County spares bus route to help CESJDS students

Weekday service will  continue for Ride On bus Route 42.Photo by Suzanne Pollak
Weekday service will continue for Ride On bus Route 42.
Photo by Suzanne Pollak

Montgomery County’s Route 42 Ride On bus will continue to transport Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School students to and from their classes in Rockville to the White Flint Metro stop, due in part to an outpouring of support at a recent public forum.

Route 42, one of the routes with the lowest ridership, was scheduled to skid to a halt in January 2016.

However, “after considering community input, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has decided to restore” the route, according to a county statement sent to Washington Jewish Week.

Service will be retained until 8 p.m. on weekdays, and until 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Sunday service on the route will be discontinued in January.

“This is a small victory in a much larger battle for non-public school transportation,” said Karen Barall, mid-Atlantic director for the Orthodox Union, which fought for retention of the line. “The county’s population is rapidly growing, and traffic congestion is getting worse and worse by the day.

“Providing transportation to independent schools is the low-hanging fruit and the best affordable option to reduce traffic,” she added. “It is frustrating that the county still has not recognized this as the best option.”

Thirty CESJDS families from Potomac use the Route 42 bus during the school year.

The route had been slated for elimination as part of a $4 million cut in transportation services throughout the county.

According to a county report, eliminating Route 42 would have saved $704,000 a year.The county is not legally obligated to provide transportation to private school students.

This spring, the county ended a pilot program that had enabled some private school students to ride public school buses to and from their schools. However, a study is underway to determine if a solution can be devised that would still work despite the Montgomery County Public Schools’ new start times.

The County Council voted unanimously on Apr. 29 to end the busing subsidy, noting that when public schools officially delayed start times by 10 to 20 minutes, the program was no longer economically feasible.

Rather than slash the entire $660,000 program, the council agreed to allocate $159,000 to pay a consultant who has been asked to document various scenarios, including using nonprofit organizations, and the costs associated with each should the county decide to restart the program in some form.

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