Updated Oct. 22, 2013
Students at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville now can board a Ride On bus in front of their upper school campus and ride west to Potomac. The change in service, which began Monday, means that riders at peak times no longer will need to transfer between bus lines at White Flint Metro station.
Bus No. 42 will run a morning service from Montgomery Mall that will arrive at the school at 7:32 a.m. In the afternoon, a bus will leave from the stop in front of the school at 2:35, 3:35 and 4:05 p.m. and travel through Rockville and Potomac to Montgomery Mall.
“It’s an express bus that the county created for us,” said Karen Paikin Barall, director of Maryland government and community relations for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, which worked with Ride On and the office of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett to develop the service.
“This makes students’ commuting to school much more manageable,” said Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, JDS head of school. “With homework and after-school clubs, and where both parents are working, it’s incredibly valuable.”
Some 15 students take the Ride On bus, according to the school.
Ride On buses regularly stopped at JDS until January, when Montgomery County Transit split the long route between Montgomery Mall and Wheaton Metro station into two lines. The change forced riders from Potomac to transfer from one bus to another at White Flint, just short of the school.
At a meeting that month with transportation officials, JDS parents suggested that the route that approaches White Flint from Potomac be extended by one stop so that it reaches the school, eliminating the need for a transfer.
That’s essentially the change Ride On has made.
One difficulty in executing the plan is that it requires the bus to idle for 5-10 minutes to stay on schedule. But buses bus cannot stand in the residential streets near the school, Barall said. So planners approached Allen Kronstadt, a JDS parent and managing partner of Randolph Hills Shopping Center near the school, to propose a solution.
On Friday, he signed an agreement allowing the bus to idle in the shopping center parking lot as needed.
In an email on Friday, Malkus thanked Leggett for restoring the bus service.
“The loss of bus service … caused serious distress to our parents and students who relied on public service,” Malkus wrote. “Through the collaboration and support of the JCRC and your staff, bus service has now been restored.”