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Montgomery wants to cut Ride On routes to ease budget gap

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By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Montgomery County, facing a $600 million budget gap for the next fiscal year, has proposed cutting or eliminating service on more than 20 Ride On bus routes beginning in April, county officials said.

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The possible cuts -- the biggest proposed for the Ride On service in years -- would save an estimated $1.2 million and would affect routes that have the fewest riders or alternative service nearby, according to county spokesman Patrick Lacefield. He said Ride On handles about 30 million passenger trips a year, and the cuts would eliminate about 1 million trips.

"These are the largest reductions in Ride On," Lacefield said.

Smaller cuts, mainly to bus frequency, have been proposed in the past three years, but in each case the County Council rejected them and restored the funding for Ride On.

"Now is a different time, and the [budget] gap is pretty substantial," Lacefield said. "Our view is these kinds of spending reductions are only the beginning."

The proposed cuts would include discontinuing the following routes:

-- Weekdays: Routes 3, 21, 30, 33, 36, 52, 53 and 81

-- Saturdays: Routes 14, 23, 29, 43, 45, 83, 98, L8, T2 and Z2

-- Sundays: Routes 29, 38, 83, L8 and T2

The county will hold a public forum on the proposed changes at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Executive Office Building cafeteria, 101 Monroe St. in Rockville.

Members of the public can also submit comments by mail, by e-mail to mcdot.rideonpublicforums@montgomerycountymd.gov or by calling 240-777-5800. More information on the proposed changes is available at http://www.http://rideonbus.http://com.

All public comments are to be considered before a final decision is made on the service cuts, according to a county news release.

The County Council is expected to consider the Ride On cuts during the first week of February, Lacefield said.

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