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Maryland Announces Transit Cuts

The Maryland Transit Administration today announced its final decision on service cuts to take effect on Jan. 12. These reductions in MARC train and commuter bus service were the subject of recent public hearings after the MTA said it had to limit the damage from declining revenue.

Holiday Cutbacks
MARC trains and commuter buses will not operate on federal holidays and the Fridays after Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. This month, a reduced schedule has been in effect since Christmas and will continue through Friday.

MARC Reductions

-- The last round trip on the Penn Line, trains 447 and 448, will be eliminated. Mid-morning trains 410 and 412 from Washington to Baltimore will be combined and operate as train 410 at 8:30 a.m. (The MTA originally had proposed eliminating the last two evening round trip trains.)

-- Train 871 to Brunswick will be eliminated Mondays through Thursdays, but remain in service on Fridays. (That's what the MTA had proposed.)

-- Passengers traveling on the Brunswick Line to and from stations in West Virginia will pay a higher fare. Starting Feb. 1, passengers who purchase tickets to travel to and from Martinsburg, Duffields and Harpers Ferry will pay an extra $2 for a one-way ticket, $20 more for a weekly ticket and $80 more for a monthly ticket. (The MTA's original proposal was to terminate train 883 at Brunswick.)

-- Shuttle bus service between the Odenton and Laurel stations will be eliminated, as originally proposed.

-- The 10-trip ticket will be implemented as proposed. Riders can purchase 10-trip tickets until Jan. 9, and those tickets will remain valid until March 9.

Bus Cuts

-- Five round trips per day will operate on Route 310, and there will be four round trips a day on Route 320, a reduction from the current schedule. Starting Feb. 8, the 150 Express will be extended from Long Gate to Columbia Mall. (The MTA had proposed eliminating all service between Columbia and Baltimore on routes 310, 311 and 320, but the cutback was limited thanks to a contribution from Howard County.)

-- Saturday service and five off-peak trips on Route 929 between Columbia and Washington will be eliminated as proposed.

-- One round-trip on Route 995 from Columbia to Washington will be eliminated, as proposed.

-- Route 412 between Bel Air and Baltimore will be eliminated as proposed.

-- One round trip each from Harford County to Baltimore on Routes 410, 411 and 420 will be eliminated as proposed.

-- Route 921 between Annapolis and New Carrollton will be eliminated as proposed.

-- Route 913 from Waldorf to Suitland Metro station will be eliminated as proposed. But one round trip will be added to the Route 903.

-- The proposed expansion of Route 901/650 will be postponed and the Route 901 trips that begin or end at Smallwood Village Center will be extended to serve the Blue Crabs Stadium, starting Jan. 12.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 29, 2008; 1:01 PM ET
Categories:  transit  
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Comments

I encourage all MARC and MTA Bus riders to read the hearing transcripts: http://www.mtamaryland.com/transcripts_From_Hearings.cfm

Many better alternatives to service cuts were proposed. Additionally, 10-trip tickets are still going bye-bye despite the fact the problems will still exist w/conductors checking single-ride and monthy tickets. This particular problem will not go away by eliminating 10-trip tickets and commuter choices.

Furthermore, participants reiterated the need to change the way MTA funding works - so that when people actually start using MTA services (which means they start driving less and buying less gas), MTA revenues are not proportionately decreased.

Speakers and participants supported modest (and regular) fare increases to recoup lost revenue, but apparently the MTA can't wrap its collective intelligence (or lack thereof) around such an earth-shattering common-sense idea.

Posted by: zizzy | December 29, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Why not eliminate the Washington Grove Station? It's 1.5 miles from the Gaithersburg stop. Speeds service and reduces cost.

Posted by: AngryLiberal | December 29, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

When there are transit fare increases, should there not be concurrent gas tax increases? When there are transit service cuts, should there not be reductions in highway projects?

This is the wrong time to be reducing MARC service. Indeed, money should be found for 7-day a week hourly Penn line service. That would be the responsible thing to do. The excuses are just that.

Posted by: pcc7407 | December 29, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I ride the 921 commuter bus from Annapolis to New Carrolton where I work. I'm very upset that other bus and rail routes are being saved by fare increases while the 921 is being eliminated, because my fellow commuters and I testified that we'd gladly pay more money to save this bus. Now there is absolutely no bus route that feeds the Metrorail or Amtrak system. This cut also sends the wrong environmental message at a time when commuters should be encouraged to continue taking mass transit.

Posted by: bffromanp | December 29, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Too bad the Post failed to cover this story when there was a chance to save some of these vital transit routes.

Posted by: bffromanp | December 29, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

As was stated during many of the hearings, MTA/Amtrak/CSX need to come up with a better way of ticket collection/inspection. Eliminating the 10-trip ticket isn't going to solve anything.

Just yesterday, I was on a very crowded local Penn line train (thanks to the Holiday schedule), and my ticket wasn't checked until just before we got to BWI - that means we stopped at 4 stations before tickets were checked. My car was standing-room only when we departed Union Station, it was nearly empty when the conductor made his rounds.

HOW MANY FARES DID THE MTA LOSE ON THIS TRAIN ALONE?

Posted by: zizzy | December 30, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Let's see. Cutting transit services when ridership is at an all-time high. Meanwhile, discussing a trillion-dollar "roads and bridges" public works when Americans are dramatically cutting back on their driving. Also, bailing out the makers of cars nobody wants to buy.

Posted by: lwatkins4 | December 31, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I need the flexibility of the 10-trip ticket. So that's gone, and I can't use the train. See y'all in the I-270 logjam!

Posted by: rkspangler | December 31, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The MTA already had it in its mind what they wanted to do, and the common-sense solutions made by the people at the hearings (myself included) were completely going to be ignored. As many people as there were willing to take a fare increase in order to keep service, there is no way we should have lost service.

And the whole bit about taking away the Ten-Trip Ticket in order to save the incompetent Penn Line conductors is ridiculous. Yes, I'm fully aware of the crowding on those trains; I ride them every day. And I've seen conductors just simply skip an entire level of a bi-level car because people are standing in front of the stairs. Ridiculous! The conductors are lazy and do not deserve their paychecks.
One of the more brilliant solutions heard for that issue was to sell you ten single-ride tickets at the Ten-Trip Ticket price, giving you the savings and making it easier on the conductors, so they don't have to punch your ride and can just grab your ticket. Why didn't the MTA consider this? Because just like their conductors, they are incompetent and don't deserve their paychecks.

Posted by: pikamander007 | January 2, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

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