HANOVER, Md. – As the opening of the first phase of the Intercounty Connector nears, the Maryland Transit Administration is considering plans to add commuter bus service along the new Gaithersburg-to-Laurel toll highway.
The MTA held a public hearing Wednesday on two proposed routes, one going to Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport and the other to Fort Meade. Both would start at the Gaithersburg Park and Ride.
“We’re going to do our best to try and make this very successful and give commuters a best option,” said Glenn Saffran, deputy director for MARC and commuter bus service for MTA.
A handful of residents quizzed officials before the public hearing, but none asked questions during the session.
Saffran said the target market for the two bus routes would be travelers and employees of both the airport and agencies housed at Fort Meade, including the National Security Agency.
A one-way ride on either route would cost $5. Ten-ride passes and monthly passes would also be available.
The BWI route is expected to run 14 round-trips every day of the week, while the Fort Meade bus will run three times in the morning and four times in the afternoon.
“We’re in an area where an east-west transit market doesn’t exist now,” Saffran said. “To get to close to 50 percent capacity on these buses in the first six to 12 months will be a great goal.”
The first phase of the ICC, a seven-mile stretch between Interstate-270 in Gaithersburg and State Route 28, is slated to open in late 2010 or early 2011. The entire 18.8-mile road is expected to be completed in 2012, officials said.
Until the highway is finished, the express buses will take alternate routes to Interstate-95 and their final destinations. “We don’t want to detour these buses too far,” Saffran said. “If people are already into their commute time, and then taking the commuter bus, they don’t want to tour the countryside.”
MTA will accept public comments on the proposed bus service through Oct. 25.
The MTA is considering extending commuter bus service to Howard and Prince George’s counties. Commuter lines linking College Park with Urbana and Greenbelt with Germantown via the ICC are part of the proposal.
–By Maryland Newsline’s Justin Karp