were modified to install a new crosswalk and refuge island and additional sidewalk connections were completed.
At the Lake Forest Transit Center on Lost Knife Drive, MCDOT installed a new marked crosswalk and median crossing. A decorative fence was added in the median to discourage jaywalking.
Cell phones can now be used to pay for parking at nearly 10,730 meters in all four County Parking Lot Districts with the recent conversion of 129 County parking meters in Montgomery Hills and 830 meters in Wheaton. By the end of July, the program will be expanded to include another 1,089 meters in North Bethesda.
Staff completed converting Bethesda’s 5,000 parking meters in March and Silver Spring’s 4,500 parking meters in May.
To use pay-by-cell, first-time patrons register for the program once by going online anytime or calling 301-830-7074. Parkers set up an account and indicate which credit card will be used to pay for the parking charges. The step-by-step instructions are printed on each meter.
Patrons receive voice and text messages confirming the start of their parking session and get a text message reminder that their parking time is about to expire. A 35-cent transaction fee is charged in addition to the parking fee.
For more information on the pay-by-cell initiative, or to register for an account, go to the pay-by-cell website.
The Department of Transportation’s Division of Highway Services (DHS) recently resurfaced Three Sisters Road, Potomac and Lantern Hollow Drive, North Potomac. Starting June 20, crews began resurfacing roads in the Griffith Park neighborhood, Sandy Spring and on June 30 in the Hamlet North subdivision, Gaithersburg.
DHS is also repaving Randolph Road, from the CSX railroad tracks to the Rock Creek Bridge. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is the source of funding for the Randolph Road project, which began at the end of June and will take three to four weeks to complete.
Dewey Road, from Randolph Road to Garrett Park Road, Wheaton, was permanently patched in May.
For all these projects, DHS patches areas of distressed pavement; mills the roadway surface, removing one to two inches to improve drainage; makes utility adjustments; seals cracks; repaves the road using hot mix asphalt; and restores the lane markings.
Work is also planned to preserve roads in the Hampshire Greens neighborhood, Silver Spring, and a portion of the Fox Hills West neighborhood in Potomac, using micro seal resurfacing. The remainder of the Fox Hills West neighborhood will be resurfaced next fiscal year. For these projects, DHS patches areas of distressed pavement; makes utility adjustments; seals cracks; restores the lane markings; and uses a micro seal material that fills cracks and small voids and extends the life of the road pavement.
Repairs are in progress in the Greentree Manor neighborhood, Bethesda and the Greenwood Knolls community, Silver Spring.
The work involves removing and replacing damaged sidewalks and ensuring that curb ramps are accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, removing and replacing damaged and misaligned curbs and restoring disturbed areas with soil, grass seed and straw mulch. While DHS is in the neighborhood, residents can take advantage of the competitive price offered by the County to replace 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).
To make biking more convenient, Montgomery County recently announced the availability of a new bike map. The interactive and printable map is available online, or for those who prefer a traditional map, by mail from Commuter Services.
To encourage more bicycle commuting, Montgomery County is providing free bike rack installations at workplaces or other public locations. Priority is given to sites with access to public buildings within County right-of-ways that are adjacent to schools, libraries, employment centers, recreational and civic buildings. The rack is an “inverted u” style. Once it’s installed, the rack becomes the property of the authorizing facility owner/firm/agency.
Eleven thousand cyclists hit the region’s streets on May 20 for Bike to Work Day and Montgomery County hosted more than 2,300 of them at nine pit stop events. Coordinated by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), the event set a new record for participation.
Montgomery County-based pit stops included Downtown Bethesda, the Food and Drug Administration, the Naval Medical, the National Institutes of Health, North Bethesda, Rock Spring Park, Rockville Falls Grove, Rockville Town Center and Silver Spring.
The Montgomery County Police Department continued its commitment to traffic and pedestrian safety with a new “Operation Safe Streets” enforcement initiative that kicked-off in early May.
Operation Safe Streets deploys officers from all six traffic squads on selected road corridors, in locations with a high number of pedestrian collisions, and in designated Safe Routes to Schools areas. Using several strategies, officers target a variety of traffic offenses committed by both drivers and pedestrians. These include speeding, turning violations, red light running, failure to obey traffic control devices, failure to yield to pedestrians and pedestrian violations at intersections. Both driver and pedestrian offenders receive citations.
