Bus link to Shady Grove likely

Commuter service expected in spring

October 19, 2001|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Creation of a bus route that would connect Mount Airy to Washington-area public transportation seems imminent after town residents indicated support at an informational meeting Wednesday.

The route probably would begin running six times a day between Mount Airy and the Shady Grove Metro station in Montgomery County in mid-March, said Simon Taylor, manager of service development for the Maryland Transit Administration.

For years, Mayor Gerald Johnson and other town leaders have advocated a bus line to relieve daily congestion between Mount Airy and Damascus, about 10 miles away in Montgomery County.

Taylor said the bus line was included in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's $500 million mass transit initiative because of that persistent lobbying.

The bus would offer commuters three trips to Shady Grove in the morning and three return trips to Mount Airy after work, Taylor said. It would originate at the Mount Airy Park & Ride on Route 27 and would stop at Damascus United Methodist Church on Route 124. MTA estimates the trip between Mount Airy and Shady Grove would take 40 to 50 minutes.

About 10 people, other than officials, attended the informational meeting, and all said the bus line would be a help to the increasingly commuter-dominated town of 6,425.

Kevin Bender lives in New Market, and he would much rather drive to Mount Airy in the morning than Shady Grove or Damascus, he said. Bender balked at the $2.85 one-way fare, saying he thought it should be no more than $2.

Eager to get cars off its roads, Montgomery County probably will subsidize the route and reduce the fare to $1 through about June, Taylor said. But after that, $2.85 likely will be the basic rate, though 10-trip passes and unlimited monthly passes would be available at reduced rates.

"It's a good service, and I want you to do it, and I'll use it, but if the fares aren't brought down, a lot of people won't ride it," Bender said.

Residents also wondered why the last bus would depart from Shady Grove at 6 p.m., leaving them little time to scramble from offices in downtown Washington to the station. Taylor responded that departure times would be flexible to customer demand.

Taylor also said that if successful, the line could be extended north to Westminster.

Next, MTA will hold a public hearing on the line Dec. 4 at Mount Airy Town Hall. After that, MTA will solicit bids for the line, which it will not serve with its buses.

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