Friday, May 22, 2009

Observations from the Light Rail

(image credit, The Bergen Network)

I was riding the Light Rail yesterday and I noticed in two places that the train still stops for vehicular traffic. I know the MTA added additional "signal priority" systems to the line, but it still doesn't make any sense to me!

Spot 1.) Cultural Center Station, N. Howard St. at W. Preston Ave:

Problem - The station is right at the corner of the street. Yesterday, I observed the train stop, let all of the passengers on and off, and then continue to sit at the red light. The train had to wait not only for the Preston Ave traffic, but also through the Southbound Howard Street turning traffic, until the Northbound Howard light turned green and then the train moved.
Solution - Once the train is ready to move, allow the light at Preston Ave to switch to red, then let the train move through the intersection, and then allow for the turning traffic.

Spot 2.) Grade crossing at Mt. Royal Ave:

Problem - Once the train leaves the Cultural Center Station it has to stop at the light at Mt. Royal Ave. I also noticed that even when the lights turned red there was still a significant delay in the train signal switching, so the train sat for an enigmatically long time.
Solution - Give the Light Rail the priority to move here. When the train leaves Cultural Center it should trigger the lights on Mt. Royal to turn red, allowing the train to move into the University of Baltimore Station without having to stop. The distance is less than one-quarter mile.

These are simple solutions to problems that can cause delays and backups all along the downtown stretch of the Light Rail, and headaches and frustrations among commuters. If you're going to give the Light Rail signal priority, do it right for crying out loud.

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