Can you Go Car-less in Greenbelt?

| January 19, 2014 | 9 Comments

Some old friends have been following my move here and are interested in making the move (from Silver Spring), but wonder if they can manage living here with only one car or eventually no car.  Good question,  so I consulted several frequent users of public transportation, and thanks to Matt Johnson, Mary Denise Smith and Wendy Osborne for their valuable suggestions for this article.  My conclusion for talking to them and others is that living car-less in Greenbelt isn’t just doable; it’s easy.  Here are the transportation services at our disposal:

Buses for Everyone

Metrobus routes taken by Matt Johnson.

Metrobus routes taken by Matt Johnson.

Metrobus G12 seems to be a favorite, running Monday – Saturday.  From Roosevelt Center to the Greenbelt Metro Station, takes less than 10 minutes.  Along its route are also the New Carrollton station, Doctors Hospital, the post office, Roosevelt High, Greenway, Greenbelt Elementary, and Capitol Office Park.  Here’s the schedule.  On weekdays, the G12 runs every 60 minutes throughout the day, and every 30 minutes during peak hours. On Saturdays, it runs every 60 minutes.

Metrobus G13/G14/G16: Despite having 3 numbers, this is one line. The different numbers reflect different service patterns. The G14 is the primary route. It runs from New Carrollton station (MARC, Amtrak, Orange Line) to Greenbelt station (MARC, Green Line). Along the way, it serves DuVal High, Goddard Corporate Park, NASA Goddard, Cipriano Square, Roosevelt High, Greenway bus_newCenter, Old Greenbelt, Golden Triangle Office Park, and Beltway Plaza.

The G14 runs from New Carrollton to Greenbelt via Goddard Corporate Park and Beltway Plaza. It runs AFTER the end of the morning rush through the end of the evening rush. The G13 is the same as the G14 EXCEPT that it skips Beltway Plaza in the early mornings before the mall is open. It runs during the morning rush. The G16 is the same as the G14 EXCEPT that it skips Goddard Corporate Park after the end of the evening rush hour. It runs on Saturdays as well.

Together, the G13/G14/G16 runs every 60 minutes throughout the day and every 30 minutes during peak hours. On Saturday, the G16 runs every 60 minutes.

Metrobus R11/R12 is one route. The R11 skips Beltway Plaza in the mornings before the mall opens. The R12 runs at all other times. It runs from Greenbelt station (MARC, Green Line) to Deanwood station (Orange Line). Along the way it serves Springhill Lake Elementary, Greenbelt Middle School, Beltway Plaza, Westchester Park condos, and down Kenilworth Avenue to Deanwood. It runs every 60 minutes throughout the day and every 30 minutes during peak hours. It runs every 60 minutes on Saturday.

I’m told the answer to all bus-subway-travel planning is the excellent, user-friendly Metro Trip Planner for anyone in the WMATA system.

Fare and how to pay:  Cash (exact change) or Smart Card, and one can add $$ to the SmartCard on the Metro busses (cash only, I think), something Metro is pushing. Senior discounts begin at 65.  Regular fares:  $1.60 using a SmarTrip® card, $1.80 using cash, 80¢ (using Senior SmarTrip® card) and 90¢ (using cash, with proper ID) for seniors and people with disabilities.  Express bus fare is $3.65 with smartTrip card or $4/cash; $1.80 for seniors/disabled.

PG County’s “TheBus” 

Routes of PG County's TheBus taken by Matt Johnson

Routes of PG County’s TheBus taken by Matt Johnson

TheBus operates M-F only, 6:30 am-7 pm.  It’s free for seniors, the disabled, and “first child under 5″ and $1.25 for everyone else.  Exact change required or use SmartCard.  Click here for all the routes but in brief, B11 serves Old Greenbelt, making a loop through East Greenbelt that takes 30 minutes.  WMATA’s trip planner includes this county system.

TheBus 11 runs from Greenbelt station (MARC, Green Line) to Greenbelt East. Along the way, it serves the Federal Courthouse, Old Greenbelt, Greenway Center, the Greenbelt Post Office, and PG BusRoosevelt High School. It runs weekdays only, every 30 minutes throughout the day.

TheBus 16 runs from Greenbelt station (MARC, Green Line) to New Carrollton station (MARC, Amtrak Orange Line). Along the way it serves Springhill Lake Elementary, Beltway Plaza (Giant side), Berwyn Heights, Golden Triangle Office Park, Greenway Center, Doctors Hospital, and New Carrollton Library. It does NOT serve Old Greenbelt. It runs every 60 minutes throughout the day and every 30 minutes during peak hours.

TheBus 15X is an express route. It runs from Greenbelt station to New Carrollton station, stopping only at NASA Goddard. It does not make any local stops in Greenbelt. It runs every 40 minutes, during peak hours ONLY.

Comment: “A BIG plus?  The drivers for TheBus are courteous and when they get to know you, will exchange pleasantries when you board!  I ride TheBus #11 from Laurel Hill Road/Hillside to the Metro Station, and from the Metro to either that stop or Roosevelt Center. If I am quick in the Co-op, I can catch the same bus on its return loop, which has become a bit of a joke with a couple of the drivers.”

Greenbelt Connection – Cheap Bus Rides, even on Sundays

The City of Greenbelt operates Greenbelt Connection, a limited transportation service within Greenbelt utilizing a 12-passenger, wheelchair accessible van. Service is available to all residents of Greenbelt. To arrange for transportation call 301-474-4100 at least 24 hours before you need a ride.  Operates M-F from 8 a.m. to 3:30 pm. Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.  No operation on holidays.  The cost is $1 for seniors, the disabled and kids 6-18, free for kids under 6, and $2 for everyone else.

U. Maryland Shuttleshuttle
Any Greenbelt resident can use this shuttle service if they buy an annual pass for $10.  The route is from NASA to the university center and “takes forever” but it’s “damn cheap” in the opinion of one user, and operates weekends.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t go to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.  Click here for the schedule to Greenbelt, and ignore any warning on the website about having to show the driver your university ID.  Greenbelt residents are provided service by agreement between the city and the university.

bwi-airport-hotel-park-fly-pkg-top

B30 Bus to the Airport

This is touted as one of the best things about living here, so I’ve promised to try it the next time I fly out of BWI.  It runs approximately every 40 minutes and goes nonstop from the Greenbelt Metro to the terminal, which I figure is faster than dealing with shuttle buses to long-term parking, right?  And it only costs $6 each way, cash or SmartCard.  Here’s the schedule.

For the Disabled AND people over 60:

Call-a-Cab 1/2 Price 

Coupons for 1/2-off taxi rides are available for the disabled and seniors (60+).  It takes weeks to get the coupons, so users suggest buying enough for quite a while (e.g., $50 for $100 worth of travel).   The coupons don’t expire. Additional passenger pay just $1 extra unless they’re 60 or older or under 6 years old.  There’s a $3 snow emergency charge.  Questions?  They’ll provide service within the county or from the county to outside the county. Companies using this program are Barwood Taxicab Co. and Taxi Taxi.   Call 301-883-5656 or go to this website to buy the coupons.

One of my public-transit commenters had never heard of this, though she qualifies.  So, happy to help spread the word!

GIVES

GIVES (Greenbelt Intergenerational Volunteer Exchange Service) arranges for volunteers to provide all sorts of services to the “frail and disabled of all ages, as well as the elderly” – including rides.  Call 301-507-6580 or email greenbeltgives@aol.com.

Only for the Disabled:

Call-a-Bus
This is a demand-response curb-to-curb service. Service is available to all residents of Prince George’s County who are not served by or cannot use existing bus or rail services. However, priority is given to senior and persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities must provide their own escort, if needed. Service animals are allowed for the visually impaired.  More info here.

Metro Access

MetroAccess is a shared-ride, door-to-door, paratransit service for people whose disability prevents them from using bus or rail. If you think you may need paratransit service, see our eligibility requirementsMore info here.

Renting a Carzip

ZipCar used to have a car available at Green Ridge House, but no longer.  It would be great to have ZipCar back, maybe parked at Roosevelt Center? There are ZipCars at the Greenbelt Metro, but that’s of little use late at night or on Sundays.
Enterprise Car Rental operates out of the local Cadillac dealership on Greenbelt Road. Their prices are competitive (starting at $32/day), but the office is closed on Sundays.  They will pick you up and drop you off when you rent from them, which saves me a ride on the Metro bus.  I’ve used Enterprise several times over the years and been happy with the service.

 

Gaps – More Service Needed?

  • Because there’s no county bus service to Roosevelt Center on Sundays, people can’t get to our  Farmers Market.
  • One user reports being unable to get to IKEA or Behnkes!
  • There’s no way to get to MOM’s without a significant hike from a bus stop.
  • Another commenter writers “Neither TheBus nor Metro bus makes any effort to coordinate their efforts. Metro busses will pull away even when TheBus driver is flashing their lights and honking to tell them they have a (paying!) passenger.
  • Scroll down to the comment from Erica!

Greenbelt by Bike?

That’s worthy of its own blog post, and a cycling expert to author it.  And that’s coming soon – from Jeff Lemieux.

Share

Tags:

Category: Community

About the Author ()

Susan Harris has been writing online since 2005 - about gardening. (E.g., Garden Rant, Lawn Reform Coalition, and Behnkes Nursery.) In 2012 she started this community blog for and about her adopted hometown. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland Youtube Channel and does digital promotion for several Greenbelt organizations.

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Tom says:

    If you have a Costco membership, you can save nicely on car rentals through their website. If you can get a ride to Beltsville, the Enterprise next to Old Line Wine has even better rates.

  2. Tina says:

    Superior research on the variety of transit options available — you’re like a local travel agent!! Thanks!

