Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced a milestone in his initiative to improve public transportation for residents: That is, with the arrival of six new fixed-route buses placed into service this month with the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland (RTA), more than half the fleet serving county riders has been replaced in the last 16 months.

The RTA provides public transportation across Central Maryland, including Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Northern Prince George’s County and the City of Laurel. In 2018, the RTA delivered more than 1.1 million trips across the three counties. An estimated 60 percent of RTA riders use the service to travel to and from work.

Since July 2017, 24 new buses have been added to the RTA fleet. In addition to the buses entering service this month, the county added three electric buses last July, seven clean diesel buses in December 2017 and eight paratransit buses which were purchased using state and county funds.

Additionally, a new fare policy went into effect on July 1. Under the policy, seniors age 60 and older and persons with disabilities now ride fixed-route buses for free. Already, more than 500 people have been certified to ride for free, doubling the number of senior and disabled riders since the policy took effect. The policy also made fares more consistent across the region.