BALTIMORE, MD (September 1, 2020) – Facing an unprecedented decline of transportation revenues due to the COVID-19 health emergency, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) today proposed service adjustments for MARC, Commuter Bus and Local Bus route realignments to optimize transit service for core bus riders, especially transit-dependent households. As one of six agencies funded by the Transportation Trust Fund, MDOT MTA's transit route changes are part of MDOT's multi-faceted approach across the department to manage the fiscal impact of COVID-19 through operating and capital budget reductions.
"The financial impact created by the COVID-19 crisis has created an unparalleled challenge for transit agencies across the US and many are facing difficult decisions," said Kevin Quinn, MDOT MTA Administrator. "MDOT MTA will continue to strive for a safe, reliable and equitable transit system that provides opportunity to all citizens in the Baltimore region."
MDOT MTA will hold 10 virtual public hearings for Local Bus between October 5 and October 16 about the proposed changes as part of a 30-day public review and comment period that ends November 15. The proposal would affect approximately 3.6% of riders and would go into effect January 3, 2021. MARC and Commuter Bus public hearings and effective dates will be announced this fall.
With a focus on essential travel and employers continuing to support telework options, MDOT MTA ridership has decreased dramatically since mid-March. During the peak of the stay-at-home order, transportation volumes were down across the network in the second week of April compared to the same week a year ago: all MTA transit – down 70% with MARC – down 97%, Commuter Bus – down 95% and Core Local Bus – down 61%. In the third week of August compared to the same week a year ago, transportation volumes were ramping back up: all MTA transit – down 55% with MARC – down 91%, Commuter Bus – down 87% and Core Local Bus – down 47%.
While funding from Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been critical to maintaining service for essential employees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, MDOT MTA anticipates fully expending these funds by September 2020.
The proposed Local Bus network changes focus on connecting Baltimore City and major job centers and would have fewer suburban routes in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties. MDOT MTA used ridership data and trend analysis to ensure riders have access to employment hubs, educational systems and other essential services. As a result of the changes, an additional 6% of the population and an additional 4% of jobs within the service area would have increased access to frequent transit within 1/4 mile.
These Local Bus route realignments would result in an overall service reduction of about 20%, affecting routes that have lower ridership and/or overlapping service with other routes. Of the approximately 3.6% of riders who would be affected, more than half of those riders would still have access to transit within 1/4 mile.
For Local Bus, a summary of proposed changes is shown below:
- Increase frequency on LocalLinks 56 and 78 which will expand the Frequent Transit Network to a total of 20 routes and provide a greater level of service to Grace Medical Center (formerly Bon Secours Hospital) and Johns Hopkins Hospital.
- Improve service on LocalLink 69 which operates to MedStar Harbor Hospital and the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center.
- Reduce service frequency on 11 LocalLink routes with lower ridership including:
- LocalLinks 28, 29, 31, 33, 37, 62, 67, 76, 75, 77, 83 and 87.
- Discontinue 25 routes including:
- All nine Express Bus routes (103, 104, 105, 115, 120, 150, 154, 160, and 164) which operate limited-stop service from the suburbs to Baltimore City, and
- LocalLinks 21, 34, 38, 51, 52, 53, 57, 59, 70, 71, 73, 81, 82, 91, 92 and 95 due to lower ridership or access available on another route.
- Modify alignments to 13 routes.
- Of the 13 modified routes, the CityLinks Red, Silver and Lime, and the LocalLinks 26, 36, 63 and 94 will receive additional service to cover gaps in access.
- Adjust the alignment of the LocalLink 93 to better provide access to jobs along the York Road corridor.
For Commuter Bus, a summary of proposed changes is shown below. Additional details on this proposed service change will be announced in the fall.
- Two routes are proposed to be discontinued due to low ridership:
- Route 210 Kent Island and Annapolis to Downtown Baltimore, and
- Route 215 Downtown Baltimore to Annapolis.
- Reduce service frequency on 20 routes where ridership is low while retaining overall span of service.
- Routes include: 201, 203, 204, 220, 230, 240, 260, 305, 315, 320, 325, 345, 410, 411, 420, 505, 705, 715, 810, and 840.
For MARC, a summary of proposed changes is shown below. Additional details on this proposed service change will be announced in the fall.
- Penn Line service between Union Station and Perryville:
- Train 520 to terminate at Baltimore Penn Station Monday through Thursday and operate to Perryville on Fridays
- Train 548 to terminate at Baltimore Penn Station Monday through Friday
- Train 537 (afternoon)
- Penn Line northbound service from Union Station:
- Trains 410 and 418 (morning)
- Penn Line southbound service from Penn Station:
- Train 423 (morning)
- Camden Line service:
- Eastbound from Union Station: Trains 844 (morning) and 848 (afternoon)
- Westbound from Dorsey Station: Train 855 (afternoon)
Riders can visit www.mta.maryland.gov/winter2021 for a complete list of service modifications and public hearing dates and locations. The information will also be available in the lobby of MDOT MTA headquarters at 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD. Riders needing additional information can contact the Transit Information Contact Center at 410-539-5000.
MDOT MTA is one of the largest multi-modal transit systems in the United States. MDOT MTA operates a Local Bus and Commuter Bus network, as well as Light RailLink, Metro SubwayLink, MARC Train service and a comprehensive Mobility paratransit system. MDOT MTA's goal is to provide safe, efficient and reliable transit across Maryland with world-class customer service. To learn more, visit mdot.maryland.gov or mta.maryland.gov, check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/mtamaryland and follow us on Twitter @mtamaryland