Montgomery County Roadways Getting a Spring Cleaning — back
Montgomery County’s annual street sweeping program to clean the County’s nearly 4,000 curb miles of roads began March 24. This three-month effort removes abrasives and other materials left behind after the winter snow season, improving the environment and the appearance and safety of County streets.
Street sweeping is a joint effort between the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The program is expected to remove more than 3,000 tons of salt, sand, and debris from road surfaces to keep drainage systems clean. It reduces pollutants that flow into local streams and, eventually, into the Chesapeake Bay. Roads that are in areas identified by DEP as sensitive watersheds will be swept first and, if needed, will receive additional sweepings.
Brightly colored signs will be posted in neighborhoods a few days before the sweeping begins. By finding alternative parking while their streets are cleaned, residents can help to improve the quality of service and the effectiveness of the sweeping program.
Daily updates detailing which areas are scheduled for street sweeping is provided on County Cable Montgomery (Channel 6) during the morning and afternoon rush hours when the channel broadcasts live coverage of local traffic conditions. Internet users can also find information about the schedule online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dpwt, go to Highway Maintenance and then Street Sweeping.
For more information, contact DPWT’s Division of Operations Customer Service Line at 240-777-6000.
Ride On’s Annual Food Drive Has Switched to April:
Donate Food and Take the Bus For Free — back
Ride On bus passengers in Montgomery County can help needy families and receive free bus rides by donating canned or nonperishable food during Ride On’s annual food drive, Monday, April 7 through Sunday, April 13.
For 20 years, Ride On collected food at Thanksgiving. However, food donation centers tend to receive more food than they can store during the winter holiday season. So last year, Manna Food Center, the non-profit organization that distributes Ride On’s food contributions, asked Ride On to change the time of its food drive to the spring. Manna Food Center distributes food to 2,000 hungry families each month, and the need has increased with the downturn in the economy.
During the Give and Ride promotion, food collection bags will be placed near the fare boxes on all Ride On buses. Riders using free shuttles and other transit services can participate by bringing their donations to a Ride On bus. In addition to non-perishable food, children’s items are also needed. Disposable diapers, formula, baby or toddler food, and juice are especially useful to families in need. Plastic containers are preferred.
All food donations, regardless of the number of cans, will be valued at the regular fare rate of $1.35. Riders who wish to buy a Regional One-Day pass will need to add $1.65 to the fare box. Residents who do not ride the bus but wish to donate food can participate by giving their donations to a bus operator at any Ride On bus stop.
For bus stop locations or bus schedules, call the County’s Transit Information Center at 240-777-7433; TDD/TTY 240-777-5869. Route and timetable information is also available on Ride On’s web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov, then click on “Ride On.” Tokens and passes can be purchased online.
Ride On Security Measures Help Keep Passengers and Drivers Safe — back
Ride On is dedicated to passenger and driver safety and has instituted a number of enhanced security steps, including both uniformed and plainclothes police patrols on buses; a “silent alarm” for bus drivers in case of emergency; and special cell phones that allow bus drivers to call 911.
In addition, many Ride On buses are now equipped with cameras and recording devices that document activity on the vehicle and in the immediate area.
Drivers and supervisors receive special security training. Drivers watch for any suspicious packages on or near buses, or other activity in neighborhoods where they operate. They are in direct contact with Ride On’s dispatch, which is located in the County’s 911 center.
For passengers, Ride On has a brochure called “Safety and Security Awareness.” Bus commuters are asked to be especially mindful of carry-on packages that are left unattended. Ride On also operates a Transit-Watch Security Hotline. Passengers can call 1-800-492-TIPS (8477) to report anything potentially dangerous or out of the ordinary that occurs on a bus or in a neighborhood.
To request the safety brochure, or for more information about Ride On, go to the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rideon or call the Transit Information Center at 240-777-RIDE (7433).
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Bus Stop Hotline Available to Report Maintenance or Repair Issues — back
The ownership and maintenance of bus stops and shelters in the County is the responsibility of various entities, depending on their location. To make things simpler for residents, Montgomery County has a Bus Stop Hotline that can be reached by calling
240-777-5824. Anyone with a concern or comment related to bus stops or shelters can leave a message at this number, which is monitored daily. County staff will then contact the appropriate party if maintenance or repair to the shelter or stop is required.
Residents Can Save Money by Using the
and CNG Fueling Stations — back
At the end of March, the average nationwide price at the pump hit $3.26 a gallon. Montgomery County reminds the public that there are cheaper alternatives available for those driving flexible fuel or compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. The County’s ethanol and CNG fueling stations are open for unattended, public use 24-hours a day, seven days a week for purchases with a Visa or MasterCard credit card. At the station, the current cost of ethanol is $3.19 a gallon and CNG is $2.29 a gallon, making them very competitive options to gasoline. The price will fluctuate with market conditions. The County’s stations are located at the Department of Public Works and Transportation Depot at 16640 Crabbs Branch Way in Rockville.
Using ethanol and CNG reduces oil imports and increases sales of these domestically produced fuels. Montgomery County is committed to the use of environmentally-friendly alternative fuel vehicles that will help cut energy consumption. The County has been working towards expanding its alternative fuel capabilities with a diverse fleet that can take advantage of rapidly evolving technologies. The County currently has more than 120 flexible fuel vehicles that can run on ethanol fuel or gasoline and 100 buses, vans, trucks and cars that run on CNG.
Vehicle owners are urged to check their owner manuals or contact their dealers to confirm that their vehicles can accept E-85. Ethanol fuel is known as E-85 because it is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from corn, wheat, barley, or any other starch-based product. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ethanol can be used in more than five million vehicles on American roads.
Other alternative vehicles that the County operates include hybrid electric cars powered by gasoline and electricity, and several hybrid electric buses.
For a complete list of E-85 compatible vehicles and fueling stations, visit the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition website at www.E85Fuel.com. For information about CNG vehicles, go to the U.S. Department of Energy website at www.eere.energy.gov. For more information on the ethanol or CNG fueling stations, call 240-777-5730.
Taxicab Riders Can Register Compliments and Complaints with County Hotline — back
Montgomery County is committed to improving taxicab customer service. To give customers an opportunity to report on taxicab performance and responsiveness, the Taxicab Hotline was established. Using the Hotline gives taxi riders the opportunity to share their compliments or concerns about service, timeliness or other issues. The data from the Hotline is used by the County’s Taxicab Unit to compile information, investigate complaints and enforce the law.
The Hotline is answered by Division of Transit Services Taxicab Unit staff from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Messages can be left at all other times and staff will return the call. The Hotline can be reached by calling 240-777- 2625, or at TTY 240-777-2630, or by going to the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/taxihotline
The Hotline is not designed to resolve immediate service issues, such as if a taxi is late. Riders are encouraged to call the taxi company directly to resolve this type of concern.
How to Get What You Need at DPWT — back
The Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) has a popular publication available titled “How to Get What You Need at DPWT.” The booklet explains how the County plans, funds and builds both large and small transportation projects and provides guidance to residents who want to advocate for transportation improvements.
The booklet describes the budget process and explains the primary sources of DPWT funding -- the operating budget, the capital budget for stand alone projects, and special funds, that pay for smaller projects over a relatively short timeframe.
Included is a description of DPWT’s organization with staff contact information that is useful for civic leaders, board members, or anyone who has ideas for transportation projects in their community. Residents should be aware that a proposed DPWT reorganization, scheduled to start July 1, could change some of the contact information.
For a free copy of “How to Get What You Need at DPWT,” call the Community Outreach Office at 240-777-7155.
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