Route for InterCounty Connector (ICC) Selected — back to top
With the selection this month by the Governor of the Master Plan alignment for the InterCounty Connector (ICC), more than 40 years of planning and community involvement are preserved. The ICC has designated as a top priority project by Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in his fight against traffic congestion. During his time in public service, Duncan has fought to move the ICC forward, personally working to break the political gridlock that that has condemned residents to perpetual traffic tie-ups. And, in 2002, he submitted the formal application for streamlined review of the ICC project by federal authorities. Construction of the ICC is scheduled to begin in 2006.
In his statement following the ICC announcement, Duncan said, “Our state is drowning in traffic congestion and one road alone will not solve the problem. I pledge to continue to be an outspoken advocate for increased, road, transit and trail funding to address Maryland’s transportation challenges.”
There is no other project in the County Executive’s Go Montgomery! transportation initiative that has a greater impact on traffic congestion relief than the ICC. The road will divert traffic off local neighborhood streets, as motorists will have an alternative to highly congested east-west routes.
For information on the Intercounty Connector, go to www.iccstudy.org or call
Duncan Announces Record-Setting Year for Ride On — back to top
One way Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan supports reducing traffic congestion is by making transit even easier and more convenient – and he must be succeeding! The County’s Ride On bus system broke ridership records in fiscal year 2005, providing service to more than 25 million passengers. This represents an 8.3 percent increase in ridership from 2004, and a 43 percent increase since he took office in 1995.
In August, Ride On introduced the U-Pass Program that gives Montgomery College students unlimited use of the Ride On bus system. The program reduces the demand for on-campus parking, reduces pollution, and increases transit use. In September, Ride On added 15 new, compressed natural gas (CNG), low-floor buses that completed the fleet’s transition to total accessibility, either by ramp or lift, for passengers with disabilities. The new buses also improved schedule reliability on seven routes, enhanced frequency on four routes, and provided service to two new transit centers. In January, additional service expansions included new weekend service on four routes that formerly had only weekday service and added more bus trips at the beginning or end of the service day to 20 other routes. In May, new and restructured routes in Germantown far exceeded expectations in attracting new riders and providing more efficient service. Ride On expanded service in Germantown to accommodate this growing community’s need for better transit access between its residential, retail, and commercial areas. Also in May, the Freewheeling Service attracted about 1,000 new customers to 16 free routes in the
I-270, U.S. Route 29, and selected east-west corridors. The free rides, which are offered for a limited time, were designed to encourage residents to take Ride On to Metro or other destinations and help relieve traffic congestion in busy corridors. A survey estimates that one-third to one-half of the new riders will be retained once the free fare program is discontinued.
Ride On Introduces New Safety Initiatives — back to top
Over the past year, Ride On has introduced new safety initiatives to improve security for passengers and enhance preparedness for any emergency. The measures include:
- Both uniformed and plain clothes police patrols on buses. Montgomery County Police officers, both uniformed and plainclothes, have been riding on buses to deter disruptive behavior or prohibited conduct. Officers can issue civil citations and remove offenders from buses, and if necessary, arrest those who commit serious violations. Under the County’s Disruptive Behavior Law, it would be possible to ban someone from using Ride On buses for a specified period of time.
- A “silent alarm” on buses for drivers to use in case of emergency. The alarm is activated discreetly by the driver, sending a signal to Ride On’s Central Communications Center.
- Specially equipped cell phones on every bus that allow drivers to directly call 911. Ride On buses now have a charged cell phone installed so the driver can directly contact the County’s 911 Call Center.
- Cameras on all new buses; cameras added to some older buses. Currently, 90 buses have security cameras and all new buses come equipped with cameras. Within the next year, nearly half of all Ride On buses will have on-board cameras.
- Additional training for drivers and supervisors. Ride On supervisors took the National Transit Institute training program -- Violence in the Transit Workplace: Prevention, Response and Recovery. Bus operators received Federal Transit Administration courses on Terrorist Activity Recognition and Reaction and Courtesy/Self Defense training.
- Participation in the federal “Transit Watch” program. “Transit Watch” is a Federal Transit Administration public awareness and education campaign that encourages transit employees, passengers and neighborhood residents to stay alert and work together to keep our community safe. Patterned after the successful nationwide “Neighborhood Watch” program, Transit Watch promotes emergency preparedness on transit systems and in neighborhoods near transit facilities. Ride On is distributing a new brochure on the buses entitled “Safety and Security Awareness.”
- Launch of a County Transit Security Hotline at 240-777-5835. Passengers can use this number to report something out of the ordinary or a potentially dangerous scenario they observed while on a bus.
Ride On has also increased security at bus depots by installing electronic access devices on all entrances and establishing sign-in procedures for depot visitors. For more information about Ride On, visit the County’s website at montgomerycountymd.gov/rideon. Or, call the Transit Information Center at 240-777-7433 (RIDE).
Know What to Do When Approached by an Emergency Vehicle — back to top
We all know how frustrating it can be when the roads are congested as a result of collisions, work zones or holiday travelers. But, when emergency vehicles are impacted by these conditions, it can mean the difference between life and death. To help the County’s Fire and Rescue Service respond to 911 calls for help, here’s what drivers can do when hearing a siren:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Keep radio volume low and check rear view mirrors frequently.
- Look for the emergency vehicle and calmly pull over and stop. By State Law you are required to drive immediately to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the edge or curb of the roadway until the emergency vehicle has passed.
- Keep intersections clear.
- Be mindful that there may be additional emergency vehicles approaching.
- Re-enter traffic with caution after the emergency vehicle has passed. Remember to use signals.
When approaching an accident scene, remember these tips:
- Stay alert – expect the unexpected to occur when approaching emergency vehicles.
- Pay close attention – watch for police or fire direction.
- Turn on your headlights – let on-scene workers and other motorists see you.
- Don’t tailgate – unexpected stops frequently occur near scenes.
- Slow down.
- Keep up with the traffic flow – dedicate full attention to the roadway and those traveling around you.
- Minimize distractions – avoid changing radio stations and using mobile cell phones while approaching these areas.
- Watch out for emergency workers and their equipment.
- Be patient – remember, firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians are working to help someone.
For more tips on how to react to emergency situations while driving, visit Fire and Rescue's website at montgomerycountymd.gov/firerescue.
New Bikeways Map Features Silver Spring’s Extensive
Bicycle and Pedestrian Network — back to top
Silver Spring Bikeways is a new, colorful guide for bikers and pedestrians that shows how easy it is to take advantage of downtown Silver Spring’s mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment venues without a car.
The guide offers information on major bicycle and pedestrian routes; amenities and safety tips for cyclists; accessing public transportation with a bicycle; major retail and dining centers; local government offices; and other areas of interest. A greater Silver Spring regional map and a detailed map of the central business district are included in the guide. Contact information for county, state and regional cycling resources is also listed.
In addition to highlighting the area’s on and off-road bicycle routes, Silver Spring Bikeways lists public transportation options serving the downtown, including the VanGo, Silver Spring’s free, downtown circulator shuttle. All Ride On and Metrobuses in Montgomery County are equipped with bike racks.
Copies of Silver Spring Bikeways are available on the Silver Spring Transportation Management District office’s website at montgomerycountymd.gov/commute; by calling 301-770-POOL (7665); or by visiting Montgomery County Commuter Services, Department of Public Works and Transportation, 8401 Colesville Road, Silver Spring.
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