My Car Broke Down

     My dashboard lit. My engine choked. I coasted into the Good Old Days parking lot in Deale feeling fortunate to have my car break down so close to my mechanic. But how to get home?

         Public Transportation is a big-city concept — at least to me. I used to ride Metro all the time back when I lived in Takoma Park. Since moving to southern Anne Arundel County 12 years ago, I’ve become accustomed to being behind the wheel. I had almost but not quite forgotten about the South County Call N’ Ride program that launched back in August. I decided to give it a try.

         After walking to the Deale Community Library, where I could comfortably wait with my 11-year-old daughter, I called 410-222-0025 and scheduled a ride.

         The dispatcher asked my name, phone number and the addresses where I would be picked up and dropped off. She warned me it would be a two-hour wait. Riders are always encouraged to call at least two hours before they need a ride. Fortunately, time passes quickly at a library. In just under two hours, an Anne Arundel County Office of Transportation van pulled into the parking lot and we were on our way home.

         One of three vans serving southern Anne Arundel County, ours was clean and comfortable. Equipped to transport riders in wheelchairs and with other physical challenges, the state-of-the-art vans provide a pleasant riding experience.

         Gerry Robertson, van driver and resident of Friendship, reminded me you do not have to be stranded to use the affordable transit service.

         “We give rides to some South County residents on a regular basis. They schedule their trips well in advance, and we take them to appointments or to shopping centers or wherever they need to go within our service area,” he said. Current service hours are weekdays 7am to 7pm.

         Many of Robertson’s regular passengers are older, but he has driven high school students home from after-school activities.

         Robertson noted a significant increase in riders since the transit system abandoned the traditional bus routes running a continuous loop and picking up passengers only at designated stops.

         “The on-demand, door-to-door service was what people needed,” he said. “We live in such a rural area that it’s hard for some people to get from their homes to a bus stop two miles away.”

         Regular one-way fare is $2 with discounts for students and seniors. Requests for pickup 7-9am should be scheduled the previous day. Students must be at least 16 to ride without an adult.