Amidst Controversy, Ride On Raises Drivers’ Awareness of Student ID Policy


Students getting in the Ride On bus at Montgomery College (Photo Credit: James Chang)

For those who aren’t aware, students can use their MC ID to obtain free public transportation via Ride On. The student can simply show an MC ID to the respective driver and ride for free. However, some students have run into a problem with the system.


Recent complaints of students being turned away from the free Ride On bus ride has created concern in the MC community.


One specific complaint came from a student who was attempting to take a Ride On bus to campus from Great Seneca Highway in Gaithersburg. The student claimed to have used proper identification, but the driver said they [Ride On] don’t accept it as payment.


“That better not be the case, considering how much we pay Ride On per year,” said MC’s president, Dr. Pollard, when the subject was broached during her Town Hall meeting.


In response to the concern, MCs’ vice president of facilities and security stated, “It does not make business sense for them to turn students’ ID’s away, because the basis of which we pay them is measured by the number of students who ride their buses.”


Montgomery Colleges has a financial agreement with Ride On to receive free transportation on any Ride On bus within Montgomery County twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Currently, the college’s pays $1.7 million per year. However, the deal’s expected to reach $2 million by 2015.


Ride On has since responded, and their administration vows to implement more policy overlooking whether the drivers adhere to the agreement.


Will Kenlaw, Program Manager for Marketing and Customer Service for Ride On is aware of these concerns. After receiving an email from MC’s director of transport, James Tarver, Kenlaw sent a notice which updated bus operators on the policy: All MC students ride for free if they show their MC ID with a validated sticker.


If and when a student is still turned away from any Ride On bus with their proper ID, students should immediately call the 311 number to inform Ride On of the time of day, location, route number, and if possible the specific bus number on the side of the bus. That report would get sent to the assigned “depo supervisor” and during 12 days following the incident, they will investigate the accusation.


To prevent any other complaints, Ride On frequently implements reminders put into slideshows, announcements on bulletin boards, and weekly meetings. With the upgrades within the Ride On system, in hopes that any similar incidents will be prevented or handled in properly in the future.


One explanation for why there have been past incidents at all, Ride on leases ten to twenty new workers every month. This being said, they are new to the routine and may not be fully aware of the policy. Kenlaw estimates that roughly 4000-5,000 students ride the bus on a daily basis. Therefore, the likelihood of an oversight is higher than one might think.