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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 are 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 are one of the first in the coun­try. The buses 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.  For more info visit http://transitrta.com/electric.

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.

Alter­na­tive Transportation

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.

Trans­porta­tion Planning

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.

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