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Md. to add commuter bus routes

Additional buses on 905 route, park and ride at stadium

Friday, May 16, 2008

Click here to enlarge this photo
Staff photo by REID SILVERMAN
Commuters wait for the 905 bus to Washington, D.C., at the Charlotte Hall park and ride.


The Maryland Transit Administration plans to add trips to the 905 bus route, and to combine the 903 and 913 routes. The 905 and 903 buses serve commuters to Washington, D.C., from the Charlotte Hall park and ride.

‘‘More buses are definitely needed,” said Gladys Rosetta as she waited to get on the 905 bus in Charlotte Hall one morning last week. She said that the buses are especially crowded on the return trip.

Other riders added that they had noticed an increase in riders in the past six months, possibly due to rising gas prices.

Glenn Saffran, MTA’s deputy director of the MARC train and commuter bus department, said the MTA is proposing to add two round trips to the 905 route — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Two departing buses would be added between 5 and 7 a.m. One new returning bus would be added between 3 and 4:30 p.m., and one between 5 and 5:45 p.m.

Also, the MTA is proposing to combine the 903 and 913 routes. The goal is to provide more frequent service to the growing M Street corridor, which is currently served by the 903, Saffran said.

The MTA will eventually add a new express to Washington route from Regency Furniture Stadium on Piney Church Road in Waldorf. There will be a formal public hearing on the new route in late June, said Saffran, and the MTA hopes to have it in service by Nov. 1, after the bidding process for the bus company to handle the route.

Adding trips to the 905 route is a temporary fix, said Saffran.

‘‘We’re hitting the heaviest spots with some additional resources, and hopefully that will hold us until gas prices go down or we start up the new route,” he said.

At an MTA meeting to discuss the route changes at White Marsh Elementary School on May 8, Glenn Hoge, the MTA’s manager of commuter bus service, outlined the plan for the 905.

Phase I includes the schedule changes. Phase II incorporates the new route from the baseball stadium, to be called the 650 line. In Phase III, the heavily used 905 route would be split. The 905A would run from the Charlotte Hall and Mattawoman-Beantown to stops on 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The 905B would travel to the other stops currently on the 905 route, primarily on K, 19th, and 20th streets.

All the changes must be approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works, which determines funding, and Phase II and Phase III require formal public hearings.

Hoge said that Phase III especially will address the problem of people being passed up by full 905 buses leaving Washington. Some riders said that at the last stops coming out of D.C., they can wait up to 45 minutes to get on a bus.

The main change to the 903 and 913 lines is extension of the 913 route from the Suitland Metro station to the stops served by the 903 in Washington. The 913 bus has several stops in Charles County, including the Mattawoman-Beantown Park and Ride and the proposed new stop at the Blue Crabs stadium. It does not stop at the Charlotte Hall park and ride.

In response to a question at the meeting last week, Hoge said riders transferring from the 913 to the 905 or 903 at Mattawoman-Beantown should not have to pay to get on the second bus.

Maria Mattei of Hollywood, who rides the 905 bus to Washington, asked whether the bus drivers are allowed to vary their routes to avoid problems like heavy traffic. Hoge said the drivers have some flexibility, though they must stop at all pickup points and can’t use areas, like small residential streets, where buses are not allowed.

Dianne Pilkerton of Mechanicsville said the MTA should better publicize their public meetings. She also said the open houses regarding the proposed new Charlotte Hall park and ride lots were held too early, before commuters were off the bus from work. The new lots are needed, she said, because the current lot is hard to get to, and has inadequate parking and lighting.

An MTA representative said new lights should be going up soon at the Charlotte Hall lot.


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