Council considers free bus between Clarksburg and Germantown MARC -- Gazette.Net


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Councilman Craig L. Rice has asked Montgomery County to run a new bus line connecting Clarksburg to mass transit via the Germantown MARC train station.

Neither of Clarksburg’s two Ride On bus routes connect to the Germantown MARC station. Rice (D-Dist. 2), of Germantown, has proposed adding an express route that would, with just a few stops in Clarksburg’s residential hubs, connect the town’s residents to MARC’s Brunswick line in Germantown.

The Brunswick Line directly connects to Union Station in Washington, D.C., and downcounty in Silver Spring.

“Mass transit is a priority. We want to make sure people are using it,” Rice said. “This is a great way in which people don’t have to worry about trying to fight for a parking space. They can relax and get some work done on the bus as they go to the MARC and continue to work on the MARC train. It’s just a win-win all around.”

Five years ago, when Rice rode the train, commuters were fighting for a parking space in the crowded Germantown MARC station lot, he said.

He said that as early as 6 a.m., the lot is full, leaving most commuters little option but to catch the early trains.

In a memorandum to the council, Rice wrote that for several years, Maryland Transit Administration has operated Route 94, a “Meet the MARC” bus route that shuttles between the Kingsview Park & Ride Lot in south Germantown and the MARC station.

It meets three morning trains and all nine afternoon trains, Rice wrote.

It has “extremely poor ridership,” carrying only about 1,500 passengers annually, or an average of three people each day, he wrote.

Because it’s not efficient, people drive to the train station rather than take the bus, he said Thursday.

Rice said the county will have to gauge ridership of the proposed express route, but he thinks there are enough commuters that would take the bus, especially because it would be free.

Together, the county and the state will market the new line and provide an incentive for people to choose the bus.

Because the county would be a partner with MTA, there would be no charge to ride that bus, Rice said.

At Rice’s request, the council added $128,370 to its budget reconciliation list for the bus route. The reconciliation list is a ledger of all of the changes council members want to make to County Executive Isiah Leggett’s (D) proposed fiscal 2014 operating budget.

Of the $128,370, the county would provide $80,000. The remaining $48,370 would come from the state.

kalexander@gazette.net