With the addition of six new fixed bus routes and more than half the bus fleet being replaced in the past 16 months, Howard County announced new investment and improvements to the county's mass transit system.
The county is part of the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland which provides public transportation to residents of Howard, Anne Arundel, and Northern Prince George's Counties, as well as the City of Laurel.
Effective July 1, 2017, a new fare policy allows those over 60 years old and persons with disabilities to ride fixed route buses for free.
“With the new transit buses, which are definitely more reliable, I am hearing fewer and fewer complaints from other people, as well as complaints from myself,” said Astamay Curtis, the Chairperson of the Riders’ Advisory Council. “I think the free fare on fixed route buses for seniors and disabled persons is a very good idea that will encourage more people to try buses.”
The Maryland Department of Transportation also awarded a $50,000 Transit Innovation Grant for Howard County, to be used to develop a mobile app so riders can buy digital tickets. The county adopted a Transit Development Plan in May meant to shorten routes and increase reliability. A public hearing on the new route proposals will be held in December 2018.
“With the dedicated investment from the County, we are improving RTA route signage using taller poles and reflective signs, to make it easier for riders to see our bus stops from a distance,” said Cristin Tolen, General Manager of the RTA. “New bus shelters are being installed and others are being refurbished. The refurbished shelters are ADA compliant, with wider entrances, bench seating, properly graded ramps and curb cuts, allowing easier rider access on and off the bus.”