Montgomery County vows to crack down on noise, pollution at Ride On depot

After resident complaints and an investigation by WTOP, Montgomery County officials say they’re cracking down on the noise and pollution of buses idling at the Ride On bus depot in Silver Spring.

The depot is a hub for 150 buses, as well as numerous other vehicles. The issue with residents is not only the presence of the depot, but some of the regulations for the buses, which includes leaving some of them running.

A reporter with WTOP captured the idling Ride On buses on tape, idling far longer than the three-minute limit.

This prompted county officials to respond. But the people who live just beyond the trees in Chevy Chase doubt there really will be a crack down.

In the leafy neighborhood near the depot, it's a loud kind of a rumbling sound.

"Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of noise," a resident, Evelyn O'Brien, told WTOP. "We can hear them during the night and very early in the morning."

Some residents say for two decades they have complained about round-the-clock noise from the buses.

"Our general policy is that we don't allow our buses to be idled for longer than three minutes," says Carolyn Biggins, chief of the Montgomery County Division of Transit Services.

"We don't just blanket-idle the buses," she said, according to WTOP.

But he video validates the complaints. It shows buses idling for more than a half hour with no one in sight.

A few years the neighbors commissioned an environmental study. Eric Peek says the findings are disturbing.

“The particulate matter is three times the EPA limit,” Peek says.

In reponse to the video, Montgomery County launched an investigation and has issued a statement acknowledging guilt.

"Everyone working at the depot has not been following established operating standards.... We have taken a number of steps to prevent this problem from recurring."

Some residents remain skeptical.

“I don't believe it,” Peek says. “When they know there is pressure, they act like they're going to do something, but then they drop the ball and they don't enforce it.”

But county officials say they ordered drivers to comply. They also are putting supervisors in place to make sure drivers turn their buses off before they cross the three-minute limit.

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