Public transportation is an important tool for reducing air pollution, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. By providing an efficient and convenient public transportation system, Howard County helps the environment, provides an economic way for people to commute to work, and provides transportation options for seniors and people with disabilities. Other local programs promote carpooling, pedestrian and bicycle pathways, and efficient transportation planning.
Individuals can save energy and money by keeping engines tuned up, keeping tires properly inflated, and avoiding rapid acceleration and braking. Carpools and public transportation are even better.
Howard County Public Transportation
Electric Buses — Howard County received a federal grant to add three full-size, lightweight electric buses to the Howard Transit fleet for use in and around Columbia. These new buses will be powered by an inductive charger that provides energy to the bus batteries through electromagnetic induction. In other words, the batteries are re-energized without having to be plugged in. The inductive charging system, which looks like a large pad that the buses park on top of, has proven successful in Europe. Howard County’s will be the first in the country. The buses will operate on Howard Transit’s Green Route which is the most heavily used line, providing service to Columbia Mall, Howard Community College and Howard County General Hospital.
Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland
RTA provides daily bus service in Columbia, Ellicott City, Savage, and other locations in and around Howard County. The RTA operates 15 routes with seven connecting at the Columbia Mall. Monday through Friday service generally operates between 6:00 am – 10:00 pm. Service on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays generally operates between 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. For information on fares, routes and schedules, please visit the RTA website: www.transitRTA.com
HT Ride — provides curb-to-curb transportation service to individuals who cannot access the fixed route bus system due to disability or who are age 60 or over. To qualify for the service, county residents must meet specific criteria. Visit http://www.howardtransit.com/HTRide for routes and additional fare info.
Connect-A-Ride — provides daily bus service in the Laurel area with routes that operate between Laurel and Columbia and in the Whiskey Bottom area of Howard County. Visit http://www.cmrtransit.com for routes and additional fare information.
Work on Wheels — provides transit that links areas of high unemployment in Baltimore City to employment sites in Howard County. Work on Wheels partners with non-profit job development programs to pre-screen and pre-qualify job candidates in Baltimore City. They then connect employable people with hard-to-fill, entry-level jobs in Howard County. Transport is provided to and from interviews and work in Howard County. Click HERE for more information.
MTA Commuter Bus — The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) provides contracted commuter bus service from within Howard County to Baltimore City and Washington, DC. Many of these buses meet at park and ride locations. Schedules are available online at the MTA’s Web site.
MARC Train — The Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train service is a 187-mile commuter rail system managed by MTA. MARC trains provide service through Howard County to Baltimore and Washington with 5 stations in Howard County on the Camden Line. Schedules are available online at the MTA’s MARC Web site.
Carpool/Vanpool — Carpooling or vanpooling can save money by reducing vehicle fuel and maintenance expenses. It can also contribute to reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. Consider finding someone in your office to share a carpool or vanpool and save a lot on gasoline purchases while helping the environment. The Maryland State Highway Administration has 14 Park and Ride locations in Howard County and many more throughout the state to help facilitate carpooling.
Guaranteed Ride Home - This program offers a free ride home to commuters who regularly (at least twice a week) travel to work by mass transit, van pool, car pool, bicycle or by walking. Registered commuters can get a free ride home for unscheduled overtime or personal or family emergencies. This offers flexibility and peace of mind that they can get home if they need to.
The Guaranteed Ride Home program offers regular commuters a free ride home up to four times a year in a taxi or rental car, depending on the commuter’s home location. To be eligible, commuters must register in advance and must renew their registration annually.
For more information and to begin participating in the Guaranteed Ride Home program, visit Commuter Connections or call Commuter Connections at 1–800-745-RIDE (7433).
Pedestrian Plan — Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning has developed a Pedestrian Plan. The goal is to provide a network of safe and reliable sidewalks, crosswalks, pathways, shoulders, pedestrian signals, signage, raised protective medians and other improvements. The Plan also tries to create greater uniformity and improve access to public and commercial land uses. Potential projects are prioritized on the basis of safety, level of demand, engineering feasibility, cost and other factors.
Bicycle Commuting — né of the greenest and healthiest ways to commute to work is on a bicycle. Several non-profit organizations assist people that want to find safe and easy ways to bike to work. The Baltimore Metropolitan Council provides bike to work information and sponsors Bike to Work Day. Join the fun and safe commute on this annual day, and every day. For additional information about the development of a safe biking community in Howard County, visit the Bike Howard website.
Driving cars and trucks comprises the majority of transportation in our region. Effective transportation planning can help to minimize traffic congestion and air pollution.
Howard County coordinates transportation planning efforts with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) and the State Highway Administration (SHA). The Baltimore Regional Transportation Program, Transportation Outlook 2030, was approved by the Regional Transportation Board in December 2004. The program includes a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) that identifies specific transportation projects in the region over a five year period.
Howard County also participates in the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB). The mission of the BRTB is to provide regional transportation planning and policy making for the Baltimore region. County Executive Ken Ulman serves on the board and is represented through an empowered representative from the Department of Planning and Zoning.