Thank Your Bus Operator Friday During Worldwide Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Ride On Bus drivers were thanked for their dedication and service throughout the pandemic as Montgomery County celebrated Transit Driver Appreciation Day on Friday.

“They have persevered through all of their fears, through all the challenges, all the schedule shifts, through everything we have asked them to do,” said Depot Chief Andre Lucas. “I’d like to say thank you. I’d like to say job well done.”

In a brief ceremony at the Silver Spring Bus Depot, the county’s 650 bus operators that support Ride On, Ride On extRa, Flex and Flash were thanked for their efforts during the pandemic.

In addition to serving through bad weather and unhappy riders, but they worked throughout the pandemic to make sure front line workers got to their jobs and other riders were able to get to where they needed to be, said County Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin.

“What you do everyday is really helpful to people,” he said. “It’s a hard job. We all realize it’s a hard job.”

Executive Elrich stressed the importance of public transportation, which he said is growing in the county. The goal is to get residents from their neighborhoods to the larger bus routes and onto their jobs without having to get on a car or train, he said. During the next decade, buses will all be electric, he added.

“Hopefully you’ll have long careers here,” he said to the drivers.

Lisa Blackwell-Brown, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, accepted a proclamation from the county as part of the worldwide Transit Driver Appreciation Day, noting, “I am consistently and continually in awe of the bus drivers of Montgomery County.”

Ride On transports more than 40,000 riders throughout the county, taking many residents who don’t have their own transportation. The Department of Transportation has about 80 bus routes, covering 1,463 miles throughout the county.

Service currently is about 86% of what it was prior to the pandemic.

MCDOT needs more operators as it lost drivers due to COVID-19 and higher wages paid by WMATA. The county recently raised salaries to retain and hire new drivers.

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