Fewer buses due to lack of drivers

Montgomery County will reduce Ride On bus service beginning Sunday, January 16.

Due to the shortage of bus operators (drivers), Montgomery County, the most populous in Maryland, ordered on Thursday the reduction of the Ride On bus service starting this Sunday, January 16.

The temporary measure was announced by the county Department of Transportation (MCDOT) due to a growing number of employees ill or exposed to COVID-19.

The schedule changes were posted on the MCDOT website and offer considerably more service than previous pandemic-related cuts, but the system will have fewer trips on about half of its routes while maintaining the same span of service. Overall, service will be reduced by approximately 9 percent from current hours.

Changes in service are reported to be reviewed within six to eight weeks or when availability from bus operators begins to return to normal levels.

“We have not yet fully returned to pre-pandemic bus service levels and we don’t like having to backtrack,” said Dan Hibbert, MCDOT chief of transit. “These temporary changes will be quite minimal compared to the current situation, but users need to plan their routes. We just don’t have the drivers available to keep our current schedule and be reliable, ”he added.

It was clarified that the capacity for students will be maintained and the transportation service of the program for the elderly will continue.

The change will suspend Ride On Flex and extRa bus services. The weekday Flash service will operate on a weekend schedule and will continue to include service to the Food and Drug Administration campus in White Oak.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure consistency within our transit system for the members of our community who depend on it,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin.