March 24, 2021

County Buses to Resume Front-Door Boarding and Rider Fare Payments on Monday, April 5, and Will Now Accept Virtual SmarTrip Cards

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will resume front-door boarding and fare collection on all Ride On, Ride On extRa and Flash buses starting on Monday, April 5. Rear doors have been used for boarding since March of last year in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but will no longer be used for boarding on any services except for Flash. 

Throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, MCDOT buses operated on a modified basis with front door boarding and fare collection suspended. The changes allowed for more efficient bus service during a time with limited resources, optimized social distancing and minimized contact between passengers at the farebox.  

For the safety of riders, passengers and bus operators, clear protective partitions have been installed to provide separation between riders, people entering the front door and bus operators. In addition to allowing front door access, partitions make it possible to reopen seating areas in the front of buses and allow for more passengers to ride in a distanced manner. 

To minimize congregating and maintaining distance between passengers, MCDOT is requesting passengers to prepare before boarding by having SmarTrip cards, passes, cash or phone apps out and ready to pay exact fare. The standard cost per trip is $2.  

A virtual SmarTrip card on Apple iPhones is a new fare payment option that will provide a faster, contactless way to pay. It is a payment option implemented on Metrobus earlier this year. Customers can add the virtual SmarTrip card to their Apple Wallet and then pay using an iPhone or Apple Watch. To pay with a virtual SmarTrip card, 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:  

Payment support for Google Wallet on Android devices is in development and will be advertised once available. 

Payments for the Flash are made at the station “before” boarding by tapping a SmarTrip card on a Smartrip post or at the ticket vending machines for those using cash.

Pandemic safety measures remain in effect. 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 do not provide their own. 

Social distancing is strongly recommended in all public spaces including onboard the buses and trains and at bus stops and shelters. Riders are asked to make best efforts to maintain maximum physical distance between themselves and other riders who are not from the same household. 

"I am proud to see Montgomery County Transit’s ongoing proactive approach to modify long-standing practices and develop creative solutions so that we can provide the services riders need while keeping them and our bus operators safe,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We are glad to be able to welcome riders through the front doors again and open up more seating inside each bus."  

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.