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Montgomery County to Celebrate ‘Transit Equity Day,’ Which Commemorates the Birthday of Rosa Parks, on Friday, Feb. 4

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 3, 2022

“Transit Equity Day” has been celebrated nationally on Feb. 4 to commemorate Rosa Parks’ birthday, who would have turned 109 this year. Montgomery County will join in the celebration on Friday as it recognizes actions the County has taken to improve and expand access to transit.

Parks, a Black seamstress in Montgomery, Ala., was a civil rights activist who refused to give up her bus seat to a White man on a public bus in December 1955. She was arrested for civil disobedience because of her refusal, and the ensuing bus boycott aided the landmark Supreme Court ruling, in 1956 (Browder v. Gayle), that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional.  Transit Equity Day commemorates Parks, and other civil rights icons, and advocates for accessible, reliable and affordable transit powered by renewable energy as a civil right.  

“On Rosa Park’s birthday, I want to remind residents that supporting public transit expansion, accessibility and affordability works to advance racial, social and economic equality,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “In my recent CIP budget recommendations, I made transit a priority by supporting funding for the final design and construction of the next two Bus Rapid Transit corridors, known as ‘Flash.’ These projects provide much-needed connections within County Equity Emphasis Areas on Veirs Mill Road and within the central corridor of 355. These Flash lines will provide services that will have a life-altering impact on residents who need them most.”

Historically, on a national level, local transit systems were fought for as a civil right because they allow access to gainful, meaningful employment, educational opportunities and access to essential services such as medical facilities and grocery stores. Today, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) focuses on equity as a core value.

“We’ve been working on multiple programs and advancements to better transit accessibility,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We approach everything we do with an equity lens and rely heavily on public feedback to make meaningful changes to benefit our customers. Our Ride On Reimagined study, which will begin this month, will lead to a complete redesign of our transit system based heavily on public surveys. We will be going out to communities and meeting people where they are to get feedback on community needs.”

MCDOT has been working on multiple transit projects that have had, or will have, a significant impact on equity. Some of those programs include:

  • The Ride On Reimagined Study is a comprehensive assessment of the County’s transit network that will result in significant changes. This study launches this month, February 2022, to take an in-depth look at the County’s existing and planned transit systems, including Metrobus and the future Purple Line. The study is based largely on data and community feedback.
  • The Bus Priority Program grew out of a working group of MCDOT and Montgomery Planning staff members that formed last Fall. The Bus Priority Program was put forward in the County Executive’s recommended budget and was adopted by the County Council. The program includes multiple advancements for bus operations such as dedicated bus lanes, bus signal priority and enhanced bus stops. The kick-off project launched in December 2021 with the implementation of red, dedicated bus lanes around the Germantown Transit Center.
  • A Fare Equity Study was conducted last fall and examined zero-fare and reduced-fare options. The study determined that Montgomery County bus riders are 80 percent people of color and that almost half have a household income under $30,000. The report helped support the free fare available to community members at least through July 2022.
  • The County Executive’s proposed Capital Improvements Budget includes advancing two Bus Rapid Transit  (BRT, also known as Flash) bus lines located in Equity Emphasis Areas. These include routes on Veirs Mill Road and the central section of 355. The County Council will host the first public meetings on these recommendations, and hear public feedback, on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and Wednesday, Feb. 9. The corridors will feature faster service with high-capacity buses along highly traveled routes. Flash has vehicles arriving every 15 minutes or less and provides full accessibility for wheelchairs, persons with disabilities, strollers, bikes, and carts. The first Flash route launched last year on US 29 and is one of the highest ridership routes in the County.
  • Designing and constructing the first two routes of the Great Seneca Transit Network, with hubs at Shady Grove Metrorail Station, the Universities at Shady Grove and Adventist Shady Grove Hospital. The service, scheduled to start in 2024, will provide a vital, direct link to jobs, education and healthcare. The project includes 11 stations, 1.75 miles of dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority at seven intersections and new bike and pedestrian connections. 
  • The Call-n-Ride program for low-income older adults and individuals with disabilities offers subsidized taxi trips. The service helps transport participants to medical and/or personal appointments and can be used for essential delivery services.
  • MCDOT promotes multiple low-income alternative travel programs. The Capital Bikeshare for All program allows for free Capital Bikeshare memberships and a free helmet, for those who meet income eligibility requirements. Lime Scooters’ Mobility for All program offers reduced pricing for low-income individuals, as does Bird scooter’s Community Pricing program.

For ongoing updates, follow @MCDOTNow on Twitter, visit the MCDOT website, and subscribe to MCDOT’s “Go Montgomery!” newsletter here.

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Release ID: 22-085
Media Contact: Emily DeTitta 202-875-1563
Categories: Transportation