Today at the West Baltimore MARC Station, Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, and Baltimore City leaders announced a multi-phase plan to “transform and improve transit throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area.” The $135 million plan will redesign the entire MTA bus system, including the addition of 12 new high-frequency, color-coded bus routes to improve connections to job sites, as well as other transit options including the Light Rail, MARC train, Metro, and Charm City Circulator through a network called CityLink.
A Silver route will be created through CityLink to connect Curtis Bay to Downtown. It will pass through Brooklyn, Cherry Hill/Harbor Hospital, Port Covington, South Baltimore, and Downtown. Hogan pointed to Port Covington as a major employment center that residents will now be able to more easily access. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Development has purchased 230 acres in Port Covington and Westport and is planning a large mixed-used development with a new 3 million sq. ft. campus for Under Armour.
Other job centers that will receive improved access include Fort Meade and NSA, Arundel Mills, Owings Mills, BWI, White Marsh, Amazon in Southeast Baltimore, UMBC, Towson University, Johns Hopkins Hospitals and University, St. Agnes Hospital, and more. Funds also will initiate two new commuter bus services from Baltimore, one to Aberdeen Proving Ground and one to Annapolis/Kent Island. The funds will also expand existing service from Baltimore to Columbia.
According to the press release on this announcement from the Governor’s office, the existing system will be renamed BaltimoreLink and existing MTA modes will be renamed: LocalLink (Local Bus), Light RailLink, Metro SubwayLink, and MobilityLink to create an interconnected transit system. The BaltimoreLink system includes several components: CityLink, LocalLink, Light RailLink, Metro SubwayLink, MobilityLink, Express BusLink, and BicycleLink. The BaltimoreLink system will debut when the new CityLink high-frequency bus service starts in Summer 2017.
Efficiency and speed will be improved through dedicated East-West and North-South bus lanes, transit signal priority to allow buses to hit green lights more frequently, and the construction of six transit hubs.
“This comprehensive plan signifies the state’s long-term commitment to the future of Baltimore City by providing a more reliable and timely transit experience, and better connections to jobs,” said Governor Hogan in the press release. “For years, Maryland’s largest and most important city had an antiquated and broken transit system, but with this vision, the people of Baltimore and surrounding jurisdictions will finally be able to travel conveniently, efficiently and affordably from where they live to where they work.”
Governor Hogan told reporters he met with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for an hour and a half about the plan.
When asked about the proposed Red Line project that was not funded by his administration, he stated, “The Red Line made no sense and was never going to be implemented by any administration. This is a comprehensive system.”
“Not many cities get to redesign their entire transit system from scratch fixing decades of accumulated inefficiencies,” said Rahn in the release.
Rahn highlighted inefficiencies in the current system that lead to commuters making four transfers during a commute, which turn a 20-minute care ride into 90 minutes on mass transportation. Rahn noted that that this is a tremendous improvement and that a “system” doesn’t currently exist.
Rahn said they are not done listening to input and will begin workshops with the community in the very near future.
“For years, this great city has struggled with a less-than-great public transportation system,” said City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young in the release. “I would like to thank Governor Hogan for undertaking this process to improve our transit system and better link city residents to growing job markets throughout the region. I look forward to working with the administration to bring this plan to reality and deliver a system that works for the citizens of Baltimore.”
State Senator Catherine Pugh noted that improved access would also help many school children make it to school everyday.
“The development of a comprehensive, efficient and effective mass transit system is essential to the City of Baltimore’s long-term sustainability, prosperity and relevance,” said Jimmy Rouse, a founding member of Transit Choices, in the release.
The master transit plan announced today begins with the enhanced service for West Baltimore residents. The entire plan could be fully implemented by June 2017.
Bullet points from today’s presentation:
To increase the speed, efficiency and reliability, MTA plans to invest in:
- Transitways – east-west and north-south dedicated bus lanes to provide efficient, high-speed travel through downtown Baltimore;
- Transit Signal Priority – technology installed on all 200 CityLink buses and 200 key intersections throughout the city to increase reliability and speed by holding green lights longer or shortening red lights; and
- Transit Hubs – construction of at least six multi-modal facilities throughout Baltimore to improve transit connectivity, and pedestrian and bicycle access. Transit Hub sites include: West Baltimore MARC Station, Penn North Metro Station, Johns Hopkins Bayview and Penn Station.
The Hogan Administration highlighted the following points in their presentation and press release:
- 745,000 jobs accessible from the new BaltimoreLink system;
- 131,000 more jobs now accessible via high-frequency transit compared to existing network, a 36.7 percent increase;
- 76,000 new jobs accessible with new commuter connections;
- 200 key intersections equipped with Transit Signal Priority;
- 83 bicycle rack locations throughout MTA’s rail network;
- 30 MARC Weekend Bike Car Trips support BicycleLink;
- 23 targeted car share locations at MTA rail stations in the Baltimore region;
- 12 CityLink high-frequency, color-coded bus routes serving Downtown Baltimore;
- 10 more hours of Sunday Light RailLink service (6:00 AM to Midnight);
- 9 New/Enhanced Baltimore Regional Job Connections to: Aberdeen, Annapolis, Baltimore City, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Columbia, Fort Meade, Kent Island, Owings Mills, Towson & White Marsh; and
- 6 Transit Hubs at Metro SubwayLink, MARC, Light RailLink and CityLink.