Bus service to D.C. gets funding lift

$8 million for new buses is approved by state

March 22, 2001|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

Commuter bus service got a boost yesterday when the Board of Public Works approved $8 million for 56 new buses to serve mostly Marylanders who commute to Washington.

In the past five years, the passenger coach service to Washington from Charles, Calvert and Prince George's counties, Kent Island, Annapolis, Columbia and Silver Spring has grown as much as 40 percent on some lines.

"One factor is that congestion into Washington is getting worse every day," said Simon R.H. Taylor, who oversees commuter bus planning for the state Mass Transit Administration. Population changes are adding to the demand, he said, adding, "Southern Maryland is experiencing the most growth explosion in the state."

There is no immediate plan to increase bus service in those areas yet. But Taylor said yesterday's vote allows the flexibility to add buses as demand merits it.

Three of the 10 lines affected are used by commuters to Baltimore. Each travels between the city and Harford County.

"Much of that is reverse commuting," said MTA spokesman Frank Fulton. "These large distribution companies are being attracted to Harford County ... and Baltimore workers are taking jobs."

Gov. Parris N. Glendening backed the new buses as another tool toward doubling transit ridership by 2020.

The state contracts with several bus companies for the service. The board's approval means additional contracts of $4.5 million with Keller Transportation to operate buses from Southern Maryland to Washington; $2.7 million for Dillon's Bus Service Inc. to run service in Anne Arundel and Harford counties, Baltimore, the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland; and $825,000 for Eyre Bus Service Inc. out of Howard County.

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