  3. Barbara Glick says:

    I love your article- and that “it’s not just doable, it’s easy”. One of the many compelling reasons for my choice of hopefully moving to Old Greenbelt within a year is being able to live without a car, for many reasons-environmental, economical, and when I am too old to drive safely I will not suffer a tragic loss of independence. What does it say about us when our independence depends on a ton of steel, anyway? :)
    Thanks again for this great write up!

  4. Stephen says:

    The 83 bus goes past MOM’s, and on Sundays the 81 bus does too. Both stop about 100 feet from the strip mall. Alternately, MOM’s is about a half-mile walk from the Greenbelt metro/marc station.

  5. Stephen says:

    The PG County 17 stops in the IKEA parking lot, but it only runs on weekdays. Catch it at the College Park metro/marc station. Take the 89 from the Greenbelt metro/marc station to go to Behnke’s, but there is no safe way to cross Rte 1 on foot up there, so be very careful.

  6. Katie says:

    Thanks for posting this! We lived in Greenbelt without a car for about a year and a half. I wouldn’t have called it easy, but it was definitely a great experience! It kept us active and kept us taking advantage of all the great things that Greenbelt has to offer. The biggest problem was the lack of bus service on the weekends, especially Sundays. The UMD Greenbelt shuttle only runs Monday – Friday, and no buses at all run on Sundays. After the zipcar was taken out, walking was the only way to get anywhere on Sundays, and walking to the Metro or MOM’s can be quite a hike! I’m sure all of this would have been much easier if we at least had bikes.

    Ultimately, the reason we ended up buying a car was because the dealing with morning sickness with my second baby while carrying around a toddler on the bus was too much for me! But I do miss walking and busing everywhere, and I’m sure that the combination of biking, walking, and buses would make Greenbelt a great place to live for people who can use all three of those to get around.

  7. Mara says:

    Excellent coverage of the transportation options available to us in Greenbelt! Thanks for gathering that info.

  8. Erica says:

    Thanks for sharing this Susan. I lived car-free until I was 30 when I lived in Silver Spring and Washington DC. When I moved to Old Greenbelt, I hadn’t realized how blessed Montgomery County and Washington DC are for public transportation options with buses usually coming every 10-20 minutes at most, and making walking to Metro stations safe and convenient for residents (both in terms of sidewalks and lighting).

    While Old Greenbelt is very easy to navigate without a car, if you want to go anywhere else, it is a bit of a different story. I knew I had to get a car if I was going to be able to participate in evening activities downtown or go places outside of Greenbelt on Sundays. I tried the bus a few times for commuting and was always frustrated that the schedules never seemed to sync with mine (or had me running through traffic to catch a bus on the opposite side of the street since inexplicably where I live there are buses going to the Greenbelt Metro station on BOTH sides of the street). More often than not, I’d wait more than 30 minutes for a bus because I’d just missed two in a row which didn’t seem to sync to the WMATA schedules at all. Once I tried to get to Dulles Airport entirely by public transportation from my house and it took 2 1/2 hours, so now I’d rather just do the Park and Fly options with one of the hotels there. While walking to the Metro is not out of the question as a good way to exercise, I just don’t feel safe crossing Kenilworth and find Cherrywood Lane and Metro Drive too desolate to feel comfortable walking there alone.

    While there are plenty of Greenbelters who go happily carless (maybe those who really just leave the area for commuting to and from work on weekdays?), I gave up on that notion pretty quickly.

  9. Colette says:

    Concurring with the other commenter that the U of Md shuttle does not run on weekends, and while it doesn’t go directly to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, once on campus, you can walk to the Center in about 10 minutes or use the 125 Circulator bus (there are weekday events at Clarinet, some free). The ride TO the Unversity is not long; it’s the return trip by way of NASA that’s time-consuming. However, a rider can get off at Holy Cross Lutheran church on Greenbelt Rd or on Hanover Parkway by the pedestrian overpass and walk into old Greenbelt (thus skipping the scenic tour of K-mart, NASA Visitor Ctr, etc.).

    It IS possible to get to IKEA; however you might not like it… G12 to either the Metro station or just to Cherrywood Rd, transfer to 89 Laurel bus. For IKEA (which Metro Trip Planner considered undoable last the I checked), you get off on Sunnyside and walk South on Rte 1, about 15 min. A UM shuttle also goes there but the trip would be absurdist in that you’d have to ride all the way to campus first and transfer and repeat the whole mess for the return trip.

    The cost of SmarTrip cards recently dropped from $5 to $2. If you don’t want to add value on the bus itself (I find it cumbersome and the screen difficult to read particularly in bright sun), you can add value online (once registered) or with anonymity at certain stores. In Greenbelt, those are listed as Giant and both CVS stores (I can vouch for a slick & easy transaction at the Greenway CVS).

    This isn’t directly about transportation, but shopping online, particularly when you can get free shipping, is a wonderful addition to the carless life. Many shelf-stable groceries are available through Amazon and perhaps some years down the line, the new fresh groceries program, now only in the West, will make it to D.C.

Leave a Reply