January 6, 2021

County’s Ride On, Ride On Extra and Flash Buses to Continue Temporary Free Rides and Rear Door Boarding while Metrobus Resumes Fare Collection and Front Door Boarding

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has announced that the buses it operates, including Ride On, Ride On Extra and Flash, will maintain temporary, rear-door boarding and suspended fare collection while Metrobus has resumed front-door boarding and collecting fares.

Metrobus routes serving Montgomery County are operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and will require standard payment of $2 by cash, SmarTrip card, the new iOS SmarTrip phone app or other accepted passes.

MCDOT adjusted operations to require most riders to board through the rear door and ceased collecting fare payments from riders in March in response to COVID-19. Riders will continue to board at the rear door of the bus, but can board through the front door if a ramp is needed to accommodate a disability or stroller. While MCDOT is working toward resuming fare collection in 2021, no date has been set for any operational changes. Installation is underway to add protective partitions in the fare collection area at the front of each of the County’s nearly 400 buses.

WMATA announced that, for the safety of riders and bus operators, protective partitions have been installed on all Metrobuses. A virtual SmarTrip card on Apple iPhones is a new fare payment option, for a faster, contactless way to pay. The mobile payment options also will be accepted on MCDOT-operated buses when fare collection resumes. Customers can add the virtual SmarTrip card to their Apple Wallet and then pay using iPhone or Apple Watch. To use it, hold the mobile device over the SmarTrip target, just as you would a SmarTrip card. To get started, download the SmarTrip app from the App Store. For details and instructions go to: https://www.wmata.com/fares/mobilepay/. Payment support for Google Wallet on Android devices is expected soon.

All passengers are required to wear a face covering to board and must continue wearing the covering for the entire time riding on a bus. All buses have a supply of face coverings for those who cannot provide their own. Riders are asked to make their best effort to maintain maximum physical distance between themselves and other riders who are not from the same household.

Bus interiors will continue to be cleaned by the County’s Department of General Services twice daily with hospital-grade disinfectant. Bus filter and ventilation systems also are treated each night with a disinfectant.

MCDOT and Metrobuses continue to operate allowing fewer passengers on each vehicle in order to allow for safe distancing. Ride On continues to position additional buses at all Metro stations in the County so they are ready to deploy to nearby service routes that are experiencing levels of demand that cannot be met by buses under the standard schedule.

Ride On Flex service remains suspended in response to the health crisis.