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Living the Transit Lifestyle

July 28, 2015
Guy Henderson There are lots of moving parts to the MTA, and we’re not just talking about the vehicles. Maintenance, scheduling, assuring that your bus or rail vehicle shows up on time, and so on. Then there are the parts that concern our customers directly. Safety is number one, of course, both on and around MTA vehicles and property, as well as making it easy and convenient to pay your fare and board and feel comfortable for the length of your ride. Put all those factors (and more) together and you have what’s called the “transit passenger experience.” MTA aims to make every aspect of the... more
July 23, 2015
Jon Berle United Railways and Electric Company (UR&E) ran Baltimore’s streetcars from 1899 to 1935. On June 30 of that year UR&E went out of receivership and began operating as the Baltimore Transit Company (BTC), the Maryland Transit Administration's direct predecessor. UR&E used electricity to run their trolleys, much the same as MTA does today to run Metro Subway and Light Rail. In fact, they used so much electricity that they had power stations all over the city - on Harford Road above North Avenue, on Druid Hill Avenue, Nunnery Lane, Eastern Avenue and on West Lombard Street... more
July 21, 2015
Guy HendersonIt’s a hair dryer left behind on MTA Local Bus #13, and it’s one of the more unusual finds in our Lost & Found bins. (But it’s not the most unusual. You’ll have to read to the end for that.) Maybe the owner was distracted by the rush of exiting. Or more likely – these days – s/he just couldn’t wait to finish that text and forgot about everything else. At any particular time, there are about 300 items that have been turned in by our caring passengers or alert operators as they make a final sweep at the end of their run. Cleaning crews on all our modes do their part as well in... more
July 16, 2015
Jon BerleThis coming Monday, July 20th marks the 28th anniversary of the opening of the Metro Subway “Section B” that included new stations at Milford Mill, Old Court and Owings Mills. The popular heavy rail continues to beat out the heavy beltway traffic, making the 14-mile commute from Owings Mills to Charles Center in just 25 minutes. This second Metro extension is six miles long (four miles in the median of the I-795 Northwest Expressway) with three at-grade stations. Construction began in 1982, a year before the first eight-mile section of the Metro opened. Milford Mill Station is... more
July 9, 2015
Jon Berle The MTA Day Pass had its origins with the Baltimore Transit Company (BTC) nearly 60 years ago. Beginning July 1, 1956, and on all Sundays and holidays through September 3, 1956, “Riding Permits” were sold on all BTC vehicles. Purchase of the permit for 50 cents entitled the bearer to use it on the day purchased for an unlimited number of rides within the initial fare zone. The experiment was an effort to stimulate interest in riding public transit. An MTA retiree and Baltimore native who also worked for BTC wryly commented at the time that “parents bought the permit for kids to... more
July 6, 2015
Jon BerleYou'd have to go back to the 1970s to find gasoline prices per gallon at anything close to the number above. Following the oil embargo in the late 70s and throughout the 1980s and 1990s, gasoline hovered around a dollar a gallon. At the beginning of the 21st century it started to rise dramatically – and has really skyrocketed in the last ten years. Now more than ever, the cost of gas has become a crucial concern to almost everyone’s inflation-stressed budget. Today’s high cost of gas - although about a dollar less per gallon than last summer - is still a budget-breaker that... more
July 1, 2015
Jon Berle Exactly 35 years ago today - July 2, 1980 - Harborplace officially opened its doors, having successfully transformed a grim part of town into what would eventually become one of Baltimore's crown jewels. It was developed and built by the famed creator of Columbia, Maryland, James W. Rouse and The Rouse Company. The area where it is located on the Inner Harbor used to be home to the Old Bay Norfolk Steamer Lines and other companies that offered overnight trips to Norfolk, but that all ended in 1963. Today, on its 35th anniversary, Harborplace is within walking distance of Power... more
June 30, 2015
Guy Henderson The Maryland Transit Administration has a dual mission when it comes to getting Maryland’s citizens to their destinations. Of course it’s our responsibility to get more riders onto public transit. But it’s also part of our job to get more cars off the road so Marylanders as a whole have an easier time getting around. Now it appears that we may offer an additional (and welcome!) public service as a weight loss agency. While the research has been out for a few years, it bears repeating . Scientists have recognized a link between “active transportation” – walking, biking, taking... more
June 25, 2015
Jon Berle In 1975, seventeen years before Light Rail started operation in 1992, the first picture of a possible rail car design was presented to the public. Since July of 1973, MTA had been examining the feasibility of using the North Central Railway (Conrail) right-of-way for commuter rail transit. The initial study recommended the construction of a rail connection from Penn Station to downtown Baltimore, the re-installation of a second track along the right-of-way so vehicles could go in both directions, and the use of electrified overhead wires. Preliminary engineering was directed by... more
June 24, 2015
Guy Henderson It’s been a hot summer so far, and we’re only three days into the season. So why do heat restrictions – with potential delays of 5 to 15 minutes due to slower moving trains – seem so much more frequent on the MARC Train Brunswick and Camden Lines, but not for the Penn Line? CSX, the owner of the Camden and Brunswick tracks on which MARC Trains travel, specifies that when temperatures are consistently 85 degrees or above, or when there’s a temperature shift of 25 degrees in either direction in a 24-hour period, maximum speeds should be reduced by 20 miles per hour (but not under... more