Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where to Expand the Metro Subway

The last time the Metro Subway was expanded it grew from Charles Center to Shot Tower and Johns Hopkins; that was in 1994. Since then there has been talk about where it should go from there. Currently, the subway is one of the most underutilized, but best form of transportation we have, and it's principally because of where it goes.

Approximately 48,500 people ride it ever day, according to MTA's annual 2011 annual report. APTA's quarterly statistics have daily ridership averaging around the same for the last 10 years. This is roughly half of the initial anticipated ridership when the subway was originally constructed, so essentially there is plenty of room for expansion with the infrastructure that is currently there. Our subway, as constructed, works best for commuters, heading from the northwest of the city to downtown and JHH, and that's about it; roughly end-to-end travel. It's lack of easy connection to the Light Rail, and no connection at all to the MARC, makes it very hard to view the subway as a part of an interconnected transit system that would allow for better point to point travel within the MTA network.

Since the MTA is moving headlong into the final planning stages of the Red Line, which at best will have a pedestrian tunnel that will connect it with the subway at Charles Center; any expansion the the metro will be years in the future (the Red Line isn't projected to be open until 2020-21). At least in the meantime, we can get creative as to where to send it.

The first idea is an extension. According to the 2002 plan, eventually the metro would be extended North under Broadway. While it seems unlikely it will ever make it to Morgan State University, let alone White Marsh. The Metro could be extended as far as North Ave and have an impact. This would be an extension of about a mile and would include a station near Preston Street and then a new terminus at North Avenue where MTA could create a new intramodal transportation center. A station at Preston Street could serve a new MARC station that could be build as an additional transfer stop.

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The next two ideas would create spurs off the the metro to serve other downtown areas. One would be to have the line split after Shot Tower Station before it curves under Broadway and continue under Baltimore Street to serve the Patterson Park and Butcher's Hill neighborhoods. There could be potential new stations at Broadway, and then somewhere along Patterson Park. This proposal gets somewhat tricky when you have to decide where to end it, and how best to connect it with other bus routes like the 13, 20, or 40.

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Another branch alternative would be to swing the subway south into Federal Hill and South Baltimore. This area of the city is served by both the MTA (Routes 1 and 64) and the Charm City Circulator (Purple and Banner), but the area is one of the fasted growing and has constant parking problems. It was originally a part of the Metro plan, but was scrapped before construction due to pressure by the residents. In this scenario, the metro could spur between Lexington Market and Charles Center, turn south and have stops near Cross Street, Fort Avenue, and then end at a terminal in Port Covington. The alignment could be under Hanover, Charles, or Light Street. I chose a Charles Street alternative for the map. The Route 64 and the Route 27 would be able to serve this new terminal. While this last option would probably be the best, I can also foresee it being the most heavily fought over.

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All of these would be worth while to study to see what would be the most cost effective, have the most ridership, and serve the most purpose. Also, since this is an extension of an existing system it would be easier to get New Starts or Small Starts funding. What do you think?


  1. Welcome to blogland, Mr. Skyline !!!!!

    I've discussed a lot of your same issues ad nuseum on my own blog, and you seem to have the right general idea about B'more transit. Which isn't hard, compared with the clueless MTA.

    Back in 2002 when they developed the current rail plan, the MTA made extending the subway north of Hopkins Hospital a project of equally high priority to their dumb Red Line. Then they studied it and determined it was not economically feasible because it required too much tunneling, but it's still in the regional 30 year plan to extend it to North Avenue, but no farther.

    A far more rational idea is to extend it eastward along the Amtrak tracks, where it can then be extended above ground almost anywhere (Dundalk, White Marsh, etc.) as I've discussed here:


    The MTA is opposed to this of course.

  2. "Originally part of the plan" -- really? When? I remember Glen Burnie making a big stink about the light rail, but never heard of Federal Hill being part of an original plan for metro....

  3. I really would love to see a line going from Federal Hill along S. Charles Street, stop at Pratt Street (Inner Harbor), all the way up to North Charles Street, making stops in Mt. Vernon, Penn Station, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, than veer off towards York Road making stops at Belvedere Market, Towson University, and ending at the traffic circle in downtown Towson. It would get a lot of use from both college students as well as residents looking to go from Towson to downtown Baltimore and vice versa.. I doubt this line will ever come to be but I think it would be very useful for a huge population in the city who currently rely on a terrible and slow bus network and/or uber drivers.