New Express Routes Let NIH'ers 'Save the Drive for the Office'
NIH recently obtained two express bus routes to its Bethesda campus during morning and evening rush hours.
The first bus service -- from the Germantown Milestone park-and-ride lot -- is a Ride On bus known as "Route 70." Its first trip departs at 5:47 a.m. and it leaves every half hour until 8:17 a.m. During the evening rush hour, service starts at 3:10 p.m. and ends at 5:40 p.m. Route 70 ridership has increased during each week of its operation. The first week, 31 passengers used the service. However, just 2 weeks later, 57 people were using the bus. NIH employees account for 35 percent of these riders. Montgomery County believes that to maintain this service, 160 commuters will be necessary.
The second bus -- the Metro J-9 -- operates from the Lake Forest Mall commuter lot in Gaithersburg and expresses to the National Naval Medical Center/NIH/Suburban Hospital area. Service begins at 5:41 a.m. and runs every 15 minutes until 8:23 a.m. Service in the evening rush hour begins at 3:10 p.m. and ends at 5:56 p.m.
Both routes use Interstate 270 HOV lanes and both buses pick up and discharge passengers at the Medical Center Metro station.
How's It Going So Far?
"My wife and I caught our usual Ride On bus to Lake Forest Mall to catch the new J-9 bus service," says Dennis Connors. "We arrived around 6 a.m. and boarded the 6:11 bus. The bus ride down I-270 was a very fast and pleasant ride, especially since the bus travels down the HOV lane while other drivers are stuck in traffic. The afternoon ride was equally fast, and I was home within an hour, compared to an hour and 40 minutes by Metro rail and bus. One other benefit in riding the J-9 is the cost factor; the cost is $1.10 each way and NIH employees may use Transhare."
Kathy Sita, who recently rode the J-9, agrees. "I like the idea of the express bus. I cannot imagine why people do not use this method of transportation if their other alternative is driving alone on 270 in rush-hour traffic. It's a great way to get to work for free (almost free -- if you join Transhare)."
Express Relieves Stress?
Another commuter, Agnes Slamen, comments, "I want to express my thanks to you, Metrobus staff and the Metrobus drivers for finally providing a great way to commute to work! Commuting will now prolong the life of my car and will not stress me out driving to and from work. We will not even talk about those upcoming bad weather days! When I get home, my son has noticed a big difference in me -- I'm not so stressed from driving home! My many thanks to you and all those who have worked so hard to get this project off the ground. All I can say is thank you for making my life a little bit easier."
For the first year, a monthly prize drawing will be held for commuters using the express services. Simply send in your used bus pass with your name and phone number on the back to ETSO, Bldg. 31, Rm. B3B18. One lucky commuter will win a prize for using mass transit and "saving the drive for the office."
For information regarding other commuting alternatives, contact ETSO, 402-RIDE.
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