ANNAPOLIS — Workers furloughed in the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history will be eligible for free transportation via MARC starting Friday.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced on Thursday the expansion of several state services, including food, transportation and unemployment benefits for furloughed Maryland residents, who will miss their second paycheck at the end of the week.
Hogan made his announcement from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, where more than 800 federal employees have been working without pay since Dec. 22 due to the lapse in federal funding.
Federal commuters from Frederick County will be eligible for free MARC rides starting Friday morning when they present their federal government ID. This will continue until the partial shutdown ends.
The MARC station in Brunswick sees between 350 and 400 riders a day, said spokesman Paul Shepard.
Furloughed federal commuters may also use Commuter Bus and BaltimoreLink services free of charge starting on Friday.
“It is important that we support those federal employees working without pay by waiving transit fares during the federal government shutdown,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn.
The Maryland Department of General Services will also open 15 food drop-off locations across the state to collect food to be distributed to local food banks that may be helping furloughed workers.
There is no drop-off location in Frederick County at this time. The nearest location for Frederick County residents who want to help is the J. Louis Boublitz District Court at 36 W. Antietam St. in Hagerstown.
The food pantries are most in need of canned meat, peanut butter, jelly, boxed pasta, sauce, healthy snacks, nutritional supplements and baby food. Gift cards for groceries and fuel will also be accepted at the drop-off sites.
People can also make a monetary donation directly to the Maryland Food Bank online.
The Capital Area Food Bank has also arranged “pop up grocery stores” outside of six Giant food stores in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for furloughed workers. Workers must bring their government ID to be eligible. The nearest pop up to Frederick County is at 12051 Rockville Pike in Rockville.
Furloughed employees may also be eligible for unemployment benefits. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has extended its call center hours by two hours. Workers can file an initial claim through an online application or phone by calling 410-853-1700.