Officers will continue to conduct this intensive enforcement on a regular basis throughout the year. For more information about the results of the most recent Operation Safe Streets, visit the County’s website.
The 1967 Northwest Branch Beltway Bridge over the Anacostia River is showing signs of deck deterioration and must be rehabilitated in the portion between MD 650 (New Hampshire Avenue) and MD 193 (University Boulevard). This Maryland State Highway Administration project should be completed in fall 2012.
Work on the bridge begins this summer. No work can be done over the winter and the temporary concrete traffic barriers will be removed. Repairs will resume in spring 2012.
During construction, all eight lanes of the bridge will remain open during weekday peak travel periods, but lane widths will be reduced from 12 to 11 feet. Expect closures of one, two or three lanes overnight, depending on the time. Road shoulders will be unavailable until the project is completed.
About 230,000 vehicles use the bridge every day. Drivers are cautioned to remain alert and anticipate reduced speed limits, narrowed lanes and the presence of highway workers in the Northwest Branch Bridge corridor.
The Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) expects to begin an intersection improvement project in July at Sweepstakes Road/Marboro Drive and Ridge Road/MD27 in Damascus. The project is expected to be completed this winter.
The project includes building a new 200-foot, exclusive right turn lane carrying traffic from northbound MD27 to eastbound Sweepstakes Road. The project will include a five foot wide bicycle lane, reconstruction of the existing traffic signal, and other improvements.
Travelers now have another transportation option to BWI Airport since the new MTA (Maryland Transit Administration) Route 201 intercity bus line to BWI airport began stopping at the Burtonsville/MD198 Park & Ride Lot. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) approved a request from the Maryland Department of Transportation to allow travelers to park at the lot for as long as a week.
MCDOT also approved a similar measure that allows travelers to park at the Metropolitan Grove MARC rail station and take the new MTA Route 202 intercity bus line to Fort Meade.
Both intercity bus lines use the InterCounty Connector/MD200 to quickly reach their destinations. For more information on these commuter bus services, visit MTA’s website.
WTOP radio reported that the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) will begin the following projects to protect or enhance the environment as part of the construction of the InterCounty Connector/MD200:
Create 15 acres of wetlands on Seneca Creek at Brink Road and Huntmaster Road and enhance nearly one-and-a-half acres of existing wetlands. The project should be completed in about a year.
Restore a 1,000-foot stream at Meadowbrook Local Park in Chevy Chase. The one-year project will eliminate fish migration barriers to Rock Creek caused by sharp drops in the stream bed.
Plant 15 acres of new trees at the Reddy Branch and South Germantown Recreational Park and create 16 acres of forest at six sites near Spencerville Road and Good Hope Road in Cloverly.
Improve the quality of water entering the Upper Paint Branch watershed by upgrading roadside ditches. The work is expected to be completed by late summer.
Montgomery County has five EV charging stations so far, all installed by The Tower Companies at the following locations:
The Blairs Shopping Center, Silver Spring (two EV’s);
Blair House, Silver Spring;
The LEED Platinum certified commercial office building at 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard, Rockville; and
The LEED Silver certified Tower Building, Rockville.
Under a program offered by the state of Maryland using funding from the Federal government’s stimulus program, Maryland will have 80 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations by the end of this summer.
Maryland offers two tax credits to spur broader adoption of electric vehicles and their charging systems:
EV Tax Credit: Consumers purchasing a plug-in electric vehicle titled in Maryland through July 1, 2013, may be eligible for a $2,000 excise motor vehicle tax credit (taken at the point of sale, which can be combined with an existing $7,500 federal tax credit).
EV Charging Station Tax Credit: Consumers may be eligible for a $400 tax credit toward installation of electric vehicle charging stations in their homes.
Employers who establish an off-site workstation may be eligible for a tax credit against the personal property tax from Montgomery County. Employers who purchase a new home computer or new laptop computer may receive a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost of each new computer. More information is available on the County’s Commuter Services website.
Montgomery County employers interested in setting up a transit benefits program for their employees can contact Commuter Services. Commuting Consultants are available to help set up a customized program.