The Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland has recently updated its Ride Guide for the first time since 2020, aiming to enhance accessibility and awareness of transportation resources in the region. This revamped guide, fitting as a legal sheet of paper, is a boon for transit-dependent residents, providing a detailed overview of the area’s transport services.
Key to the guide’s utility is its comprehensive presentation of information. It includes rider maps and QR codes leading to packed schedules, illustrating the simplicity of public transit in Southern Maryland. The guide is crafted to serve the entire community, paying particular attention to the needs of wheelchair users, individuals with developmental disabilities, and the elderly. It encompasses details on various transport options, including car and vanpools, and highlights resources for travel related to employment.
Despite the plethora of services listed, gaps in transportation availability persist, particularly in getting patients to non-emergency medical appointments. Jessica Richards, the Regional Transit Coordinator, notes the challenge: “Despite all the offerings out there, there are times where people just don’t qualify, or they can’t get services as quickly as they might need them.” This led to the formation of the Wheels to Wellness Program by the Tri-County Council’s Regional Transportation Coordination Committee (RTCC), a consortium of public and private local transport providers.
Although an integral part of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland’s efforts, Wheels to Wellness was nearly omitted from the new brochure. The program, substantially funded by the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund, has been under pressure due to increasing demand and the limited capacity to accommodate all needs. This is particularly challenging given Southern Maryland’s heavy reliance on personal vehicles, as Richards points out: “The reality is that Southern Maryland is still very car-dependent, which means if you’re unable to drive, you’re unable to get the things you need, like quality medical care.”
Ultimately, the decision to include Wheels to Wellness in the Ride Guide was driven by the desire to increase awareness of the program’s significance and the ongoing need for support. Richards emphasizes the crucial role of the program and the guide in easing transportation challenges in the region: “The Wheels to Wellness program, and the Ride Guide itself, is designed to make getting around a little easier.”
Residents and visitors in Southern Maryland can access the newly updated Ride Guide, replete with essential transportation resources and innovative solutions to mobility challenges, on the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland’s website at www.tccsmd.org/transportation.