Travelers in Howard County received a new holiday gift – free bus rides until Dec. 24.

In the spirit of Ride, Shop, Be Jolly, the RTA will provide free rides to major shopping destinations across the county and all routes the buses serve. This is the first time Howard County is providing this free, unlimited service during the holidays.

“This is the time of year when shoppers from around the region discover the diversity and quality of our world-class stores and restaurants,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “By offering ten days of free RTA bus service, we are providing an added incentive for residents and visitors to use public transportation. Our goal is to take cars off the road, improve congestion and safety while being more environmentally friendly this holiday season. By taking advantage of this offer, our residents will save money and deal with less stress. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity and make utilizing public transportation a New Year’s resolution for 2020.”

The RTA is an important component of Howard County’s regional transportation network. Since 2017, Howard County has invested over $6 million to purchase new vehicles and improve over 130 bus stop locations.

Since improving schedules, increasing frequencies and bringing new vehicles on-line, we have seen on-time performance double.

More improvements will begin in the Spring of 2020, including mobile payment options, real time bus information through smart phone travel applications.

“Whether our customers are taking transit for convenience or due to a lack of other transportation options, the County and RTA thank our loyal and new customers for their commitment to sustainable transportation choices like the RTA,” said Bruce Gartner, Administrator, Howard County Office of Transportation.

“I thank our County Executive, Dr. Ball for making this free ride campaign possible. Since this is a ten-day campaign, it will allow our Howard County transit riders to have extra money during this holiday season,” said Astamay Curtis, acting chairperson, RTA Riders’ Advisory Council. “The free rides thank the loyal ridership, as well as encourage others to ‘try transit’ this holiday season and become regular transit users.”

There will be no transit service on Dec. 25.

For more information about RTA routes, bus schedules and the holiday promotion, visit