Free shuttle bus in Chevy Chase moving forward -- Gazette.Net


Chevy Chase is moving ahead with a proposal to provide a free bus to and from Bethesda, after a community survey found that 36 percents of respondents would support the service.

The issue was discussed at a meeting Nov. 14.

It would cost the town approximately $1,700 per week to provide a bus four hours a day, five days a week, said Town Manager Todd Hoffman. The Town Council will hold a public hearing at a future meeting, but it is not likely to be scheduled until January, he said.

Councilman Al Lang, who supports the shuttle bus, suggests running a pilot program for three to six months.

“My main priority in having run for council is security, safety and services,” Lang said. “This clearly falls into the service area. We have $5 million in the bank.”

Bus service was discussed last May by the council, who sought input from residents via a community survey.

Town staff mailed more than 1,000 surveys, which were answered by 300 residents. Of those, 36 percent supported bus service.

The request for bus service was initiated by Naomi Kaminsky, president of Chevy Chase at Home. The nonprofit helps seniors who live at home by providing services to residents in some municipalities in Chevy Chase. Seniors pay a $250-$350 membership fee to join the group.

Kaminsky said there is a strong demand for transportation from the group’s members.

“I think one reason is that people just can’t get anywhere,” she said. “If they had a bus that went around town, it would make their lives even easier and make them feel part of a community, not cut off from people who are driving.”

The bus has no proposed routes, but Kaminsky said it would be possible for all town residents to live within a few blocks of a stop if the bus traveled just three streets in town.

Cost estimates come from RMA, which operates the Bethesda Circulator and the Friendship Heights shuttle.

The Friendship Heights shuttle bus connects residences to the community center, the Chevy Chase Center and the Metro, according to the village website. The bus runs 6:40 a.m. to 9:40 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends.