Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MTA Maryland Should Take a Page from MTA

This is an interesting video from Streetfilms about the SelectBusService in the Bronx. The concept is very similar to the QB40 in Baltimore, except this seems to work a whole lot better.

Instead of making it just an express bus, they went a step further and created pretty much a BRT but without the fully separated busway. Each bus stop has ticket vending machines and metrocard slides, so riders pay for their ticket and get a receipt before boarding. This way the SelectBusService serves as a proof-of-payment, similar to the Light Rail. The system allows riders to board at either front or back doors, and greatly improves boarding ease, and lessens the time stopped. This service also utilizes Bus Only Lanes, which unfortunately is a lost concept with the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

It's a great improvement. Now if the MTA Maryland could do this with the QB40 and the two new potential QuickBus routes, imagine how much more efficient they would be! The same TVM that are used on the Light Rail and Metro could be used, in a smaller form, at the bus stops. MTA Maryland could also implement some of those fancy new hybrid buses on this route...hmm I think I mentioned that one before...New Hybrid Articulated Buses - Where to Put Them. Paint them up uniquely to make them more visible, and there you go!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Train vs. Bus

(flickr photo by J.H. Gray)

Fresh off of its victory over SUV earlier this month, Bus took on Train yesterday near the Riverdale Station on the Camden Line. In a competition that some critics have called "unfair" and "cheap", two Metro buses went up against Train.

Bus had been cocky since its easy defeat of SUV, but Train had the confidence that it was the superior champion. In its previous bouts Train has easily defeated penny, brick, car, and SUV. Possibly even the occasional damsel-in-distress tied to the tracks by a sinister villain, if not the hero saved her in the nick of time, but I digress.

When Train met Bus at Riverdale Station yesterday, Bus decided to leave its rear end on the tracks as bait. Train, not fooled, easily knocked Bus off the tracks and into its Bus accomplice. Dazed, Train came out victorious. Both Buses were towed away in defeat.

Edge: Train, even 2 on 1.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stimulus Money At Work

(flickr photo by blast-o-rama)

Note from MTA Maryland:

Attention MARC Riders:

Construction has begun on the replacement of the southbound platform of the Laurel MARC station. The work will be done in stages, so portions of the platform will need to be shut down throughout the duration of the project. Effective immediately, the boarding area will be limited to the platform area adjacent to the station building while work progresses on the other end of the platform. Construction of the entire project is expected to be completed by this Fall.

I haven't seen the Laurel stop in a long time, but I've seen pictures, and I'm glad this is the first station that will be getting an upgrade. It currently has a wooden deck which will replaced with a concrete deck. Improved lighting and a new shelter will be added as well.

In other transit stimulus news, the parking expansion at the West Baltimore stop on the Penn Line is also underway. This is the first phase in what will eventually be a completely revamped station and a Transit Orientation Development project. The best part of this project is that it starts to demolish the walls on part of the "Highway to Nowhere".
Keep on keepin' on with the upgrades MTA! And will someone please make a decision on the friggin' Red Line! If this were Portland it would be built by now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ropewalk Tavern, Smoke If You Got'em

(*flickr photo by jeffconlin)

Ropewalk Tavern in Federal Hill was granted an exemption on the Statewide indoor smoking ban recently because it showed that since the ban it has had a drop of at least 15% sales for at least two months.

What does this mean for you and me? Well it means I'm going to get smokey when I go to Tuesday Wing Night! Well, not exactly. In an effort to appease both parties, Ropewalk has instead limited smoking to the third floor. Creating a bona fide smoker's penthouse for those who want to enjoy a cigarette or a cigar (Ropewalk was a cigar bar originally).

Meanwhile, if the air circulation system works well, the rest of the patrons can enjoy a smoke-free environment on the 1st and 2nd floors.

See, you can have a your cake and eat it too. Good thinkin' Ropewalk. Reagan and Boh would be proud.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Down Goes the Senator...Rotunda Next?

(photo courtesy The Baltimore Sun)

Last night the Senator Theatre closed, and with that the last of the true movie houses in Baltimore City. With $900,000 in unpaid loans, 1st Mariner Bank foreclosed on the 70 year old theatre.

What happens now? There are really only a few choices, a.) the trust for the theatre begs 1st Mariners for more time, 2.) get an investor or a few that will be willing to help out (so far no luck), or 3.) successfully turn the Senator into a non profit using money the city has offered to help pay off the loans. All of these are viable options, but unfortunately the Senator is supposed to go to the auction block next week, so there isn't much time!

With the Senator closing, the Rotunta Cinematheque, also owned by Tom Kiefaber, might close next week. This leaves Baltimore city with really only the Landmark in Harbor East and the Charles Theatre. The latter of which rarely shows mainstream movies, but is great to see Indie flicks!

Anyways, worst-case scenerio, the Senator closes for good, some developer buys the property and turns it into something else in the ever redeveloping of Belvedere Square. I think CHAP has a protection on the building, so they might not be able to tear it down. Best-case scenerio, John Waters swoops in, buys it, reopens it, and all is well. Maybe?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Checking In With Harbor East

I took a stroll down to Harbor East to see how the construction was coming along down there. The Legg Mason Tower is topped off, and they have pulled the construction crane down from it. Next to it, the Residences at the Four Seasons looks like its now about as tall as it will get during this economy. It looks up about 21 floors, which is where they will stop until the condo market renews itself.

Without further comment here you are:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bus vs SUV

(*photo courtesy The Baltimore Sun)

In the age-old competition between bus and SUV, bus will always win. Just like tree vs porsche, rock vs paper, and wall vs bike. Yet SUVs, down a bigillion-to-none in this challenge, continue to keep fighting the good fight, and losing - every single time.

SUV took on Bus again this morning around 5:15am on the battlefield at Lombard and Calvert. When it was over Bus was sent screaming into the Brookshire Hotel, but otherwise uninjured. SUV, on the otherhand, came up short and was totaled.

Keep fighting SUV, you'll win one of these days, maybe against a Mobility Bus, but probably not.