July 01--With Tuesday's launch of the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland -- an intercounty bus service linking Howard, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties and the city of Laurel that has replaced Central Maryland Regional Transit as the county's transit provider -- Howard bus riders will see some changes and improvements to their routes, officials said.
The RTA is renaming all bus routes in Howard, including Connect-A-Ride and Howard Transit, as well as other participating counties to make the service easier to use, officials said. The new routes will be identified by three-digit numbers.
Howard County's new routes are as follows: Green becomes 401, Orange is 404, Yellow is 405, Red is 406, Brown is 407, Gold is 408 and Purple is 409.
In the city of Laurel, the Silver line becomes the 501, B becomes 502 and E becomes 503.
City of Annapolis bus routes will be labeled with numbers in the 100s, 200s will be Anne Arundel County and 300s will be Prince George's.
Buses will display both the new and old route names for a transitional period to avoid customer confusion, officials said.
The new system brings other visible changes: New RTA buses will be decorated with a black, red and yellow swoosh design and bus drivers will now have RTA insignia on their uniforms. New bus signs will be labeled with a number so that riders can call or text the NextBus system to learn when their bus will arrive.
And beginning next week, service on Route 406, which runs from the Mall in Columbia to the Snowden Square Shopping Center and is one of the busiest bus lines in the county, will expand its service to provide buses every 30 minutes rather than every hour.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman lauded the RTA's launch as an "innovative plan" that creates cost savings by sharing transit infrastructure with surrounding counties.
"The future of transportation, built on a foundation of regional cooperation, starts now," he said Tuesday.
The agency plans to launch a website, http://www.transitRTA.com, later this month.
Copyright 2014 - Howard County Times, Columbia, Md.