Washington-bound buses are added

State expands 950, 922 service from Kent Island, with stops in Annapolis

May 24, 2006|By NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON AND PHILLIP MCGOWAN | NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON AND PHILLIP MCGOWAN,SUN REPORTERS

Annapolis commuters will have more opportunities to ditch their cars and hop a bus to work or play with the addition of three buses on two lines linking Kent Island to the nation's capital.

Two buses will be added to the 950 line and one bus to the 922 in an effort to alleviate crowding and the pain at the gas pump, state officials said Monday.

The change comes soon after the completion of a $927,500 expansion of the park-and-ride lot on Harry S. Truman Parkway outside Annapolis. It increased the number of spaces from 480 to 680.

"We're giving people the option of getting out of their cars and saving on gas prices and letting someone else worry about the driving," Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said. "It's going to be an easier trip. People are going to have more parking and they are going to have more trips that they can select from."

The buses increase the number of weekday round trips from 29 to 32.

Route 950, which stops at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, on West Street and at the park-and-ride lot before heading to Washington, has added trips from Kent Island at 4:55 a.m. and 3 p.m., MTA spokeswoman Holly Henderson said.

On Route 922, a bus added at 5:05 a.m. from Kent Island stops on Truman Parkway at 5:35 a.m. and is reducing the wait time between buses in the afternoon. The stops in the Annapolis area are the same.

Dillon's Bus Service, which is under contract by the Maryland Transit Administration, will provide the additional buses at a total cost of $450,000. The company has been providing commuter bus service between Annapolis to Washington since the mid-1980s.

Ronald C. Dillon Jr., controller for Dillon's Bus Service, estimated that the new lines will serve an additional 150 round-trip riders a day. In April, an average of 1,472 passengers used those bus lines each weekday, according to an MTA spokeswoman.

Dillon said the expanded schedule offers commuters greater choice, which should motivate more to use the service.

"Any time you add flexibility, it increases service and increases ridership - that's a great asset," said Dillon, who also is a Republican member of the County Council. "There has been a lot of attention because of BRAC [the expansion at Fort Meade] in western Anne Arundel County. I believe with housing prices rising in Howard and Baltimore counties, you will have more people move to the Eastern Shore, and there will be an increased need for commuter bus service."

Heather McColl, executive director of the Annapolis Regional Transportation Management Association, or ARTMA, a nonprofit commuter advocacy group, said the bus routes from Annapolis were "already packed to the gills" before the service expansion.

McColl said the additional 200 spots at the park-and-ride lot will also make a difference.

"I do firmly believe that once these people try these alternative routes, even if gas prices decline, they will continue to ride public transit."

nia.henderson@baltsun.com phill.mcgowan@baltsun.com

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