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Thanks to the Intercounty Connector, or ICC, the Maryland Transit Administration is now offering an express bus service that links Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

This six-stop service, which started March 1, operates Monday through Friday between the Gaithersburg Park and Ride Lot in Montgomery County and Fort Meade. Three morning buses leave Gaithersburg at 5:15, 6:15 and 7:15 a.m. Afternoon routes leave Fort Meade at noon, 3, 4 and 5 p.m.

"Commuter bus route 202 is designed to serve employees working at the National Security Agency and Fort Meade as we strive to create transit options for Base Closure and Realignment process workers who have relocated to Maryland," said Ralign Wells, MTA administrator. "We have purchased 18 new state-of-the art coaches for use on the ICC. When the project is completed, our service will provide connections to WMATA's Red Line and Green Line, as well as MARC's Camden, Brunswick, and Penn Lines. The service also supports Governor [Martin] O'Malley's 'Smart Green and Growing' initiative across the state of Maryland."

According to a recent American Public Transportation Association monthly savings report, Marylanders save on average $843 per month and $10,113 annually by choosing public transportation.

"As gas prices continue to remain high and the economy continues to flounder, Americans know they can rely on public transportation to provide a reliable, affordable way to get around," said William Millar, president of the APTA. "Public transportation is now, and always has been a proven way to cut your transportation costs without limiting your ability to get where you need to go."

The ICC links Routes I-270 and I-370 in Montgomery County and I-95 in Prince George's County with a state-of-the-art, limited-access tolled highway that increases commuter mobility and safety.

The expansion of MTA bus service is part of a larger plan to help accommodate the estimated 40,000 to 60,000 extra jobs coming to Maryland over the next six to 10 years due to the BRAC process.

The No. 202 commuter bus route operates weekdays with three morning trips, three afternoon trips and one mid-day trip, with intermediate stops at the following locations:

* Gaithersburg Park n' Ride

* Shady Grove Metro Station

* Norbeck Park n' Ride

* Savage MARC Train Station

* DoD-Visitor Center Gate 1

* Fort Meade

The 46-mile trip takes approximately 75 minutes. The one-way fare is $5. The One-Way Senior/Disability fare is $3.20.

The Senior/Disability Ten-Trip Ticket costs $32. A regular Ten-Trip Ticket costs $38.25. The monthly pass costs $144.50. A Transit Link Card costs $241.50.

The service operates Monday through Friday. The commuter bus service does not operate Saturdays, Sundays or on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, the Friday after Thanksgiving, or on Christmas.

ICC bus route 202 connects with the following transit services:

* MARC Camden Line at Savage station

* WMATA Metro Rail at Shady Grove Ride-On

* WMATA Metrobus

* Prince George's TheBus

* MTA commuter Bus No. 991 at Shady Grove

* Howard Transit

The MTA also offers ICC Bus Route 201, which provides service between the Gaithersburg Park and Ride lot at I-270 and MD 124 in Montgomery County and BWI Marshall Airport.

ICC bus route 201 operates a daily, seven-stop route with hourly service accommodating 14 round-trips. Gaithersburg service begins at 4 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. BWI Marshall return service runs from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Exact fare is required; no change can be provided. One-way fares and Ten-Trip Tickets may be purchased on the bus. Customers are encouraged to contact the MTA to purchase monthly passes.

MTA Commuter Choice Maryland vouchers are accepted on this service. Coaches are wheelchair accessible.

In the fall, the MTA will conduct public hearings regarding the demand for additional ICC bus service routes proposed for Jan. 2, 2012 implementation.

Bus route Nos. 203, 204 and 205 will operate along the ICC and other existing roads to connect riders from Columbia to the Medical Center Metro in Bethesda; Monocacy MARC station to the College Park Metro/MARC station; and College Park to Germantown Transit Center. The proposed services will weekdays during morning and evening rush hours.

For more information on the new bus routes, visit the ICC website at www.mtaiccbus.com.

For more information on MTA service, visit the MTA website at www.mta.maryland.gov. To sign up for emails about service modifications and delays, go to www.mta.maryland.gov and click "Email Notification."

Customers can also call the MTA Transit Information Center on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 410-539-5000 (TTY 410-539-3497) or 866-RIDE-MTA.

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