Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today kicked off a week of special events in celebration of the Ride On bus system’s 40th anniversary by proclaiming May 11 as Ride On day.
“Ride On has been and continues to be an unqualified success for Montgomery County. Today, it is part of a transit system that links to Metrobus and Metrorail,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “We look forward to the day when Ride On will be part of a comprehensive system that also includes the Purple Line and Rapid Transit System (RTS) lines.”
Also at today’s celebration in Rockville were U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, County Council President George Leventhal, County Councilmembers Sidney Katz and Hans Riemer, Maryland State Delegate Charles Barkley, Acting MCDOT Director Al Roshdieh and Transit Services Chief Carolyn Biggins. Additional attendees included Bill Oliver, an operator with Ride On since the 1970’s; Susanne Brunhart-Wiggins, a Ride On passenger since 1975 and Ed Daniel, the first division chief of Ride On.
“Over the last four decades, Montgomery County’s Ride On bus service has grown to be an integral part of the region’s public transit system, efficiently and safely connecting communities. The longevity of the Ride On system also is proof that environmentally-friendly policies and economic stability are not mutually exclusive,” said Cardin. “While it may be easiest to measure growth in terms of the number of buses, routes or riders, Ride On also brings Montgomery County residents immeasurable benefits whenever drivers give directions, hands-on assistance or even share a smile. It’s that type of service that has carved out a valued place in the community for Ride On.”
Ride On began operations in 1975 with 20 buses in Gaithersburg and Silver Spring. Today, Ride On operates 343 buses and provides award-winning transit service countywide, 365-days-per-year. On a typical weekday, people take 86,000 trips on 78 weekday Ride On routes. More than 75 percent of Ride On buses are hybrid-electric diesel, clean diesel, or run on compressed natural gas, all of which reduce harmful air emissions. This proportion will rise as older buses are replaced with new, more energy-efficient vehicles.
“From its humble beginnings 40 years ago, Ride On has become an integral part of the region’s balanced transportation network, providing 26.5 million trips a year," said Roshdieh. “Further expanding transit and other travel options is critical to relieving traffic congestion. If Ride On was not available to our residents, each year there would be 96.5 million additional vehicle miles of car traffic on our already clogged Montgomery County roads. Ride On is a green and sustainable alternative to single passenger vehicles and our use of alternative fuels significantly reduces air pollution.”Ride On’s theme for its 40th anniversary is: “We love our riders. Our operators are the best.” At Monday’s event, Biggins displayed the award Ride On received from the Transportation Association of Maryland recognizing Ride On as the Large Transit System of the Year.
“To commemorate this occasion and encourage more people to combine bike trips with Ride On, we are offering a special promotion for Bike to Work Day, which allows those with bikes to ride free on Ride On,” said Biggins. “I could not be prouder of the dedicated men and women of Ride On who serve the public across 495 square miles, driving 15 million miles a year. We are appreciative of the strong community support Ride On has enjoyed these past 40 years and we look forward to operating for many more.”
Bike riders are regularly encouraged to combine biking and Ride On to ease their commutes, not only on Friday. Each Ride On bus has a bike rack that holds two bicycles.
On Friday at 7:00 a.m., Roshdieh and Biggins will show how to load a bike onto a bus bike rack at the Rockville Bike to Work pit stop, located at 225 N. Washington Street, Rockville. In addition, a Ride On bus will be on-site for a demonstration of the new turn warning system that is enhancing safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
During the week, Ride On staff will hold three Customer Appreciation Days to greet and thank riders by distributing water bottles, tee shirts, reflectors, fans, and transit bags provided by the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. The events will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on May 12 at the Bethesda Metro Station; May 13 at the Shady Grove Metro Station; and May 14 at the White Oak Transit Center.
Ride On’s most recent service upgrade in January added trips on 19 routes, increased hours of operation on 18 routes, and improved the accuracy of schedule times on 14 routes . Ride On provides customer service training for each bus operator. Ride On buses are 100 percent ADA compliant and a program to upgrade Ride On’s 5,300 bus stops for accessibility and pedestrian safety is regarded as a national model.
Ride On serves those up to age 18 with free rides on weekdays between 2 and 8 p.m. A Ride On monthly pass providing unlimited rides is available for youth for $11 and a special youth summer pass provides unlimited rides from June 1 through August 31 for $18. Seniors 65 and older ride free on weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
More information about Ride On is available online.