Plan to redesign bus system angers some riders

Posted at 6:43 AM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 09:41:24-05

Thousands of people depend on public transit to get around each day.

"I ride light rail, I ride mark, I ride the subway,” Bob Reuter said. 

"We use it on the weekend quite often for leisure to go downtown,” Travis Ducote said.  “My wife commutes daily to go downtown."

With huge changes coming, public workshops are being held to answer questions, get feedback and explain the proposed plan.

It's called BaltimoreLink and officials say it will connect the bus lines to the light rail and metro.  At the center of the effort is a system of 12 color coded, high-frequency bus routes that will run almost 24-hours a day.

"We want to make sure everyone understands what we're doing here and all the improvements we're making to the transit system," said Wayne Morse with the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Many people agree the system is broken and needs an overhaul.  But as folks look closer at the plan on the table, they're noticing flaws, gaps and inconveniences.

"You can't have more service until you have more busses and more operators,” Reuter said.  “And they're not getting more buses and more operators."

"I'm moving to Baltimore Street right on Patterson Park, and that's where the proposed lanes are for two of the bus routes,” Doug Dluzen said.  "It sounds like the busses are going to run pretty frequently, so if that's the case then safety is a big concern especially for families crossing the street."

MTA claims more than 99 percent of current riders will still be near a bus stop.  Yet, according to the maps, some routes are gone, and current stops eliminated.

"Not happy, not pleased," said Ducote.

He tells us the plan takes away a direct route from Eastern Avenue to downtown, one his wife relies on to get to work every day.

"Unfortunately, it looks like they've taken transit out of working class neighborhoods like Highlandtown, and there is some concern on the Greenmount corridor, and redirected it toward Towson and more of the suburbs," Ducote said.

Nothing is final yet, but many people at the public workshop say they’re not hopeful much with change.

"This plan is in their hands,” Morse said.  “They get to voice their opinion, and we take that very seriously."

The final public workshop about the proposal is Thursday, January 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Central Church of Christ on Woodbridge Road

All public comments must be in by January 11th at 5PM.  If you can’t make the workshop, you can submit your concerns online, or by calling the BaltimoreLink hotline at 410-454-1998. 

There are hearings on the plan set for later this year, and officials hope to have BaltimoreLink complete and running by June 2017.  

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