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Get On the Bus

Public transportation on the move in Calvert County

Calvert County has 750 miles of roads, led by Rt. 2/4, which unwinds like a wide ribbon down the county’s center. That temptation to put the pedal to the metal is made for cars, as is most of modern-day Calvert County.
    In the old rural county — where once upon a time you didn’t go far or you went by water — cars are the way the 21st century gets around. Town centers are adding density, bringing people, shopping and work closer together in Dunkirk, Huntingtown, Lusby and St. Leonard. Both Solomons and the century-old Bayfront towns of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach are places where you don’t need cars to get around locally.
    But Calvert remains spread out, where people enjoy rural living at a distance from one another and most places they might want to go.
    School buses solve that problem for Calvert’s youngest generation.
    Commuter buses solve the problem for another kind of citizen common to Calvert, those headed five days a week to Washington, D.C. But to catch one of those regularly scheduled buses, you need a car — or a driver — to take you to the Park and Rides where the buses stop.
    For the rest of Calvert — the car-less young and old, the rural and stuck, the environmentalists determined to reduce their carbon footprint — Calvert County spends $1 million. That’s a mix of both state and federal funds plus local matching on public transportation, according to County Community Resources director Maureen Hoffman. Federal guidelines determine how the money’s used and how and where the buses run.
    Buses run from Prince Frederick to both Solomons and Lusby in the south and to the Twin Beaches in the north on two weekday routes to link people to work, shopping, medical and public services. Shuttles also run “deviated routes” weekdays and on limited schedules Saturday.
    Search a bit and you can find the routes online. Or pick up printed schedules in the County Courthouse in Prince Frederick.
    A new public bus line opens at the end of the month to help people in northern Calvert County get around from Huntingtown to Dunkirk without getting behind the wheel.
    Its 50-minute to hour-plus loop repeats five times a day weekday morning and late afternoon, with twice-daily stops in Prince Frederick. Its stops are by flag down, and its route easily found online.
    For all Calvert buses, single-ride fares top out at $1.50 for ages 18 to 59.
    Public transportation also includes curb-to-curb service by appointment for seniors and citizens with disabilities and health issues.
    Even so, many journeys could take almost as long by bus as they might have by horse and buggy.
    Is Calvert’s public transportation spending invested in ways most helpful to the people who need it most?
    “That’s a question people told us needs asking,” says League of Women Voters of Calvert president Roberta Safer.
    The Calvert League convenes monthly town hall meetings on public policy. Popular demand pushed this month’s meeting to the head of the schedule, September 12, with Hoffman and Transportation Services Supervisor Sandra Wobbleton explaining what’s what.
    “Instead of being preached to, we ask questions, and people within the audience respond or interact,” Safer says.
    Also sponsoring are the Mediation Center of Calvert County, which conducts the meetings, and the Calvert Commission for Women, Calvert Library and Southern Maryland Action Coalition.
    What will the talk amount to?
    “We’re hoping to give people information and hear their ideas about how more public transportation might be feasible — if it’s needed,” says League director Sue Bilek.
    Join the discussion: Sept. 12 from 7-8:45pm at Calvert Library, Prince Frederick: 410-535-0291.